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Social Justice and the Legitimacy of SlaveryThe Role of Philosophical Asceticism from Ancient Judaism to Late Antiquity$
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Ilaria L.E. Ramelli

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198777274

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198777274.001.0001

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(p.232) Conclusions
Social Justice and the Legitimacy of Slavery

Ilaria L. E. Ramelli

Oxford University Press

The Conclusion summarizes and discusses the main results yielded by the monograph, then reflects on some critical issues and the meaning and implications of the results obtained. Orlando Patterson’s depiction of ancient slavery as ‘social death’ is shown to be already present in Nyssen. Ancient people could hardly consider slavery as a stand-alone institution, and Aristotle dignified slavery ideology in (pseudo-)philosophical clothes. But there were exceptions, especially in Jewish and Christian philosophical asceticism; here, renunciation of slave ownership often paralleled opposition to social injustice. Already in antiquity, some, especially among Christian philosophical ascetics, were aware of social injustice and denounced it. Nyssen, Origen, Evagrius, Chrysostom, and others explicitly mention injustice in connection with the wealth of some seen as the cause of the poverty of others. Asceticism as philosophical life and ‘angelic life’ (angels keep neither slaves nor wealth), and asceticism as potentially subversive, are also discussed among much else.

Keywords:   slavery as social death anticipated by Nyssen, slavery as a stand-alone institution, slaves after emancipation, asceticism and equality, Nyssen, Origen, Evagrius, Chrysostom, asceticism, ‘angelic life’

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