ancient Roman name for a slave

Huda

Senior Member
Arabic-Egypt
Please help me

I read in Arabic book that ancient Romans named the slave as "human non person". what is the Roman name equivalent to "human non personal"?

Thanks in advance
 
  • giac82ancona

    New Member
    italian
    servus … homo est, non persona; homo naturae, persona iuris civilis vocabulum

    a slave ... is a man (human being), not a person; man (human being) is a word of nature, person (is a word) of civil law.

    It means that a slave is a human being, but not a person, in the sense that a "person", legally speaking, is a human being with civil rights and duties (and, of course, a slave cannot have civil rights).
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    so what did the ancient Romans call a "slave"? and is it correct to say "human non personal" in English?

    Thanks a million
     

    giac82ancona

    New Member
    italian
    slave = servus
    The legal definition for "servus" is "homo, non persona" (see above).
    I'd say "human being, not a person" in English.
     

    Stoicorum_simia

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    servus … homo est, non persona; homo naturae, persona iuris civilis vocabulum

    a slave ... is a man (human being), not a person; man (human being) is a word of nature, person (is a word) of civil law.

    It means that a slave is a human being, but not a person, in the sense that a "person", legally speaking, is a human being with civil rights and duties (and, of course, a slave cannot have civil rights).

    Exactly. In English, a slave has 'no legal persona'. I think to say a slave is 'not a person' is confusing, as in non-technical contemporary English 'human being' and 'person' are close synonyms. In this more obvious sense it is demonstrably not true that the Romans did not consider a slave as a person.
     
    It's not useful to translate persona as "person" in this context.

    In Roman law, persona indicated that the individual was sovereign under the law, i.e. not subject to the control of anybody or anything except the laws that applied to everybody. He had no master and was subject to no paterfamilias.

    There is no exact English equivalent, because we don't have any need for the concept in the laws of English-speaking countries, which tend to recognise universal equality of legal status.

    The closest equivalent is probably "Free (wo)man", but that's not perfect.

    Servus
    and serva were the words used for people of slave status under Roman law.
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    It's not useful to translate persona as "person" in this context.

    In Roman law, persona indicated that the individual was sovereign under the law, i.e. not subject to the control of anybody or anything except the laws that applied to everybody. He had no master and was subject to no paterfamilias.

    There is no exact English equivalent, because we don't have any need for the concept in the laws of English-speaking countries, which tend to recognise universal equality of legal status.

    The closest equivalent is probably "Free (wo)man", but that's not perfect.

    Servus
    and serva were the words used for people of slave status under Roman law.
    So, the ancient Romans did not call the slave as "homo, non persona"??
     

    Stoicorum_simia

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    In Roman law, persona indicated that the individual was sovereign under the law, i.e. not subject to the control of anybody or anything except the laws that applied to everybody. He had no master and was subject to no paterfamilias.

    There is no exact English equivalent, because we don't have any need for the concept in the laws of English-speaking countries, which tend to recognise universal equality of legal status.

    'Legal persona', 'legal person' and 'legal personality' can all be used in different contexts to indicate an entity recognised as such under the law, for instance it can be debated in very different spheres whether a foetus or a company might fall under this heading. The important thing is that the word 'legal' must be added. So, you could say that a slave was a human being, but not a legal persona - until s/he was manumitted, of course.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    So, the ancient Romans did not call the slave as "homo, non persona"??
    The word for slave in Latin was servus/serva, as you've been told already. This just means "slave". It cannot be broken down morphologically into "non-person", if that's what you're asking.

    In Roman law, it seems, there was indeed a phrase that legally defined slaves as "human beings, but not persons". But here we are speaking of a legal notion of "person", and it may even be more appropriate to use a different word for translation, such as "free person", or "citizen". Thus the legal definition (paraphrasing what other posters have said) is that slaves are "human, but not free".
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    The word for slave in Latin was servus/serva, as you've been told already. This just means "slave". It cannot be broken down morphologically into "non-person", if that's what you're asking.

    In Roman law, it seems, there was indeed a phrase that legally defined slaves as "human beings, but not persons". But here we are speaking of a legal notion of "person", and it may even be more appropriate to use a different word for translation, such as "free person", or "citizen". Thus the legal definition (paraphrasing what other posters have said) is that slaves are "human, but not free".

    I'm only interested in the Italian translation. Is it correct that the Roman law defined slave as "homo, non persona". I read this in an Arabic historical book.
    Thanks to you all
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Is it correct that the Roman law defined slave as "homo, non persona".
    Yes, it is.

