I have read of Greeks who were valued as tutors, secretaries, etc, presumably because they were literate and other races (barbarii) tended not to be.

Are there any historical records of general Roman prejudices in selection of slaves?

E.g, Britons and Germans are wild and untrainable, so send them to the mines, fields, Ludus.

Or, if not strictly ethnicity, then skin colour? I do no mean to upset anyone or be controversial, but I have read of a jet black Nubian being highly prized as a "trophy slave" (similar to the concept of a "trophy wife").

That seems like a positive prejudice - if there can be such a thing - are there others? E.g a certain race make great hunters, cooks, etc. Nothing specialized, like gladiators, just general prejudice.

  • 3
    This UNVR article has a section on this: Ethnicity and Slavery. Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 12:15
  • 2
    Do you mean "untrainable" instead of "unattainable"?
    – Spencer
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 14:42
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    @Alex The word "race" was used to mean "nationality" in the past, before its modern meaning took over.
    – Spencer
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 14:43
  • 2
    In what sense does the questioner use it? It's not clear to me from the question. Perhaps, given the cited examples of Britons, Germans, Greeks and Nubians, meaning something like "ethnicity"?
    – Mark Olson
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 14:57
  • 3
    There are definitely many documented "racial" or ethnic stereotypes Romans have for slaves from different origins. Epirote slaves were thought to be good shepherds, for example.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 9:24


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