While in Rome, I had access to wifi in our hotel. At all times a librarian, I decided to see what books I could download from my work library's digital collection to my phone while in a foreign country. Of course, I could download anything I could in Illinois, but just doing it on foreign soil would give me more creed with the clients who ask about digital books for their travels. Looking through the history offerings on eRead Illinois, I found The Roman Guide to Slave Management : A Treatise by the Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx by Jerry Toner. Being in the historic city, it seemed an appropriate choice. I clicked "borrow" and had the book on my phone in less than a minute.
I started the book while in Rome but set it aside until I returned home. I got the hardback edition of the title last week and finally got back to reading. I still prefer a print edition when available.
Marcus Sidonius Falx is not a name you are going to find in your search of Roman history, but someone just like him must have existed. He would have been a nobleman with slaves both in Rome and in the country. His wealthy family would have had slaves for generations. He would have seen that a slight profit could be made from selling some scrolls with his his advice to new slaveholders.
That Toner was able to mysterious interview the nearly two thousand year old nobleman is a fact we should just accept and read Falx's advice, which seems strange and cruel to us now. Falx is an almost likable character who has some entertaining stories to tell. At the end of his chapters, Toner steps in to provide academic references that document the historical details and attitudes to which Falx refers.
The Roman Guide to Slave Management is an easy read and can be used to make history more interesting to students. It also suggests questions to discuss about twenty-first century slavery and near-slavery. It is worth reading from a scroll, bound book, or digital tablet. It should be in more libraries than it currently is.
Toner, Jerry. The Roman Guide to Slave Management : A Treatise by the Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx. Overlook Press, 2014. 216p. ISBN 9781468309379.