Roman Slave Market

26 year old Portia was excited. She was finally on her way to the slave market, accompanied by her husband’s big, burly slave Africanus, in order to purchase her very own footslave. She had been pestering her husband, Aquinas, for months now about getting another slave for the household – and, in particular, a slave who could attend exclusively to her own selfish needs.

Africanus was a strong, diligent and hard-working slave, but he was often required to accompany his master on business, leaving Portia at home with just Julia, the maidservant, to take care of her needs. Julia, too, was a sweet, hard-working girl – but she had so much work to do about the house that Portia always felt rather guilty taking up her precious time. Furthermore, she felt somewhat embarrassed whenever she needed Julia to take care of her feet – to wash or pedicure them, mainly because even the lady Portia felt such humble tasks as being a Roman lady’s foot-washer were beneath a woman: any woman, even a humble, Roman slave-girl.

No, what Portia needed, and she had been banging on to her husband about this for nearly a year now, was a personal, male footslave. Such footslaves (or servi-provolvi to give them their proper Latin name) were plentiful and cheap in the slave markets of Rome, and no self-respecting Roman lady should ever be seen without one. Did Aquinas really want people to pity his beloved wife? To whisper behind their hands about the dire state of her unattended and unpampered aristocratic, Roman feet? To feed further the, entirely false, rumours about Aquinas’s penury and inability to provide for his wife? Aquinas wasn’t, in actual fact, hard up for cash at all – he was just a bit mean when it came to money!

Eventually, however, Portia’s husband, worn down by his wife’s persistent nagging, had relented – yes she could go to the central slave market in Rome and purchase a personal footslave, although he still couldn’t understand why Africanus and Julia between them couldn’t care for his beloved wife’s precious feet!

Perhaps Aquinas just didn’t appreciate the drive in a young woman to fully own a weak and vulnerable slave-man all to herself; to be the sole arbiter of a helpless, male slave’s fate; Aquinas didn’t fully understand the feminine urge to make a man grovel and worship; to reduce him to a state of abject submission through the sting of a feminine whip!

But then, how could Aquinas be expected to understand that? He was, after all, a free man – respected by his wife and by other women. Not for him the slings and arrows of outrageous femininity!

And quite outrageous images of female dominance and male slavery were indeed racing through lady Portia’s pretty, little head as she sat beside the strong and muscular black slave, Africanus, on the wooden cart that was taking them to the slave market in the capital city, Rome. Africanus was, naturally, in the driving seat, with his mistress seated gaily beside him.

Portia had already decided that she didn’t want a personal footslave who was like Africanus – strong, handsome, muscular, more of a family friend than a slave! No, she wanted a male weakling for a slave – someone she could totally dominate and despise. A lily-livered, pathetic excuse for a slave-man who would cringe with fear every time she entered his presence, and whom she could beat and humiliate with a clear conscience. For she wanted a personal footslave who was made for the whip. Portia loved to watch the whip in action!

A sudden, and very pleasing, vision of the strong and muscular Africanus whipping a scrawny, white weakling of a slave-man at her pretty, brown-leather sandalled, Roman feet suddenly flashed through her increasingly excited brain. She could almost hear the swish and crack of the whip as it descended mercilessly onto the kneeling footslave’s cowering and exposed bare back. She could hear the slave’s scream of pain and despair – sense his fear and anguish; feel his blubbering slave-lips on her hot, dirty toes inside her open-toed, brown leather sandals as he beseeched her – his owner and mistress – to have mercy on his dirty, slave back, and call off the terrible whip.

But, of course, she wouldn’t!

A shiver of pure power rippled down young lady Portia’s pretty, female spine as she merely imagined the thrill of denying her helpless victim any mercy, and as she pictured herself signalling to Africanus with a mere nod of her pretty, Roman head that he was to lay on yet another, biting, searing stroke of the leather whip across the kneeling slave’s back. As she dwelt on such happy images, seated beside Africanus at the front of the wooden cart, lady Portia licked her lips.

She was not a particularly cruel young woman, you understand. Just Roman.