    I'm only interested in the Italian translation.
    Are you asking for an Italian translation of the phrase "homo, non persona", or of the word "slave"? This may not be the best forum to ask for Italian translations, but I suggest you wait for further replies.
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    Yes, it is.

    Are you asking for an Italian translation of the phrase "homo, non persona", or of the word "slave"? This may not be the best forum to ask for Italian translations, but I suggest you wait for further replies.

    I meant what the ancient Romans call or define a slave

    Thanks to you all
     

    relativamente

    Senior Member
    catalan and spanish
    I meant what the ancient Romans call or define a slave

    Thanks to you all


    From the point of view of the Roman Law a slave was just a thing.There were two main kinds of things the more important things that were adquired by a solemn rite in ancient law called "mancipatio".And those things were called "res mancipii" and the less important things called "res nec mancipii".
    A slave was a res mancipii, what means that was considered a valuable thing and having slaves was considered prestigious.
    But any roman citizen knew that if the luck turned bad to him he could easily become a slave.
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    From the point of view of the Roman Law a slave was just a thing.There were two main kinds of things the more important things that were adquired by a solemn rite in ancient law called "mancipatio".And those things were called "res mancipii" and the less important things called "res nec mancipii".
    A slave was a res mancipii, what means that was considered a valuable thing and having slaves was considered prestigious.
    But any roman citizen knew that if the luck turned bad to him he could easily become a slave.

    Thanks for the new information. can you give an example of "res nec mancipii"?
     

    relativamente

    Senior Member
    catalan and spanish
    Thanks for the new information. can you give an example of "res nec mancipii"?

    I do not remember exactly the list of res mancipii, since I studied Roman Law long ago, but almost all of them were long lasting things specially the "praedia" or real estate.
    All other things were "nec mancipii" for example a coin (even the gold coins! ) and an apple.

    That is almost I can say about this matter regarding ancient Roman Law (Ius civile) Later the praetores, or judges invented new laws for the foreigners, and many many innovations along the centuries that lasted Roman civilisation.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    It's not useful to translate persona as "person" in this context.

    In Roman law, persona indicated that the individual was sovereign under the law, i.e. not subject to the control of anybody or anything except the laws that applied to everybody. He had no master and was subject to no paterfamilias.

    There is no exact English equivalent, because we don't have any need for the concept in the laws of English-speaking countries, which tend to recognise universal equality of legal status.
    Although you are the professional, I dare respectfully disagree.

    We still have in principal the same concept of a person as in Roman law where not every human is a person and not every person is a human. Our legal system knows persons which are not human beings ("legal persons") and in principle also humans which are not persons. Just our political and ethical ideas have changed and we generally grant personhood to every human being but some jurisdictions still know exceptions, e.g. in some jurisdictions unborn children are human beings but not (yet) persons.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    From the point of view of the Roman Law a slave was just a thing. [....]
    You clearly have studied this more closely than I, but I am under the impression that this is not quite true, in the sense that there were laws protecting slaves from certain kinds of physical abuse.

    There were many impediments to a slave who wished to invoke this protection. I only want to say that I believe that to some extent the law (and Romans) recognized slaves as a special kind of "property".
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    You clearly have studied this more closely than I, but I am under the impression that this is not quite true, in the sense that there were laws protecting slaves from certain kinds of physical abuse.
    This is no contradiction. E.g. in our legal systems, animals are technically "things", yet there are animal protection laws.
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    You clearly have studied this more closely than I, but I am under the impression that this is not quite true, in the sense that there were laws protecting slaves from certain kinds of physical abuse.

    There were many impediments to a slave who wished to invoke this protection. I only want to say that I believe that to some extent the law (and Romans) recognized slaves as a special kind of "property".

    I think his master was the only one who could sue whoever abused his slave. But there was noone who could protect him from his master who could commit adultery with a slave without compensating him or her.I read in a historical book that a slave's master had the right to beat, imprison, sentence him to fight wild beasts and leave him to starve to death. If a slave ran away and was caught his master was able to brand or crucify him.I even read that when Consul Pedanius was murdered in 61 CE, his four hundred slaves were sentenced to death.
     
    Although you are the professional, I dare respectfully disagree.

    We still have in principal the same concept of a person as in Roman law where not every human is a person and not every person is a human. Our legal system knows persons which are not human beings ("legal persons") and in principle also humans which are not persons. Just our political and ethical ideas have changed and we generally grant personhood to every human being but some jurisdictions still know exceptions, e.g. in some jurisdictions unborn children are human beings but not (yet) persons.
    In English law, the use of the word "person" to include corporations and some other entities for some circumstances doesn't imply qualitative status as it did under Roman law. It means only that the entity is deemed to be legally separate from the humans that constitute its membership.

