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Slavery: Antiquity and its Legacy

Ulrike Roth looks at a book on the origins of slavery

Published: January 26, 2010 at 1:53 pm
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Reviewed by: Ulrike Roth
Author: Page duBois
Publisher: Taurus
Price (RRP): £9.99

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This is a book about the legacy of ancient slavery in the modern world. It also appeals for “ending slavery in all its variations, in the present and in the future”. It covers a wide range of issues – too wide perhaps for an author not familiar with most of the evidence. The book fails to provide a coherent account of the legacy of ancient slavery; much ends up as a retelling of the main literary tradition on slavery – written by those who were (destined to be) masters. Perhaps it is in this aspect – the continuation of the master narrative – that the book represents the most striking example of the legacy of ancient slavery. The world the slaves made – the ideologies, attitudes and ethics, in the world of work, family or elsewhere, which have left a lasting legacy, too – is once more left out of the story. Plus ça change?

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Dr Ulrike Roth is lecturer in classics, University of Edinburgh

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