Africanus had to constantly shout at the citizens to make way as the cart entered the busy markets area of the capital city. Portia loved the hustle and bustle around her – such a contrast to the sometimes boring peace and tranquillity of her country villa! She had been ‘window shopping’ in Rome for a slave many times before – but this time it was for real. Her husband had finally given her 500 sesterces to purchase a living, breathing slave – although she was under strict instructions to try to barter the price down!

Africanus eventually parked the cart near the market of the infamous slave-trader known as Malachi. Malachi specialised in male slaves for Roman ladies – all kinds of male slaves, from personal bodyguards, to personal body slaves, to field labourers, to personal footslaves. He didn’t ‘auction’ them as such. He merely tethered his human wares in humble kneeling positions to wooden poles in the dusty, Roman ground – ready to be physically inspected by any would-be female buyers.

Slave-trader Malachi had a reputation for quality merchandise at a bargain price – his ‘infamy’ stemmed merely from his uncompromising methods of preparing his produce for their lives as the humble slaves of women. In particular, he employed a whole host of young Roman women whose sole purpose was to, literally, whip the male slaves into shape. The slave-trader Malachi always ensured his products understood and respected the power of the female whip before putting them up for sale. This was important to Portia because she specifically wanted a slave-man who was already trained and broken. She liked the idea of whipping an already broken man, more than having to take the time and effort to break in a man herself. Young lady Portia was quite lazy like that!

She had therefore instructed Africanus beforehand to drive straight to the market of Malachi. They were not there by chance.

As Africanus helped the young lady Portia down from the wooden cart, ensuring his mistress’s white, ankle-length toga did not rise up immodestly above her ankles thereby displaying her bare, Roman calf-muscles for the whole of lecherous Rome to see, the slave-trader Malachi – ever able to sense a serious buyer from a casual browser – immediately made his way over to the young, aristocratic Roman lady in order to welcome her to his humble slave-stall:

‘Greetings, most beautiful lady,’ he fawned, ‘I trust you are well this fine, summer’s day?’ he grovelled obsequiously.

Slave-trader Malachi didn’t really think this young Roman woman was particularly good-looking, nor did he care whether she was feeling well or not. He was, if truth be told, a weaselly man – interested only in one thing: making money. But if that meant kowtowing to his female customers, and flattering their feminine egos, then so be it!

Africanus, of course, being a man, saw through the slave-trader’s flattery instantly, and quietly sneered to himself. The lady Portia was pretty enough – but not what he would have described as ‘most beautiful’.

The lady Portia, however, was duly flattered:

‘Greetings, trader Malachi. Your reputation for a good product at a fair price precedes you. I trust we can do business today!’

Now it was the slave-trader Malachi who felt genuinely flattered. The lady was clearly a serious customer – she even knew his name:

‘Oh yes, my lady – I am sure we can conduct mutually beneficial business on this fine day…is the lady looking for anything in particular?’

No point in beating about the bush! The lady clearly has something in mind already.

‘Yes, I require a servus-provolvo to pamper and care for my feet!’

Malachi smiled:

‘And exceedingly pretty feet they are too, Madam, if I may say so!’

Africanus flinched again. Now the sycophantic slave-trader really was resorting to blatant flattery. Young lady Portia’s feet were okay – but not what you would call ‘exceedingly pretty’; they were a rather pasty white in hue, quite large, and with somewhat misshapen toes. Her big toes in particular were rather crooked. Africanus knew this because he had occasionally been obliged, to his enormous chagrin, to wash young lady Portia’s feet himself – a task he didn’t much enjoy and found incredibly humiliating as a strong, burly man. He found it debasing; beneath him. He had even complained to his master, Aquinas, thereby adding yet more pressure on the master behind the scenes to agree to purchase a personal footslave for his beloved wife.

However, young lady Portia was clearly being sucked in by the roguish salesman’s insincere admiration of her ‘exceedingly pretty’ feet. She blushed:

‘Thank you, kind sir…erm…I would like a weak slave, if possible. One that is already broken, that fears the whip, and is accustomed to paying his slavish respects to a superior young Roman woman’s feet!’

