Bad marketing, Roman style. Would it have killed the seller to wash the girls, do their hair up nice and put a little grease in it and on their skins? And remove all their clothes, of course. Only a fool buys a clothed slave!Image source: Vidcap from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
The flying monkeys found an excellent article in, of all places, The Wall Stret Journal. It was advice for an up and coming political aspirant that seemed directly related to the current political campaign. The catch of course is that it's culled from a 2000 year old Roman manuscript.
There was a particular quote that interested me. Here it is:
3. Know your opponent's weaknesses—and exploit them. Quintus practically invented opposition research: "Consider Antonius, who once had his property confiscated for debt…then after he was elected as praetor, he disgraced himself by going down to the market and buying a girl to be his sex slave." A winning candidate calmly assesses his opponent and then focuses relentlessly on his weaknesses, all the while trying to distract voters from his strengths.
The reason it interested me is this: the notion that a Roman would be disgraced by purchasing a sex slave. Hell, the term sex slave itself is a bit jarring. Romans did literally consider slaves property. The term originate from the phrase "saved" the idea being that they were the survivors of battle whose lives were "saved" (i.e., they were not massacred) in exchange for a lifetime of servitude. Their lives and their bodies belonged to the Romans much as the lives and bodies of farm animals did, in fact, under Roman law, slaves were not regarded as human, but as livestock.
So of course Romans could fuck any slave they wanted to, male and female, and according to the sources I've read (The Internet) they did. They did not have sex slaves, they were ALL sex slaves, in essence, though as a practical matter the house slaves generally served as sex slaves. Some Romans probably took slaves primarily for the purpose of fucking them, but they also worked around the house when they were not being fucked.
I've seen nothing to indicate that Romans would have considered fucking a slave to be disgraceful. Now being fucked BY a slave ... if you were male, being on the receiving end ... THAT could be disgraceful. But the Romans just weren't freaked out about sex the way Christians and their weird-ass descendants (that would be, Western Civilization) are.
So, I'm taking this quote with a grain of salt. I'm no scholar in Roman history, but I've read a LOT of popular accounts of Roman slavery (some of them only semi-lurid at best) and none of them points in the same direction this one does.
Still, fun read!