Of Ancient Roman containers, a congiarium, or congiary (Latin, from congius), was a vessel containing one congius, a measure of volume equal to six sextarii.[1]

In the early times of the Roman Republic, the congius was the usual measure of oil or wine which was, on certain occasions, distributed among the people; and thus congiarium became a name for liberal donations to the people, in general, whether consisting of oil, wine, grain, or money, or other things, while donations made to the soldiers were called donativa, though they were sometimes also termed congiaria.[1]

Congiarium was, moreover, occasionally used simply to designate a present or a pension given by a person of high rank, or a prince, to his friends; and Fabius Maximus called the presents which Augustus made to his friends, on account of their smallness, heminaria, instead of congiaria, because hemina was only the twelfth part of a congius.[1]

Tiberius gave a congiarium of 72½ denarii (300 sesterces) to each citizen. Caligula gave the same amount of three hundred sesterces on two occasions. Nero, whose congiaria were the earliest known examples represented on medals, gave four hundred.[2]

Despite Trajan's financial success, his practice of giving extravagant congiaria to the people of Rome received severe condemnation. His first congiarium, in 99, was probably no larger than that of Nerva (75 denarii per person), but his second and third distributions of money, after each Dacian War, amounted to 650 denarii per person.[3]

Hadrian treated the Roman people in the same way as Trajan, and of him Fronto said:

I consider it good policy that the prince did not neglect the theatre or the circus and arena, as he well knew that there are two things which the Roman applaud especially—the distribution of grain, and games. The neglect of the important thing [grains] causes great harm, of the frivolous thing [entertainment] greater hatred—the crowd hungering more for games than for bread, because by the gift to the people [congiarium] only those who are authorized to receive the grain will be gratified, while by the games the whole population is pacified.

— Fronto, Prim. Hist., p. 249, ed., Barthold Georg Niebuhr.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. London: John Murray.
  2. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
  3. ^ Bury, John Bagnell. The Student's Roman Empire. Harper. 1893. p 436.
  4. ^ Ferdinand Gregorovius. ISBN 0790552280 The Emperor Hadrian. Macmillan. 1898. ISBN 0-7905-5228-0. p 214.
A rationibus

The a rationibus was the secretary of finance in the Roman Empire and in charge of the imperial treasury, the fiscus. His responsibilities involved monitoring the state's revenues and expenditures and maintaining the accounts of the fiscus, giving the a rationibus considerable influence.The role of the a rationibus was originally created by Augustus, who needed accurate and comprehensive accounts of the state's finances in order to exercise budgetary control, and was thus given to members of his household, probably freedmen. This role was then institutionalized in the position of the a rationibus, who was paid a salary by the aerarium and given an office in the Palatine bureaus, under Tiberius. Roman patrician families such as the Junii Silani may also have designated their accountants as "a rationibus", although this custom fell out of practice when the imperial office of the a rationibus became institutionalized and had vanished at the latest under Nero's reign. Within his role as accountant, the careful bookkeeping of military expenditures, the costs of the public distribution of grain, religious constructions and infrastructure projects, but also the embellishment of the imperial palace, and project public revenues, e.g. from the Empire's various mines, were among the a rationibus' most important tasks. Moreover, the a rationibus was also responsible for the behavior of the magistrates of the fiscus and public complaints were addressed to his office. The praepositus a rationibus was helped by his chief subordinate, the proximus a rationibus, and strongly relied on the continuous confidence of the emperor, as evidenced by the consequences of Tiberius Iul. Aug. lib.'s dismissal. Sometimes, the offices of the a rationibus and ab epistulis, the secretary in charge of the imperial correspondence, were joined, e.g. in the case of Tiberius Claudius Vibianus Tertullus.The office of a rationibus was initially held by freedmen such as Pallas, Phaon, and the father of Claudius Etruscus. However, from the 2nd century AD on (i.e., around the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian), the position was occupied only by Equestrians (Equites) after the reputation of freedmen had been blackened due to their undue influence at the imperial court and several corruption affairs. The office of the a rationibus was abolished through Diocletian's tetrarchic reforms, which put the management of the imperial finances during the 4th and 5th century AD under the purview of the comes sacrarum largitionum (master of the sacred largess).


"Comes" ( KOH-meez), plural "comites" ( KOM-i-teez), is the Latin word for "companion", either individually or as a member of a collective denominated a "comitatus", especially the suite of a magnate, being in some instances sufficiently large and/or formal to justify specific denomination, e. g. a "cohors amicorum". "Comes" derives from "com-" ("with") and "ire" ("go").


Donativum (plural donativa) was the name given to the gifts of money dispersed to the soldiers of the Roman legions or to the Praetorian Guard by the Roman Emperors. The English translation is donative.

The purpose of the donativa varied: some were expressions of gratitude for favors received, and others outright bribery for favors expected in return. Donativa were normally rendered at the beginning of each new emperor's reign. During the 2nd and 3rd centuries, this form of bribery became a crucial part of any successful ruler in Rome. Such was the case with many of the soldier-emperors from 235 to 248.

The Praetorian Guard, intimate to the emperor's person, was an even greater threat to security. The cohorts stationed in Rome were difficult to appease and quick to commit assassination. The donativum thus provided a significant way to purchase the Guards' support and loyalty.

Emperor Augustus bequeathed the Praetorian Guard a substantial sum in his will, but it was not until the reign of Tiberius that gifts of money were thought mandatory. The Praetorian Guard received such gifts for turning a blind eye when Sejanus, their prefect, fell from power. Each Praetorian Guard received 10 gold pieces for refraining from defending Sejanus's.

