Today, waters of the seas and oceans transformed in bridges and passage ways, or presumably so, from the extreme poverty to the seats in first class. In the video by the Masbedo, Le voue, the Mediterranean seawaters are open to whoever seeks a new start in Europe: if art is not a language that encloses the mare nostrum (in fact the Latin name of the Mediterranean Sea means “ours sea, the sea of all of us”) in a circular story, it is necessary to not run away from our civic duties and responsibilities. How to divide this story from human suffering? The live hand of the artist plunges in the marine waters of Stromboli, soft and painful jellyfish fluctuate, the island is metaphor of a frontier that conceals subterranean bellows, on the imaginary ocean floor a feminine chalk hand is the appendix to a classical sculpture and a millenary history. The multicultural and intercultural background of the Mediterranean Sea must confront with the complexity of a social cohesion that is hard to accomplish due to the lack of economic certainties. Ignoring the pagan roots of Europe does not help to comprehend and transmit the eroticism of a western society that, most of all, wants to promote rights and freedom. Alternatively to the manipulation in a political manner, the two artists suggest the solidarity of art that materially embraces history, even if it is painful, in order to humanize a real democratic integration.
Starting from 2nd century BCE, in Rome, in the italic peninsula and in its provinces (Syria, North Africa, Gaul, Greece, Asia minor and Egypt) slavery was the backbone of the socio-economic production. A senatorial family could have up to 500 slaves with the most disparate duties: domestics, farmers, medics, accountants, secretaries, artisans, miners, religious attendants, teachers etc. Slaves are often prisoners of war as in the case of Julius Cesar who brings from Gaul to Rome about one million people. During the reign of Augustus almost 35% of the italic population lives in slavery. The economic impact of such a system has consequences on the wellbeing of slaves, who can now have access to material privileges (food, clothes, jewels, personal objects etc.). The familia urbana gathers slaves who work in the city (and who could benefit from recreational activities such as theatres, gymnastics, horse racing, taverns and brothels). The familia rustica gathers slaves who are ordered to the agricultural duties. The work of slaves also has a managerial aspect: procuratores and dispensatores have the job of supervising the economic activities with the help of scribes, secretaries, accountants. The emotional ties that occur between slave and master may give birth to intimate affective situations, but may also result in tyranny and oppression (slaves did not own any legal status, they could be subject to tortures, abuses, sexual abuses and death). Slaves own other slaves of domestic duties, paying them with the incomes received by the familia. Giving salaries to slaves is a discretional and non compulsory act, yet this practice allows slaves to pay for other slaves in the works and duties requested. Family is an enclave that includes not only the members who have birth right, but the entire community of peoples and slave of the family. The bond between the roman aristocracy and its slaves is documented in the Horti Tauriani, an area that includes tombs of slaves and free people belonging to the gens Statilia. The stoic philosophers are some of the first thinkers that condemn the abuse of slaves: this does not mean that they are against slavery, yet through their doctrine they try to educate the aristocratic class to a behavior suitable to the moral values of Stoicism. A unique case is that of Artemidorus: in his onirocritico, known as Book of Dreams he gathers the dreams of slaves. The most frequent is the desire for freedom.
Keith Bradley, Paul Cartledge, The Cambridge World History of Slavery. The Ancient Mediterranean World, Vol. 1, Cambridge 2011