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date: 22 September 2023

annona (grain)free

annona (grain)free

  • Paul Erdkamp


Imperial Rome was by far the largest city of its time, and feeding its populace—about one million according to most estimates—required an ever-watchful eye on the part of the authorities. The system supplying Rome, the armies, and some other cities with grain and other foodstuffs came to be known as the annona. The Roman authorities began to intervene directly in the food supply of the city of Rome in the mid-Republican period. A momentous step in this development was the introduction of the grain distribution (frumentatio) by C. Sempronius Gracchus in 123 bce. In the Principate, the annona became a central feature of the relationship between the emperor and the capital’s inhabitants. At the end of Augustus’s reign the office of the annona came to be headed by a praefectus annonae, who had recourse to a staff of subordinates in Rome, Ostia, and Puteoli. Apart from the produce of the imperial estates, Rome collected tax grain primarily in Sicily, Sardinia, and Africa, and from Augustus onwards in Egypt; Rome was then largely sustained by this flow of public grain. The main responsibility of the praefectus annonae was to administer the transportation by means of shipping contracts from the grain provinces to Rome and to curb fraud and speculation on the grain market. The prefect also offered legal support for private businessmen involved in the annona. Part of the public stock was distributed at the frumentationes, which fed a significant part, but not all, of the populace. When Constantinople was founded as a new capital by Constantine, Rome lost access to the Egyptian tax-grain and relied heavily on Africa for grain and olive oil. The system of the annona was enforced more strictly, and shippers involved in the food supply of Rome found themselves bound to their obligations to the annona. In the West, the system ended when Africa was conquered by the Vandals in 429 ce. In the East, Constantinople continued to rely on Egypt until it was conquered by the Persians in 617 ce.


  • Ancient Economy


Imperial Rome was by far the largest city of its time, and feeding its populace—about one million according to most estimates—required the constant care of the authorities. The system supplying Rome with grain and other foodstuffs came to be known as the annona. The annona developed into a central feature of the relationship between the emperor and the capital’s inhabitants, as is shown by the coins that were issued from the start of the imperial period onwards. The personification of Annona became a central figure in imperial coinage from the 1st century onwards.

The coins bore legends such as “ANNONA AUGUSTI” and usually showed symbols such as a grain measure and the prow of a ship, referring to the imperial provisioning from overseas provinces.1 Many of these ANNONA-coins were issues of copper, meant for daily use by the common people. The message is clear: the emperor, through his vigilance and diligence, ensured the people’s prosperity through the shipments of grain from his realm. Hence, the annona was not just an administrative detail of running the capital: it was a core issue in the political functioning of the Roman empire, a fact which, moreover, reflects the limitations of a pre-industrial market economy.

Figure 1. Neronian bronze sestertius, Lugdunum. Obv: Laureate head of Nero l. Legend: IMP NERO CAESAR AUG PONT MAX TR POT P P. Rev: Annona standing r. with cornucopia facing Ceres, seated, holding grain-ears and torch. Legend: ANNONA AUGUSTI CERES SC. CC BY-SA 3.0 Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

Figure 2. Silver denarius of Marcus Aurelius, unknown. Obv: Laureate head of Marcus Aurelius r. Legend: M ANTONINUS AUG ARMENIACUS. Rev: Annona standing l., holding cornucopia. Legend: P M TR P XIX IMP III COS III. CC BY-SA 2.5 Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

It was under Augustus that the core meaning of the word came to refer to the system of the imperial food supply, the cura annonae. Annona had wider meanings than the supply system of Rome; it could also refer to the stock of foodstuffs itself, or to the supply of another city. On coins in the Greek East, EUTHENIA is used as the Greek equivalent of either ANNONA or ABUNDANTIA. In later times the annona militaris was developed as a fiscal system supplying the Roman armies. It is disputed whether the annona militaris constituted a new and separate tax system. It is now widely believed to have been part of the annona system that also supplied Rome and other major cities of the empire.2 In Egypt, the supervision of the urban food supply was known as the euthenia and the magistrate as eutheniarchos.3

As the depiction of the grain measure on many ANNONA coins shows, grain, in particular wheat, was the main item of the annona system, but it was not limited to grain or bread. The imperial administrative system of the annona also concerned itself with the supply of olive oil, wine, and other foodstuffs, but less systematically and comprehensively than in the case of wheat. It focused on grain because wheat was the main provider of calories and nutrients for most inhabitants of the capital. It is hard to say how much grain the inhabitants of Rome consumed annually, but on average it must have been around 200 kg for an adult, supplemented with smaller amounts of pulses, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, meat, and wine.

The imperial concern with the food supply of Rome has been put in a negative light, epitomized in the phrase “bread and games” (panem et circenses; Juvenal 10.81), referring to the corruption and corruptibility of the Roman people, but the point is that the adequate feeding of the populace and the political stability of the capital depended on the ability and willingness of the authorities to use the empire’s resources to feed the capital, as this could not have been left to market forces. However, this commitment to feed the people was not self-evident and should be seen as the product of a historical development.

The Republic: the emergence of the Annona

Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, our main literary sources on early Rome, give the impression that the food supply of the city had always been a main concern of its rulers. According to Dionysius (7.2), writing about the early 5th century bce, “the consuls . . . took great care to supply the city plentifully with both grain and other provisions, believing that the harmony of the masses depended on their well-being in this respect.” The two authors occasionally offer detailed narratives of shortages in Rome, at the heart of which lies the idea that the state, operating through its representatives, took responsibility for the food supply of the people. The accounts, however, are marred by anachronisms, such as the story of Spurius Maelius, who distributed cheap grain during a famine and was subsequently killed by senatorial hard-liners who accused him of attempting to stir up civil strife. In the late Republic, governmental involvement in the food supply was highly politicized, and hence it is not surprising that authors project the issues of their own time on early Rome. Famine in early Rome is not denied, and, as Cato (fr. 77 P = A. Gellius 2.28,6) tells us, it may have been recorded in the priestly annales maximi, but we may be sure that in early Rome shortages were dealt with through the social networks of the aristocratic families rather than the administration of a still barely existing state.

