Cost of TMQF and "Dominus ancillae suae"

Mar 2015
799
Europe
#1
Two rings that a slave of Romans might wear - but seems that normally not the same slave both rings.
"Tene me quia fugi" - "Catch me because I´ve run away" was such a popular phrase that it was routinely abbreviated in Roman times.
Rings with that inscription were intended to be hard to remove by wearer, and easy to see. Put around the neck, with writing outside.
They still had to be put on without killing the wearer. They often had the name and address of owner - with proper tools, they had to be removable when the owner moved address or sold the slave to another owner. Normally made of iron.
How were TMQF neckbands legitimately put on and changed?
And how much did such a neckband cost?
Now, the other ring...
Several Roman women, like at Pompeii, were found with armbands writing "Dominus ancillae suae" - "Owner to his female slave".
Calling the wearer a slave.
But that writing was inside. Not visible on meeting.
And those armbands were not iron. They are described as "gold" - sometimes "silver and gold", but often just "gold", sometimes mentioning jewels like diamonds.
Weight is described as "pound". Avoirdupois or Roman, unspecified - but order of magnitude still the same.
400 g gold... around 10:1 gold/silver rate... that would be HS 4000.
Over 4 years salary of a legionary. Not as valuable as the slave herself, but a lot of portable wealth to entrust to a slave.
What services could warrant this? While valued slaves did include nurses, most likely services would have been those of a sex slave, and not every sex slave.
Remember, "Dominus ancillae suae" was inside. How common, on streets (and under the ashes) of Pompeii, were golden armbands that did not expressly call the wearer a slave (and implicitly a sex slave), outside or inside? Could a sex slave seen on streets with golden armband and fittingly good clothes pretend that she was a freedwoman, or indeed a wife or freeborn in the first place?
Were the wearers of "Dominus ancillae suae" actually slaves when found? Another expensive reward that a sex slave might get was her freedom. This did not have to mean giving up her sexual services - Romans often had freedwoman concubines, and a sex slave might commonly be promoted from a sex slave to a personally free kept woman.
Above I guesstimated the metal gold value of "Dominus ancillae suae". Does anyone know the approximate value of goldsmith work? How much would it have cost for a finally freed sex slave to have her golden armband resmithed to an armband of the same metal weight, but no longer calling her a slave? What was the attitude to the "Dominus ancillae suae" armbands - was is something no freedwoman would keep once she was free, or was it something she would keep as received, especially if her master continued to keep her as the now free mistress?
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,150
#2
Bear in mind that iron was recycled regularly as well. Trust in a slave is evidence of some kind of communication and reliable behaviour, not necessarily sexual. Cicero moans about slaves sent as postmen who were notoriously unreliable in finding their target addresses. Cato referred to slaves as 'Talking Tools', and in many households, slaves were meant to conduct themselves without unnecessary communication with the upper class master and his guests who would be offended by the upstart slave trying to talk to them. The armband might not have any cultural significance other than to display the wealth of the owner - a very important consideration in a society that graded itself socially according to wealth and property.

Why would a freedwoman need an armband? Since freedom meant self-determination, her former master might not have any say in it. Typically former slaves remained the clients of their former masters in order to maintain their support, especially funding to allow them to get on their feet in a ruthlessly competitive society. The former master, now patron, could not compel his freedwoman to remain a mistress (though there are records that this happened anyway - usually the slave manumitted so the lovelorn master could legally marry his slave.)

Also note that a senate motion was attempted to enforce some form of identification of slaves. It failed because it was pointed out that slaves would realise how many of them there were.
 
Mar 2015
799
Europe
#3
The armband might not have any cultural significance other than to display the wealth of the owner - a very important consideration in a society that graded itself socially according to wealth and property.
And for a free woman, display the wealth of her husband or father. Plus practically a large and portable (though also - robbable) sum of wealth/savings. As guestimated above, 4 years´ salary for a legionary.
Why would a freedwoman need an armband? Since freedom meant self-determination, her former master might not have any say in it. Typically former slaves remained the clients of their former masters in order to maintain their support, especially funding to allow them to get on their feet in a ruthlessly competitive society. The former master, now patron, could not compel his freedwoman to remain a mistress (though there are records that this happened anyway - usually the slave manumitted so the lovelorn master could legally marry his slave.)
Not sure how "usually". Senators (people who could afford to own sex slaves, manumit them and buy gold armbands for them) could not legally marry freedwomen. Other free people legally could. But gentlemen like knights and curials might have refused to marry freedwomen and kept them as mistresses even if marriage was legally an option. Even if he did not legally marry her, promoting her to a freedwoman mistress gave her status and security against his heirs and creditors, and assured her that he could not sell her even if he might dump her. (Rich freedmen would have been most likely to marry ex-slaves whose freedom he bought after himself.)
 

caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,150
#4
The male owner of a slave could have sex with any of them. They were his property. A woman was not supposed to but morality slipped a little from the end of the Republican period. A man who had sex with someone else's slave was messing with property of someone else, rather like copyright infringements today. A common excuse for being caught having an affair was to claim you were after one of his slaves and didn't realise you were in the company of his wife :D

Wealthy men became quite keen on manumission because it illustrated what a good man you were. Augustus brought in laws to inhibit the numbers of slaves being freed.
Even if he did not legally marry her, promoting her to a freedwoman mistress gave her status and security against his heirs and creditors, and assured her that he could not sell her even if he might dump her.
As a freedwoman she was no longer bound to him, other than by choice for practical support under the client/patron relationship, and she could quite easily just tell him where to go if he got possessive. If he sold a freedwoman, he was guilty of enslavement, which was criminal behaviour regarding free people (though things had gotten quite lawless by the time of Augustus with travellers being kidnapped for sale or forced labour).

Not sure how usually? Well, graffiti is your best bet. Much of it is childish and macho. "I had great sex last night for a penny", "I'm a horse of a man" or something similar. The rest is "Why won't you love me?" variety and usually it's a male who does the crying. The Romans in fact tended to regard love as a form of emotional slavery.
 

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