A mother nurses her infant
Columella wrote the De Re Rustica in the mid 1st
century CE. It consists of twelve books of advice on running an agricultural
estate. Chapter 8 is devoted to the assignment of work to slaves and how to
best care for them in order to maintain and increase their productivity. In
this selection he argues that since a slave womans work in
bearing children profits her master, she should be rewarded for her fecundity.
Varro, a contemporary who also wrote a treatise on the running of an estate,
had a different opinion. He recommended that only vilici be rewarded
with privileges, with peculium (a slaves savings with which he
might buy his freedom) and with female slave companions; Varro was apparently
unconcerned with how a slave woman might perceive this use of her body. Columella's description of the duties of the vilica may be found in the World of Work.
|Feminis quoque fecundioribus, quarum in subole certus numerus honorari debet,|
|otium nonnumquam et libertatem dedimus, cum plures natos educassent.|
|Nam cui tres erant filii, vacatio, cui plures libertas quoque contingebat.|
|Haec et iustitia et cura patris familias multum confert augendo patrimonio.|
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