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Article

Keith Bradley

‘Household’ is the usual English translation of Latin familia, a term to which the jurist Ulpian (Dig. 50. 16. 195. 1–5), understanding its application to both property and persons, assigned several meanings: the physical household; the persons comprising a household (e.g. patron and freedman); a body of persons united by a common legal tie such as all kin subject to a living *paterfamilias, or a body more loosely connected such as all agnatically related kin; a body of slaves, or slaves and sons; and all blood descendants of an original family founder. (To some degree familia overlapped with the term domus.) Accordingly, study of the Roman household can range from archaeological investigation of the physical structures in which Romans lived (see houses, italian) to the exclusive history of *slavery. But it is now primarily associated with the field of family history, the principal constituents of which are the composition, organization and evolution of the family through its life-course. Understood ideally to comprise a married couple, their children, the house in which they lived, and their common property (which could include human property), the household in *Cicero's view (Off.

Article

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones

Indictio under the Principate meant the compulsory purchase of food, clothing, and other goods for the army and the court. Owing to the inflation of the mid-3rd cent. ce the payments made for such purchases became derisory and were finally abandoned. From the time of *Diocletian the term indictio was applied to the annual assessment of all levies in kind made by the praetorian prefects: the indictio declared the amount of each item (wheat, barley, wine, oil, clothing, etc. ) payable on each fiscal unit (caput, iugum, etc. ). From 287, indictions were numbered serially in cycles of five years, from 312 in cycles of fifteen years. The number of the indiction was regularly used for dating financial years (which began on 1 September) and sometimes for dating other documents. See finance, roman.

Article

Paul Cartledge

Industry in the sense of hard labour (Gk. ponos; Lat. labor) the Greeks and Romans knew all too much about; total freedom from productive labour (scholē, otium) remained a governing ideal from one end of pagan antiquity to the other. But industry in the modern sense of large-scale manufacturing businesses seeking to exploit economies of scale and the division of labour they knew hardly at all, let alone as the characteristic form of manufacturing unit. That role was always filled by the individual workshop (ergastērion), and it is no accident that the largest Greek or Roman industrial labour force on record barely tipped over into three figures. Nor did élite Greeks and Romans value labourers any more highly than *labour as such; this was partly because manual labour, even when not actually conducted by slaves (see slavery), was nevertheless always apt to attract the opprobrium of slavishness. As Herodotus (2. 167) put it, the Corinthians (see corinth) despised manual craftsmen (cheirotechnai) the least, the *Spartans the most—but all élite Greeks despised them.

Article

John Weisweiler

The just distribution of social goods was fiercely debated in the ancient Mediterranean and the ideologies of egalitarianism and inegalitarianism developed in Rome and Athens shaped Euro-American political thought from the Enlightenment onward. By contrast, the study of actual income and wealth distributions in ancient societies is a more recent development. Only in the early 21st century have scholars begun to make systematic attempts to quantify levels of inequality in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Since we lack the documentary sources on which the study of inequality in contemporary economies is based, most of these reconstructions rely on a combination of modelling and the interpretation of isolated figures found in literary texts. This fragmentary evidence suggests that in the best-attested regions of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East inequality was considerable. In particular, the formation of large territorial states—most notably the empires of Babylon, Persia, and Rome—facilitated the concentration of wealth into fewer hands. But it is unclear whether inequality increased over time. At least, there is no unambiguous evidence that wealth and income were more unequally distributed in late antiquity than in earlier periods of Roman history.

Article

Colin P. Elliott

Inflation typically refers to rising prices. In both ancient and modern societies, inflation is sometimes difficult to identify, measure, and explain with precision. Inflation can occur in the prices of individual goods, the goods and services associated with a particular industry or sector of an economy, or as a macro-phenomenon in which all or most prices in an economy rise. The magnitude of price rises and the duration during which prices stay elevated also have a bearing on how inflation is studied. The ancient world witnessed periods of both slow and steady inflation as well as punctuated surges in prices. Some regions, such as Egypt, offer hundreds of prices, which facilitate quantitative measurements of inflation. In many areas and periods, however, inflation is poorly understood because sufficient numbers of prices do not survive. Scholars, therefore, often use theoretical models and proxy evidence to better understand the nuances and complexity of inflation in classical antiquity.

