Cities of Vesuvius



- Syllabus Content -


Social Structure; men, women, freedmen, slaves


See Chapter 6 of your text book: "Social structure, economy and politics".
"Population and Social Structure" pp.82-86.



What do sources reveal about social structure in Pompeii and Herculaneum?



Population of Pompeii: estimates from 6,400 to 20,000. Descoudres (Pompeii Revisited) supports 8,000-10,000 based on the 800 houses excavated.
Population of Herculaneum: 5,000 (estimate based on seating capacity of the theatre).

Slaves, freedmen and freeborn
Large proportion of population of servile origin - ethnic diversity.

Slaves - performed many household tasks in town, and agricultural labour on rustic estates.
Rural slaves treated harshly - evidence: prison cell and stocks (Villa of Agrippa Postumus at Boscotrecase); iron block to which slaves chained (Villa Regina at Boscoreale).
A hierarchy between slaves: e.g. oven-stoker lower than dispensator or cellarius.
Female slaves could not marry; children belonged to her owner.

"Conviva, slave of Veia, lived 20 years."
(Cooley, p.153 - Inscribed on a marble plaque from a tomb outside the Nucerian Gate.)

"Helle, slave-girl, lived 4 years."
(Cooley, p.153 - Inscribed on a herm.)

Freedmen: Manumission - a slave could buy freedom or be granted freedom. Could assume master’s name.
Many freedmen and women became prosperous - involved in crafts, trade and commerce. Wealthy freedmen - the brothers Vettii. [See the case of Petronia Justa (p.85).]

"Freedmen and freedwomen... became increasingly prominent from the Augustan period onwards... After their release, ex-slaves became clients of their patron and retained close connections with their original household. They might still live in the same house, and might be buried in the household's tomb at their death. Some freedmen and freedwomen promoted their patron's commercial interests (see No 1 and No 2 below).
Some of their epitaphs provide intriguing glimpses of the success with which they and their families were integrated into Roman citizen society after their manumission (No 3).
Freedmen were excluded from reaching the ranks of the governing class, but could achieve positions of importance and act as benefactors of the community at a lower level, in certain religious cults (No 4) and as Augustales."
Pompeii - A Sourcebook, Alison L Cooley, MGL Cooley, pp. 146-7

No 1: Inscribed marble plaque: "Baths of Marcus Crassus Frugi with seawater and baths with fresh water. Ianuarius, freedman."
(Cooley, p.82 - These baths must have been on the sea shore. Their remains have not been uncovered.)

No 2: Inscription painted on a fish sauce container: "Finest fish sauce by Umbricius Abascantus."
(Cooley p.166 - Abascantus was a freedman in the household of Pompeii's largest garum producer, A. Umbricius Scaurus - see below.)

No 3: Marble plaque in the centre of the tomb's facade, Nucerian Gate necropolis: "To Gaius Veranius Rufus, Son of Quintus, duumvir; Veraina Clara, freedwoman of Quintus, to her excellent patron, for herself and her household."
(Cooley, p.147)

No 4: Inscribed marble slab: "Publius Ancarsulenus Philadelphus, freedman of Publius, President of Mercury, Ancarsulena Eleutheris, freedwoman of Publius, freedwoman."
(Cooley, p.148 - this was found c. 400 metres from the Villa of the Mysteries on the road to Oplontis, 5 metres below the current ground level. 'President of Mercury' probably refers to this freedman's position in the cult of Mercury and Maia.)

Freeborn - (Ingenuus [m] / Ingenua [f]) could be humble or wealthy plebs or members of the elite.

Patron-client system.

Prominent members of society:Garum_Mosaic_from_House_of_Scaurus.jpg

Pompeii:
A. Umbricius Scaurus: wealthy garum manufacturer
"A local producer, Aulus Umbricius Scaurus, dominated the market for fish sauce at Pompeii from Neronian times until the eruption. Inscriptions painted upon small one-handled pottery vessels containing the sauce reveal that he ran a number of workshops. These were managed by members of his household... Over fifty of these containers have been found in Pompeii itself and its environs (e.g., the villas at Boscoreale and Boscotrecase). A unique choice decorative scheme in his atrium allows us to identify his house, a luxury property (with a private bath-suite) to the west of the town overlooking the sea (VII Ins. Occ. 12-15). Around his impluvium were found four larger-than-life black and white mosaic depictions of fish sauce vessels bearing promotional inscriptions (right)... His repeated claims for his sauce's excellence seem almost a modern style of advertising, which appears to have paid dividends. Almost 30% of inscriptions on fish sauce containers in Campania relate to his workshops. One fish sauce container inscribed with his name has even been found in Fos-sur-mer in southern France."
(Cooley and Cooley, p.165)

L. Caecilius Jucundus: tax farming; money lending; renting and selling property
Family of Poppaea Sabina (married Nero) - owned Villa of Oplontis. Family possibly owned House of Menander and House of Golden Cupids
Eumachia - priestess and businesswoman. Came from Prominent family. A patron of the Fullers Guild.
Julia Felix - independent wealthy woman.
295px-Theatre-statue-Calatorius.JPG
Herculaneum:
Marcus Calatorius - had a bronze statue in the theatre
M. Nonius Balbus - ten statues throughout the town (that's him in the top left-hand corner) - richest most influential family in Herculaneum. Possibly owned the House of the Relief of Telephus.
House_of_Relief_of_Telephus.jpg
House of the Relief of Telephus - Herculaneum