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Ancient World Seminar: Egbert Koops (Groningen), 'The Price of Freedom'

Wanneer:ma 14-10-2013 16:15 - 17:30
Waar:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, room 130
Poster design: Marleen Termeer

In 1978, Hopkins famously asked, "Why did the Romans free so many slaves?" His own answer was that manumission served as an incentive and as a way of recapitalizing by replacing an older slave with a younger one. Central to Hopkins' argument is the idea that slaves bought their freedom out of their peculium. Recently, Mouritsen has given a different answer. Stressing the legal and social bonds between patron and freedman, he suggests a pattern of gratis manumission of specific slaves for specific reasons. This pattern has its problems though, since even strong patronal powers cannot explain why slave owners would give up the value of slaves and their peculia. In this lecture, Hopkins' "Why" is approached in a different fashion: "How did the Romans free so many slaves?" I argue that the usual binary opposition between manumission inter vivos and by testament is not helpful. What matters are the conditions that were attached to manumission, either by will or inter vivos. The general effect of such conditional manumission was that a patron's claims on his freedman were lessened. By accepting a price for freedom, patrons paid the price of freedom.

Egbert Koops (1979) studied Private Law and Notary Law at Leiden University, where he received his Ph.D. cum laude for his dissertation ‘Modes of Subsidiarity’. From 2010 to 2013, he was a research fellow at Leiden University under a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to study the legal, social and economic context of the Roman slave peculium. As of 2013, he is employed at Groningen University as an Assistant Professor in the law of property.