The involvement of the Roman authorities in the food supply of the city’s inhabitants originated in the context of the wars of the mid-Republic. The increased scale of warfare in terms of duration and size of armies required Rome to acquire direct control of large amounts of grain in order to feed the legions stationed overseas. Hence, taxes-in-kind were introduced, at first in Sicily and Sardinia, later in Spain and Africa. The provisioning of the legions was the responsibility of the quaestores, and it is likely that the quaestor Ostiensis, an office attested for 104 bce and later but that may have existed previously, was involved in the shipment of military provisions to and from Ostia.4 The aediles, on the other hand, had been responsible for supervising civilian markets (cf. Livy 38.35), and it is their connection to the urban market that led to their becoming involved in the distribution of state-owned grain in Rome. In order to curry favour with the citizens of Rome, in the 2nd century bce magistrates occasionally sent grain from their provinces to Rome, to be sold cheaply there by the aediles.5 In 130–129 bce, the aedile Q. Caecilius Metellus sent a mission to Thessaly to buy grain for Rome.6

These measures are the background for the introduction of the monthly rations of wheat by C. Sempronius Gracchus in 123 bce. The lex Sempronia frumentaria, which gave each male Roman citizen (from the age of fourteen, or possibly eleven) the right to buy a monthly ration of grain at a fixed and low price (6 1/3 asses), not only won him popularity with the common citizen but also contributed to stabilizing the grain price. Gracchus took care of building public warehouses to store the tax grain that was shipped to Rome. Unfortunately, sources on the lex frumentaria are very limited, and so we do not know for sure how much grain each recipient was entitled to. The lex Terentia Cassia from 73 bce specified a monthly distribution of five modii, and this may have been the amount from the start. At first the beneficiaries seem to have included all male citizens of sufficient age living in Rome. There is no mention of any restriction. However, with regard to the lex Terentia Cassia, Cicero (2 In Verrem 3.72) states that 33,000 medimnoi would be sufficient for the monthly distribution of grain to the plebs, which implies about 40,000 beneficiaries. The total number of male citizens aged eleven or fourteen up living in Rome must have been much greater. Cato the Younger, moreover, is said to have widened the group of recipients in 62 bce to include “the poor and landless plebs” (Plutarch, Cato Minor 26.1), which confirms that some sort of restriction was imposed previously. In 58 bce Clodius abolished the price, making the rations a free gift (Cassius Dio 39.24.1–2).

The rapid growth of the Roman capital in the 2nd century bce had necessitated a more structured involvement of the authorities, and it would therefore be wrong to see Gracchus’s grain law merely as a bribe for Roman voters. Nevertheless, the frumentationes remained a highly contentious issue in Roman politics, as opponents objected to the high cost. Sulla abolished the distributions (Sallust, Hist. 1.55.11.), but the system was soon restored and even expanded. Once the authorities had made themselves responsible, however, the populace of Rome turned to them every time it thought something amiss with the provision of food. During the highly contentious 1st century bce, food riots were part of the political unrest that was rife in the city of Rome.7 In 75 bce, a mob worn down by scarcity, Sallust tells us, attacked the consuls, who had to take refuge in the house of one of them (Sallust, Hist. 2.45M). In 67 bce rioters threatened the Roman senate because the senators had hesitated to give Pompey (106–48 bce) the wide-ranging powers necessary to deal with the pirates who threatened the city’s grain supply.8 Ten years later, on two occasions, tumultuous crowds again demanded full power for Pompey, this time to deal directly with the grain supply.9 Hence, the grain distribution, which was used by both sides to curry favour with the voters in Rome, was both a subject and means of political conflict in the 1st century bce.

From Republic to Principate

The role of Pompey and Caesar foreshadows the imperial cura annona. The populace of Rome saw Pompey as the guarantor of a properly functioning grain supply for the capital (Cicero, De domo sua 6, 16). Hence, in 57 bce Pompey was given full powers over the grain supply in the Roman world (omnis potestas rei frumentariae toto orbe terrarum10) for a period of five years. However, we have little knowledge of the measures he took to improve the city’s grain supply.11 Pompey’s cura annonae was a temporary measure. When Caesar had won sole rule in Rome, he introduced two aediles cereales to manage the city’s food supply (Dio 43.51,3), but at the same time he reduced to 150,000 the number of recipients, which according to our sources had risen to 320,000 (Suetonius, Caes. 41.3). Augustus eventually limited the number of recipients of the grain handout to 200,000, but his involvement in the capital’s grain supply did not stop at providing free grain to a significant part of its populace.

The lex Iulia de annona outlawed behaviour by businessmen and officials that would contribute to price volatility in Rome. It is uncertain whether Julius Caesar or Augustus was responsible for this legislation. An excerpt from Ulpian in the Digest ( tells us: “By the lex Iulia de annona a penalty is prescribed against him who commits any act, or forms any association by means of which the price of provisions may be increased. (1) It is provided by the same law that no one shall detain a ship or a sailor, or maliciously commit any act by which delay may be caused.” It has been suggested that the law established a quaestio perpetua, a special court dealing with issues relating to the grain supply within the city of Rome itself.12 In any case, rulings of the lex Iulia de annona became part of the municipal charter of the Roman municipium of Irni (Spain) and, it may be inferred, of other towns of Roman and Latin citizenship.

Augustus too was confronted with food riots in Rome. The civil wars between the death of Caesar and Octavian’s victory at Actium disrupted the capital’s food supply, giving rise to violence there (Appian, Bel.Civ. 5.34). But even when Augustus had won sole rule and established his pax Augusta, food riots did not end. Suetonius’s statement that Augustus only used freedmen (i.e., the vigiles, who acted as firefighters, police, and night-watchmen) to suppress unrest in the city of Rome when fires occurred or when the price of food had risen, implies regular disturbances (Suet. Aug. 25.2).13 In fact, it was during a riot in 22 bce that protestors urged him to take the cura annonae and the dictatorship. The first demand Augustus accepted, the second he did not.

As we have seen, in Republican times quaestores and aediles shared a role in the food supply, the first from a military background, the latter from a civilian context. However, their authority and ability to deal with affairs throughout the Mediterranean had been limited—hence the desire to give a leading general like Pompey wide-ranging powers. Pompey’s command had been temporary, however, and Caesar’s introduction of two aediles cereales did not solve the fundamental problem. Augustus at first experimented with relatively minor officials before he took the decisive measures necessary to deal with Rome’s food supply. First, he established two curatores (later, praefecti) frumenti dandi from the senatorial class, who were responsible for the distribution of the grain. In 18 bce he doubled their number to four.14 These minor magistrates, whose powers were limited and fragmented, could not solve the problems of the grain supply. At the end of his reign, in 6 ce, there was “commotion in the city . . . until the scarcity of grain was at an end” (Dio 55.27.3). Two more officials, this time of consular rank, were added to the administration (Cassius Dio 55.26.2; 31.3–4). During subsequent years, between 8 and 14 ce, the imperial cura annonae came to be headed by one official of equestrian rank, the praefectus annonae.

