Agriculture and commerce are so intimately bound up with the constitution and the external history of states, that the former must frequently be noticed in the course of describing the latter. We shall here endeavour to supplement the detached notices which we have already given, by exhibiting a summary view of Italian and particularly of Roman economics.
It has been already observed(1) that the transition from a pastoral to an agricultural economy preceded the immigration of the Italians into the peninsula. Agriculture continued to be the main support of all the communities in Italy, of the Sabellians and Etruscans no less than of the Latins. There were no purely pastoral tribes in Italy during historical times, although of course the various races everywhere combined pastoral husbandry, to a greater or less extent according to the nature of the locality, with the cultivation of the soil. The beautiful custom of commencing the formation of new cities by tracing a furrow with the plough along the line of the future ring-wall shows how deeply rooted was the feeling that every commonwealth is dependent on agriculture. In the case of Rome in particular—and it is only in its case that we can speak of agrarian relations with any sort of certainty—the Servian reform shows very clearly not only that the agricultural class originally preponderated in the state, but also that an effort was made permanently to maintain the collective body of freeholders as the pith and marrow of the community. When in the course of time a large portion of the landed property in Rome had passed into the hands of non-burgesses and thus the rights and duties of burgesses were no longer bound up with freehold property, the reformed constitution obviated this incongruous state of things, and the perils which it threatened, not merely temporarily but permanently, by treating the members of the community without reference to their political position once for all according to their freeholding, and imposing the common burden of war-service on the freeholders—a step which in the natural course of things could not but be followed by the concession of public rights. The whole policy of Roman war and conquest rested, like the constitution itself, on the basis of the freehold system; as the freeholder alone was of value in the state, the aim of war was to increase the number of its freehold members. The vanquished community was either compelled to merge entirely into the yeomanry of Rome, or, if not reduced to this extremity, it was required, not to pay a war-contribution or a fixed tribute, but to cede a portion, usually a third part, of its domain, which was thereupon regularly occupied by Roman farms. Many nations have gained victories and made conquests as the Romans did; but none has equalled the Roman in thus making the ground he had won his own by the sweat of his brow, and in securing by the ploughshare what had been gained by the lance. That which is gained by war may be wrested from the grasp by war again, but it is not so with the conquests made by the plough; while the Romans lost many battles, they scarcely ever on making peace ceded Roman soil, and for this result they were indebted to the tenacity with which the farmers clung to their fields and homesteads. The strength of man and of the state lies in their dominion over the soil; the greatness of Rome was built on the most extensive and immediate mastery of her citizens over her soil, and on the compact unity of the body which thus acquired so firm a hold.
System of Joint Cultivation
We have already indicated(2) that in the earliest times the arable land was cultivated in common, probably by the several clans; each clan tilled its own land, and thereafter distributed the produce among the several households belonging to it. There exists indeed an intimate connection between the system of joint tillage and the clan form of society, and even subsequently in Rome joint residence and joint management were of very frequent occurrence in the case of co-proprietors.(3) Even the traditions of Roman law furnish the information that wealth consisted at first in cattle and the usufruct of the soil, and that it was not till later that land came to be distributed among the burgesses as their own special property.(4) Better evidence that such was the case is afforded by the earliest designation of wealth as "cattle-stock" or "slave-and-cattle-stock" (-pecunia-, -familia pecuniaque-), and of the separate possessions of the children of the household and of slaves as "small cattle" (-peculium-) also by the earliest form of acquiring property through laying hold of it with the hand (-mancipatio-), which was only appropriate to the case of moveable articles;(5) and above all by the earliest measure of "land of one's own" (-heredium-, from -herus-lord), consisting of two -jugera- (about an acre and a quarter), which can only have applied to garden-ground, and not to the hide.(6) When and how the distribution of the arable land took place, can no longer be ascertained. This much only is certain, that the oldest form of the constitution was based not on freehold settlement, but on clanship as a substitute for it, whereas the Servian constitution presupposes the distribution of the land. It is evident from the same constitution that the great bulk of the landed property consisted of middle-sized farms, which provided work and subsistence for a family and admitted of the keeping of cattle for tillage as well as of the application of the plough. The ordinary extent of such a Roman full hide has not been ascertained with precision, but can scarcely, as has already been shown,(7) be estimated at less than twenty -jugera-(12 1/2 acres nearly).