In 41, after the assassination of Caligula, the Guard supported Claudius, and after a brief time the Senate learned that the Guard had installed him on the throne. Claudius gave them 150 gold pieces, or some 3,750 denarii, to which the senators' 100 sesterces were added annually to commemorate Claudius's accession. The inevitable result of the custom of the donativum was the Praetorians' auctioning of the Empire to Didius Julianus in 193.

Fasti Ostienses

The Fasti Ostienses are a calendar of Roman magistrates and significant events from 49 BC to AD 175, found at Ostia, the principal seaport of Rome. Together with similar inscriptions, such as the Fasti Capitolini and Fasti Triumphales at Rome, the Fasti Ostienses form part of a chronology known as the Fasti Consulares, or Consular Fasti.

The Fasti Ostienses were originally engraved on marble slabs in a public place, either the Ostian forums, or the temple of Vulcan, the tutelary deity of Ostia. The fasti were later dismantled and used as building materials. Since their rediscovery, they have become one of the primary sources for the chronology of the early Roman Empire, along with historians such as Tacitus, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio.


Fiscus, from which comes the English term fiscal, was the name of the personal chest of the emperors of Rome.

The word is literally translated as "basket" or "purse" and was used to describe those forms of revenue collected from the provinces (specifically the imperial provinces), which were then granted to the emperor. Its existence pointed to the division of power in the early era of the Empire between the imperial court and the Senate.


In ancient Roman culture, liberalitas was the virtue of giving freely (from liber, "free"), hence generosity. On coins, a political leader of the Roman Republic or an emperor of the Imperial era might be depicted as displaying largess to the Roman people, with liberalitas embodied as a goddess at his side. The goddess Liberalitas appears on coinage issued under the emperors Gordian III Trajan, Antoninus Pius and Septimius Severus, sometimes designated as Augusta or Augusti in association with Imperial cult. On one example, a Roman holds out his toga to receive coins poured by Liberalitas, as Antoninus looks on from an elevated seat.The divine Virtues are sometimes associated with a particular activity or function performed by the emperor—in the case of Liberalitas, the congiarium or giving of gifts by the emperor directly to individuals. The enacting of the particular virtue was considered an epiphany of the goddess or miraculum: Liberalitas was thought to have manifested herself when Trajan distributed cash gifts to the populace during his formal arrival ceremony (adventus) in 99 AD. Pliny names the quality of liberalitas in his Panegyric to Trajan.Liberalitas was theologically linked to Providentia, "providence", and Annona, the embodiment of the grain supply.


Nerva (; Latin: Marcus Cocceius Nerva Caesar Augustus; 8 November 30 – 27 January 98 AD) was Roman emperor from 96 to 98. Nerva became emperor aged almost 66, after a lifetime of imperial service under Nero and the rulers of the Flavian dynasty. Under Nero, he was a member of the imperial entourage and played a vital part in exposing the Pisonian conspiracy of 65. Later, as a loyalist to the Flavians, he attained consulships in 71 and 90 during the reigns of Vespasian and Domitian, respectively.

On 18 September 96, Domitian was assassinated in a palace conspiracy involving members of the Praetorian Guard and several of his freedmen. On the same day, Nerva was declared emperor by the Roman Senate. This was the first time the Senate elected a Roman emperor. As the new ruler of the Roman Empire, he vowed to restore liberties which had been curtailed during the autocratic government of Domitian.

Nerva's brief reign was marred by financial difficulties and his inability to assert his authority over the Roman army. A revolt by the Praetorian Guard in October 97 essentially forced him to adopt an heir. After some deliberation Nerva adopted Trajan, a young and popular general, as his successor. After barely fifteen months in office, Nerva died of natural causes on 27 January 98. Upon his death he was succeeded and deified by Trajan.

Although much of his life remains obscure, Nerva was considered a wise and moderate emperor by ancient historians. Nerva's greatest success was his ability to ensure a peaceful transition of power after his death by selecting Trajan as his heir, thus founding the Nerva–Antonine dynasty.


A rationalis was a high-ranking fiscal officer in the Roman Empire. Until replaced by the comes sacrarum largitionum by Emperor Constantine in the early 4th century, the rationalis summarum – comparable to a modern-day finance minister – was one of two state officials who had authority over the imperial treasury, the other one being the rationalis rei privatae (manager of imperial estates and city properties). Examples for tasks that were performed by a rationalis are "the collection of all normal taxes and duties, the control of currency and the administration of mines and mints".Each province also had various classes of rationales, and Emperor Diocletian's administrative reforms had mirrored the dual structure on the diocesis–level, instituting the local positions rationalis summarum and magister rei privatae above the procuratores. The former continued to exist after the reforms, one example are the comes et rationalis summarum Aegypti. In the 6th century, the post was increasingly rendered into its Greek equivalent, logothetes, which later was given to the senior fiscal secretaries of the middle Byzantine Empire (7th–12th centuries).

Roman finance

The practices of Ancient Roman finance, while originally rooted in Greek models, evolved in the second century BCE with the expansion of Roman monetization. Roman elites engaged in private lending for various purposes, and various banking models arose to serve different lending needs.

Tiberius Gemellus

Tiberius Julius Caesar Nero Gemellus, known as Tiberius Gemellus (Latin: Tiberius Caesar Drusus filius Tiberius Augustus nepos divus Augustus pronepos; 10 October AD 19–37/38) was the son of Drusus and Livilla, the grandson of the Emperor Tiberius, and the second cousin of the Emperor Caligula. Gemellus is a nickname meaning "the twin". His twin brother, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus II Gemellus, died while still an infant in 23. His father and older cousins died, and are suspected by contemporary sources as having been systematically eliminated by the powerful praetorian prefect Sejanus. Their removal allowed Gemellus and Caligula to be named joint-heirs by Tiberius in 35, a decision that ultimately resulted in Caligula assuming power and having Gemellus killed, or by forcing him to kill himself, in late 37 or early 38.

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