Slavery was deeply woven into the fabric of Roman society. There are several ways that people in Roman society could fall into slavery.
- Defeated enemies were caught and sold them into slavery.
- People who did not pay debts
- Committing certain crimes
Roman slavery differed from American slavery. Roman slavery wasn’t based on race. Where American slaves generally performed manual labor, Roman slaves could sometimes be highly skilled. Educated slaves captured from the Greek world were highly sought after for tutoring children and performing clerical work. Of course, many slaves resented their subservient status, and some rebelled. The most famous slave revolt in Roman history, the 3rd Servile War, was led by the gladiator Spartacus who headed an army of 120,000 freed slaves. When the rebellion was finally crushed, 6,000 surviving slaves were crucified along the Appian Way, a major road leading into Rome.