Roman Kitchen Slaves
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Roman Kitchen Slaves
Page 129

Early Church Serving

Roman Slave MarketThe Christian Households of Faith gathered in the Greco Roman world were directly affected by both the Greek and Roman cultures. The Households of Faith encouraged new members, but they were also presented with problems because of the existing social classes and the status of some of the Christians in the groups. Some Christians were patrons or owners where they and their families ruled whereas other Christians were slaves and their families were those who served. The Christian baptismal confession in Galatians 3.28b affirmed that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Household slaves were members of the household of faith and therefore equal in theory before Christ to family members and even to the patron himself.✞

House Master

Early Church Serving SlavesThe Christian confession and the layout design of the "domus" or Greco-Roman house were also at odds with each other. "One important rule in a slave-owning society was to contrast adequately the servants' area and other areas of the house" so that the slave quarters were sparse and the family space was luxuriant. Most kitchens, where Roman slaves worked, were poorly lit and never decorated, or strangely they had red vertical stripes in the corners although we don't know what purpose this actually served.✞

Nobodies Nowhere

Slaves serving MasterOwners of larger houses deliberately segregated cooking and dining, placing kitchen smells, noises, and persons as far away as possible from the dining rooms. "The kitchens slaves were essentially nobodies who worked nowhere." Once a year, to mark the Feast of Saturnalia, at a Greco-Roman symposium, it was customary for servants, slaves, guests and sometimes uninvited guests to recline and be served by the patron and his family. The Feast of Saturnalia fell in December, when the normal order of things was reversed and the family actually served the servants.

"Roman Kitchen Slaves"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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