‘Indeed, my lady …I have just the thing…please come this way…’ and with that the toadying slave-trader gently and respectfully took lady Portia’s arm and escorted her over to the far corner of his market area. He had the lady Portia’s arm, and therefore effectively had her purse in his fingers. He would not now let go until she had purchased a male slave from him. She was, in essence, trapped – trapped by the slippery salesman.

Africanus followed behind his mistress but said nothing. It was not his place to say anything. Besides, he wanted the slave-trader to make a sale every bit as much as the slave-trader himself!

The market trader duly led them over towards a wooden pole to which was tethered a gaunt-looking, pale and spindly, semi-naked, excuse for a man. He was kneeling humbly in the dirt, head bowed, his hands shackled above him, his sunburnt back displaying the traces of several angry-looking whip marks. Young lady Portia had an instant sense of her own superiority over the chained and shackled, pathetic-looking, kneeling prisoner. Even the slave Africanus felt vastly superior next to the cringing, whipped male creature.

‘This fool is from the far North of the Empire, my lady. He was captured by the glorious Roman army just 6 months ago, and, as you can see, has been completely subdued and broken by the sting of the whip. He would make an excellent footslave for you, my lady – see the fear and submission in his terrified eyes…look at the shape of his slave-mouth; just right for kissing a lady’s feet!...Please feel free to inspect him and test his lips on your feet, my lady!’ invited the slave-trader Malachi – still unaware of his potential customer’s name, but equally unaware of his slave-product’s name. To the slave-trader the tethered slave was just another slave. He had a dozen more out the back, all being watched over by his female assistants!

Just for the record, the product’s name was (or rather had been) Fredrik, but even he didn’t think of himself in such human terms any more. He was now, just a thing – a whipped thing. His only ambition in life now was to serve his Roman female masters and betters. The whip had taught him his place!

And so he was nothing but grateful when he felt the greasy slave-trader unshackling his aching arms that had been stretched to the top of the wooden pole above him for what had seemed like an eternity, as the unshackling of his arms enabled him to collapse onto the ground, into the dirt where he belonged, in front of the dusty, sandalled feet of this young, aristocratic Roman lady who had apparently come to inspect and possibly purchase him.

The young lady in question had now hitched up the hem of her white toga and imperiously stretched out her open-toed, brown leather sandalled foot on the ground under his now prostrate face. She did not need to give him a verbal order. The footslave formerly known as Fredrik now knew instinctively what he must do.

He lowered his dry and parched lips to the somewhat misshapen, unpainted, sweaty, moist big toe of the young Roman lady’s outstretched, right foot, breathed in the musty aroma of her brown, leather Roman sandal, and kissed her dusty Roman toenail.

‘Ha! Ha! See how the slave’s lips complement your toes, my lady!...Truly this wretched slave is made for your feet!’ enthused the slave-trader. He then kicked his goods in the ribs:

‘Fawn and truckle to the lady, dirty slave! …Assure her of your subservience and obedience, and hail the beauty of her superior Roman feet!’

A well as teaching slave Fredrik the power of the whip, slave-trader Malachi, or rather his female assistants, had also taught the slave the beautiful language of sycophantic slave-speak. And so slave Fredrik effectively sold himself to the lady Portia by means of the most cringing, self-abasing and demeaning slave-speak known to slavekind:

‘Oh pray, most beautiful Roman mistress, if it pleases you, most beautiful Roman lady, this dirty, whipped footslave begs for the honour of serving the superior, Roman lady as her humble foot-servant. Oh pray, mistress, this slave is enraptured by the aroma and taste of the sweet mistress’s most beautiful Roman feet after just one humble, slavish kiss to her big toenail, and would truly deem it an honour to spend the rest of his wretched existence ingesting the dirt and perspiration from the superior, female master’s feet, if it would be so pleasing to you, most magnanimous, all-powerful and beautiful, superior Roman goddess-mistress. Oh pray sweet mistress! Oh pray mistress!’