The praefectus annonae and his staff

The praefectus annonae was among the most important posts of equestrian rank during the Principate. Some of the first praefecti annonae held their office for a relatively long time, in comparison to the terms of provincial governors. C. Turranius Gracilis, the first praefectus annonae known to us by name, was in office at least from 14 to 48 ce (Tacitus, Ann. 1.7; 11.31). He was succeeded by Pompeius Paulinus (48–55) and Faenius Rufus (48–55). Paulinus was the father-in-law of Seneca, and the latter offers a brief sketch of the responsibilities of the praefectus annonae. Seneca shows little respect for the office, which he regards as below a truly talented man (De brevitate vitae 18). Some praefecti annonae—for example, three out of four praefecti annonae serving under Trajan—went on to become praefectus Aegypti, which reflects the close connection of the praefectus annonae with Egypt, the capital’s major supplier of grain.15

Most of the grain that was shipped to Rome originated with taxation in the provinces, for which provincial governors—in the case of Egypt, the praefectus Aegypti—and not the praefectus annonae were primarily responsible. The praefectus annonae did not travel to the provinces to acquire the grain consumed in the capital, but he was responsible for its shipment, storage in Ostia, Puteoli, and Rome, and distribution, although handing out the grain at the frumentatio was the main responsibility of the praefecti frumenti dandi. The praefectus annonae, whose position derived from the cura annonae of the emperor, administered funds that were part of the imperial fiscus, the fiscus frumentarius (attested from the Flavian period onwards).16 A fiscus frumentarius and administrative office is also attested in Ostia. It was the office of the prefect that dealt with all the labourers, shippers, officials, and businessmen who worked for the annona, and it was from this treasury that they were all paid.17

From the later 1st century ce or early 2nd, the shippers (navicularii) who entered locatio-conductio operum contracts with the annona formed private associations (corpora), which was probably beneficial to both the shippers and the annona.18 As an excerpt from Ulpian (Digest shows, a shipping company might have a contract with a ship-owner to ship state-owned grain for the annona. In case the ship-owner defaulted on his contractual obligation to the shipping company, the office of the annona would offer legal support to the company against the ship-owner, thus enforcing civilian contracts in the context of the state’s food supply.19 The prefect’s juridical role, which gave him full powers to deal with any matters concerning the food supply of Rome, was derived from the emperor. Cases that emerged in the provinces were either dealt with by the provincial governor or referred to the prefect’s court in Rome.20

In general, any speculation by merchants and others involved in the market that would result in disturbing the food supply (annona was punishable not only by the praefectus annonae but also by the provincial governors (Dig. 47.11.6). Our sources pay much attention to measures curbing fraud, such as switching newly harvested grain with last year’s stock. The inscription on an early 2nd-century bronze weight found in Ostia shows that it was officially authorized by the praefectus annonae (AE 1940, 38). So much importance was attached to such fraud that, exceptionally, even women were given the right of denunciation in such cases. (Dig.; cf. Dig. 48.2.13). However, laws against manipulated weights and measures did not pertain only to the dealings of the office of the annona, but also to transactions on the civilian market throughout the empire (Dig.–2).

One particularly interesting case involves five corpora of shippers from Arles (navicularii marini Arelatenses), known from an inscription (CIL III 14165/8) from 201 ce that contains a letter of a high imperial official named Julianus, almost certainly to be identified with the praefectus annonae Claudius Julianus, to a procurator Augustorum of Gallia Narbonensis. From the letter containing the decision of the prefect, we can deduce that the five corporations of shippers protested in Rome against some form of abuse or injustice and threatened to end their cooperation with the annona. The prefect urged the procurator—in case the situation continued—to take action ensuring the rightful financial handling of the transactions and also safeguarding the people in the service of the annona (hominum qui annonae deserviunt). He ordered that markings be placed on the iron bars and that people from the procurator’s office accompany the freight to its destination in the capital. It is disputed what these measures imply about the issues that gave rise to the conflict. Markings that regulated the volume of the freight may point to measures against overloading the boats, which would indeed have endangered the people working on them, but it might also be related to the loss or disappearance of part of the load during transport. Since the shippers themselves demanded the prefect’s interference, the supervision by people from the procurator’s office seems to have been aimed at others than the shippers, possibly local officials or customs officers.

The acquisition of grain, primarily through taxation, and the enforcement of market regulation in the provinces was largely left to the provincial governors. The imperial estates, whose contribution to the needs of the bureaucracy, the armies, and the city of Rome should not be underestimated, fell under the authority of the procurators. Under Trajan, we find a T. Flavius Macer, who was procurator Augusti praediorum saltuum Hipponensis et Thevestini (procurator of the imperial domains of Hippo and Thevesta), who had previously been installed by the emperor as curator frumenti comparandi in annonam urbis (CIL VIII 5351 = ILS 1435). It is unlikely that the combination of the two posts was a coincidence, and hence we may assume that much of the grain produced on the imperial domains in the charge of Flavius Macer was destined for Rome. In 166 ce, the praefectus annonae sent Sextus Iulius Possessor as adiutor to Africa and Spain in order to acquire olive oil in both regions, check its quality, arrange for its transportation to Rome, and pay the shippers for its transport (CIL II 1180 = ILS 1403). Unlike grain, there apparently was the need to acquire olive oil directly in the provinces.21

The praefectus annonae did have recourse to a staff of subordinates, who were located in Rome and in those places most important for the working of the annona, such as Alexandria. At the end of the 1st century ce, the first adiutores praefecti annonae are attested in Rome, Ostia, and Puteoli; they themselves were aided by a staff of tabularii and dispensatores (bookkeepers and cashiers), who were, just like the adiutores, of freeborn and freedman status. For example, a prox(imus) comm(entariorum) ann(onae) and a dispensator a frumento Puteolis et Ostis, both freedmen, are epigraphically attested (CIL X 1729; CIL 11.562 = ILS 344). The position of procurator portus Ostiensis, who replaced the republican quaestor classicus, was created under Claudius (CIL XIV 163). A procurator annonae et in portus is attested from the reign of Trajan onwards. The connection between the supervision of the harbour and the shipment of grain for Rome is obvious. Navicularii and nauklèroi who transported grain (or other foodstuffs) to Rome on behalf of the annona had to wait for a receipt to be issued by the prefect’s office in the capital (BGU 27). Both in Puteoli, Ostia, and Rome, and in the provinces, mensores were employed who not only measured the grain before and after shipment but also assessed its quality, so that ideally no siphoning off of state-owned grain could occur. The Severan jurist Paulus states that only the mensores who worked on behalf of the annona of Rome were freed from the obligation of public munera (Dig. and tutelage (Dig. 27.1.26).22

The grain provinces

Cicero (De domo sua 11, 25; Att. 9.9.2) speaks of provinciae frumentariae, which in his time predominantly meant Sicily, Sardinia, and Africa. In his Verrine orations, Cicero sheds light on the practice of the tithe in Sicily, which had been introduced during the struggle with Hannibal. Rome levied a tithe, consisting of one-tenth of the entire grain harvest, in Sicily and Sardinia, with the option of levying a second tithe, for which Rome would pay a price it determined. The second levy was regulated by the lex Terentia-Cassia, as is made clear by Cicero, who regularly refers to this law in his Verrine orations.23 In other words, Rome regularly took a full 20 percent of the grain harvest of Sicily, and probably of Sardinia as well. The figures mentioned by Cicero (2 Verr. 3.127, 163) regarding the provision of the law of Terentius and Cassius for the year 73 bce show that in that year Rome took a double tithe of about 6 million modii, apart from the amount of grain it bought for the governor’s use (frumentum in cellam). Although estimates of the harvest and population of Sicily are tentative, we may be certain that the amount left for export overseas was much less than the amount Rome took for the needs of the capital and its armies.24