Culture of Grain
Their husbandry was mainly occupied with the culture of the cereals. The usual grain was spelt (-far-);(8) but different kinds of pulse, roots, and vegetables were also diligently cultivated.
Culture of the Vine
That the culture of the vine was not introduced for the first time into Italy by Greek settlers,(9) is shown by the list of the festivals of the Roman community which reaches back to a time preceding the Greeks, and which presents three wine-festivals to be celebrated in honour of "father Jovis," not in honour of the wine-god of more recent times who was borrowed from the Greeks, the "father deliverer." The very ancient legend which represents Mezentius king of Caere as levying a wine-tax from the Latins or the Rutuli, and the various versions of the widely-spread Italian story which affirms that the Celts were induced to cross the Alps in consequence of their coming to the knowledge of the noble fruits of Italy, especially of the grape and of wine, are indications of the pride of the Latins in their glorious vine, the envy of all their neighbours. A careful system of vine-husbandry was early and generally inculcated by the Latin priests. In Rome the vintage did not begin until the supreme priest of the community, the -flamen- of Jupiter, had granted permission for it and had himself made a beginning; in like manner a Tusculan ordinance forbade the sale of new wine, until the priest had proclaimed the festival of opening the casks. The early prevalence of the culture of the vine is likewise attested not only by the general adoption of wine-libations in the sacrificial ritual, but also by the precept of the Roman priests promulgated as a law of king Numa, that men should present in libation to the gods no wine obtained from uncut grapes; just as, to introduce the beneficial practice of drying the grain, they prohibited the offering of grain undried.
Culture of the Olive
The culture of the olive was of later introduction, and certainly was first brought to Italy by the Greeks.(10) The olive is said to have been first planted on the shores of the western Mediterranean towards the close of the second century of the city; and this view accords with the fact that the olive-branch and the olive occupy in the Roman ritual a place very subordinate to the juice of the vine. The esteem in which both noble trees were held by the Romans is shown by the vine and the olive-tree which were planted in the middle of the Forum, not far from the Curtian lake.
The principal fruit-tree planted was the nutritious fig, which was probably a native of Italy. The legend of the origin of Rome wove its threads most closely around the old fig-trees, several of which stood near to and in the Roman Forum.(11)
Management of the Farm
It was the farmer and his sons who guided the plough, and performed generally the labours of husbandry: it is not probable that slaves or free day-labourers were regularly employed in the work of the ordinary farm. The plough was drawn by the ox or by the cow; horses, asses, and mules served as beasts of burden. The rearing of cattle for the sake of meat or of milk did not exist at all as a distinct branch of husbandry, or was prosecuted only to a very limited extent, at least on the land which remained the property of the clan; but, in addition to the smaller cattle which were driven out together to the common pasture, swine and poultry, particularly geese, were kept at the farm-yard. As a general rule, there was no end of ploughing and re-ploughing: a field was reckoned imperfectly tilled, in which the furrows were not drawn so close that harrowing could be dispensed with; but the management was more earnest than intelligent, and no improvement took place in the defective plough or in the imperfect processes of reaping and of threshing. This result is probably attributable rather to the scanty development of rational mechanics than to the obstinate clinging of the farmers to use and wont; for mere kindly attachment to the system of tillage transmitted with the patrimonial soil was far from influencing the practical Italian, and obvious improvements in agriculture, such as the cultivation of fodder-plants and the irrigation of meadows, may have been early adopted from neighbouring peoples or independently developed—Roman literature itself in fact began with the discussion of the theory of agriculture. Welcome rest followed diligent and judicious labour; and here too religion asserted her right to soothe the toils of life even to the humble by pauses for recreation and for freer human movement and intercourse. Every eighth day (-nonae-), and therefore on an average four times a month, the farmer went to town to buy and sell and transact his other business. But rest from labour, in the strict sense, took place only on the several festival days, and especially in the holiday-month after the completion of the winter sowing (-feriae sementivae-): during these set times the plough rested by command of the gods, and not the farmer only, but also his slave and his ox, reposed in holiday idleness.
