November 19, 2006 Leave a comment
[S]ome major changes came about in the two centuries and more from the death of Augustus to the death of Severus Alexander. … the spread of Stoicism and the permeation of all classes by its basic suppositions.
Connected with this last point was a far reaching change in the privileges accorded persons of inferior social status. Stoicism had long preached the brotherhood of man, and contrasted natural rights with social privileges. By the Severan period, married women had attained an independence unparalleled in antiquity, and thenceforth the liberty and large legal rights of women would be characteristic of the Western world [emphasis added]. Children and slaves, too, had been protected from arbitrary exercise of paternal authority. The position of slaves had improved for economic as well as legal and humanitarian reasons. The suppression of piracy sharply cut down the supply of new slaves; the end of civil wars and conquests reduced it yet further; the common practice of manumission diminished the supply of existing slaves. It became more economical to work estates with free tenant farmers. One consequence of this, however, was a decline in legal respect for the free man as such. The law now began to distinguish between freemen of upper and lower class — honestiores and humiliores. The former were exempt from humiliating procedures and punishments to which the latter were subject. (p. 215)
I’m reminded of 2 important pieces of libertarian writing:
- “The Idea of Liberty is Western,” by Ludwig von Mises (a claim that seems immediately obvious if you’ve read enough history, but which is, of course, as politically incorrect as it gets)
- Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men
Here’s a snippet on Hummel’s book from an earlier post:
To paraphrase Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, the American so-called “Civil War” emancipated slaves while enslaving free men. Was it a good thing? Even if you believe that a war was necessary for emancipation, it still seems to me that the answer is far from straight-forward. And if you don’t think that a war was necessary, then the answer definitely shifts more toward the negative.