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slavish devotion

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  • Sharon and Dick
    Interesting question, Paul, and I can only speculate (a word related to speculum, as you might think:)) that perhaps the number of different words used for
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2004
      Interesting question, Paul, and I can only speculate (a word related to
      speculum, as you might think:)) that perhaps the number of different words
      used for slaves might be at the crux, as it were, of the matter. Servus is
      most commonly used, which to us has the automatic association with servant,
      and not implying coercion or ownership. In fact, maybe familius is more
      apt...paterfamilius being the name for the head of a household which
      includes slave. It's general meaning (familius) more implies a
      relationship to a group of dependents...wife, children, slaves. This
      passed on into English common law centuries later, and, to this day is
      recognized as the origins of the legal basis for the father of the family
      being legally responsible for crimes committed by one of that group of
      dependents. Hence chattel rights, whereby women and children (and often
      slaves) were given the surname of the father/husband/owner. This persists
      to this day (with the general but not complete exception of slaves) in the
      quaint but depersonalizing habit of married women being known as Mrs. John
      Thomas Husband.

      There is also, as I started to write before I wandered off to see what was
      burning...it was my bra, ummm...there is also the habit of the Romans to
      break things down into ever smaller and less inclusive groups. There are
      separate words for a slave who's a "handmaiden" (no jokes here), or
      ancilla, for a male slave (servus), young male slave (servulus) and on and
      on.

      Maybe that's some help. Maybe not. But lots of those words and their
      derivatives survive...ancillary, servitude, etc. There were roman slaves
      before Slavs came into vogue. I did find references for earlier uses of
      esclave, but only by a few hundred years.

      Back to my novel.

      Sharon
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