This book explores the presence of slaves and slavery in Roman literature and asks particularly what the free imagination made of the experience of living with slaves, beings who both were and were not fellow humans. As a shadow humanity, slaves furnished the free with other selves and imaginative alibis as well as mediators between and substitutes for their peers. As presences that witnessed their owners' most unguarded moments they possessed a knowledge that was the object of both curiosity and anxiety. The book discusses not only the ideological relations of Roman literature to the institution of slavery, but also the ways in which slavery provided a metaphor for a range of other relationships and experiences, and in particular for literature itself. It is arranged thematically and covers a broad chronological and generic field.

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