Such, probably, was the way in which the ordinary Roman farm was cultivated in the earliest times. The next heirs had no protection against bad management except the right of having the spendthrift who squandered his inherited estate placed under wardship as if he were a lunatic.(12) Women moreover were in substance divested of their personal right of disposal, and, if they married, a member of the same clan was ordinarily assigned as husband, in order to retain the estate within the clan. The law sought to check the overburdening of landed property with debt partly by ordaining, in the case of a debt secured over the land, the provisional transference of the ownership of the object pledged from the debtor to the creditor, partly, in the case of a simple loan, by the rigour of the proceedings in execution which speedily led to actual bankruptcy; the latter means however, as the sequel will show, attained its object but very imperfectly. No restriction was imposed by law on the free divisibility of property. Desirable as it might be that co-heirs should remain in the undivided possession of their heritage, even the oldest law was careful to keep the power of dissolving such a partnership open at any time to any partner; it was good that brethren should dwell together in peace, but to compel them to do so was foreign to the liberal spirit of Roman law. The Servian constitution moreover shows that even in the regal period of Rome there were not wanting cottagers and garden-proprietors, with whom the mattock took the place of the plough. It was left to custom and the sound sense of the population to prevent excessive subdivision of the soil; and that their confidence in this respect was not misplaced and the landed estates ordinarily remained entire, is proved by the universal Roman custom of designating them by permanent individual names. The community exercised only an indirect influence in the matter by the sending forth of colonies, which regularly led to the establishment of a number of new full hides, and frequently doubtless also to the suppression of a number of cottage holdings, the small landholders being sent forth as colonists.
It is far more difficult to perceive how matters stood with landed property on a larger scale. The fact that such larger properties existed to no inconsiderable extent, cannot be doubted from the early development of the -equites-, and may be easily explained partly by the distribution of the clan-lands, which of itself could not but call into existence a class of larger landowners in consequence of the necessary inequality in the numbers of the persons belonging to the several clans and participating in the distribution, and partly by the abundant influx of mercantile capital to Rome. But farming on a large scale in the proper sense, implying a considerable establishment of slaves, such as we afterwards meet with at Rome, cannot be supposed to have existed during this period. On the contrary, to this period we must refer the ancient definition, which represents the senators as called fathers from the fields which they parcelled out among the common people as a father among his children; and originally the landowner must have distributed that portion of his land which he was unable to farm in person, or even his whole estate, into little parcels among his dependents to be cultivated by them, as is the general practice in Italy at the present day. The recipient might be the house-child or slave of the granter; if he was a free man, his position was that which subsequently went by the name of "occupancy on sufferance" (-precarium-). The recipient retained his occupancy during the pleasure of the granter, and had no legal means of protecting himself in possession against him; on the contrary, the granter could eject him at any time when he pleased. The relation did not necessarily involve any payment on the part of the person who had the usufruct of the soil to its proprietor; but such a payment beyond doubt frequently took place and may, as a rule, have consisted in the delivery of a portion of the produce. The relation in this case approximated to the lease of subsequent times, but remained always distinguished from it partly by the absence of a fixed term for its expiry, partly by its non-actionable character on either side and the legal protection of the claim for rent depending entirely on the lessor's right of ejection. It is plain that it was essentially a relation based on mutual fidelity, which could not subsist without the help of the powerful sanction of custom consecrated by religion; and this was not wanting. The institution of clientship, altogether of a moral-religious nature, beyond doubt rested fundamentally on this assignation of the profits of the soil. Nor was the introduction of such an assignation dependent on the abolition of the system of common tillage; for, just as after this abolition the individual, so previous to it the clan might grant to dependents a joint use of its lands; and beyond doubt with this very state of things was connected the fact that the Roman clientship was not personal, but that from the outset the client along with his clan entrusted himself for protection and fealty to the patron and his clan. This earliest form of Roman landholding serves to explain how there sprang from the great landlords in Rome a landed, and not an urban, nobility. As the pernicious institution of middlemen remained foreign to the Romans, the Roman landlord found himself not much less chained to his land than was the tenant and the farmer; he inspected and took part in everything himself, and the wealthy Roman esteemed it his highest praise to be reckoned a good landlord. His house was in the country; in the city he had only a lodging for the purpose of attending to his business there, and perhaps of breathing the purer air that prevailed there during the hot season. Above all, however, these arrangements furnished a moral basis for the relation between the upper class and the common people, and so materially lessened its dangers. The free tenants-on-sufferance, sprung from families of decayed farmers, dependents, and freedmen, formed the great bulk of the proletariate,(13) and were not much more dependent on the landlord than the petty leaseholder inevitably is with reference to the great proprietor. The slaves tilling the fields for a master were beyond doubt far less numerous than the free tenants. In all cases where an immigrant nation has not at once reduced to slavery a population -en masse-, slaves seem to have existed at first only to a very limited amount, and consequently free labourers seem to have played a very different part in the state from that in which they subsequently appear. In Greece "day-labourers" (—theites—) in various instances during the earlier period occupy the place of the slaves of a later age, and in some communities, among the Locrians for instance, there was no slavery down to historical times. Even the slave, moreover, was ordinarily of Italian descent; the Volscian, Sabine, or Etruscan war-captive must have stood in a different relation towards his master from the Syrian and the Celt of later times. Besides as a tenant he had in fact, though not in law, land and cattle, wife and child, as the landlord had, and after manumission was introduced(14) there was a possibility, not remote, of working out his freedom. If such then was the footing on which landholding on a large scale stood in the earliest times, it was far from being an open sore in the commonwealth; on the contrary, it was of most material service to it. Not only did it provide subsistence, although scantier upon the whole, for as many families in proportion as the intermediate and smaller properties; but the landlords moreover, occupying a comparatively elevated and free position, supplied the community with its natural leaders and rulers, while the agricultural and unpropertied tenants-on-sufferance furnished the genuine material for the Roman policy of colonization, without which it never would have succeeded; for while the state may furnish land to him who has none, it cannot impart to one who knows nothing of agriculture the spirit and the energy to wield the plough.
