TRADE GUILDS OF THE LATTER ROMAN EMPIRE
by Freda Utley (MA Thesis at the London School of Economics, 1925)
(Retyped from old manuscript--footnotes deleted after first section)
P A R T 2
WORKERS IN STATE MINES, WORKSHOPS, MINTS,
WEAVING AND DYEING ESTABLISHMENTS
STATE MINES AND MANUFACTURERS
We now come to the considerations of the collegia which were not merely used for certain purposes by the State and charged with certain services, but whose members were directly employed by the State. The workers in the mines, in the mint, in the arsonals, in the imperial weaving and dyeing in establishments, the fishermen who fished for the ----- all these were state employees in the strictesxt sense of the term. Being so employed, the treatment of the various work people of the kind was on similar ---- general conditions ---
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stuffs brought from the weaving establishments, is threatened with death". This at least, is the case when he himself has influenced the vote by which he was appointed to the coveted office; "suffragiis per quae memoratas administrationes adipiscuntur, abatineant vol ai contra hoe focerint, numero civium Romanorum exempti, gladio feriantur". How these procurators were appointed is unknown, and in spite of the implication of the above decree, it seems impossible to suppose that there were elected. This point needs further investigation; possibly the procurators were at this date (333) "elected" by the curiales of the city where the state factory was situated. In the case of the mines and quarries, we know that the "procurator metallorum" who supervised the working of all the mines and quarries in a district, was chosen from amongst the curiales. In 377 the higher officials of the resprivata were warned that losses must be made good by them unless they appoint administrators whose property is sufficient to make good any losses occurring through their deceit or covetousness. A full account had to be rendered up within 30 days of termination of duty as a procurator if the funds of his concern were small; 50 days if they were large. He is to give documents to the receivers showing what he received, what he demanded, and what funds are at the moment in the treasury of the concern.
These procurators cannot have been apponted from amongst the personnel of the factories, who, even when they had some little property, cannot ever have possessed enough to make good big losses occasioned by bad workmanship or accidents.
The procurators are seen to have often misused their office, both to cheat and oppress the provincials and to cheat the State. There were froo from all onera, which points to their having been members of the local curiae appointed to their poses for a prescribed length of time. As regards the workmen, their status and economic conditions varied in the different industries. The armourers for instance, were in the best position and the weavers probably in about the worst, since the Tariff of Diocletian shows their wages to have been the lowest.
Furthermore, there were distinct classes of workmen in the factories and mines: free employees, slaves and freedmen, criminals.
The free workers were only free in the limited sense of the word which applies in the 4th and 5th centuries; they were bound to their trade by heredity and such possessions as they had were bound with them. In the case of all except the miners and possibly the armourers, they could leave their posts as state employees if they produced others as fit to take their places: "non quosoumque nee facile in locum proprium ----- substituant, sed cos, quoa omnibus idoneos modis sub ipais quodammodo amplissimae tuse sedis obtutibus adprobarint"; Such substitutes became in turn bound with their children and goods to hereditary service in the state workshops. The permission to procure a substitute must usually have been an illusory concession; for only the most miserable and poor would desire to be thus employed and bound, and they would not be considered "idonei". A substitute who was not too poor, or who was not already bound to some other hereditary trade must have been well nigh impossible to find.
Each factory received a certain quantity of raw material, and the workmen were bound to produce a definite quantity of manufactures, (in the mines and quarries a definite quantity of metal or stone had to be produced). The amount demanded of each factory was in accordance with the number of workmen in it, and in accordance with the amount of raw material supplied. In the case of the armourers, the amount of work to be done by each workman was prescribed.
This also seems to have been the case for the workers in the minds and the weavers. Sozomon, telling of a religious riot at Gizicus, speaks of the many people "who were engaged in woollen manufactures for the state and were coiners of money. They were numerous, and were divided into two populous classes, (he must mean collegia) they had received permission from preceding Emperors to dwell with their wives and possessions in Ozzious, provided that they annually handed over to the public treasury a supply of clothes for the soldiery and of newly coined money".
These people must have been working for the State alone though in their own houses, for the coiners of money at anyrate, cannot have sold their product to anyone but the State.
Here then are State employees working in their own homes for a piece wage, but with the necessity of never producing less than a certain quantity of goods. Whether the "free" state employees all worked at home it is impossible to say. Persson thinks everything points to the weavers working in their own homes.