During the Principate, taxes-in-kind were levied in many provinces, including Africa and Egypt.25 In addition, as we have seen, the imperial estates provided the emperors with large amounts of grain and other foodstuffs. In 30 bce Octavian (the later emperor Augustus) added Egypt to the Roman empire, governed by a praefectus Aegypti. The importance of Africa and Egypt for the grain supply of Rome is indicated by the plan of Vespasian, who already controlled Egypt, to conquer Africa, which would, according to Tacitus (Hist. 3.8.2; 3.48), place the grain supply of Rome and the armies in his hands. Tacitus (Ann. 12.42.2) laments the dependence of Rome on Africa and Egypt. On the basis of statements that Flavius Josephus (Bell. Jud. 2.383, 386) includes in a speech made by Herodes Agrippa to the populace of Jerusalem, it is often assumed that Africa contributed two-thirds of Rome’s needs and Egypt one-third.26 However, all other sources suggest an opposite ratio. Pliny (Pan. 31) says that it was long believed that Rome could only be fed with Egyptian aid. The Epitome de Caesaribus (1.6), often ascribed to the 4th-century writer Aurelius Victor, claims that Egypt annually shipped 20 million modii to Rome during the reign of Augustus, while it has been estimated that in normal years Rome could expect to collect about 30 modii of tax grain in Egypt.27 In view of the annual consumption by Rome of 30–40 million modii, it is unlikely that Africa contributed twice as much as Egypt. Further evidence is provided by the statement in the Historia Augusta (Comm. 17.7) that the emperor Commodus “organized an African fleet (classis), which would have been useful, in case the grain supply from Alexandria was delayed.” Interestingly, Africa was seen as the back-up, Egypt as the main supplier.28

Rome did in fact use some of the grain it controlled on behalf of consumers elsewhere. Access to the grain produced in the provinciae frumentariae was treated by Roman authorities as a privilege that reflected the political status of the community involved. Already in 169 bce, Rhodes had to ask permission from the senate to import 600,000 modii of grain from Sicily. Imperial sources tell us that vassal rulers such as king Herod and queen Helena of Adiabene received permission from the praefectus Aegypti to buy large amounts of Egyptian grain.29 Since it was a sign of status and good relations with the emperor, several officials of Greek cities in the East (Sparta30, Tralleis31, and Ephesus32) set these permissions up in stone, while the city of Tarsus referred on its coinage to the consent given by Caracalla and Severus Alexander. The answer to a request from Ephesus by an unknown emperor (usually identified with Hadrian) sheds light on imperial policy in this regard:

It is clear that you will make prudent use of this agreement, bearing in mind the necessity that first the imperial city should have a bounteous supply of wheat procured and assembled for its market, and then the other cities may also receive provisions in plenty. If, as we pray, the Nile provides us with a flood of the customary level and a bountiful harvest of wheat is produced among the Egyptians, then you will be among the first after the homeland.33

In other words, the Roman authorities gave permission to other cities to buy grain from Egypt only when their own needs had been fulfilled. Only a relatively small amount of Egyptian tax grain was consumed by the armies or urban consumers in provincial cities. Most of it was shipped to Rome, in part to be distributed at the hand-out of grain.

Despite Rome’s control of the grain provinces, we hear of shortages and supply problems at the start of the Principate. Riots occurred at the end of the reign of Augustus and under Claudius, who was pelted with stale bread by an angry mob (Suet., Claud. 18.2), while stores were nearly depleted at the end of winter, before the sailing season started again (Seneca, Brev. Vit. 18.5–6). The problem was not one of acquisition, as the grain provinces produced more than enough for Rome’s needs in most years, but one of logistics. Claudius tried to solve the problem of insufficient provisioning during winter by making good any losses if ships were sunk or damaged and cargoes lost (Suet., Claud. 18.2). The jurist Gaius adds that Claudius also gave privileges to owners of ships that had at least a capacity of 10,000 modii and were employed in the grain supply of Rome (i.e., had a contract with the annona) for six years. Nero offered ship-owners tax exemption on their ships (Tacitus, Ann. 13.51). In the 2nd century, exemption from publica munera and tutelage was given to owners of vessels that were employed in the food supply of the Roman people (ad annonam populi Romani). In order to curb abuse of the privilege, it was added that immunity was limited to those shippers and traders who brought grain or olive oil to Rome and who had invested the bulk of their capital in shipping or trading businesses.34 These legal rulings show that the emperors were primarily interested in stimulating transportation capacity available for the annona in order to bring the tax grain to Rome. A ruling from Severan times, offering immunity from publica munera, is phrased more broadly and offers privileges also to “men of business who assist the supply of the city” (negotiators qui annonam urbis adiuvant), next to “ship-owners who serve the grain supply of the city” (item navicularii qui annonam urbis servient).35 The first part of the ruling is not limited to the grain supply and also involves merchants in other foodstuffs, for example olive oil, though the privilege implies supervision and hence some connection to the office of the annona.36

Food for Rome

The combined supply of Egypt, Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily surpassed the needs of the hand-out of grain in Rome (approximately 12 million modii annually) by a wide margin. Augustus limited the number of recipients to 200,000, a number that was probably maintained by his successors.The distribution of grain fulfilled the grain requirement of at best 400,000 people; and of course, the plebs frumentaria needed other foodstuffs and other basic supplies. If we assume that the plebs frumentaria was limited to those living in the city of Rome itself, the grain distribution fulfilled a large part of the food requirement of some 40 percent of the c. one million people commonly assumed to have lived in Rome. If we assume that the plebs frumentaria also included individuals who lived in Rome’s immediate hinterland, that percentage was lower.37

The recipients were entered on a list that was regularly revised. Being on the list was seen as a mark of status, as is shown by the fact that some people included this information on their epitaphs, and that members of the praetorian guard and urban cohorts were added to the recipients of the grain distribution.38 During the early empire, those on the list received tokens—tesserae frumentariae—which showed their grain entitlement. Legal texts from the 3rd century ce imply that tesserae frumentariae could be inherited or sold. The relationship between the tesserae in the literary sources of the early empire and the tesserae of the legal texts remains unclear. The alienable nature of the tesserae may possibly have been a later development.39 The grain distribution was not aimed at curbing poverty in Rome. Recipients who died were replaced by others, but one had to be on a waiting list in order to become a recipient. So it does not seem that the most marginal of Rome’s inhabitants would have been particularly represented on the lists.40 On the contrary: the lists were probably dominated by those who were settled and well integrated in the city, who had a permanent job or profession, a skill or stable employment. Non-citizens and newly arrived migrants from the Italian countryside were not among the plebs frumentaria.

