By Jean Andreau

This can be the 1st publication to give an artificial view of Roman banking and fiscal existence from the fourth century BC to the top of the 3rd century advert. It describes the company offers of the elite and the pro bankers and the interventions of the kingdom. It exhibits to what volume the spirit of revenue and firm predominated over the conventional values of Rome, what financial function those financiers performed, and the way that position compares with that in their later opposite numbers.

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That is one of the differences between members of the elite and the professional bankers (argentarii and coactores argentarii, later nummularii). The activities of the latter were certainly regulated by the beginnings of a law governing the profession. As for the technical treatises on agriculture, known as agronomic treatises, they have very little to say about the financial operations of the landowners whom they mention. Nevertheless, they too are valuable, as they help us to understand the strategies and rationality of these individuals.

But it is worth noting two differences between it and Italy and the Latin-speaking provinces. The first relates to auctions. In the Greek world, professional bankers never took part on a regular basis. Auctions certainly took place, and the buyers were certainly free to borrow money to pay the vendors for their purchases. But trapezites, as such, did not take part in those sales. 17 18 19 10 11 N. Rauh (: –) thinks that, as early as the Second Punic War, the argentarii were providing credit at auctions.

In the case of Vespasian, the quest for profit stemmed from the far more ‘rational’ desire to strengthen his patrimony, the better to assure his position in the senatorial order. Because the patrimonies of the elite had increased greatly in a more or less regular fashion,54 between the third century  and the time of the Julio-Claudians, in the second and first centuries  , many senators and knights, through fear of not being able to maintain their rank, had tended to launch themselves into as many ventures as possible, both private and public.

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