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Date: Apr 15, 2021

‘Slavery’ and ‘dependency’ as interpretative tools for analysing Roman mutiny narratives April 26, 2021: Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series: Lecture by Hans Kopp, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

April 26, 2021: Joseph C. Miller Memorial Lecture Series: Lecture by Hans Kopp, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Abstract: At first glance, mutinies in Roman antiquity hardly touch upon the issues of slavery or ‘asymmetrical dependency’, not least because slaves were not part of the Roman legions on a regular basis and were mostly employed only in times of crisis or severe shortages of manpower. Roman accounts of mutiny, however, sometimes make use of the conceptual models of ‘slavery’ and ‘dependency’ as a kind of toolkit for explaining military unrest. In this talk, I will highlight several ways in which Roman accounts of mutinies link the genesis of military revolts to economic dependency (such as indebtedness and its social and legal consequences) or to politically charged notions of the ‘slavery’ of the non-elite groups in Roman society. I will also analyse how such models were used by Roman authors to frame military unrest not only as chaotic revolts against established authority but also as a (perhaps even justified) struggle against dependency.

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