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Amica

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Velut Luna

Sibilla Cumana
AMICA

The slavegirl of Pompeii

Curses and Smoke


Her name was Amica (loved girlfriend) and her name and footprint are embedded in a terra cotta tile alongside her girlfriend Detfri. The signed tile is a rare find, as Amica was a Roman slavegirl and not only her name, but a tangible imprint of her life, in the form of her footprint survives to this day.

amica1.jpg

Inscriptions and footprints—likely made with wooden shoes—on an ancient roof tile offer a glimpse into the Italic world. When the clay tiles were being made for the roof of a temple at the spectacular sanctuary at Pompeii, two slave girls apparently decided to have some fun. Across the bottom, one wrote in Latin: “Amica, the servant of Herennius, imprinted her mark when we laid out the tiles [to dry].” Her co-worker wrote the upper inscription in Oscan, the language spoken by Samnites and many other groups (it was once more common than Latin). Her words: “Detfri, the servant of Herennius Sattius, imprinted her mark with the sole of her shoes.” The tile was discovered while excavating the site in 2014.


Amica 1


I feel a strange sensation, touching her black skin, as we're tied together here in the Phoenician slave-merchants' ship that's carrying us over the rough seas towards our doom. She is smiling at me with her white teeth, speaking to me with words in an unknown language, she repeats: 'Amica, Amica!'.
 

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Educated slaves when they can read and write.

Educated slaves were more valuable and more likely to be given jobs that required some independence of action...hence a likely reason why they were the ones making tiles for the Temple roof which would not have been a project that their masters would wish to hand over to any slapdash fool.
 

Barbaria1

Rebel Leader
Staff member
AMICA

The slavegirl of Pompeii

Curses and Smoke


Her name was Amica (loved girlfriend) and her name and footprint are embedded in a terra cotta tile alongside her girlfriend Detfri. The signed tile is a rare find, as Amica was a Roman slavegirl and not only her name, but a tangible imprint of her life, in the form of her footprint survives to this day.


Inscriptions and footprints—likely made with wooden shoes—on an ancient roof tile offer a glimpse into the Italic world. When the clay tiles were being made for the roof of a temple at the spectacular sanctuary at Pompeii, two slave girls apparently decided to have some fun. Across the bottom, one wrote in Latin: “Amica, the servant of Herennius, imprinted her mark when we laid out the tiles [to dry].” Her co-worker wrote the upper inscription in Oscan, the language spoken by Samnites and many other groups (it was once more common than Latin). Her words: “Detfri, the servant of Herennius Sattius, imprinted her mark with the sole of her shoes.” The tile was discovered while excavating the site in 2014.


Amica 1


I feel a strange sensation to touch with her black skin, tied together here in the Phoenician ship of slaves merchant that carries us through the rough seas towards our doom, she is smiling at me with her white teeth tells me words in a language unknown repeats: 'Amica, Amica!'.

Oh, here we go again...great start Luna. This should be good.;)
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
What a fascinating discovery! And a wonderful cue for another great story Luna. :D

Educated slaves were more valuable and more likely to be given jobs that required some independence of action...hence a likely reason why they were the ones making tiles for the Temple roof which would not have been a project that their masters would wish to hand over to any slapdash fool.

It's very interesting that they are literate - and even in Oscan, which, although it was certainly widespread (as indicated by placename evidence) it was rarely written. And I agree that tile-making would require some skill, a good eye and steady hand rather than big muscles, it's again interesting that women were involved.

But the description made me think immediately of young girls I saw doing very similar work in India - very poor, child labourers virtually slaving under the baking hot sun (and pretty certainly illiterate). I fear that Amica and Detfri might have been daughters of free parents who'd fallen on hard times, or they'd been reduced to slavery for some other reason - it's touching to see evidence of their high spirits even in the face of a horrible change in their lives!
 

cxslave

Chain Slave
This is promising to say the least!!:) This is why I almost decided to major in history before being talked out of it. I literally got chills just seeing the pic of their prints. The fact that someone (a slave no less!!!) has left her mark and is communicating with us now is mind blowing:eek:.
 

cxslave

Chain Slave
What a fascinating discovery! And a wonderful cue for another great story Luna. :D



It's very interesting that they are literate - and even in Oscan, which, although it was certainly widespread (as indicated by placename evidence) it was rarely written. And I agree that tile-making would require some skill, a good eye and steady hand rather than big muscles, it's again interesting that women were involved.

