Ancient Slavery: Death Senetence Or Life Opportunity?

688 words - 3 pages

In Aristotle's "Justifying Slavery" and Seneca's "On Master and Slave," the two authors express their opposing sentiments on the principles of slavery. While Aristotle describes slavery as predestined inferiority, evidenced greatly by physical attributes, Seneca emphasizes the importance of "philosophical" freedom as opposed to physical freedom. (p. 58). The authors' contrasting views are disclosed in their judgments on the morality of slavery, the degree of freedom all people possess at birth, and the balance of equality between a slave and his master.

In "Justifying Slavery," Aristotle, "who was well aware of moral issues," (p. 53). does not suggest in his writing that he recognizes slavery as immoral. Seneca, however, in "On Master and Slave," reveals his probable position that slavery is "inherently evil." (p. 58). Despite a stated awareness of moral matters, Aristotle professes that slavery is favorable and righteous, which reveals his time's common impressions of slavery: that slaves are subordinate to their masters and legitimately exist solely to serve them. Seneca's essay, however, reflects an understanding and conviction that slaves should not be confined to this description. Seneca's piece provides reassurance that not all masters advocated indifference to the deserved humanity of slaves and the mistreatment of those who they erroneously considered inferior or unworthy of human rights.

As a result of these contrasting opinions on the morality of slavery, Aristotle and Seneca also differ in their understanding of the amount of freedom possessed at birth. While Aristotle believes some are born as slaves and others as rulers, Seneca pronounces that we are all "fellow-slaves... Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike." (p. 59). Seneca's account exhibits the perception that all people inherently possess the same freedoms and rights. It is unnatural to repress or deny a person of these ingrained liberties, labeling them as a slave and consequently stifling their deserved rights and opportunities to exercise and apply these rights in their future. Although Seneca does not renounce the system of slavery...

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