Handing out grain to several hundred thousand people each month required a complex organization, spreading the actual distribution over various places and/or days per month. An inscription from the 1st century ce tells us that a certain individual received grain at entrance 42 on day 14 at the Porticus Minucia. Apparently there was now one distribution centre, which handed out grain to recipients allocated to specific days and entrances.41 The importance of the Porticus Minucia is reflected in the title of certain officials attached to the city’s grain supply: procurator Augusti ad Minuciam and praefectus Miniciae. Furthermore, a curator aquarum et Miniciae is first attested for the reign of Septimius Severus. Around 200 ce, the distribution of grain was replaced by that of bread, which caused a major revision of the system, because grain could be stored for some time and thus handed out monthly, while bread required a more or less daily distribution. Moreover, the state had to take responsibility for milling the grain, now done at state-owned mills powered by aqueducts. In view of the emergence of the curator aquarum et Miniciae under Septimius Severus, it is most likely that this development dates to his reign.42

Despite the distribution of grain, the sources for the early Principate indicate that the price of grain was an important issue in Rome. Under Tiberius, the price of grain was low, Velleius Paterculus (2.126.3) says, but Tacitus (Ann. 4.6.4) remarks that during the early years of his reign, the plebs suffered from high prices. When the Roman populace feared a disruption of the grain supply during the civil wars of 68–69 ce, Tacitus (Hist. 4.38) observes, they were “accustomed to buy their food day by day” and had “no interest in public affairs save the grain supply.” The grain distribution clearly did not meet all the needs of the entire Roman populace. The authorities, foremost the annona, curbed the volatility of grain prices in Rome mainly by regulating the food market and supplying it with large amounts of public grain. However, there was no policy to permanently fix the price of grain on the Roman market.

Authorities did sometimes determine the price of grain, but only temporarily and in response to a crisis. In response to a dearth that struck the city in 19 ce, Tiberius “fixed a definite price to be paid by the buyer, and himself guaranteed thee merchant a subsidy of two sesterces a modius” (Tacitus, Ann. 2.87). We do not know what price Tiberius forced upon the sellers, but it is clear that fixing a low price limited the impact on the urban masses. A subsidy of two sesterces per modius on the grain sold to urban consumers implies close supervision of the consumer market. Otherwise, how were they to avoid subsidies for non-existent grain, or for grain that was kept in circulation among fraudulent traders? Since time was too short to create the necessary bureaucratic apparatus in response to the crisis, we may be sure that the authorities—most likely the office of the annona—closely supervised dealings on the grain market in Rome permanently. Measures taken by Augustus during a shortage in 6 ce offer confirmation: Augustus temporarily doubled the issue of grain to the plebs frumentaria and at the same time limited the quantity of grain and bread that could be sold to each person (Cassius Dio 55.26.2–3). Augustus increased the distribution of public grain, but at the same time he prevented speculators from buying up large amounts of grain by rationing its sale. Again, the measure implies close supervision.

The measures taken by Nero in the aftermath of the great fire in Rome in 64 ce shed further light on the annona’s involvement in the grain market. Three measures are mentioned in the sources: Nero temporarily abolished the hand-out of grain (Cassius Dio 62.128.5); he had supplies brought in from Ostia and neighbouring towns; and he lowered the price of grain to three sesterces (Tacitus, Ann. 15.39.2). The first measure makes sense only if the other two were meant to compensate for the loss of the grain distribution. On the one hand, he made sure that all inhabitants in Rome could buy cheap grain; on the other, he ensured a sufficient supply of public grain to stock the market. Hence, Nero’s measures imply the sale of public grain on the Roman market.

The most direct way to intervene in the grain and bread supply was to control the activities of the bakers. Only the rich had the facilities to bake bread at home, so most of the populace depended on bakers for their daily bread. Whether that meant that they made their own dough and brought it to professional bakers (a widespread custom in medieval times) is unknown. In the 4th century ce, Rome had about 250 bakeries, and the number would not have been smaller in the early empire.43 The funerary monument of the apparently very wealthy pistor redemptor (“contract baker”) Eurysaces attests to the existence under Augustus of bakers who worked under contract for the state, but it provides no further details concerning the organization of the bread supply.44 The 4th-century ce historian Aurelius Victor (Caes. 13.5) informs us that Trajan “took great precaution for a steady bread supply (annona) by establishing a permanent collegium of bakers.” The 2nd-century ce jurist Gaius adds that Trajan offered privileges to owners of bakeries who processed at least 100 modii per day, sufficient to feed roughly 1,000 people. It is generally assumed that already before Trajan, the authorities used the association of bakers (corpus pistorum) to supervise the bread supply of Rome. According to Paulus (Dig. 27.1.46), bakers were freed from tutelage, which implies some form of administrative control.45 In the early empire, grain was largely milled by human or animal power. Since flour was much more perishable than unmilled grain, the milling was usually done as close as possible to the baking process.Thus, most pistores were millers as well as bakers. In the late 4th century ce, the bakers in Rome received public grain, and it is very likely that this was the case in the early empire as well. This would, at least, make most sense both of the fact that the Roman authorities collected much more grain from the imperial estates and through taxation than was needed for the distribution of grain, and of the close supervision of the grain market and the bakeries in Rome through the office of the annona. Hence, the capital of the Roman empire was largely fed from the tax grain of Egypt and Africa and from the rents collected on the imperial estates.

Late Antiquity: Constantinople

After Constantine had created a new capital of the Roman empire at Byzantium, the authorities enforced shipment of grain from Africa to Rome and from Alexandria to Constantinople. In the 4th century a praefectus annonae Alexandriae and a praefectus annonae Africae were introduced (Codex Theod. 11.30.4) and placed in charge of the collection and shipment of foodstuffs to supply the capital. The vast resources of Egypt, not diminished by the political and military unrest that struck the western and northern empire, now went to Nova Roma. The shipments leaving from Alexandria became embroiled in the religious disputes between the bishops of that city and the emperor in Constantinople. Bishop Athanasius was accused of intending to block the supply of grain to the capital and exiled to Gaul (Athanasius, Apologia contra Arianos 87; Socrates Scholasticus, Historia Ecclesiastica 6.15.11).

Despite the loss of Egyptian grain, Rome still was a sizeable city at the start of the 5th century. The recipients of the distribution of pork—and probably bread as well—numbered 120,000 in 419 ce.46 However, in 429 ce, when the Vandals conquered northern Africa, Rome lost control of the grain of this part of the Mediterranean world as well. Not surprisingly, the population of Rome soon dwindled, now that the resources of a vast empire were no longer available to sustain the city. Vandal Africa continued to export grain, but now this was no longer available to the Roman consumer as free tax grain. Around 600 ce, Sicily acted as the main outside supplier to Rome and Ravenna.47 When Justinian recaptured the region in the 6th century, African grain was shipped to the capital in the east.