The dyers obviously worked in factories since the imperial procurator was responsible for stuffs damaged in the process of dyeing. As regards the armourers they must have worked in the arsenals which are known to have existed in various parts of the Empire.
The slaves and freedmen who in previous centuries had formed the bulk of the workers in the mines and such other state concerns as existed, are still found in the 4th and 5th centuries, but in this, as in all other industries, it was the dwindling supply of slave labour which made the labour problem acute and compelled the government to force free men to work at the trade prescribed for them, whether they would or no.
Whether the free men and the slaves were members of the same collegium or whether the slaves formed familiae which had no connection with the collegia is an obscure and, as yet, undecided question. It is probably that, since the slaves had in previous centuries formed colledia of their own they still belonged to the collegia in this period. Some could no doubt become freedmen as a result of good service and rise to be foremen or to do less onerous work than that performed by the slaves.
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the Emperor and his household, or whether some were sold to the public as was the case in the Byzantine Empire later on. We know that the number of the state factories increased in the East through the 4th and 5th centuries.
It remains to consider in more detail the status and conditions of labour of the workers in the various industries.
C H A P T E R II
THE MINERS AND QUARRYMEN
Under the Empire most mines and quarries became the property of the State, wither belonging to the fisc or forming part of the imperial patrimony. In the 4th century some were still rented out to companies (societates) who exploited them; others were directly exploited by the State under the direction of a Comess metallorum. With the companies of lessees of the mines were are not directly concerned, since they do not seem to have formed collegia.
From the Code definite information can be obtained about the system of running the mines and quarries directly under state control, about the workers in them, and about the mines and quarries still in private hands.
The state mines were under the control of a department of the Sacrae Largitiones. The Comites metallorum were thus under the orders of the Comes Sacrarum Largitionum or of his superiors: the Praetorian Prefect or the Vicars of dioceses or the "Rationalis". To those officials the various imperial decrees are addressed.
Although the "Comes metallorum" supervised all the mines in his district and saw to it that the requisite amount of metal, stone, sic. was produced, the actual work of management was performed by a "procurator metallorum" chosen, as might be supposed, from among the curiales of the municipality in whose territory the mine or quarry was situated.
The workers ain mine or quarry were partly freemen bound to their condition like the members of other collegia, partly slaves, and partly criminals.
Like all other industries, mining was in a depressed condition in the 4th century, and efforts were made to encourage outsiders to work in them.
The 'free' miners were bound absolutely to their calling with no loophole of escape; if they migrated from their place of origin they were recaled without any possibility of reprieve.
Stringent measures were taken to prevent their flight. In 362 the Emperor speaks of metallarii is hiding all over the Roman world. They are to be produced wherever they may have hidden themselves, even from the secret places of the imperial household. The governors are to aid the investigators with force when the latter are arresting metallarii who have hidden themselves.
In 370 or 373 the order goes out again, this time to the Practorian prefect. An edict of Valens is referred to which had warned landowners throughout the East not to give refuge to minors who had left their work and fled. The praetorian prefect is to issue an edict to the provincials in Illyricum and the diocese of Macedonia forbidding them to hide any Thracian (i.e. any escaped miner from Thrace) and ordering them to compel such miners to return to their birthplace, that is to say, to their place of work. Anyone henceforth who harbours an escaped miner is to be severely punished. To help the process of identification, the miners were branded with the redhot iron on their arm as early as 316 A.D.
Bound to dig in mine or quarry all his life, the miner was not even allowed to go to another district or county where the conditions of work were easier. Evidently Sardinia was a favoured spot where the ore or metal was more accessible, and so miners tried to migrate there. In 378 the miners of the Gaule and of Italy are warned that they are not "to conceive the unlawful hope of going over to Sardinia". Nine years previously, the master of any ship0 coming to Sardinia with miners aboard had been warned that he would have to pay 5 solidi per man, presumably as a fine.
In 378 the precautions are increased. "Judices" are to be appointed in the provinces "nourished by the sea" to prevent miners embarking in ships in order to cross the channel to Sardinia. If they attempt to do so they are to be severely punished. The guards who allow them to escape over the sea are to be punished. If the rectores of the provinces neglect to punish the guards, they are to be punished themselves. The miners who sought thus to escape to Sardinia were gold miners (auriloguli).
The workers referred to in these laws are not slaves, since they are owners of lands "metallica loca" are since no special laws, such as these, would have been required for the recapture of slaves.