But the description made me think immediately of young girls I saw doing very similar work in India - very poor, child labourers virtually slaving under the baking hot sun (and pretty certainly illiterate). I fear that Amica and Detfri might have been daughters of free parents who'd fallen on hard times, or they'd been reduced to slavery for some other reason - it's touching to see evidence of their high spirits even in the face of a horrible change in their lives!
Yes it certainly seems strange to me as well. Two slave girls both literate in latin/oscan or both is unusual. A male slave certainly could have been but I think you are right barb. These are either high class slave owned by a rich family (seems unlikely given the work they were doing) or they were free, educated girls that were enslaved. The mystery is fascinating and I can't wait to read Luna's tale about them!
 
But the description made me think immediately of young girls I saw doing very similar work in India - very poor, child labourers virtually slaving under the baking hot sun (and pretty certainly illiterate). I fear that Amica and Detfri might have been daughters of free parents who'd fallen on hard times, or they'd been reduced to slavery for some other reason - it's touching to see evidence of their high spirits even in the face of a horrible change in their lives!

Yes it certainly seems strange to me as well. Two slave girls both literate in latin/oscan or both is unusual. A male slave certainly could have been but I think you are right barb. These are either high class slave owned by a rich family (seems unlikely given the work they were doing) or they were free, educated girls that were enslaved. The mystery is fascinating and I can't wait to read Luna's tale about them!

Indeed that is my thinking.

My best guess would the daughters of middle class parents (as in shopkeepers or traders) rather than upper class landowners as these would be far less likely to be interested in the local Oscan tongue and also it seems frequently neglected educating their daughters who were politically valuable breeding units...

Hard working middle order parents engaged in trade however would not have been able to rely on buying literate slaves and thus would have been more likely to invest the time and effort in educating their daughters so they could keep books, manage stock and deal with the weight of bureaucracy attendant upon commercial activity in a Roman city. Being literate business partners would have also helped their marriage prospects in happier circumstances as well.

However bankruptcy is an attendant risk for business people throughout the ages and as noted the Romans did allow families own persons to be considered assets to be sold to recoup losses to their creditors.
 

cxslave

Chain Slave
Indeed that is my thinking.

My best guess would the daughters of middle class parents (as in shopkeepers or traders) rather than upper class landowners as these would be far less likely to be interested in the local Oscan tongue and also it seems frequently neglected educating their daughters who were politically valuable breeding units...

Hard working middle order parents engaged in trade however would not have been able to rely on buying literate slaves and thus would have been more likely to invest the time and effort in educating their daughters so they could keep books, manage stock and deal with the weight of bureaucracy attendant upon commercial activity in a Roman city. Being literate business partners would have also helped their marriage prospects in happier circumstances as well.

However bankruptcy is an attendant risk for business people throughout the ages and as noted the Romans did allow families own persons to be considered assets to be sold to recoup losses to their creditors.
Pretty much my thinking as well, just so many possibilities and we'll never know...:oops:
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
Both the girls’ names would have been nicknames given them by their Master Herennius. Whatever identities their parents gave them would have been lost when they became slaves.

Amica, ‘lover-girl’, suggests that tile-making wasn’t her only slave-duty.;)

The Oscan name Detfri looks baffling, but (having mugged up on what I can find out about Oscan) I think it may well involve the Italic root *do-t-, *de-t- ‘give’, cf. Latin do, dāre, dedi, so her name might mean something like ‘gift’ or ‘dedicated’. It would have pronounced something like /det-vri/, and might be comparable to Latin dot-āri[um] > ‘dowry’, in which case the slavegirl would have been among the goods and money Herennius acquired from his in-laws along with his wife when he married her.

The fact that he supplied them with shoes (more than those kids I saw in India could hope for) suggests he was quite a considerate Master.
 

Fox-on-Cross

Great-Cruxinquisitor
The Oscan name Detfri looks baffling, but (having mugged up on what I can find out about Oscan) I think it may well involve the Italic root *do-t-, *de-t- ‘give’, cf. Latin do, dāre, dedi, so her name might mean something like ‘gift’ or ‘dedicated’. It would have pronounced something like /det-vri/, and might be comparable to Latin dot-āri[um] > ‘dowry’, in which case the slavegirl would have been among the goods and money Herennius acquired from his in-laws along with his wife when he married her.

Miss Eulalia has her scientific dictionaries. So do I.
 

