Life for the slave in the country was often very difficult. They performed back-breaking work in the fields and in the villa. The process had no off season because of the temperate climate.
During the winter months the slaves prepared the vines and fruit trees. The springtime brought plowing, sheep shearing, and bringing animals to market. The hot summer included cutting hay, harvesting grains, and threshing corn. Finally, autumn meant producing new wine, lambing, planting next year's crop, and harvesting the olives.
Work for slaves outside of the villa, included harsh labor in the galleys of ships. Here they would sit in lines and row huge oars for the Roman ships. Their hard work was ensured by the task masters and their whips. Mistreatment of slaves was more frequent in these less skill oriented jobs. The owners knew that replacements for a galley slave came easier then an educated town slave, for example.
This is a typical plan of a villa rustica
A farm millstone, with wooden poles for handles
which turn the stone. Grain is poured in the top
and ground down below by the
weight of the grinding stone.
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