One would otherwise have thought that, their service being so strictly personal, they would have been too porr to possess anything. Their property was like their persons inalienably bound to service the mining industry. Whoever acquired such land by sale had to become a miner himself if he kept it. Although this law is of the year 424, the sale of such lands is not forbidden, as, for instance, it had long been in the case of that other colelgium so ruthlessly held to personal servie: the pistores. However, it may be conjectured that it was extremely unlikely that anyone would buy such land, if it meant becoming a miner for life. Indeed not only for life, for their children would have to become miners also; the miner's calling was strictly hereditary; "ad propriao obsequies stirpen earumque revocentur", "quicumque ex ipsis ot ex quocumque fuerint latere procreati". If he had married someone outside the collegium of miners half his children had to become miners, the other half remained to the stronger parent and presumably had to follow his or her condition. If there were only one son, he had to become a miner. But after 424 the offspring of such mixed marriages had all to become miners (literally to belong to the fiscus).
This devree shows us that women as well as men might be miners by heredity (corum autew earumque progenies). One is not astonished to find that women worked in the mines; it is not long ago since they dragged trucks in the mines of this country.
The same decree is slightly more lenient than one might expect towards the miners who had managed to escape and had become coloni. If they have left the mine five years before, they are allowed to go free, i.e. to remain cultivators of the soil, and not be dragged back to the mine. The Treasury, however, is not going to suffer loss in consequence for long: half the children of such escaped miners are to become miners. From 424 no one is to be allowed to escape being a miner; even if after 40 years away a miner is found, he is to be recalled to his mine.
A definite quantity of ore was demanded from them by the Treasury the "canon metallicus". It was collected by the "susceptores canonis metallic" and was very heavy. We are not informed as to the amount except in the case of the gold miners in Pontica and Asia. These had to produce seven sorupuli a year. The conditions must obviously have varied, but if a uniform rate was demanded in the case of gold miners, it can easily be understood why some miners tried to get to Sardinia; if the mines were not so exhausted there, it would be easier to get the work done to procure the requisite amount. We know that in the case of gold, the mines in Italy and Gaul were exhausted, and it is particularly from those countries that the gold miners were seeking to escape.
That the amount demanded by the Treasury was very great, and that the conditions in the mines were very miserable can be seen from the incident told of by Anndenus Marcellinue. He relates that when the Goths were in Thrace, prior to the battle of Adrianople, they were joined by many goldminers who were unable to endure the heavy burden of their taxes. Here, as so often, the barbarism seemed less oppressive than the Emperor's tax collectors.
The question of the amount of the canon metallicus is complicated by the fact that the decrees dealing with it and with the tax on private individuals working in mines and quarries are not clearly differentiated; both payments came under the heading of "canon metallicus" and it is difficult to decide precisely to which they refer. It is to be noted that it is the Thoracian miners whose recall is commanded by the decree of 570 already referred to. The metallarii being grouped in collegia the private property of numbers no doubt saved to make up deficits in the canon metallicus like the proeprty of the armourers. Their private property may also have helped to nourish them when they did not produce enough metal or stone for sale beyond their tax.
Slaves had formed the majority of the workers in the mines and quarries in the first and second centuries; possibly the hereditary metallarii of the 4th century were the decendants of these imperial slaves and freedmen. Or else they may have been men whose forefather had voluntarily worked as miners before the state tribute became too high. As Vipasca in Spain it is known that part of the mines were "farmed out" to private persons by the state in the 1st century A.D. It is possible that free men had worked in these mines, either co-operating to pay the rent and expenses, or being paid a wage by the companies who had leased them. That others besides metallarii proper worked in the mines and quarries even in the 4th century can be seen from the Theodosian code, for every means was taken to encourage such free agents to cut and hew. These measures and the position of mines in private hands need separate consideration and are dealt with in Section 8 of this chapter.
The criminals condemned to the mines helped to keep up the numbers of miners now that slaves were less easy to obtain. We find Christian referred to by Solomon as released from the mines and stone quarries by Constantine. The children of criminals condemned for life would also be made to work in the mines, and would recruit the ranks of the miners. There were still slaves in the mines and they presumably worked in chains like the criminals. It is impossible to say what were their relations with the free metallarii but both probably belonged to the collegia. The free metallarii must have been constrained to work almost as hard as the slaves by the spur of economic necessity and by fear of punishment if their canon metallious were not paid. Indeed, when it is remembered that ordinary people cold be tortured by the tax collectors if they did not pay it can be seen that the condition of the "free" members of such collegia as those of the miners was not very different from that of slaves. They did not work in chains under the lash, as these and the criminals probably did, but if they did not work very hard, they not only starved, but were flogged and tortured by the tax collectors.