Ground under pasture was not affected by the distribution of the land. The state, and not the clanship, was regarded as the owner of the common pastures. It made use of them in part for its own flocks and herds, which were intended for sacrifice and other purposes and were always kept up by means of the cattle-fines; and it gave to the possessors of cattle the privilege of driving them out upon the common pasture for a moderate payment (-scriptura-). The right of pasturage on the public domains may have originally borne some relation -de facto- to the possession of land, but no connection -de jure- can ever have subsisted in Rome between the particular hides of land and a definite proportional use of the common pasture; because property could be acquired even by the —metoikos—, but the right to use the common pasture was only granted exceptionally to the —metoikos— by the royal favour. At this period, however, the public land seems to have held but a subordinate place in the national economy generally, for the original common pasturage was not perhaps very extensive, and the conquered territory was probably for the most part distributed immediately as arable land among the clans or at a later period among individuals.
While agriculture was the chief and most extensively prosecuted occupation in Rome, other branches of industry did not fail to accompany it, as might be expected from the early development of urban life in that emporium of the Latins. In fact eight guilds of craftsmen were numbered among the institutions of king Numa, that is, among the institutions that had existed in Rome from time immemorial. These were the flute-blowers, the goldsmiths, the coppersmiths, the carpenters, the fullers, the dyers, the potters, and the shoemakers—a list which would substantially exhaust the class of tradesmen working to order on account of others in the very early times, when the baking of bread and the professional art of healing were not yet known and wool was spun into clothing by the women of the household themselves. It is remarkable that there appears no special guild of workers in iron. This affords a fresh confirmation of the fact that the manufacture of iron was of comparatively late introduction in Latium; and on this account in matters of ritual down to the latest times copper alone might be used, e.g. for the sacred plough and the shear-knife of the priests. These bodies of craftsmen must have been of great importance in early times for the urban life of Rome and for its position towards the Latin land—an importance not to be measured by the depressed condition of Roman handicraft in later times, when it was injuriously affected by the multitude of artisan-slaves working for their master or on his account, and by the increased import of articles of luxury. The oldest lays of Rome celebrated not only the mighty war-god Mamers, but also the skilled armourer Mamurius, who understood the art of forging for his fellow-burgesses shields similar to the divine model shield that had fallen from heaven; Volcanus the god of fire and of the forge already appears in the primitive list of Roman festivals.(15) Thus in the earliest Rome, as everywhere, the arts of forging and of wielding the ploughshare and the sword went hand in hand, and there was nothing of that arrogant contempt for handicrafts which we afterwards meet with there. After the Servian organization, however, imposed the duty of serving in the army exclusively on the freeholders, the industrial classes were excluded not by any law, but practically in consequence of their general want of a freehold qualification, from the privilege of bearing arms, except in the case of special subdivisions chosen from the carpenters, coppersmiths, and certain classes of musicians and attached with a military organization to the army; and this may perhaps have been the origin of the subsequent habit of depreciating the manual arts and of the position of political inferiority assigned to them. The institution of guilds doubtless had the same object as the colleges of priests that resembled them in name; the men of skill associated themselves in order more permanently and securely to preserve the tradition of their art. That there was some mode of excluding unskilled persons is probable; but no traces are to be met with either of monopolizing tendencies or of protective steps against inferior manufactures. There is no aspect, however, of the life of the Roman people respecting which our information is so scanty as that of the Roman trades.
