How Money Defined the Romans

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Abstract

Scholarly discussions often focus on what money is and how to define it. This paper, however, does not pursue the question of how the Romans defined money, but rather how money defined the Romans. The importance of money in Roman political tradition was not initiated by Roman imperialism, nor by Roman familiarity with the Greek invention of coinage. Centuries before the Romans knew coins, established their empire, or founded the res publica, the Roman state used money to define members of its community. This paper argues in favour of an umbilical relation between money and the Roman state; more specifically, between money, the state’s established system for reckoning wealth, the census, and the centuriate assembly. It focuses on the archaic Roman state and the revolutionary Servian reforms, which redefined money while simultaneously using it to define who was a Roman and what his civilian obligations were.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchaeology and Economy in the Ancient World
Subtitle of host publicationPolitics of Value: New Approaches to Early Money and the State
EditorsMarleen K. Termeer
Pages53-63
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-948465-02-5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

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