Whether they could ever obtain release by substituting others in their place is unknown. The law which refers to substitutions by other state employees does not mention them.
S E C T I O N II
Encouragement to Private Individuals, and Arrangements as
Regards Private Mines and Quarries
One is not surprised to find that in spite of all the government measures to keep hereditary miners and quarrymen at their work, insufficient supplies were obtained. This is specially true as regards stone cutting from the quarries. There are many indications of the amount of building, public and private, done in the 4th century. Very many new churches were b uilt; Julian's restoration of the temples occasioned the need for further supplies of marble, the general luxury and ostentation of the century was fitly expressed in the erection of innumerable public buildings and sumptious private houses. Ammianus Marcellinus speaks of even the soldiers wanting marble houses. Every encouragement to building was given by the Emperors to private individuals in the two capitals, witness the "panis aedificorum". The large supply of lime required for the "public buildings" at Rome is further evidence. The number of inscriptions of the "fabri" and "fabri tignarii" all over the Empire - outstripping in numbers those of any other collegium - further testify to the importance of the building trade. Lastly, the series of laws about to be referred to show how great was the demand for marble, and how essential the government considered it to ensure a plentiful supply. Constantine was only concerned with the necessity of ensuring supplies, and decreed in 320 that all who wished to cut marble might do so in any quarry and do with it what they pleased, either using it themselves or retailing it. There is, in fact, to be no charge or tax on the product of such voluntary labour.
Forty-three years later, Julian found that the demand for marble still exceeded the supply. He speaks of the desire for marble having made the price rise excessively, and in order to bring down the prices of the various qualities of the "shining stone" he decrees that all who wish may cut marble in the Eastern province, and so increase the supply. In 376 Valentinian seems to have tried to arrange that private individuals should also be able to cut marble from private quarries in Illyricum and Macedonia free of charge, taxation or custom duties. He only proposes to do so if the Senate be willing -" . . . sed vobis patres conscripti volontibus liberalius deferetur duo ut quisque susptu susque emolumonto, vectigalis operas et portarli damna metueus, parlat oam copiam." Evidently the private owners or the senate objected, for a law dated four years later (363) decrees that all those who obtain marble by laborious digging in the territory of private persons are to pay one tenth of the product of such labour to the Treasury and one tenth to the owner of the quarry. They are allowed to keep the remaining eight tenths for their own use.
The same arrangement is again sanctioned two years later with the --- command to the --------- that such private stone cutters are to have complete power of disposal over eight tenths of what they produce. ". . . . videndi domandi et quo voluntas suarorit transtorandi."
It is not clear whether this latter arrangement of one tenth to the --- concerns private quarries only, and whether the original arrangements made by Constantine and Julian, granting rights of cutting to anyone, refer to private as well as state quarries. It may be inferred that then the State began in 362 to take one tenth of the product of private quarries, it did the same for public ones. It may, it seems to me, also be inferred that the earlier laws do not refer to private mines, since Valendinian speaks of a possible arrangement for free excavation of private mines in 376. This difficulty does not seem to have been considered. For instance W. A. Brown merely states that laws are found encouraging the opening of new quarries by private persons; that Constantine removed the earlier taxes and Julian confirmed to privatge individuals the free right of quarrying. Soon, however, he says, the necessities of the royal treasury proved too much for this enlightened policy, for in 382 we find a tax of one tenth imposed on the product of all quarries worked by individuals. He seems to think that the reference to "private" quarries merely means the companies of private persons to whom the state quarries were farmed out.
It does not seem quite so simple as this; for the difficulty remains that the earlier laws do not mention the word private, and that although in 376 Constantine and Julian's laws had not been cancelled, Valentinian refers to the old conditions of cutting in private quarries in Illyricum and Macedonia. Likewise I cannot see why the Emperors should refer to state quarries as "privatis lapidioipis."
However, in 396 the government prohibited the working of any marble quarries by the employees of private persons. Again it is doubtful whether this law established a state monopoly of all marble quarrying, or whether it referred to state owned quarries as distinct from privately owned ones. Anyone who secretly disobeys the decree has the product of his labour confiscated by the Treasury, and there is no mention of any private owner ---- any of this therefore, the prohibition must refer to -------. Brown's view is accepted and all quarries were in the hands of the state, the decree must mean that thenceforth, all of them are going to be exploited direct by the State by means of its own work-people: collegiati, criminals and slaves.