Inland Commerce of the Italians
Italian commerce must, it is obvious, have been limited in the earliest epoch to the mutual dealings of the Italians themselves. Fairs (-mercatus-), which must be distinguished from the usual weekly markets (-nundinae-) were of great antiquity in Latium. Probably they were at first associated with international gatherings and festivals, and so perhaps were connected in Rome with the festival at the federal temple on the Aventine; the Latins, who came for this purpose to Rome every year on the 13th August, may have embraced at the same time the opportunity of transacting their business in Rome and of purchasing what they needed there. A similar and perhaps still greater importance belonged in the case of Etruria to the annual general assembly at the temple of Voltumna (perhaps near Montefiascone) in the territory of Volsinii; it served at the same time as a fair and was regularly frequented by Roman traders. But the most important of all the Italian fairs was that which was held at Soracte in the grove of Feronia, a situation than which none could be found more favourable for the exchange of commodities among the three great nations. That high isolated mountain, which appears to have been set down by nature herself in the midst of the plain of the Tiber as a goal for the traveller, lay on the boundary which separated the Etruscan and Sabine lands (to the latter of which it appears mostly to have belonged), and it was likewise easily accessible from Latium and Umbria. Roman merchants regularly made their appearance there, and the wrongs of which they complained gave rise to many a quarrel with the Sabines.
Beyond doubt dealings of barter and traffic were carried on at these fairs long before the first Greek or Phoenician vessel entered the western sea. When bad harvests had occurred, different districts supplied each other at these fairs with grain; there, too, they exchanged cattle, slaves, metals, and whatever other articles were deemed needful or desirable in those primitive times. Oxen and sheep formed the oldest medium of exchange, ten sheep being reckoned equivalent to one ox. The recognition of these objects as universal legal representatives of value or in other words as money, as well as the scale of proportion between the large and smaller cattle, may be traced back—as the recurrence of both especially among the Germans shows—not merely to the Graeco-Italian period, but beyond this even to the epoch of a purely pastoral economy.(16) In Italy, where metal in considerable quantity was everywhere required especially for agricultural purposes and for armour, but few of its provinces themselves produced the requisite metals, copper (-aes-) very early made its appearance alongside of cattle as a second medium of exchange; and so the Latins, who were poor in copper, designated valuation itself as "coppering" (-aestimatio-). This establishment of copper as a general equivalent recognized throughout the whole peninsula, as well as the simplest numeral signs of Italian invention to be mentioned more particularly below(17) and the Italian duodecimal system, may be regarded as traces of this earliest international intercourse of the Italian peoples while they still had the peninsula to themselves.
Transmarine Traffic of the Italians
We have already indicated generally the nature of the influence exercised by transmarine commerce on the Italians who continued independent. The Sabellian stocks remained almost wholly unaffected by it. They were in possession of but a small and inhospitable belt of coast, and received whatever reached them from foreign nations—the alphabet for instance—only through the medium of the Tuscans or Latins; a circumstance which accounts for their want of urban development. The intercourse of Tarentum with the Apulians and Messapians appears to have been at this epoch still unimportant. It was otherwise along the west coast. In Campania the Greeks and Italians dwelt peacefully side by side, and in Latium, and still more in Etruria, an extensive and regular exchange of commodities took place. What were the earliest articles of import, may be inferred partly from the objects found in the primitive tombs, particularly those at Caere, partly from indications preserved in the language and institutions of the Romans, partly and chiefly from the stimulus given to Italian industry; for of course they bought foreign manufactures for a considerable time before they began to imitate them. We cannot determine