Article

Jean-Jacques Aubert

Because of the traditional reluctance of the Roman elite to engage personally in profit-oriented economic activities other than agriculture (Cic., Off. 1.151), entrepreneurs of all kinds formed a distinctive social class and would tend to act as non-advertised agents for those who may have had the needs, the means, and the willingness to operate businesses on a larger scale than the individual, subsistence-level enterprise. However, the concept of agency was foreign to Roman law, because acting on behalf and in the name of someone else smacked of magic. Consequently, agents were, at least originally, legally dependents, as slaves or sons and daughters in power, whose lack of legal personality enabled them to better their principal’s economic condition and eventually to engage both their delictual and contractual liability, under certain circumstances. The key to such a legal arrangement was the formal appointment (praepositio) of business managers (institores).

Article

Paul C. Millett

As in modern, industrial society, the ancient world had a complex of rates of interest, varying across time and space. There, however, the similarity ends: ancient interest rates are more social than economic indicators and cannot be read to reveal trends over time. Underlying rates of interest were fixed by custom and stayed stable over long periods: from the 5th to the 2nd cent. bce the temple of *Apollo on *Delos lent money at 10% p.a. (akin to a tithe?). In 4th-cent. Athens, the ‘prevailing’ rate of interest seems to have been 12% p.a. (literally, ‘one drachma interest on each mina lent per month’). The major distinction in loan transactions lay between charging interest and lending interest-free: a pre-existing personal relationship between lender and borrower was thought to preclude the taking of interest (see credit). A rate of 1% per month was apparently seen in Athens as reasonable for an ‘impersonal’ loan transaction (Dem. 27. 17; Ath.

Article

iron  

Oliver Davies and David William John Gill

The new technical processes which introduced the widespread use of iron to the Mediterranean seem to have originated between the 13th and the 9th cent. bce. Although its introduction has been linked to the downfall of the palatial societies of the eastern Mediterranean (c.1200 bce), this now seems unlikely. Iron was used for Mycenaean jewellery, and is mentioned in Homer (Od. 9. 391–3). An iron crater-stand was one of the votives dedicated by *Alyattes at *Delphi (Hdt. 1. 25).Greece possesses small iron-deposits, but the main sources in Classical times were Elba and the *Chalybes country behind *Trapezus. Elba was a major source of iron, and the slag-heaps from *Populonia in Etruria seem to represent an annual iron output of 1,600 to 2,000 tons from that city alone. Other ancient sources used include *Thrace and, under the Roman republic, *Spain.

Article

Dominic W. Rathbone

*Mesopotamia (*Babylonia) and *Egypt were the main areas of the ancient world where agriculture depended on irrigation from a river rather than rainfall, although irrigated pasture and fields were common alongside perennial rivers elsewhere, and many drainage schemes to reclaim land were carried out, e.g. in the Strymon delta and the Po valley. In Mesopotamia the powerful *Euphrates and *Tigris rivers permitted irrigation of extensive plains through a radial network of descending *canals. The gentle gradient of the Nile and its narrow valley meant that local basin irrigation was predominant in Egypt. Both these ‘natural’ systems required heavy communal work to clear canals and repair dykes, and careful drainage to avoid salination, but only the former, being an integrated system, needed centralized control. ‘Artificial’ irrigation was necessary for land which lay above the flood-level and for additional watering of other land outside the period of inundation. The pole-mounted scoop (Arabic shaduf) was the cheapest and commonest mechanical aid; the Persian to Hellenistic periods saw the appearance of the far more efficient and expensive man-powered compartmented waterwheel and Archimedean screw (see archimedes) and animal-powered wheel with pot-garland (Arabic saqiyah), but they were rare, only achieving significant diffusion on large private estates in later Roman Egypt and Syria, although treadmill-driven compartmented wheels were also used in Roman mines to extract water.

Article

D. M. MacDowell

Were Athenian officials in charge of the state treasury. The date of their institution is not known, but they existed at least as early as the time of *Solon. References in inscriptions and in *Aristophanes (1) show that they still had charge of public money in the 5th cent. bce and disbursed money for various purposes, including the pay of jurors.

Article

labour  

Paul C. Millett

Labour, as a factor in the production of wealth, has no equivalent in Greek or Latin. Association of the terms ponos and labor with drudgery reflects the negative attitudes of ancient élites, for whom ‘labour’ was the antithesis of scholē and otium (time available for leisure, politics, education, and culture). Consequently, the labour of theoretically free wage-earners and craftsmen tended to be assimilated to slavery (Arist. Pol. 1337b19 ff.; Cic. Off. 1. 159 f.). *Wages were seen as purchasing the person as opposed to labour-power; the supposedly degrading nature of craft-work (banausia) led to the downgrading of the individual worker (see art, ancient attitudes to; artisans and craftsmen). Surviving sources reveal nothing resembling modern conceptions of unions or trade-guilds (see clubs), strikes, or common programmes of action; nor, aside from occasional epitaphs, is there any awareness of the ‘dignity of labour’. Striking is the absence of any sustained competition or resentment between types of labour. Throughout the Greek and Roman worlds are found instead shifting, complementary relationships between different forms of exploitation. Already in *Hesiod's Works and Days (less clearly in the Odyssey) there exist crude equivalents of ‘free’, ‘wage’, and ‘slave’ labourer, combined on the peasant farm.

