1. Education
The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
 Related Resources
• Contents of Mommsen's History of Rome
• Ancient Rome
• Texts and Translations Index
• The Fall of Rome

Notes For Book I Chapter XIII

1. I. II. Agriculture
2. I. III. Clan Villages, I. V. The Community
3. The system which we meet with in the case of the Germanic joint tillage, combining a partition of the land in property among the clansmen with its joint cultivation by the clan, can hardly ever have existed in Italy. Had each clansman been regarded in Italy, as among the Germans, in the light of proprietor of a particular spot in each portion of the collective domain that was marked off for tillage, the separate husbandry of later times would probably have set out from a minute subdivision of hides. But the very opposite was the case; the individual names of the Roman hides (-fundus Cornelianus-) show clearly that the Roman proprietor owned from the beginning a possession not broken up but united.
4. Cicero (de Rep. ii. 9, 14, comp. Plutarch, Q. Rom. 15) states: -Tum (in the time of Romulus) erat res in pecore et locorum possessionibus, ex quo pecuniosi et locupletes vocabantur--(Numa) primum agros, quos bello Romulus ceperat, divisit viritim civibus-. In like manner Dionysius represents Romulus as dividing the land into thirty curial districts, and Numa as establishing boundary-stones and introducing the festival of the Terminalia (i. 7, ii. 74; and thence Plutarch, -Numa-, 16).
5. I. XI. Contracts
6. Since this assertion still continues to be disputed, we shall let the numbers speak for themselves. The Roman writers on agriculture of the later republic and the imperial period reckon on an average five -modii- of wheat as sufficient to sow a -jugerum-, and the produce as fivefold. The produce of a -heredium- accordingly (even when, without taking into view the space occupied by the dwelling-house and farm-yard, we regard it as entirely arable land, and make no account of years of fallow) amounts to fifty, or deducting the seed forty, modii. For an adult hard-working slave Cato (c. 56) reckons fifty-one -modii-of wheat as the annual consumption. These data enable any one to answer for himself the question whether a Roman family could or could not subsist on the produce of a -heredium-. The attempted proof to the contrary is based on the ground that the slave of later times subsisted more exclusively on corn than the free farmer of the earlier epoch, and that the assumption of a fivefold return is one too low for this earlier epoch; both assumptions are probably correct, but for both there is a limit. Doubtless the subsidiary produce yielded by the arable land itself and by the common pasture, such as figs, vegetables, milk, flesh (especially as derived from the old and zealously pursued rearing of swine), and the like, are specially to be taken into account for the older period; but the older Roman pastoral husbandry, though not unimportant, was withal of subordinate importance, and the chief subsistence of the people was always notoriously grain. We may, moreover, on account of the thoroughness of the earlier cultivation obtain a very considerable increase, especially of the gross produce--and beyond doubt the farmers of this period drew a larger produce from their lands than the great landholders of the later republic and the empire obtained (iii. Latium); but moderation must be exercised in forming such estimates, because we have to deal with a question of averages and with a mode of husbandry conducted neither methodically nor with large capital. The assumption of a tenfold instead of a fivefold return will be the utmost limit, and yet it is far from sufficing. In no case can the enormous deficit, which is left even according to those estimates between the produce of the -heredium- and the requirements of the household, be covered by mere superiority of cultivation. In fact the counter-proof can only be regarded as successful, when it shall have produced a methodical calculation based on rural economics, according to which among a population chiefly subsisting on vegetables the produce of a piece of land of an acre and a quarter proves sufficient on an average for the subsistence of a family.
It is indeed asserted that instances occur even in historical times of colonies founded with allotments of two -jugera-; but the only instance of the kind (Liv. iv. 47) is that of the colony of Labici in the year 336--an instance, which will certainly not be reckoned (by such scholars as are worth the arguing with) to belong to the class of traditions that are trustworthy in their historical details, and which is beset by other very serious difficulties (see book ii. ch. 5, note). It is no doubt true that in the non-colonial assignation of land to the burgesses collectively (-adsignatio viritana-) sometimes only a few -jugera- were granted (as e. g. Liv. viii. ii, 21). In these cases however it was the intention not to create new farms with the allotments, but rather, as a rule, to add to the existing farms new parcels from the conquered lands (comp. C. I. L. i. p. 88). At any rate, any supposition is better than a hypothesis which requires us to believe as it were in a miraculous multiplication of the food of the Roman household. The Roman farmers were far less modest in their requirements than their historiographers; they themselves conceived that they could not subsist even on allotments of seven -jugera- or a produce of one hundred and forty -modii-.