how far the development of handicrafts had advanced before the separation of the stocks, or what progress it thereafter made while Italy remained left to its own resources; it is uncertain how far the Italian fullers, dyers, tanners, and potters received their impulse from Greece or Phoenicia or had their own independent development But certainly the trade of the goldsmiths, which existed in Rome from time immemorial, can only have arisen after transmarine commerce had begun and ornaments of gold had to some extent found sale among the inhabitants of the peninsula. We find, accordingly, in the oldest sepulchral chambers of Caere and Vulci in Etruria and of Praeneste in Latium, plates of gold with winged lions stamped upon them, and similar ornaments of Babylonian manufacture. It may be a question in reference to the particular object found, whether it has been introduced from abroad or is a native imitation; but on the whole it admits of no doubt that all the west coast of Italy in early times imported metallic wares from the East. It will be shown still more clearly in the sequel, when we come to speak of the exercise of art, that architecture and modelling in clay and metal received a powerful stimulus in very early times through Greek influence, or, in other words, that the oldest tools and the oldest models came from Greece. In the sepulchral chambers just mentioned, besides the gold ornaments, there were deposited vessels of bluish enamel or greenish clay, which, judging from the materials and style as well as from the hieroglyphics impressed upon them, were of Egyptian origin;(18) perfume-vases of Oriental alabaster, several of them in the form of Isis; ostrich-eggs with painted or carved sphinxes and griffins; beads of glass and amber. These last may have come by the land-route from the north; but the other objects prove the import of perfumes and articles of ornament of all sorts from the East. Thence came linen and purple, ivory and frankincense, as is proved by the early use of linen fillets, of the purple dress and ivory sceptre for the king, and of frankincense in sacrifice, as well as by the very ancient borrowed names for them (—linon—, -linum-; —porphura—, -purpura-; —skeiptron—, —skipon—, -scipio-; perhaps also —elephas—, -ebur-; —thuos—, -thus-). Of similar significance is the derivation of a number of words relating to articles used in eating and drinking, particularly the names of oil,(19) of jugs (—amphoreus—, -amp(h)ora-, -ampulla-, —krateir—, -cratera-), of feasting (—komazo—, -comissari-), of a dainty dish (—opsonion—, -opsonium-) of dough (—maza—, -massa-), and various names of cakes (—glukons—, -lucuns-; —plakons—, -placenta-; —turons—, -turunda-); while conversely the Latin names for dishes (-patina-, —patanei—) and for lard (-arvina-, —arbinei—) have found admission into Sicilian Greek. The later custom of placing in the tomb beside the dead Attic, Corcyrean, and Campanian vases proves, what these testimonies from language likewise show, the early market for Greek pottery in Italy. That Greek leather-work made its way into Latium at least in the shape of armour is apparent from the application of the Greek word for leather —skutos— to signify among the Latins a shield (-scutum-; like -lorica-, from -lorum-). Finally, we deduce a similar inference from the numerous nautical terms borrowed from the Greek (although it is remarkable that the chief technical expressions in navigation—the terms for the sail, mast, and yard—are pure Latin forms);(20) and from the recurrence in Latin of the Greek designations for a letter (—epistolei—, -epistula-), a token (-tessera-, from —tessara—(21)), a balance (—stateir—, -statera-), and earnest-money (—arrabon—, -arrabo-, -arra-); and conversely from the adoption of Italian law-terms in Sicilian Greek,(22) as well as from the exchange of the proportions and names of coins, weights, and measures, which we shall notice in the sequel. The character of barbarism which all these borrowed terms obviously present, and especially the characteristic formation of the nominative from the accusative (-placenta- = —plakounta—; -ampora- = —amphorea—; -statera-= —stateira—), constitute the clearest evidence of their great antiquity. The worship of the god of traffic (-Mercurius-) also appears to have been from the first influenced by Greek conceptions; and his annual festival seems even to have been fixed on the ides of May, because the Hellenic poets celebrated him as the son of the beautiful Maia.