The innocence of the laws means ------- there were in the 4th century both state and private quarries, but the question as to whether this was so, or whether the state owned all the quarries seems worthy of investigation.
As regards ---- the position seems clearer. Practically all, if not quite all the mines were owned by the State. Gothefredus thinks some were public, some private, but there is no reference to private ones, and all gold mines at any rate were in the hands of the State. Private individuals were encouraged to mine. In 365 Valentinian tells the Comes metallorum that, having carefully considered the matter, he has come to the conclusion that a man who wishes to take part in the excavation for metals serves both his own and the State's interest. These miners who come of their own free will are to pay eight ounces of gold dust to the government, and can then sell the rest of what they produce to the Treasury at a suitable price. Obviously, there was no question of their selling to anyone else, and they would have to be humbly grateful for whatever price they received from the government.
Two years later another decree speaks of the tax on metals and of 14 ounces of gold dust being paid for each pound. This does not seem to refer to voluntary gold diggers but it seems possible that it refers to companies of exploiters of mines. It may, of course, refer to the amount taken from the metallarii proper, but there is the difficulty that a definite quantity of gold dust was demanded from them, not a percentage of their takings. If a percentage of their takings was demanded, and the cover scrupuli each year was merely a minimum, the percentage demanded (seven-eights) is so high that there would be little left over for them to live on, and their discontent would be explained. In the case of the miners in Thrace referred to by Ammianus Narcellinus, the "canon metallicum" must have been a fixed amount which had got to be produced each year. Perhaps the decree demanding seven scrupuli concerned Acia and Fontica only and elsewhere a percentage of takings was demanded, sufficient incentive being given to the miners by allowing them to --- nine ounces per pound. The whole question of the working of the mines and quarries in the 4th and 5th centuries requires much fuller consideration than it has been possible to give it here.
C H A P T E R III
Workers in the Mint
Closely allied to the miners were the workers in the imperial mints. All making of money was in the 4th century in the hands of the Emperor and there were 12 mints: six in the Eastern provinces and six in the Western. Like the miners they were under the administration of officials dependent on the Comes Sacarum Largitionum. This was natural since the metals were furnished by the contributions brought in from the Mines as well as from the lingots of metals paid as taxes.
The work done in the mints consisted of the whole process of coining: the engraving of the moulds the melting of the metal, the shaping and stamping of the coins.
Of the large numbers of workers in the Mints some idea can be formed from the circumstances of their revolt under Aurelian when 7000 soldiers were needed to suppress them.
In that revolt they were led by a slave called Felicissimus who had become the administrator of the Treasury and this tends to show that in the 3rd century many of the workers were still slaves. But in the 4th century there are certain proofs which show that they were free men though of course free men hereditarily bound to their work.
In the first decree relating to them in the Theodosian code t hey are found to be organised in collegia and Constantine says they are not to be given the titles of perfectissimi and egregrii, cemtema or duccna. There could have been no question of giving such titles to slaves. Furthermore their possessions were tied to their service; slaves had no possessions in the eyes of the law.
Not only were they free, some few must have been moderately rich since they were forbidden the grant of the above titles and there is further evidence for this in the fact that Julian enrolled monetarii amongst the curiales at Antioch.
Constantine's law referred to above ties the monetarii down to work in the mints all their lives, they are always to remain in their present employment.
Their children had to become monetarii after them (nexu sanguinis pertinentium) and I have already mentioned that their possessions were similarly bound to the service of the mints.
Some slaves must still have worked in the mints but they cannot have been much worse off than the "free" workers. The low status of the latter is clearly shown in a law of 380 relating to the Marriage of a woman of superior rank to a monetarius. It decrees that if such a woman should so far forget herself as to marry a worker in the mint she is to lose the glory of her native liberty (decus nativae libertatis amittat) and become herself a member of the corpus of monetarii. Her children are also to become workers in the mint.
The only way she can escape is to renounce her marriage immediately.
There can have been but little distinction between the status of a slave and of a "free" hereditary state employee for such a decree to have been issued. The terms used imply that a monetarius was regarded as almost, if not quite, of servile condition, and a Christian Emperor could propose an easy divorce for a woman who had demeaned herself by marrying one.