7. I. VI. Time And Occasion Of The Reform
8. Perhaps the latest, although probably not the last, attempt to prove that a Latin farmer's family might have subsisted on two -jugera- of land, finds its chief support in the argument that Varro (de R. R. i. 44, i) reckons the seed requisite for the -jugerum- at five -modii- of wheat but ten -modii- of spelt, and estimates the produce as corresponding to this, whence it is inferred that the cultivation of spelt yielded a produce, if not double, at least considerably higher than that of wheat. But the converse is more correct, and the nominally higher quantity sown and reaped is simply to be explained by the fact that the Romans garnered and sowed the wheat already shelled, but the spelt still in the husk (Pliny, H. N. xviii. 7, 61), which in this case was not separated from the fruit by threshing. For the same reason spelt is at the present day sown twice as thickly as wheat, and gives a produce twice as great by measure, but less after deduction of the husks. According to Wurtemberg estimates furnished to me by G. Hanssen, the average produce of the Wurtemberg -morgen- is reckoned in the case of wheat (with a sowing of 1/4 to 1/2 -scheffel-) at 3 -scheffel- of the medium weight of 275 Ibs. (= 825 Ibs.); in the case of spelt (with a sowing of 1/2 to 1 1/2 -scheffel-) at least 7 -scheffel- of the medium weight of 150 lbs. ( = 1050 Ibs.), which are reduced by shelling to about 4 -scheffel-. Thus spelt compared with wheat yields in the gross more than double, with equally good soil perhaps triple the crop, but--by specific weight--before the shelling not much above, after shelling (as "kernel") less than, the half. It was not by mistake, as has been asserted, but because it was fitting in computations of this sort to start from estimates of a like nature handed down to us, that the calculation instituted above was based on wheat; it may stand, because, when transferred to spelt, it does not essentially differ and the produce rather falls than rises. Spelt is less nice as to soil and climate, and exposed to fewer risks than wheat; but the latter yields on the whole, especially when we take into account the not inconsiderable expenses of shelling, a higher net produce (on an average of fifty years in the district of Frankenthal in Rhenish Bavaria the -malter- of wheat stands at 11 -gulden- 3 krz., the -malter- of spelt at 4 -gulden-30 krz.), and, as in South Germany, where the soil admits, the growing of wheat is preferred and generally with the progress of cultivation comes to supersede that of spelt, so the analogous transition of Italian agriculture from the culture of spelt to that of wheat was undeniably a progress.
9. I. II. Agriculture
10. -Oleum- and -oliva- are derived from --elaion--, --elaia--, and -amurca- (oil-less) from --amorgei--.
11. But there is no proper authority for the statement that the fig-tree which stood in front of the temple of Saturn was cut down in the year 260 (Plin. H. N. xv. 18, 77); the date CCLX. is wanting in all good manuscripts, and has been interpolated, probably with reference to Liv. ii. 21.
12. I. XI. Property
13. I. VI. Class Of --Metoeci-- Subsisting By The Side Of The Community
14. I. XI. Guardianship
15. I. XII. Oldest Table Of Roman Festivals
16. The comparative legal value of sheep and oxen, as is well known, is proved by the fact that, when the cattle-fines were converted into money-fines, the sheep was rated at ten, and the ox at a hundred asses (Festus, v. -peculatus-, p. 237, comp. pp. 34, 144; Gell. xi. i; Plutarch, Poplicola, ii). By a similar adjustment the Icelandic law makes twelve rams equivalent to a cow; only in this as in other instances the Germanic law has substituted the duodecimal for the older decimal system.
It is well known that the term denoting cattle was transferred to denote money both among the Latins (-pecunia-) and among the Germans (English fee).
