Slave religiosity in the Roman middle republic

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This article proposes a new interpretation of slave religious experience in mid-republican Rome. Select passages from Plautine comedy and Cato the Elder's De agri cultura are paired with material culture as well as comparative evidence-mostly from studies of Black Atlantic slave religions- to reconstruct select aspects of a specific and distinctive slave "religiosity" in the era of large-scale enslavements. I work towards this reconstruction first by considering the subordination of slaves as religious agents (Part I) before turning to slaves' practice of certain forms of religious expertise in the teeth of subordination and policing (II and III). After transitioning to an assessment of slave religiosity's role in the pursuit of freedom (IV), I conclude with a set of methodological justifications for this paper's line of inquiry (V).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-369
Number of pages53
JournalClassical Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Classics


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