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Pompey was assigned to the task. Meanwhile even the Roman port of Ostia had been sacked by these eastern buccaneers. One can hardly understand this remissness except upon the assumption that the traders in the provinces were looked upon at home as a somewhat low class of adventurers who had little connection with the vital interests of the state, and it is certainly incorrect in view of the slight attention paid to this most pressing of their needs to suppose that they exerted any considerable influence upon the policies of the


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If one is inclined to wonder why trade was slow to follow the flag" during the century of growing political prestige, a reference to census statistics may be of interest. The following record of citizens is taken from Livy, the estimate of acreage of purely Roman territory from Beloch's 36 careful reckoning:

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It will be seen that in the thirty years after Zama the number of citizens increased only twenty-five per cent. while the Roman acreage in Italy increased over one hundred per cent. Whence could the capital have come in the poverty-stricken state to develop this enormous increase of land? We know now that neither sufficient men nor funds were forthcoming. The first increase of about 2,500,000 acres resulted from the state's appropriation of the SouthItalian country which had been so thoroughly devastated by the last years of the war. Along the coast of this territory the state planted a string of small citizen-colonies as a military measure when an invasion by Antiochus seemed imminent. But outside of this strip

Italische Bund (1880), and Bevölkerung der Griech.-Röm. Welt (1886). The hectare almost 21⁄2 acres; the acre is a trifle over 11⁄2 jugera.

The decrease in population between 160 and 130 is partly due to a new standard of living that accompanied the influx of wealth and Greek ideas, and partly to the fact that after the public lands had been occupied, the small farmer who was giving way to the plantation owner did not attempt to pre-empt a new homestead but sought his fortune in the provinces. With the Gracchan reallotments the census figures took a decided bound upwards again.

AM. HIST. REV., vol. xvIII.—17.

little was done in the south. The north needed more immediate development. Along the Po the state was busy punishing Gallic tribes that had aided Hannibal. As fast as the offenders were pacified or driven out it was necessary to plant citizen-colonies in order to assure permanent success. The lands of the north were far richer and more inviting to settlers than those of the south and they could not easily be held unless colonized. We cannot doubt that for thirty years all the available capital and colonists were sent northward. What became of the southern public lands we may infer from the agrarian legislation proposed by the Gracchi later. Since the state could find no buyers or renters for them, she simply permitted chance squatters and ranchers to use them, asked no uncomfortable questions, and even neglected the records. Some cattlegrazers who had gone through the formality of leasing the five hundred jugera allowed by law gradually increased their holdings when they discovered that the adjacent lands were still unoccupied. It will be remembered how in Gracchan days the descendants of these same squatters were compelled to surrender the surplusage despite their appeal to vested rights, and how the democrats who then wanted lands for colonization could not understand why the senate had ever pursued so reckless a policy as to disregard the state's titles to its public lands. The explanation, of course, lies in the fact that from 200 to about 160 the land market was so enormously glutted that the senate saw no reason for asserting its titles. From this it will be readily understood why with all the available capital thus invested in lands for at least half a century after the Punic War there was so little at hand for commerce. In fact it is generally true that Rome's rapid territorial expansion throughout the republican period constantly opened up a market for real-estate investments in advance of capitalistic needs and as constantly attracted Roman capital away from industry and commerce.

It is interesting to note that at the end of the republican period when the Mediterranean commerce finally began to be concéntrated in the hands of Roman citizens, these citizen-tradesmen were chiefly of foreign extraction, not members of the old Roman stock. Very many of them bear Greek and Graeco-Syrian cognomina, which means that ex-slaves and their sons had become the merchants of Rome. The explanation of this fact is not far to seek. We know that the enormous loss of life throughout Italy during the Hannibalic war depleted both shop and farm to such an extent that a great many eastern slaves were imported to work the industrial machinery of Italy. When later the exploitation of provincial resources invited 37 Parvan, Die Nationalität der Kaufleute (1909).


thousands of Roman citizens to emigrate, the economic vacuum was again filled by new importations of slaves. These clever easterners were employed by their masters in all kinds of lucrative occupations. at which the slaves might make their own profits.38 They were placed in bake-shops, shoe-shops, and wine-booths, in the stalls of the vegetable and the fish markets. There was nothing they could not do. It is not surprising to find that a thrifty slave could save enough to buy his liberty in eight years. Slaves in personal service were frequently set free by generous owners who put them into business and shared profits with them on a partnership basis. These are the people who were handling Rome's merchandise at the seaports of Italy. They came originally from trading and seafaring people. Thrift, cleverness, and fidelity were the qualities which gained them their liberty and these were the same qualities which soon turned them into successful merchants and ship-owners. They had little difficulty in outstripping the Romans in these occupations, for the Roman was always a landlubber. In the late empire the only rivals. with whom they disputed the traffic of the seas were the descendants of their own ancestors, the Syrians of the east.39

In reviewing the status of Roman commerce during the last two centuries of the republic, then, we have found that at first the Italians who lived near the Greek seaport towns of southern Italy were actively engaged in the Mediterranean trade. Roman citizens gained importance there only after 130, when they began to exploit their new province of Asia. These citizens, however, always lovers of terra firma, gradually drifted into capitalistic enterprises on land, leaving the freedmen of Oriental and Greek stock in Italy and their sons to gain control of the maritime shipping. In the light of these facts we can readily comprehend the attitude of indifference that the senate regularly assumed toward commerce.