The pathetic piece of dirt then lavished further kisses to the lady Portia’s remaining toes on her still arrogantly outstretched right foot. He didn’t care that he was swallowing a young woman’s foot bacteria, foot sweat and toenail dirt. Nor did he care that her toes were quite ugly and misshapen. For they were the toes of a superior young Roman mistress – and his possible ticket away from the tethering pole under the baking hot sun of the open-air slave market. This Roman lady’s crooked and misshapen, pasty-white toes were his main chance right now to actually make something of his life – as a superior, young Roman lady’s humble footslave.

Unlike the slave-trader Malachi’s flattery, therefore, slave Fredrik’s flattery and adulation had been quite genuine.

Not that either of them need have worried. The lady Portia had already made her mind up to buy this broken and whipped slave, but she had to appear somewhat reluctant, in order to drive down the price.

She managed to get a full 15 sesterces off the asking price of 450 sesterces. Her husband Aquinas will be so pleased – especially since the slave-trader threw in a brand new leather slave-whip at no extra charge!

Portia coiled up the thick, leather whip in her petty, feminine hands and turned to her driver:

‘Africanus, tether the slave to the back of the cart. He shall walk to my villa whilst I sit above him at the rear of the cart. His eyes shall not leave my feet!’

The arrangement the lady Portia was referring to was not an uncommon one for Roman ladies who were ‘escorting’ their newly purchased slaves back to their villas in the countryside. Africanus would resume his place in the driver’s seat up front; the lady Portia would now sit with her back to him in the rear of the cart on a special, raised seat that allowed her feet to rest on a small wooden platform at the end of the cart. The newly purchased footslave would then be tied to the back of the cart in a standing position, his face just inches away from the resting feet of his new mistress – and he would be required to walk (or run) behind the cart with his stupid, slave face secured at his new mistress’s leather-sandalled feet.

The thinking behind such an arrangement was that a footslave was not yet worthy to be conveyed in his new mistress’s cart, not even lying under her precious, Roman feet, and that it was much more appropriate that he should be made to run and walk at his mistress’s feet.

Slave Africanus laughed as he tethered and shackled the scrawny new slave to the back of the cart whilst the lady Portia signed the deed of sale with the slave-trader Malachi (the slave came not only with a free whip but also with a two year money-back guarantee!)

‘Ha! Ha! I shall doubtless be overlaying your whip marks with some fresh stripes when the lady Portia gets you home, footslave…’ the African slave informed the North European slave. ‘…Ha! Ha! The lady Portia is partial to seeing a new slave writhing under the sting of the lash! Ha! Ha!’

Slave Fredrik, the nameless slave, said nothing. At least he now knew the name of his new mistress – lady Portia.

The latter was helped up into her raised, back seat by the ever-galant Africanus, and soon enough slave Fredrik saw his new mistress’s brown-leather sandalled feet and already familiar crooked toes resting just inches in front of his gormless and frightened footslave-face. The lady Portia had kindly hitched up her toga again above her pasty, white ankle bones as she made herself comfortable in the back of the cart – thereby ensuring that her new personal footslave had a good view of her ‘exceedingly pretty’ brown-sandalled feet and pasty-white, aristocratic, Roman ankle bones.

She gave her new slave his first orders – the first of many she intended giving him:

‘Look only at my feet as you walk along, slave. Admire them and yearn for them – for you shall pay further homage to them when we reach my villa!’

‘Yes mistress. As you wish, mistress Portia. This dirty slave obeys his superior Roman mistress.’

The lady Portia was now impressed not with the slave’s verbal sycophancy, but with the fact that the scrawny slave already knew her name. Africanus must have told him. Needless to say, it never even occurred to her to enquire after her new slave’s name. He would just answer to the name ‘slave’, or ‘footslave’!

The said footslave’s face was once again close enough to the lady Portia’s sandalled feet for him to be able to smell them – both the musty smell of her sweat-soaked, brown leather sandals, and the tart, vinegary aroma of her glistening, feminine foot perspiration.