Commerce, in Latium Passive, in Etruria Active
It thus appears that Italy in very ancient times derived its articles of luxury, just as imperial Rome did, from the East, before it attempted to manufacture for itself after the models which it imported. In exchange it had nothing to offer except its raw produce, consisting especially of its copper, silver, and iron, but including also slaves and timber for shipbuilding, amber from the Baltic, and, in the event of bad harvests occurring abroad, its grain. From this state of things as to the commodities in demand and the equivalents to be offered in return, we have already explained why Italian traffic assumed in Latium a form so differing from that which it presented in Etruria. The Latins, who were deficient in all the chief articles of export, could carry on only a passive traffic, and were obliged even in the earliest times to procure the copper of which they had need from the Etruscans in exchange for cattle or slaves—we have already mentioned the very ancient practice of selling the latter on the right bank of the Tiber.(23) On the other hand the Tuscan balance of trade must have been necessarily favourable in Caere as in Populonia, in Capua as in Spina. Hence the rapid development of prosperity in these regions and their powerful commercial position; whereas Latium remained preeminently an agricultural country. The same contrast recurs in all their individual relations. The oldest tombs constructed and furnished in the Greek fashion, but with an extravagance to which the Greeks were strangers, are to be found at Caere, while—with the exception of Praeneste, which appears to have occupied a peculiar position and to have been very intimately connected with Falerii and southern Etruria—the Latin land exhibits only slight ornaments for the dead of foreign origin, and not a single tomb of luxury proper belonging to the earlier times; there as among the Sabellians a simple turf ordinarily sufficed as a covering for the dead. The most ancient coins, of a time not much later than those of Magna Graecia, belong to Etruria, and to Populonia in particular: during the whole regal period Latium had to be content with copper by weight, and had not even introduced foreign coins, for the instances are extremely rare in which such coins (e.g. one of Posidonia) have been found there. In architecture, plastic art, and embossing, the same stimulants acted on Etruria and on Latium, but it was only in the case of the former that capital was everywhere brought to bear on them and led to their being pursued extensively and with growing technical skill. The commodities were upon the whole the same, which were bought, sold, and manufactured in Latium and in Etruria; but the southern land was far inferior to its northern neighbours in the energy with which its commerce was plied. The contrast between them in this respect is shown in the fact that the articles of luxury manufactured after Greek models in Etruria found a market in Latium, particularly at Praeneste, and even in Greece itself, while Latium hardly ever exported anything of the kind.
Etrusco-Attic, and Latino-Sicilian Commerce
A distinction not less remarkable between the commerce of the Latins and that of the Etruscans appears in their respective routes or lines of traffic. As to the earliest commerce of the Etruscans in the Adriatic we can hardly do more than express the conjecture that it was directed from Spina and Atria chiefly to Corcyra. We have already mentioned(24) that the western Etruscans ventured boldly into the eastern seas, and trafficked not merely with Sicily, but also with Greece proper. An ancient intercourse with Attica is indicated by the Attic clay vases, which are so numerous in the more recent Etruscan tombs, and had been perhaps even at this time introduced for other purposes than the already-mentioned decoration of tombs, while conversely Tyrrhenian bronze candlesticks and gold cups were articles early in request in Attica. Still more definitely is such an intercourse indicated by the coins. The silver pieces of Populonia were struck after the pattern of a very old silver piece stamped on one side with the Gorgoneion, on the other merely presenting an incuse square, which has been found at Athens and on the old amber-route in the district of Posen, and which was in all probability the very coin struck by order of Solon in Athens. We have mentioned already that the Etruscans had also dealings, and perhaps after the development of the Etrusco-Carthaginian maritime alliance their principal dealings, with the Carthaginians. It is a remarkable circumstance that in the oldest tombs of Caere, besides native vessels of bronze and silver, there have been found chiefly Oriental articles, which may certainly have come from Greek merchants, but more probably were introduced by Phoenician traders. We must not, however, attribute too great importance to this Phoenician trade, and in particular we must not overlook the fact that the alphabet, as well as the other influences that stimulated and matured native culture, were brought to Etruria by the Greeks, and not by the Phoenicians.
