Times Higher Education
Pax Romana’s inherent violence
Tom Palaima appreciates a depiction of the nature of exploitation under Roman imperial rule
Published: 24 March 2011
Title: Imperialism, Power, and Identity: Experiencing the Roman Empire
Author:David J. Mattingly
Reviewer: Tom Palaima
Publisher:Princeton University Press
Reviewer : Tom Palaima is professor of Classics, University of Texas at Austin in the US.
Of all the images of empire offered here, one persists in the memory and haunts the conscience. In a Sebastiao Salgado photograph of the modern Brazilian gold mine at Serra Pelada, countless human beings stretch in ant-like files up, down, around and across the vast sides of the huge pit opened by the collective unmechanised labour of their individual bodies.
What makes the image monstrous is Mattingly’s use of it as a modern relic of the pre-industrial labour conditions that prevailed during the Roman Empire. In his chapter on metals and mines, Continue reading