The pathetic footslave actually had no desire to inhale any other part of his new mistress’s body – so conditioned had he now become to admiring superior Roman women’s feet thanks to his training at the feet of master Malachi’s female assistants (slave-trader Malachi only used Roman citizens to train his slaves – albeit lower class Roman girls, who came cheap!)

Even imperfect feet, such as those of the lady Portia, now held footslave Fredrik in shock and awe. Indeed he was, pitifully, now at the stage where he admired imperfect female feet more than he admired more pretty, female feet– if only because it was the little imperfections in a superior young woman’s feet which gave them their individuality. Like, for example, the tiny chip in the top left hand corner of mistress Portia’s left, big toenail. Slave Fredrik found himself wondering where the tiny piece of broken toenail had gone, as he only wished it could be inside his slave stomach!

Mistress Portia subconsciously wiggled her hot, sweaty toes inside her open-toed sandals as the horse-drawn wooden cart set off, and slave Fredrik found himself almost immediately having to break into a canter. He was himself, as befits a slave, bare foot as well as bare-backed – and within minutes the soles of his own slave feet were cut and bruised by the rough gravel of the Roman road.

Lady Portia’s soft, delicate soles in front of his face were, of course, by way of complete contrast, perfectly safe and protected inside her brown leather sandals – and she laughed at the obvious distress and suffering of the pathetic, weak slave-man as he struggled to keep up with her feet resting in front of his face.

Of course, ultimately he had no choice but to keep up – as he was shackled to the back of the cart!

The lady Portia urged Africanus to go faster:

‘Make haste, Africanus. I wish to be home by sundown!’

By sundown! Just how long was this journey going to be, wondered slave Fredrik to himself! It’s only mid-afternoon!

Africanus whipped the horse, and the cart duly went faster. Before long slave Fredrik was sweating like a pig – a footpig being conveyed from the footpig market, tethered to the back of his mistress’s wooden cart, grunting and snorting over her superior feet which were resting in front of his ugly, footpig-snout.

‘Ha! Ha! Faster Africanus! Faster!’ urged the soft, female owner of the soft, female feet - the mistress’s chipped, left big toenail seemingly rising up and down under the hapless and unfit footslave’s nose in time to the cracks of Africanus’s whip as he urged the horse to run ever faster.

Slave Fredrik was grateful for the shackles, without which he would never have been able to keep up with the cart and his new mistress’s beloved, misshapen feet. At one point the cart was going so fast, and his own, weak legs were so exhausted, that his slave-feet were merely being dragged along the coarse gravel of the Roman road. His bare feet were cut to ribbons, but, more importantly, the lady Portia’s feet were secure and relaxed.

Africanus stopped the cart temporarily to give the horse a break by a roadside well. He obligingly brought a ladle of nice, refreshing water for the lady Portia to drink also, and she gratefully gulped it down. It was a very hot summer’s day and the fierce Roman sun was beating down relentlessly through a cloudless sky. Lady Portia would have been quite uncomfortable were it not for her parasol protecting her pretty, aristocratic Roman head as she sat in the back of the cart.

Africanus may have been a bit of a brute – looking forward to whipping the lady Portia’s new slave when they got back to her villa – but having watered the horse, himself, and the lady Portia, he made to ladle some water into the exhausted and tethered footslave’s expectant mouth.

Lady Portia’s leather-sandalled foot intervened, however, pushing the ladle away from the footslave’s parched and cracked lips:

‘Africanus, pour the remaining water over my feet, would you? They are so hot and dirty!’

Africanus had to laugh! The exhausted footslave was literally gasping for water, but now had to observe the precious water being ladled over his new mistress’s sandalled feet instead – directly in front of his face! The lady Portia could be deliciously cruel sometimes!

Africanus knew exactly what she was up to, but felt he had to make some sort of representations on behalf of his fellow slave:

‘Do you not wish me to water the footslave, Madam? He appears to thirst greatly!’