Thus far we have dealt only with the commercial classes that were concerned in carrying Rome's imports and exports. Quite apart from these, there grew up a strong group of capitalistic firms. that acted indirectly as the state's agents in many of its financial transactions. These were the associations of publicani, whose members were usually equites, the nobility of wealth at Rome. Because of its theory of magistracies, Rome could not well create a permanent treasury department capable of collecting all the state revenues and directing the execution of public works; accordingly, it had to let contracts to firms of private citizens for the performance of all such tasks. Obviously the firms that thrived upon these works were



Marquardt, Das Privatleben der Römer, p. 164.

Scheffer-Boichorst, Zur Geschichte der Syrer im Abendlande.

directly interested in the size of Rome's revenues and disbursements, and accordingly in the growth of the empire that necessarily increased the profitable operations of the firms concerned. The question arises whether this interest converted itself into an effort to influence the state in favor of expansion, and if so at what period. I shall not here discuss the entire question but shall only record some calculations in justification of my belief that this influence did not appear during the second century B. C., where historians1o have usually placed it, but rather during the first.

The locus classicus for this discussion is a passage in Polybius's description of the Roman constitution which was written about 140 B. C. :41

In like manner the people on its part is far from being independent of the Senate, and is bound to take its wishes into account both collectively and individually. For contracts, too numerous to count, are given out by the censors in all parts of Italy for the repairs or construction of public buildings; there is also the collection of revenue from many rivers, harbors, gardens, mines, and land-everything," in a word, that comes under the control of the Roman government: and in all these the people" at large are engaged; so that there is scarcely a man, so to speak, who is not interested either as a contractor or as being employed in the works. For some purchase the contracts from the censors themselves; and others go partners with them; while others again go security for these contractors, or actually pledge their property to the treasury for them. Now over all these transactions the Senate has absolute control. It can grant an extension of time; and in case of unforeseen accident can relieve the contractors from a portion of their obligation, or release them from it altogether, if they are absolutely unable to fulfil it.

Polybius might have added that all these joint-stock companies also issued shares of stock as modern corporations do, so that their influence was increased by the expectation of dividends. Obviously a corporation supported by a large number of stock-holders, doubt40 See especially Heitland's index under Capitalists, influence of, on Roman policy", with his forty-one references; Deloume, Les Manieurs d'Argent à Rome, passim; Greenidge, A History of Rome, pp. 44 ff.; Ferrero, passim; et al. Most writers have exaggerated the influence of the capitalist of the second century.

41 Polybius, VI. 17.


42 This is of course not quite correct. The tributes and tithes of Sicily, Spain, Sardinia, Macedonia, and Africa were collected by the natives in various ways and paid directly to the treasury.

Here again Polybius is misleading. In the public works the firms employed little free labor. Slaves did most of the work and they of course had no political influence. We should also note that the most extensive piece of work in the days of Polybius, the great Marcian aqueduct, was not let out to these firms. The aediles took charge of the work and assigned it in some 3000 small lots to individuals. It would seem that the regular contracting firms were not capable of handling so large a task.

less including many senators, might exert a very appreciable influence upon legislation. Polybius also points out the strong hold which the senate had upon the public by its power to control contracts. Without belittling the importance of these facts, one must nevertheless indicate the inadequacy of the historian as a witness in the matter. Polybius left his native Greek village at a time when the wealthiest man in Greece was not worth $300,000 and when the state budgets of the several Greek states were mere bagatelles. Nothing so astonished him at Rome as the sums of money dealt with there. Rome's budget-in his day about $5,000,000-now seems a trifle for a world-state, but to him it was enormous, and it is not surprising that he should have over-emphasized the importance of the state's operations. Moreover, Polybius in this passage is developing his favorite political philosophy that the ideal constitution is composed of a system of "checks and balances". He is attempting to prove that Rome's great success is due to her possession of a Polybian constitution and he accordingly strains his material to fit his system. To make the three sides of his triangle exert an even pull, not only must the consuls check the senate, but the senate must check the people. It is very doubtful, however, whether anyone unacquainted with Polybius's theory of this endless chain of control would have discovered the enormous dependence of the people on the senate that so impressed him.

As a safer indication of the amount of influence exerted by capital and its interests, let us try to measure the extent of the operations in which it was engaged. Before the Punic Wars publicani were needed at Rome for the collection of port and pasture dues and perhaps of the rent of public lands when there were any. The citizen-tribute was apparently paid to the treasury without intermediary. In those days publicani were necessary to the state but they had no control over any large funds. The conquest of Sicily extended their field of operation to the collection of port and pasture dues upon the island, but it is noteworthy that they made little or no effort to bid for the tithe-gathering there. In 214, during the Hannibalic war, they were publicly asked to supply-on credit-provisions for the army in Spain. Nineteen publicans, members of three firms, responded to this request, making the condition that the state insure their cargoes.* 44 Later several firms offered to execute on credit the public works that would be needed until the war should end. These are the first references we possess to firms of publi

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