In the mid-6th century, during the reign of Justinian, the annual shipment of public grain from Egypt to Constantinople amounted to 8 million “units” of wheat (Justinian, Edict 13.8). Unfortunately, it is unclear whether this means 8 million artabae, sufficient to feed 600,000 people, or 8 million modii, feeding about 175,000 people. Ships could make two or even three return trips between Alexandria and Constantinople each year, but transporting the tax grain still required a large fleet. Justinian facilitated the shipment of grain by building a large granary on the island of Tenedos and by subsidizing ship-building.48 Large warehouses were built near the harbours to store the grain before it was supplied to public bakeries, which served those entitled to the governmental distribution, and also to private bakeries catering to those who were not.49 The urban food supply had lost nothing of its propagandistic importance, and Justinian therefore annually inspected the granaries at the end of summer, when stores for winter had to be ready, and publicly assured his subjects that all was well (Constantine Porphyrogenitus, On the ceremonies 2.51). As in Rome, winter was a serious obstacle to maintaining adequate provisioning of the city; in May 555, after a shortage that had already lasted three months, that the emperor was faced with rioters in the Hippodrome protesting the dearth of grain (John Malalas, Chronicle 18.121; Theophanes, Chronicle, A.M. 6048).

In the 3rd and 4th centuries ce, the authorities gradually transformed the contracts between the navicularii and the annona into an obligation (munus navicularium) imposed on the associations, while membership of these associations became less voluntary. The freight rate offered by the state was lower than that prevailing on the private market.50 The corpus naviculariorum was changed into an organization of shippers who supplied transportation of public goods, such as tax grain for the annona, on a particular route. The shippers were obliged to provide transportation between April 15 and October 15 (Codex Theod. 13.9.3). In the 4th century, membership of the corpora and the obligations this involved were attached to the property one owned (functio navicularii). Inheriting such property brought with it the obligation to build ships suitable for the transportation of grain and to provide shipping according to the regulations imposed by the annona.51 Their land, however, was exempt from the land tax and its owners from the duty to serve on municipal councils. It has been suggested that the ships transporting the tax grain were owned by the state, but there is little evidence to support this hypothesis.52 The Codex Theodosianus ( does, however, mention a law that obliged the provinces to provide the timber needed to build ships. (It is uncertain, however, how generally this law was applied.) Moreover, the shippers who worked for the annona were also exempt from duties on the other goods that they shipped and sold, besides their cargo for the annona—a worthwhile bonus.53

The Codex Theodosianus contains many regulations that shed light on the workings of the annona in the 4th century. Navicularii who were seen as negligent in their duties to the annona were judged by the praefectus annonae (Codex Theod. 13.9.5). The provincial authorities declared the quality and amount of the grain and other foodstuffs they handed over to the shippers, while on arrival the members of the annona staff checked this again (Codex Theod. 14.15.2). In the late 4th century, prosecutores are attested who guarded the cargo on the ships (Codex Theod. 13.9.4). Interesting also is the following ruling from the reign of Honorius and Arcadius from the year 397: if a ship transporting grain to the capital was forced to stop along the coast of Africa, nobody was permitted to touch the cargo or to bring it to another destination (Codex Theod. Despite the authoritarian tone of the law, this reflects the insecure nature of the supply of the city of Rome at that time.

The end to the annona system came when Egypt, on which the food supply of Constantinople largely relied, was conquered by the Persians in 617 ce. One year later, the distribution of bread in the capital, which went back to the measure taken by C. Sempronius Gracchus in Rome about 740 years earlier, ceased.

Discussion of the Literature

The food supply of the Roman metropolis reflects the economic performance of the Roman world and thus is part of recent debates on the ancient economy. M. I. Finley (1985) and A. H. M. Jones (1974) stressed the role of governmental control and perceived the annona as part of the Roman “command economy.” Recent scholars, however, have argued that the redistribution through the annona of fiscal resources was largely effected by market institutions, and that it was therefore “commerce” rather than a “command economy” that sustained ancient Rome. Rickman (1980), assuming that in the early empire taxes-in-kind had been largely converted into monetary taxes, maintains that it was largely due to the activities of grain merchants that the Roman populace was fed. Pleket54 and Harris55 linked the prosperity of Egypt and Africa, the two main suppliers of Rome, to the demand of large urban markets and the concomitant trade in grain. De Salvo (1992) favours a free-trade model as well. Lo Cascio56 states that the privileges provided to those in service of the annona “were no more than a stimulus to private activity conducted within a market situation.” In contrast, Erdkamp57 argues that, while private enterprise was involved in the workings of the annona, the system as such was based on political and administrative control by the imperial authorities of the resources of the empire. In supplying the city of Rome, free trade operated on the margins of public supply channels. Commercial links were mainly limited to the “transportation market” and other foodstuffs than grain, and even the latter were increasingly taken over by the annona, as the acquisition and distribution of olive oil and pork shows. Wickham58 has forcefully argued that it was the flow of goods generated by the annona system that stimulated commercial networks in other commodities, with negative results for trade in general when the system fell apart.

There also has been debate on the importance of Africa and Egypt. Flavius Josephus’s statements (see The grain provinces) have often been seen as proof of Africa’s predominance, despite the opposite picture emerging from most ancient sources. Dominic Rathbone59 (1993, 2000) speaks of “the myth” of Egypt’s role in supplying Rome, which, according to him, derived from Augustan propaganda.

While most scholars agree that in late antiquity the shippers, bakers and others involved in the annona were more and more compelled by increasingly harsh laws that made obligations to the annona hereditary and connected to one’s property, Sirks60 argues that this development can be dated back to the reign of Trajan, when, according to him, the authorities started to force associations on the private businessmen involved. Much of this is rejected, though, for example by Höbenreich.61

Most fundamentally, there is disagreement over the nature of the authorities’ involvement in the urban food supply. Garnsey62 argues that urban and imperial authorities devised little in the way of permanent institutions for maintaining a regular food supply, linking this to the social, economic, and political power of the local aristocracies, who preferred ad hoc measures that boosted their status to institutionalized responses. This view has been widely followed, but other scholars63 emphasize the systematic and permanent nature of institutions dealing with urban food and the centrality of urban food supply to governance in the ancient world.

Primary Texts

The sources on various aspects on the annonae comprise historiography, literature, epigraphy, papyri, and legal texts. The Annales and Historia of Tacitus, Suetonius’s biographies of emperors, and Cassius Dio’s work on Roman history provide much detail on the measures that were taken and their circumstances. Seneca (De brev. vit. 18) sheds light on the author’s perception of the functioning of this high-ranking official. Individual praefecti annonae and members of his staff are known from various inscriptions. Epigraphy also provides evidence on who was entitled to public grain. The Digesta and the Codex Theodosianus inform us about the jurisprudence of the praefectus annonae and the privileges assigned to the businessmen who served the annona.


