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date: 26 November 2022



  • John Percy Vyvian Dacre Balsdon
  •  and Antony Spawforth


The purpose of the alimentary foundations in the Roman empire was to give an allowance for feeding children, and this was achieved by the investment of capital in mortgage on land, the mortage-interest being paid to, and administered by, cities or state-officials. The system originated in civic *euergetism, the earliest known benefactor being the senator T. Helvius Basila at *Atina in the late Julio-Claudian period (ILS997). A later benefactor, the younger Pliny, who gave a similar endowment to *Comum, has recorded his reasons for doing so (Ep. 7. 18). Inscriptions record similar private benefactions both in Italy and in the provinces, the east included. Gifts from the imperial *fiscus to Italian towns for this purpose were first made by *Nerva and *Trajan. The evidence for the imperial scheme in Italy (continuing at least until the early 3rd cent. ce) comes mainly from honorific inscriptions set up by the beneficiaries and two alimentary tables from Veleia and Ligures Baebiani (ILS 6675; 6509).


  • Ancient Economy
  • Roman Law

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