Latin commerce assumed a different direction. Rarely as we have opportunity of instituting comparisons between the Romans and the Etruscans as regards the reception of Hellenic elements, the cases in which such comparisons can be instituted exhibit the two nations as completely independent of each other. This is most clearly apparent in the case of the alphabet. The Greek alphabet brought to the Etruscans from the Chalcidico-Doric colonies in Sicily or Campania varies not immaterially from that which the Latins derived from the same quarter, so that, although both peoples have drawn from the same source, they have done so at different times and different places. The same phenomenon appears in particular words: the Roman Pollux and the Tuscan Pultuke are independent corruptions of the Greek Polydeukes; the Tuscan Utuze or Uthuze is formed from Odysseus, the Roman Ulixes is an exact reproduction of the form of the name usual in Sicily; in like manner the Tuscan Aivas corresponds to the old Greek form of this name, the Roman Aiax to a secondary form that was probably also Sicilian; the Roman Aperta or Apello and the Samnite Appellun have sprung from the Doric Apellon, the Tuscan Apulu from Apollon. Thus the language and writing of Latium indicate that the direction of Latin commerce was exclusively towards the Cumaeans and Siceliots. Every other trace which has survived from so remote an age leads to the same conclusion: such as, the coin of Posidonia found in Latium; the purchase of grain, when a failure of the harvest occurred in Rome, from the Volscians, Cumaeans, and Siceliots (and, as was natural, from the Etruscans as well); above all, the relations subsisting between the Latin and Sicilian monetary systems. As the local Dorico-Chalcidian designation of silver coin —nomos—, and the Sicilian measure —eimina—, were transferred with the same meaning to Latium as -nummus- and -hemina-, so conversely the Italian designations of weight, -libra-, -triens-, -quadrans-, -sextans-, -uncia-, which arose in Latium for the measurement of the copper which was used by weight instead of money, had found their way into the common speech of Sicily in the third century of the city under the corrupt and hybrid forms, —litra—, —trias—, —tetras—, —exas—, —ougkia—. Indeed, among all the Greek systems of weights and moneys, the Sicilian alone was brought into a determinate relation to the Italian copper-system; not only was the value of silver set down conventionally and perhaps legally as two hundred and fifty times that of copper, but the equivalent on this computation of a Sicilian pound of copper (1/120th of the Attic talent, 2/3 of the Roman pound) was in very early times struck, especially at Syracuse, as a silver coin (—litra argurion—, i.e. "copper-pound in silver"). Accordingly it cannot be doubted that Italian bars of copper circulated also in Sicily instead of money; and this exactly harmonizes with the hypothesis that the commerce of the Latins with Sicily was a passive commerce, in consequence of which Latin money was drained away thither. Other proofs of ancient intercourse between Sicily and Italy, especially the adoption in the Sicilian dialect of the Italian expressions for a commercial loan, a prison, and a dish, and the converse reception of Sicilian terms in Italy, have been already mentioned.(25) We meet also with several, though less definite, traces of an ancient intercourse of the Latins with the Chalcidian cities in Lower Italy, Cumae and Neapolis, and with the Phocaeans in Velia and Massilia. That it was however far less active than that with the Siceliots is shown by the well-known fact that all the Greek words which made their way in earlier times to Latium exhibit Doric forms—we need only recall -Aesculapius-, -Latona-, -Aperta-, -machina-. Had their dealings with the originally Ionian cities, such as Cumae(26) and the Phocaean settlements, been even merely on a similar scale with those which they had with the Sicilian Dorians, Ionic forms would at least have made their appearance along with the others; although certainly Dorism early penetrated even into these Ionic colonies themselves, and their dialect varied greatly. While all the facts thus combine to attest the stirring traffic of the Latins with the Greeks of the western main generally, and especially with the Sicilians, there hardly occurred any immediate intercourse with the Asiatic Phoenicians, and the intercourse with those of Africa, which is sufficiently attested by statements of authors and by articles found, can only have occupied a secondary position as affecting the state of culture in Latium; in particular it is significant that—if we leave out of account some local names—there is an utter absence of any evidence from language as to ancient intercourse between the Latins and the nations speaking the Aramaic tongue.(27)
If we further inquire how this traffic was mainly carried on, whether by Italian merchants abroad or by foreign merchants in Italy, the former supposition has all the probabilities in its favour, at least so far as Latium is concerned. It is scarcely conceivable that those Latin terms denoting the substitute for money and the commercial loan could have found their way into general use in the language of the inhabitants of Sicily through the mere resort of Sicilian merchants to Ostia and their receipt of copper in exchange for ornaments. Lastly, in regard to the persons and classes by whom this traffic was carried on in Italy, no special superior class of merchants distinct from and independent of the class of landed proprietors developed itself in Rome. The reason of this surprising phenomenon was, that the wholesale commerce of Latium was from the beginning in the hands of the large landed proprietors—a hypothesis which is not so singular as it seems. It was natural that in a country intersected by several navigable rivers the great landholder, who was paid by his tenants their quotas of produce in kind, should come at an early period to possess barks; and there is evidence that such was the case. The transmarine traffic conducted on the trader's own account must therefore have fallen into the hands of the great landholder, seeing that he alone possessed the vessels for it and—in his produce—the articles for export.(28) In fact the distinction between a landed and a moneyed aristocracy was unknown to the Romans of earlier times; the great landholders were at the same time the speculators and the capitalists. In the case of a very energetic commerce such a combination certainly could not have been maintained; but, as the previous representation shows, while there was a comparatively vigorous traffic in Rome in consequence of the trade of the Latin land being there concentrated, Rome was by no means essentially a commercial city like Caere or Tarentum, but was and continued to be the centre of an agricultural community.
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.