Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Vanity of Slaves

The Romans named their slaves after gods. It amused them to issue commands to Jupiter and Mars, Juno and Pluto. Favorite slaves were given special privileges; they could finish the master's left over wine and dress them for parties.

Scipio Julius Africanius was a Praetor in the Roman Legion, a friend of senators and even dined on occasion with Caesar Augustus. He had a favorite slave named Apollo who, according to rumor, shared the general's bed almost as often as he made it. Apollo was often heard lording his status over the other slaves of Scipio's house. He was the general's favorite. Still, he couldn't go anywhere without the master's permission, could never be free, or vote or marry.

When a slave thinks his chains are jewelry, he'll never be free. He may be comfortable, or at least more so than the scullery girl or the stable boy but he is still a slave, any way you look at it.

Tell me, Andy (or is it Apollo?) how does it feel to be the master's favorite?


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