The lady Portia just laughed:

‘We do not have time, Africanus. We must press on…I will, however, allow him to suck the remaining water off my toes!’ and with that she arrogantly stretched forward the dripping wet toes of her right sandalled foot into the gasping footslave’s gaping mouth, giving him a taste of dirty, brown-leather-sandal-flavoured water mixed in with young Roman woman footsweat.

Africanus laughed and struck the footslave with the riding whip across his bare, left shoulder as the latter sucked desperately on his new mistress’s sweaty toes:

‘Ha! Ha! Thank your gracious mistress Portia for sharing her precious foot-water with you, dirty slave!’ he barked in his heavy, African accent.

Slave Fredrik didn’t really need to be whipped into thanking the mistress Portia, for he was genuinely grateful for his dirty refreshment consisting of young-woman-foot-contaminated water. As soon as the lady Portia had withdrawn her sweaty, moist, leather-sandalled foot from his slave mouth, he spoke suitable words of slavish gratitude to her:

‘Oh pray, mistress Portia…if it pleases you most generous and gracious mistress Portia…this dirty slave blesses you, good lady Portia…and thanks the mistress for her generous refreshment of his unworthy, slave mouth with her dirty foot water and foot sweat , if it so pleases you most powerful and gracious Roman mistress.’

Lady Portia laughed both at the slave’s genuine gratitude for his humble drink and at the newly raised weal on his sweating, bare back:

‘Ha! Ha! My pleasure, footslave…think nothing of it!....Africanus, this wretch has had enough rest and recuperation. Let’s crack on apace! Let’s give this fellow some more much needed exercise! Ha! Ha!’

And so Africanus, grinning widely, climbed back up into the passenger seat and the trio of mistress and two slaves (one privileged to be seated on the driving seat of the cart; the other privileged to be running behind the cart at his mistress’s feet) headed off again along the long, hot, gravelly and dusty road towards mistress Portia’s country villa.

It was late evening by the time the cart finally rolled into the back yard of lady Portia's country villa. Her husband, Aquinas, was anxiously waiting for her, and greeted his wife with a relieved kiss as he gallantly helped her down from the back of the cart:

‘My darling! I was beginning to worry…I was expecting you to be home at least an hour ago!’ he chided his wife.

‘I’m sorry husband. We were obliged to slow down due to the ineptness of this wretched fellow – my new servus-provolvo! He just could not seem to keep up with the cart! Ha! Ha! Look, my darling, his feet are all cut to ribbons!’

Master Aquinas now observed the goods, which his hard-earned cash had bought, for the first time;

‘Mmmm…that’s not the only part of his scrawny body that shall be cut to ribbons, my dear!...Africanus, take this indolent slave to the barn and flog him mercilessly across the bare back. See that no part of his back is left unscathed…I will teach him to delay the return of my pretty wife!’

The lady Portia went all soft and gooey. She loved it when her husband talked tough with the slaves.

She certainly said nothing in defence of her new property. In fact, she only added to her new footslave’s impending pain and misery (as was her perfect right):

‘Brand him with my initials first, Africanus. I want him marked as my own…then bring him to my feet after he has been marked and flogged!’, and with that she handed her new slave-whip over to Africanus, turned her back on her new slave-man, put her arm around her loving husband, and headed with him into the comfort of their opulent Roman villa.

Africanus, meanwhile, untethered the exhausted horse from the front of the cart before, grinningly, he untethered the exhausted footslave from the back of the cart – once again allowing the latter to collapse into the dirt:

‘Ha! Ha! That’s right, slave…save your strength for the whip!’ Africanus helpfully counselled his fellow slave. ‘...Ha! Ha! For the next few hours the mistress’s leather shall loom large in your life, first the embrace of her brown leather whip around your slave ribs, and then the touch of her brown leather sandals on your slave lips! Ha! Ha! Welcome to your new life as a Roman lady’s footslave, wretch!’

And with that Africanus kicked some Roman dust into the new footslave’s prostrate face prior to dragging him by a chain attached to his neck across the courtyard of the lady Portia’s villa towards the barn – the branding barn!

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