Article

Kim Bowes

Roman landscapes exhibited enormous diversity, from the rolling hills of the Mediterranean heartland, to Nile marshlands, Apennine mountain pastures, and African pre-deserts. New work on this diversity has demonstrated the intensive methods with which they were managed for agriculture and artisanal output, as well as their highly periodized histories. While much debate in the study of these landscapes has revolved around ancient climate change, more apparent is robust human intervention, which often reached a peak during the Roman period. Romans thought deeply about landscapes, and their literature and religious rituals used landscape to frame moral, religious, and political values.

Unlike the landscapes of the Greek city states, those encompassed by the Roman empire at its height were diverse in the extreme. Among the empire’s territories were the pre-desert regions of Tripolitania and the Syrian frontier, the mountain pastures of the Apennines, and the marshes of the Egyptian oases, not to mention the rolling limestone landscapes of the Mediterranean heartland. Even within smaller slices of these territories (and even within tiny micro-regions), new work has revealed the remarkable diversity of vegetation, sunlight, rainfall, and topography. It is the plurality of these landscapes that gave Romans material for a rich tradition of literary and religious expression as well as a vast and intensive apparatus for economic exploitation.

Article

M. Stephen Spurr

Latifundia (large estates) ‘have ruined Italy and are now ruining the provinces’. *Pliny (1) the Elder (HN 18. 35) put latifundia at the centre of debate about the development of the Roman rural economy. But what were latifundia? Divergent modern definitions abound and confuse: large pastoral ranches beginning in the 3rd cent. bce; slave-staffed oil- and wine-producing villas (either single properties or the scattered estates of one owner) first described by M. *Porcius Cato(1)c. 160 bce (see villa; slavery); any property above 500 iugera (125 ha.: 309 acres) of whatever period: all of which ‘ruined’ Italy by forcing *peasants from the land. Others dismiss Pliny's remark as generalized nostalgia and refer to archaeological surveys that not only emphasize the diversity of rural settlement but also show that villas and peasant farms often existed side by side. Yet if Pliny is allowed credence, the term latifundia applies strictly to extensive unitary estates, resulting from an aggregation of properties, too large to farm according to the labour-intensive methods of cultivation of the slave-staffed villas recommended by the *agricultural writers (HN 18.

Article

Robin Osborne

Farming of land under some sort of tenancy arrangement goes back to a time before our historical records begin. Problems with private tenancy agreements may underlie the ‘Solonian crisis’ (see solon), and the leasing out of their lots by the cleruchs (see cleruchy) sent to *Salamis (1) at the end of the 6th cent. bce was restricted (ML 14). In Classical Athens leasing could be officially arranged by the archon (see archontes) for orphan estates, and it is likely that this led to quite large areas of private land being leased, but there is not much evidence for details of private land-leasing arrangements, at Athens or elsewhere in Greece. By contrast, there is abundant Classical and Hellenistic evidence for the leasing out of lands owned by corporate bodies, particularly religious groups (see clubs). The most interesting Greek leases from the agricultural point of view are the leases, mainly of 4th-cent. date, which prescribe the agricultural regime. They insist on regular ploughing, digging round vines and olives, application of manure, biennial fallow, in some cases with a pulse crop sown in fallow years, and forbid removal of wood, manure, and topsoil (e.g. RO 59). See agriculture, greek.

Article

linen  

J. P. Wild

Linen (λίνον, linum), yarn and cloth, the product of the domesticated flax plant (Linum usitatissimum L.), which was developed in the Mediterranean region for oil-seed and fibre from the wild Linum bienne. Though hardy, flax grows best in fertile well-watered soils; it was believed by Roman writers to exhaust the land (e.g. Verg. G. 1. 77). *Linear B tablets from *Pylos attest significant flax cultivation in the SW Peloponnese around 1200 bce; in later times flax from Elis, further north-west, had a good reputation (Plin. HN 19. 20). Outside Greece, Ptolemaic *Egypt was heir to some of the finest linens ever made, but by the Roman period the centre of gravity had shifted to urban centres in *Syria and Palestine, notably *Laodicea-Lycus and *Scythopolis (mod. Beth-Shean; see also tarsus). In the west there was praise for the linen weavers of the Po Valley (see padus) in northern Italy and the coastal tract of SE Spain (Plin.