  • Bell, Malcolm III. “An Imperial Flour Mill on the Janiculum.” In Le Ravitaillement en blé de Rome et des centres urbains des débuts de la République jusqu’au Haut Empire, 73–89. Naples: Boccard, 1994.
  • De Salvo, Lietta. Economia privata e pubblici servizi nell’impero romano: I corpora naviculariorum. Messina: Samperi, 1992.
  • Duncan-Jones, Richard. Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • Erdkamp, Paul. “Feeding Rome, or Feeding Mars: A Long-term Approach to C. Gracchus’ lex frumentaria.” Ancient Society 30 (2000): 53–70.
  • Erdkamp, Paul. “A Starving Mob Has No Respect: Urban Markets and Food Riots in the Roman World, 100 BC–400 AD.” In The Transformation of Economic Life under the Roman Empire, edited by John Rich and Lukas de Blois, 93–115. Amsterdam: Gieben, 2002.
  • Erdkamp, Paul. The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political, and Economic Study. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Finley, M. I. The Ancient Economy. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.
  • Garnsey, Peter. Famine and Food Supply in the Graeco-Roman World. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  • Garnsey, Peter, Tim Gallant, and Dominic Rathbone. “Thessaly and the Grain Supply of Rome during the Second Century B.C.” Journal of Roman Studies 74 (1984): 30–44.
  • Harris, William V. “Trade.” In Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. XI, edited by Alan K. Bowman, Peter Garnsey, and Dominic Rathbone, 710–740. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Herz, Peter. Studien zur römischen Wirtschaftsgesetzgebung: Die Lebensmittelversorgung. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1988.
  • Höbenreich, Evelyn. Annona: Juristische Aspekte der stadtrömischen Lebensmittelvesorgung im Prinzipat. Graz: Leykam, 1997.
  • Jones, A. H. M. The Roman Economy: Studies in Ancient Economic and Administrative History. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 1974.
  • Lo Cascio, Elio. “The Roman Principate: The Impact of the Organization of the Empire on Production.” In Production and Public Powers in Classical Antiquity, edited by Elio Lo Cascio and Dominic Rathbone, 77–85. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Mitthof, Fritz. Annona militaris: Die Heeresversorgung im spätantiken Ägypten: ein Beitrag zur Verwaltungs- und Heeresgeschichte des Römischen Reiches im 3. bis 6. Jh. n. Chr. Florence: Gonnelli, 2001.
  • Peña, John T. “The Mobilization of State Olive Oil in Roman Africa: The Evidence of Late 4th-cent. ostraca from Carthage.” In Carthage Papers: The Early Colony’s Economy, Water Supply, a Public Bath and the Mobilization of State Olive Oil, edited by John T. Peña et al., 117–238. Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement. Portsmouth, RI: JRA, 1998.
  • Pleket, Henri Willy. “Wirtschaft.” In Handbuch der europäischen Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, vol. 1, 25–160. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1990.
  • Rathbone, Dominic. “Egypt, Augustus and Roman Taxation.” Cahiers du Centre G. Glotz 4 (1993): 81–112.
  • Rathbone, Dominic. “Ptolemaic to Roman Egypt: The Death of the Dirigiste State?” In Production and Public Powers in Classical Antiquity, edited by Elio Lo Cascio and Dominic Rathbone, 44–54. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Rickman, Geoffrey. The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome. Oxford: Clarendon, 1980.
  • Sharp, Michael. “The Food Supply in Roman Egypt.” PhD diss., Oxford University, 1998.
  • Sirks, Boudewijn. Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distribution in Rome and Constantinopel. Amsterdam: Gieben, 1991.
  • Tengström, Emin. Bread for the People: Studies of the Corn-Supply of Rome during the Late Empire. Stockholm: Svenska Institut i Rom, 1974.
  • Van Berchem, Denis. “L’annone militaire dans l’empire romain au IIIe siècle.” Mémoirs de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France 8 (1937): 117–202.
  • Van Berchem, Denis. “L’annone militaire est-elle un mythe?” In Armées et Fiscalité dans le Monde Antique, edited by Mireille Corbier, 331–336. Paris: C.N.R.S., 1977.
  • Wörrle, Michael. “Ägyptisches Getreide für Ephesos.” Chiron 1 (1971): 325–340.


  • 1. Geoffrey Rickman, The Corn Supply of Ancient Rome (Oxford: Clarendon, 1980), 257–262.

  • 2. Denis Van Berchem, “L’annone militaire dans l’empire romain au IIIe siècle,” Mémoirs de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France 8 (1937): 117–202; Denois Van Berchem, “L’annone militaire est-elle un mythe,” in Armées et Fiscalité dans le Monde Antique, edited by Mireille Corbier (Paris: C.N.R.S., 1977), 331–336; and Fritz Mitthof, Annona militaris: die Heeresversorgung im spätantiken Ägypten: ein Beitrag zur Verwaltungs- und Heeresgeschichte des Römischen Reiches im 3. bis 6. Jh. n. Chr. (Florence: Gonnelli, 2001).

  • 3. Richard Alston, The City in Roman and Byzantine Egypt (London: Routledge, 2002), 192, 255–256, 276–277.

  • 4. Cicero, Pro Sestio 39; De har. Resp. 43; and Diod. 36.12. Cf. D. C. Chandler, “Quaestor Ostiensis” Historia 27 (1978): 328–335.

  • 5. Paul Erdkamp, “Feeding Rome, or Feeding Mars: A Long-term Approach to C. Gracchus’ lex frumentaria,” Ancient Society 30 (2000): 53–70.

  • 6. Peter Garnsey, Tim Galllant, and Dominic Rathbone, “Thessaly and the Grain Supply of Rome during the Second Century B.C.,” Journal of Roman Studies 74 (1984): 30–44.

  • 7. Cf. Peter Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply in the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 31, 206 ff; and Paul Erdkamp, “A Starving Mob Has No Respect: Urban Markets and Food Riots in the Roman world, 100 BC–400 AD,” in The Transformation of Economic Life under the Roman Empire, edited by John Rich and Lukas de Blois (Amsterdam: Gieben, 2002), 93–115.

  • 8. Cassius Dio 36.24,2f. Cf. Plutarch, Pomp. 25,1.

  • 9. Cicero, de domo sua 1 ff; and Cassius Dio 39.9,2 f. Cf. Plutarch, Pomp. 49,4 ff.

  • 10. Cicero, Att. 4.1.6–7; Dio 39.9.3; and Livy, Epit. 104.

  • 11. Rickman, Corn Supply, 55–57.