17. I. XIV. Decimal System
18. There has lately been found at Praeneste a silver mixing-jug, with a Phoenician and a hieroglyphic inscription (Mon. dell Inst. x. plate 32), which directly proves that such Egyptian wares as come to light in Italy have found their way thither through the medium of the Phoenicians.
19. comp. I. XIII. Culture Of The Olive
20. -Velum- is certainly of Latin origin; so is -malus-, especially as that term denotes not merely the mast, but the tree in general: -antenna- likewise may come from --ana-- (-anhelare-, -antestari-), and -tendere- = -supertensa-. Of Greek origin, on the other hand, are -gubenare-, to steer (--kubernan--); -ancora-, anchor (--agkura--); -prora-, ship's bow (--prora--); -aplustre-, ship's stern (--aphlaston--); -anquina-, the rope fastening the yards (--agkoina--); -nausea-, sea-sickness (--nausia--). The four chief winds of the ancients- -aquilo-, the "eagle-wind," the north-easterly Tramontana; -voltumus- (of uncertain derivation, perhaps the "vulture-wind"), the south-easterly; -auster- the "scorching" southwest wind, the Sirocco; -favonius-, the "favourable" north-west wind blowing from the Tyrrhene Sea--have indigenous names bearing no reference to navigation; but all the other Latin names for winds are Greek (such as -eurus-, -notus-), or translations from the Greek (e.g. -solanus- = --apelioteis--, -Africus- = --lips--).
21. This meant in the first instance the tokens used in the service of the camp, the --xuleiphia kata phulakein brachea teleos echonta charakteira-- (Polyb. vi. 35, 7); the four -vigiliae- of the night-service gave name to the tokens generally. The fourfold division of the night for the service of watching is Greek as well as Roman; the military science of the Greeks may well have exercised an influence--possibly through Pyrrhus (Liv. xxxv. 14)--in the organization of the measures for security in the Roman camp. The employment of the non-Doric form speaks for the comparatively late date at which theword was taken over.
22. I. XI. Character Of The Roman Law
23. I. VII. Relation Of Rome To Latium
24. I. X. Etruscan Commerce
25. I. XI. Clients And Foreigners, I. XIII. Commerce, In Latium Passive, In Etruria Active
26. I. X. Greek Cities Near Vesuvius
27. If we leave out of view -Sarranus-, -Afer-, and other local designations (I. X. Phoenicians And Italians In Opposition To The Hellenes), the Latin language appears not to possess a single word immediately derived in early times from the Phoenician. The very few words from Phoenician roots which occur in it, such as -arrabo- or -arra- and perhaps also -murra-, -nardus-, and the like, are plainly borrowed proximately from the Greek, which has a considerable number of such words of Oriental extraction as indications of its primitive intercourse with the Aramaeans. That --elephas-- and -ebur- should have come from the same Phoenician original with or without the addition of the article, and thus have been each formed independently, is a linguistic impossibility, as the Phoenician article is in reality -ha-, and is not so employed; besides the Oriental primitive word has not as yet been found. The same holds true of the enigmatical word -thesaurus-; whether it may have been originally Greek or borrowed by the Greeks from the Phoenician or Persian, it is at any rate, as a Latin word, derived from the Greek, as the very retaining of its aspiration proves (xii. Foreign Worships).
28. Quintus Claudius, in a law issued shortly before 534, prohibited the senators from having sea-going vessels holding more than 300 -amphorae- (1 amph. = nearly 6 gallons): -id satis habitum ad fructus ex agris vectandos; quaestus omnis patribus indecorus visus- (Liv. xxi. 63). It was thus an ancient usage, and was still permitted, that the senators should possess sea-going vessels for the transport of the produce of their estates: on the other hand, transmarine mercantile speculation (-quaestus-, traffic, fitting-out of vessels, &c.) on their part was prohibited. It is a curious fact that the ancient Greeks as well as the Romans expressed the tonnage of their sea-going ships constantly in amphorae; the reason evidently being, that Greece as well as Italy exported wine at a comparatively early period, and on a larger scale than any other bulky article.
Previous section |

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.