Article

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones and P. J. Rhodes

Greek The liturgy (leitourgia, ‘work for the people’) is an institution known particularly from Athens, but attested elsewhere (*Mytilene, Antiphon 5. 77; *Siphnos, Isoc. 19. 36), by which rich men were required to undertake work for the state at their own expense. It channelled the expenditure and competitiveness of rich individuals into public-spirited directions, and was perhaps felt to be less confiscatory than an equivalent level of taxation.In Athens liturgies were of two kinds: the *trierarchy, which involved responsibility for a ship in the navy for a year; and various liturgies in connection with festivals. The latter included the *chorēgia (‘chorus-leading’: the production of a chorus at the musical and dramatic festivals), the gymnasiarchy (responsibility for a team competing in an athletic festival), hestiasis (‘feasting’: the provision of a banquet), and architheōria (the leadership of a public delegation to a foreign festival). At state level there were at least 97 in a normal year, at least 118 in a year of the Great *Panathenaea, and there were in addition some *deme liturgies.

Article

Arnold Hugh Martin Jones and Antony Spawforth

In Roman municipal law a sharp distinction was drawn between ‘honours’ (honores) and ‘public duties’ (munera: See munus), the former qualifying their holder for a seat on the council; personal exemption from munera was a benefaction conferred by the ruling power through a grant of immunity (*immunitas). These rules were also applied in the Greek east, and offices must have been definitely classified into ‘magistracies’ (archai) and ‘liturgies’ (leitourgiai), although by the later 2nd cent. ce the distinction had broken down, as a result of both the logic of *euergetism, which imposed expectations of personal liberality on office-holders indiscriminately, and of compulsion, increasingly applied to both liturgies and magistracies from *Hadrian on (see P. Garnsey, ANRW 2/1 (1974), 229–52). By the early 3rd cent., when immunity (aleitourgesia in the east) had come to include exemption from magistracies, the most important and onerous liturgies were for the state (notably tax-collection: See decaproti; decemprimi).

Article

D. M. MacDowell

Logistai (λογισταί) in Athens in the 5th and 4th cents. bce were public auditors. Three distinct bodies with this title are known:1. In the 5th cent. 30 logistai supervised payments to and from the sacred treasuries.2. Ten logistai, selected by lot from the members of the *boulē, checked magistrates' accounts each prytany (see prytaneis).3. Ten logistai and ten advocates (συνήγοροι), selected by lot from all citizens, examined the accounts of magistrates at the end of their term of office and brought them before a jury, as the first part of the *euthyna. Presumably the logistai presided in court and the advocates were the prosecutors. If the jury found a magistrate guilty of theft or of accepting bribes, the penalty was a fine of ten times the amount of the offence; if merely of ‘malefaction’ (ἀδίκιον), which may mean causing loss of public money by neglect or inadvertence, the penalty was a fine simply of the amount lost. See also curator rei publicae.

Article

Catharine Edwards

While the definition of luxury might be contested, high-value goods played a crucial role in articulating social distinction and political power in Greece and Rome. Particularly in ancient Rome, where imperial expansion brought increased wealth and access to a wider range of goods, luxury was often the object of moralizing criticism, both as a personal vice and as a general threat to the well-being of the state.

Originally a term to characterize the exuberant growth of plants (see OLD 1), the Roman word luxuria (cf. luxus, luxuries), applied to human behaviour, is regularly associated with the desire for and consumption of high value ephemeral items, such as food, drink, and perfume, costly fabrics and accessories, precious artworks and furnishings, beautiful slaves, and private residences constructed on a large scale and/or out of precious materials.1 The pursuit of luxury is often presented as inimical to manliness and (particularly in the historical discourse of the late Roman republic and early principate) features as a causal factor in accounts of political crisis and moral decline.

Article

Dominic W. Rathbone

In the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, centred as they were on the Mediterranean, maritime transport was far more practical than land transport for long- and even medium-distance trade. Most ships seem to have been of medium size (around 70 tonnes burden) and to have been owned and run by a shipper who both carried goods as freight and traded on his own account. There were also many individual merchants who hired shipping as needed for their ventures. Then as now, the major expense in trading was the investment in purchasing goods; roughly, one cargo of wheat was worth as much as the ship. Hence a merchant, whether or not also a shipowner, often needed third-party finance, for which, because of the peculiar risks involved, a special type of loan was used. This was the maritime loan—nautikon daneion in Greek, nauticum faenus or mutua pecunia nautica in Latin.The maritime loan is first attested in 4th-century bce Athens, in four speeches attributed to Demosthenes, of which the most informative is the prosecution of the brother of a pair of merchants for fraudulent default on a loan (Dem.