  • 12. Evelyn Höbenreich, Annona: Juristische Aspekte der Stadtrömischen Lebensmittelvesorgung im Prinzipat (Graz: Leykam, 1997), 158.

  • 13. Erdkamp, “Starving Mob.”

  • 14. Cassius Dio 54.17.1.

  • 15. Rickman, Corn Supply, 67 ff; and Höbenreich, Annona, 58.

  • 16. CIL VI 544, 634 = ILS 1540, 1540a; and CIL LXVI 8474–7 = ILS 1541–4.

  • 17. Rickman, Corn Supply, 78; and Höbenreich, Annona, 44–45.

  • 18. According to Boudewijn Sirks, Food for Rome: The Legal Structure of the Transportation and Processing of Supplies for the Imperial Distribution in Rome and Constantinopel (Amsterdam: Gieben, 1991), 106–107, however, it was due to the policy of Trajan to form corpora of shippers involved in the annona. See also Lietta De Salvo, Economia privata e pubblici servizi nell’impero romano: i corpora naviculariorum (Messina: Samperi, 1992).

  • 19. See also Paul, Digest 14.5.8. Höbenreich, Annona, 131–139.

  • 20. Höbenreich, Annona, 56.

  • 21. We also find a 3rd-century procurator ad olea comparanda per regionem Tripolitanam. John T. Peña, “The Mobilization of State Olive Oil in Roman Africa: The Evidence of Late 4th-c. ostraca from Carthage,’ in Carthage Papers: The Early Colony’s Economy, Water Supply, a Public Bath and the Mobilization of State Olive Oil (Portsmouth, RI: Journal of Roman Archaeology Suppl., 1998), 161.

  • 22. A mosaic in the hall of the collegium of mensores in Ostia shows them at work, measuring a modius of grain. Rickman, Corn Supply, 86.

  • 23. Rickman, Corn Supply, 166–169.

  • 24. Paul Erdkamp, The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political, and Economic Study (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 214–218.

  • 25. Richard Duncan-Jones, Structure and Scale in the Roman Economy (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 187 ff.

  • 26. Rickman, Corn Supply, 263; Sirks, Food for Rome, 199; and William V. Harris, “Trade,” in Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. XI, edited by Alan K. Bowman, Peter Garnsey, and Dominic Rathbone (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 717.

  • 27. Michael Sharp, “The Food Supply in Roman Egypt” (PhD diss., Oxford University, 1998), 318–319.

  • 28. Erdkamp, Grain Market, 226–230.

  • 29. Josephus, Ant. Iud. 14.299ff; 15.306f; 20.51; 20.101. Michael Wörrle, “Ägyptisches Getreide für Ephesos,” Chiron 1 (1971), 334–335; Peter Herz, Studien zur römischen Wirtschaftsgesetzgebung. Die Lebensmittelversorgung (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1988), 73–74; and Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply, 256–257.

  • 30. SEG 11.491.

  • 31. Iv Tralleis 77; 80 = CIG 2927; and 14. Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply, 256.

  • 32. Iv Ephesus VII 1,3016. Wörrle, “Ägyptisches Getreide,” 335.

  • 33. Quoted from Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply, 255. See for text and commentary, Wörrle, “Ägyptisches Getreide,” 325 ff. See also Erdkamp, Grain Market, 232–234.

  • 34. Callistratus, Digest 50.6.6(5).5–6.

  • 35. Callistratus, Digest 50.6.6(5).3

  • 36. Höbenreich, Annona, 74–88; and Erdkamp, Grain Market, 244–249.

  • 37. Unless the city of Rome was much smaller than the about one million inhabitants usually assumed, as argued by G. R. Storey, “The Population of Ancient Rome,” Antiquity 71 (1997): 966–978.

  • 38. Rickman, Corn Supply, 188–191.

  • 39. Ibid., 244–249.

  • 40. Elio Lo Cascio, “Did the Population of Imperial Rome Reproduce Itself?,” in Urbanism in the Preindustrial World: Cross-Cultural Approaches, edited by Glenn R. Storey (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 52–68: “The immigrants were excluded, and the liberti were excluded as well.”

  • 41. Rickman, Corn Supply, 192–197.

  • 42. M. Bell III, “An Imperial Flour Mill on the Janiculum,” in Le Ravitaillement en blé de Rome et des centres urbains des débuts de la République jusqu’au Haut Empire (Naples: Boccard, 1994), 73–89.

  • 43. Herz, Lebensmittelversorgung, 181–182.

  • 44. Höbenreich, Annona, 120.

  • 45. Ibid., 119–125.

  • 46. Emin Tengström, Bread for the People: Studies of the Corn-Supply of Rome during the Late Empire (Stockholm: Svenska Institut I Rom, 1974), 85.

  • 47. Michael McCormick, Origins of the European Economy: Communications and Commerce AD 300–900 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 104.

  • 48. McCormick, Origins, 104–105.

  • 49. J. Durliat, “La approvisionnement de Constantinople,” in Constantinople and its Hinterland, edited by Cyril A. Mango and Gilbert Dagron (Aldershot: Variorum, 1995), 19–34.

  • 50. McCormick, Origins, 87.

  • 51. Sirks, Food for Rome, 1991.

  • 52. Cf. Jean Durliat, De la ville antique à la ville byzantine: Le problème de subsistances (Rome: L’Ecole Française de Rome, 1990), 239–241.

  • 53. De Salvo, Economia privata e pubblici, 259; and McCormick, Origins, 89.

  • 54. H. W. Pleket, “Wirtschaft,” in Handbuch der europäischen Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, vol. 1 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1990).

  • 55. Harris, “Trade.”

  • 56. Elio Lo Cascio, “The Roman Principate: The Impact of the Organization of the Empire on Production,” in Production and Public Powers in Classical Antiquity, edited by Elio Lo Cascio and Dominic Rathbone (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 83.

  • 57. Erdkamp, Grain Market.

  • 58. Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400–800 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

  • 59. Dominic Rathbone, “Egypt, Augustus and Roman Taxation,” Cahiers du Centre G. Glotz 4 (1993): 81–112; and Rathbone, “Ptolemaic to Roman Egypt: The Death of the Dirigiste State?” in Production and Public Powers in Classical Antiquity, edited by Elio Lo Cascio and Dominic Rathbone (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 44–54.

  • 60. Sirks, Food for Rome.

  • 61. Höbenreich, Annona.

  • 62. Garnsey, Famine and Food Supply.

  • 63. Paul Erdkamp, The Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Political, and Economic Study. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005); and Arjan Zuiderhoek, The Politics of Munificence in the Roman Empire: Citizens, Elites and Benefactors in Asia Minor (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2009). See also Kaja Harter-Uibopuu, “Hadrian and the Athenian Oil Law”; and Christina Kokkinia, “Grain for Cibyra,” in Feeding the Ancient Greek City, edited by Richard Alston and Onno van Nijf (Leuven: Peeters, 2008).