Velut Luna

Sibilla Cumana
Both the girls’ names would have been nicknames...
Amica, ‘lover-girl’, suggests that tile-making wasn’t her only slave-duty.;)...
A brief clarification on the name Amica. Is the name by which the black girl, slave as the protagonist of the story, called Luna in front the buyer of the two girls so it becomes the name of Luna recorded in the purchase of slaves, Herennius is the second boss in order of time after the first that bought slaves from the Phoenician merchant.
The name 'Detfri' is uncertain, but can be as Latin 'dotari', in Italian 'dotata': with ability. English: endowed

Immagine1.jpg

 
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Velut Luna

Sibilla Cumana
Both the girls’ names would have been nicknames given them by their Master Herennius. Whatever identities their parents gave them would have been lost when they became slaves.

Amica, ‘lover-girl’, suggests that tile-making wasn’t her only slave-duty.;)

The Oscan name Detfri looks baffling, but (having mugged up on what I can find out about Oscan) I think it may well involve the Italic root *do-t-, *de-t- ‘give’, cf. Latin do, dāre, dedi, so her name might mean something like ‘gift’ or ‘dedicated’. It would have pronounced something like /det-vri/, and might be comparable to Latin dot-āri[um] > ‘dowry’, in which case the slavegirl would have been among the goods and money Herennius acquired from his in-laws along with his wife when he married her.

The fact that he supplied them with shoes (more than those kids I saw in India could hope for) suggests he was quite a considerate Master.

A brief clarification on the name Amica. Is the name by which the black girl, slave as the protagonist of the story, called Luna in front the buyer of the two girls so it becomes the name of Luna recorded in the purchase of slaves, Herennius is the second boss in order of time after the first that bought slaves from the Phoenician merchant.
The name 'Detfri' is uncertain, but can be as Latin 'dotari', in Italian 'dotata': with ability. English: endowed​


My post before is only true for my history. The Eulalia's analysis is a great piece of historical research and interpretation!​
 

Eulalia

Poet Laureate
Staff member
yes, dotare is from the same root - dotata would mean 'gifted',
and that can often mean with ability in English;
Detfri might indeed be an 'e-grade' variant with a similar meaning.
But, like 'gifted' in Scots, it would be ambiguous,
it can mean 'something given' (like a slave given as a dowry)
or 'someone who's been given something' (like exceptional ability).

I'm sure everyone's eager to hear more of Luna/ Amica :D
 

cxslave

Chain Slave
A great history lesson and great story telling? This thread is awesome!:D Thanks Eul for the great info and latin translations. I had no idea slaves lost their names when they were bought. Slaves with sandals does point to a rich household as well. I'm thinking our two girls might have just been two of the master's preferred serving girls (who served in more ways than one) and were simply walking by the tiles drying in the sun. Just frustrating how every detail we know opens up 10 more questions.:eek: I regret not majoring in history now!:oops: Anyway I so look forward to Luna's story as well!!:)
 

Velut Luna

Sibilla Cumana
Amica 2


I look at her lips, so black and fleshy, the redness of her inner mouth, her beautiful face, her fine appearance. I've never seen a girl with black skin, I didn’t think they could even exist.

02.jpg

My skin is white, pale as moon, and Luna is my name. My hair looks silvery, we’re so different, but now our wrists and ankles are bound together by ropes with knots that cannot be undone, sitting side by side naked on the bare wooden deck-panks.

01.jpg

But we’ve been treated with respect, nobody has tried to touch our bodies, we’ve not been raped. The Phoenician merchant has laden his ship with young and beautiful girls, evidently a precious cargo, worth more than its weight in gold.


She stretches out her head towards my face, extending her slender neck. I shrink as if in fear. She repeats 'amica, amica', kisses me on the cheek and smiles, I answer with a shy smile.

We stare at each other intently as if we were talking, her dark eyes scrutinize the oceanic depths of mine. She puts her lips on mine and, half-closing them, begins a long kiss.

Our tongues meet, touch, explore. I’ve never experienced a similar feeling. I am filled with a strange languor, tension and chill run through my body, my areoles and nipples are swelling, the energy of desire rises between my legs.

With an intense feeling of pleasure, I surrender to her kiss. My heart’s pounding, we make contact between our bodies with light, alternating movements, skin against skin like a caress, a moment’s breath, then back together again.

I’m overwhelmed by this play of our mouths, lips, tongues, licking, chewing , sucking. I utter weak moans and sighs of pleasure. Moisture flows from our sex, we’re heedless of the surprised and curious looks of our companions, unaware of the passage of time, until, exhausted, we abandon ourselves against each other, almost asleep, overcome by this sweet exercise of kissing.
 

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