    I know of no English law that treats any human beings as non-persons. If there is any such law in any other English-speaking jurisdiction, I'd be glad to be told it. The unborn are treated as human embryos or foetuses, not as humans.

    To get back to the original question, the fact that Roman servi were regarded as non personae can't be adequately expressed in English by the term "non persons" alone because "person" is not an absolute translation of persona. As with many words borrowed from one language into another, later usage changes, restricts and increases their meaning randomly.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    In English law, the use of the word "person" to include corporations and some other entities for some circumstances doesn't imply qualitative status as it did under Roman law. It means only that the entity is deemed to be legally separate from the humans that constitute its membership.
    My point is that the term natural person and human being are now for all intends and purposes co-extensive is due to our belief that every human being has the right to be treated as a person, not that the definitions of the terms had changed.
    I know of no English law that treats any human beings as non-persons. If there is any such law in any other English-speaking jurisdiction, I'd be glad to be told it.
    Unborn children in German civil law. But they are human being and as such under the protection of the constitutional "right of life" which is a right of a human being and not of a person.
     
    My point is that the term natural person and human being are now for all intends and purposes co-extensive is due to our belief that every human being has the right to be treated as a person, not that the definitions of the terms had changed.
    Erm ... yes, but why is that a reason for disagreeing with my first post?
    berndf said:
    Unborn children in German civil law.
    Then maybe persona will stand a more direct translation into German than it will into English.
    berndf said:
    But they are human being and as such under the protection of the constitutional "right of life" which is a right of a human being and not of a person.
    I think the ECHR in Strasbourg has held that the right to life under the European Convention on Human Rights does not extend to the unborn. That is certainly the situation in the UK.

    Anyway, we're discussing the translation into English of a Latin legal term from 1,500 to 2,500 years ago, not the modern issue of the rights of the unborn.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    To get back to the original question, the fact that Roman servi were regarded as non personae can't be adequately expressed in English by the term "non persons" alone because "person" is not an absolute translation of persona. As with many words borrowed from one language into another, later usage changes, restricts and increases their meaning randomly.
    I still can't agree. The definition of a person is still "capacity to be subject of legal rights and duties", as in Roman law. The fact that in modern legal systems the set of all human beings which are not persons is empty (ignoring the issue of unborn children) is incidental and does not effect the definitions of terms.
     
    I still can't agree. The definition of a person is still "capacity to be subject of legal rights and duties", as in Roman law. The fact that in modern legal systems the set of all human beings which are not persons is empty (ignoring the issue of unborn children) is incidental and does not effect the definitions of terms.
    I'm sorry, but your definition is inaccurate in English law. Organisations which are not regarded as persons in English law still are still collectively subject to legal rights and duties. There are Laws that apply, for example, to unincorporated trusts, partnerships and clubs that do not apply qua se to individuals.

    No matter how hard you try to squeeze it in, non persona has no direct equivalent in English usage and it cannot be fully understood by using the term "non-person".
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I'm sorry, but your definition is inaccurate in English law. Organisations which are not regarded as persons in English law still are still collectively subject to legal rights and duties. There are Laws that apply, for example, to unincorporated trusts, partnerships and clubs that do not apply qua se to individuals.

    No matter how hard you try to squeeze it in, non persona has no direct equivalent in English usage and it cannot be fully understood by using the term "non-person".
    It seems we can't agree.

    What consequence does this, in your mind, have for the translation of "servus … homo est, non persona; homo naturae, persona iuris civilis vocabulum"? I can't see any, because the sentence, in my mind, sufficiently explains the terms.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I think his master was the only one who could sue whoever abused his slave. But there was noone who could protect him from his master who could commit adultery with a slave without compensating him or her. [....]
    Please don't misunderstand me. I am not denying that slaves were subject to appalling abuse of every kind. I was only citing the law as evidence that "slaves" were not in an absolute sense "things". I am not claiming that the laws offered slaves much protection in practice.

    This is from the Wiki article on Slavery in ancient Rome.
    Slaves in Rome had no legal status, however several emperors began to grant more rights to slaves as the empire grew. It became prevalent throughout the mid to late second century to allow slaves to complain of cruel or unfair treatment by their owners.[19] [....] Nero allowed for slaves to have the right to complain against their master in a court. And under Antoninus Pius, a master could no longer execute a slave without just cause, or else the master could be tried for homicide.[20]
    After all, an important part of a free person's identity was that at least he was not slave. This sense of superiority has salience only because the slave is human, even if only in some diminished sense. It is difficult to gain much sense of self out of one's superiority to furniture, for instance.
     

