This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Romans not rated by skin color

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Romans were not racists at all and not rated by skin color. Seneca the Younger claimed that people with black complexion were not a surprise in Rome.

An interesting argument from Seneca below.

In the next place, we ought to conder the whole state of mankind, in order to pass a just judgment on all the occurrences of life: for it is unjust to blame individuals for a vice which is common to all. The colour of an Æthiop is not remarkable amongs this own people, nor is any man in Germany ashamed of red hair rolled into a knot. You cannot call anything peculiar or disgraceful in a particular man if it is the general characteristic of his nation.

Seneca the Youher, De Ira, XXVI

The Romans used the general term for black inhabitants, describing them as “Ethiopians”. The Ethiopians had their own state – Kingdom of Aksum – which in the first century BCE experienced its “golden period”. Goods were transported from the port of Adulis to the Mediterranean, as well as to India and Ceylon. The Romans maintained commercial contacts with the Ethiopians. Thanks to the fact that the residents of Aksum certainly had a black skin color, hence the general term for all black people in the Empire.

Sources
  • Snowden Jr. Frank M., Misconceptions about African Blacks in the Ancient Mediterranean World: Specialists and Afrocentrists, "Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics", Third Series, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Winter, 1997), pp. 28-50

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

Your financial help is needed, in order to maintain and develop the website. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server. I believe that I can count on a wide support that will allow me to devote myself more to my work and passion, to maximize the improvement of the website and to present history of ancient Romans in an interesting form.

Support IMPERIUM ROMANUM!

News from world of ancient Rome

If you want to be up to date with news and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Roman bookstore

I encourage you to buy interesting books about the history of ancient Rome and antiquity.

Check out bookstore

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: