Slaves of God: Augustine and Other Romans on Domination
Dr. Toni Alimi
Augustine believed that slavery is permissible. On the surface, his reasons for this belief might appear familiar: he thought that God ordains slavery so that masters can help slaves become Christians. However, digging deeper into Augustine's arguments reveals a surprising bricolage of ancient Roman influences: Cicero, Seneca, and Lactantius most prominent among them. This paper draws these influences out and highlights the ways in which they generate tensions that Augustine failed to resolve. Neither Augustine's arguments nor the tensions contained within them were inert. Thirteen centuries after Augustine, American slaveowners were confronted with similar tensions. The way these slaveowners resolved them proved crucial for the development of the concept of race in the American context.