    XiaoRoel

    Senior Member
    galego, español
    Persona en este contexto jurídico se refiere, creo yo, a la dignitas que es la muestra externa de la libertas. Se refiere a que el esclavo no es dueño de sí, de ahi que no pueda demostrar dignitas, al no ser persona, aunque sí posea humanitas.
    Ahora no hay que entender esto en el sentido de que no tuviese sus derechos (que avanzaron hacia una progresiva humanización, en el sentido moderno, de las leyes que a ellos se referían).
    No es comparable la esclavitud antigua con la moderna. Los esclavos, los serui, en Roma eran parte de la familia, parte de la casa.
    Pero entre los famuli y otros serui hay diferencias: esclavos del estado, esclavos-gladiadores, y, en general todo esclavo de terrateniente o dedicado a oficios arrastrados, llevaban una vida menos normal y más brutal que los famuli.
     
    It seems we can't agree.

    What consequence does this, in your mind, have for the translation of "servus … homo est, non persona; homo naturae, persona iuris civilis vocabulum"? I can't see any, because the sentence, in my mind, sufficiently explains the terms.
    The sentence may explain it adequately in Latin to those who understand the concepts of Roman law, but the equivalent English does not. The best translation I can give is:

    "a slave ... is a human, not a person; human is a name/appellation/label of nature, person (is a name/appellation/label) of civil law.".

    That would not tell an English-speaking enquirer anything if he had no prior knowledge of the subject. Even a disinterested but close analysis would beg the question "What does Civil Law mean by persona?".

    Remember that Civil Law is alien to most of the English speaking world. Its concepts are familiar only to those, such as notaries, who have deliberately studied Roman law or any of its derivatives.

    I repeat that persona has no direct equivalent in English. It cannot be understood by translating it into a single English word. An exposition of the Roman legal principle, albeit a short one, is the only way of making it fully understood.

    In his second post, Huda asked asked "... and is it correct to say "human non person" in English?" The answer, for the reasons I have given, is "No".
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    "a slave ... is a human, not a person; human is a name/appellation/label of nature, person (is a name/appellation/label) of civil law.".

    That would not tell an English-speaking enquirer anything if he had no prior knowledge of the subject. Even a disinterested but close analysis would beg the question "What does Civil Law mean by persona?".

    Remember that Civil Law is alien to most of the English speaking world. Its concepts are familiar only to those, such as notaries, who have deliberately studied Roman law or any of its derivatives.

    I repeat that persona has no direct equivalent in English. It cannot be understood by translating it into a single English word. An exposition of the Roman legal principle, albeit a short one, is the only way of making it fully understood.

    In his second post, Huda asked asked "... and is it correct to say "human non person" in English?" The answer, for the reasons I have given, is "No".
    You just explained that a person without legal training wouldn't be able to understand the term persona. This is certainly true. And it doesn't matter. We constantly use term we don't understand and very successfully so. Only the professional will need to understand a technical term in full. E.g. a non-lawyer will rarely be able give a precise definition of the term murder, yet he will very well be able to understand a detective novel where everything is about murder, a concept he technically speaking does not understand. Or, for that matter, I am almost sure you won't be able to describe accurately what a computer is. And you don't have to, you don't want to build one. To use it successfully to write documents or to participate in this forum a vague and probably wrong idea of what a computer is is totally sufficient. The same thing is true here. The definition provided by the sentence itself gives an idea sufficient to grasp the term.
     

    Huda

    Senior Member
    Arabic-Egypt
    Please don't misunderstand me. I am not denying that slaves were subject to appalling abuse of every kind. I was only citing the law as evidence that "slaves" were not in an absolute sense "things". I am not claiming that the laws offered slaves much protection in practice.

    This is from the Wiki article on Slavery in ancient Rome.
    Slaves in Rome had no legal status, however several emperors began to grant more rights to slaves as the empire grew. It became prevalent throughout the mid to late second century to allow slaves to complain of cruel or unfair treatment by their owners.[19] [....] Nero allowed for slaves to have the right to complain against their master in a court. And under Antoninus Pius, a master could no longer execute a slave without just cause, or else the master could be tried for homicide.[20]
    After all, an important part of a free person's identity was that at least he was not slave. This sense of superiority has salience only because the slave is human, even if only in some diminished sense. It is difficult to gain much sense of self out of one's superiority to furniture, for instance.

    Thanks to you and to all my friends. I really wanted to know different opinions and information.
     
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