Essay on Slaves in Roman and Germanic Societies

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While both Roman society and Germanic society do not view slaves as full people each society does have some safeguards to slaves' wellbeing. Although both societies try to protect their slaves they also illustrated that slaves were not equal to free and even freed slaves were not equal. While both societies have positive aspects to their treatment of slaves I believe it would be better to be a slave in a Germanic society rather than a Roman society. In a Germanic society a slave had a greater ability to marry, slaves also had the ability to pay fines for wrong doing rather than receive physical punishment and in Germanic law codes there was more of a focus on petty crime committed by slaves rather than in Roman codes where there was a…show more content…
Roman law does not recognize the ability of a slave to marry. Any physical relations with a slave in Roman law, even if consensual were not permitted, nor were family relationships among slaves recognized by law (Civilizations 111). The inability of slaves to enjoy the normalcy of relationships with family members or a partner shows how much more restrictive Roman society was. It also shows that Romans viewed their slaves as less human than did Germanic people. When slaves were being punished for crimes such as thievery or other common crimes in Salic areas they could face very harsh physical punishment, such as lashing and castration if male (Civilizations ). If slaves confessed to their crimes they, or more likely their owner, would be able to pay a fine, and restore the stolen property, or value of the property, in order to prevent physical harm as a punishment for their crime. Roman laws about crimes concerning slaves are about punishment for killing slaves by free people, other than their owner, or maintaining slaves' loyalty to their owners (Civilizations 114). This shows that these were the problems that the Romans were dealing with and in comparison to the Germanic problems, murdering slaves was not just a petty crime. Laws concerning crimes committed by or against salves display that the Roman Empire's problem was not with minor crime but with serious offenses
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