The monetarius was restricted in his choice of a wife even amongst people of his own social status. He was not to marry a "colona": if a serfwoman belonging to someone else married him she could be recalled by her master. If she were not recalled she herself became a hereditary mint worker.
The daughter of a monetarius could not marry anyone but a monetarius.
It seems that these regulations would in practise make it impossible for a mint worker ever to marry outside his collegium.
It is specially clear in the case of the monetarii that state employees in this period were but little better treated than slaves, tied to their employment for ever, with their children and their possessions, and practically forbidden to marry anyone but the daughters of their fellow workers in the mint.
I have already referred to the passage in Sozomen regarding the two collegis at Cyzicus, one of weavers and one of coiners of money, which shows that they had to hand over a certain amount of newly coined money each year. They were probably paid by the piece but may have been paid so much per day being kept to their work by the necessity of providing a stated number of coins each year.
C H A P T E R IV
Of the three classes of workpeople employed in connection with metals: the miners, money coiners, and the makers of weapons, the last named were seemingly the most prosperous.
They worked in the state arsenals which in the 4th century formed part of the civil administration. These arsenals were situated in various parts of the Empire and were under the praetorian praefect. There were 15 arsenals in the East; in Thrace, Pontas, and Asia; and 20 in the West; in Ilyria, Italy and Gaul. Different weapons were made in the different arsenals; for example shields and defensive armour at Damasdus, spears at Irenopolis and so on. Each arsenal was directed by a "praepositus fabricae', under him a head foreman (primicerius fabricae) directed the work of manufacture. This foreman is called a tribunus fabricae by Ammianus Marcellienus. There was also an intendant (biarcus).
The metals needed for the manufacture of the armour and weapons -- were furnished from the revenues of the state mines and by the tax on private mines. It is specially decreed that the actual metal is to be delivered at the workshops; money is not to be payed in place of metal. The Emperor hopes thus to ensure that the best quality metal, such as meets easily, will be supplied for the "public use" and that there will be no fraud. The subsidiary services necessary to the carrying on of the work: e.g. the preparing and furnishing of charcoal), were exacted from the neighbouring townspeople, and formed part of the "sordida munera".
The workmen themselves, the fabricenses, were bound to make a certain quantity of armour or weapons. The particular type of work and the amount to be done was prescribed. For example at Constantinople each workman in the arsenals had each 30 days to decorate with silver and gold six helmets, together with their mouth and cheek pieces. At Antioch the amount of work demanded was greater.
We find no decrees intimating that punishment was inflicted on those who failed to deliver their quota of work. But since they were held collectively liable with their property for a defaulting member it may be presumed that any deficit in the amount of work done was punished by a fine. This was the punishment in the case of other offences which they might commit.
In each factory workmen formed a hereditary collegium, --- their children after them being bound to their calling. Arcadius decreed that they were to be branded on the arm in order that they might be recognised if they attempted to hide. This however was not a mark of servitude, it was done in imitation of young soldiers (ad initationem tironum) and Persson has pointed out that it was due to the danger to the state of the loss of these armourers rather than to the especial irksomeness of their task. Severe penalties are therefore threatened against those who receive absconding fabricenses or their children. Ordinary people who hide them are to be claimed by the factory, i.e. are to be made to come and work in it. Even those who do not give their help in recapturing esca[ed fabricenses are to be roped in for this "military service" i.e. are also to be made armourers. Landowners who engage an armourer, as their intendant or bailiff (procurator or conductor) or as a simple labourer or tenant (cultor) on their farms, are to have the land they confided to them confiscated to the treasury (rei, quam contra Vetitum fabricensi crediterit in jungendam proprietate privetur, ea videlicet fiscalibus calculissocianda). The armourer himself is to be fined 2 lbs of gold.
That the trade of a fabricensis was not comparatively a bad trade is proved, in spite of the above measures, by a decree of 412 A.D. concerning those who wish to become armourers. Anyone who wishes to be elected to the "consortium" of armourers must prove to the moderator of the province or to the defensor of the municipality where he was born and where he lives, that he is not a curialis by heredity and that he belongs to no "ordo" of the city and is subject to no civil burden. In fact he can only become an armourer if he is entirely free from all hereditary liens to any other collegium or to the cu ria. Whatever his rank or however long he has been an absentee, a man who has managed to join the collegium of armourers by stealth is to be recolleged to the collegium or 'ordo' to which he belongs.
Thus members of other collegia and even curiales were often anxious to exchange their trades or civil duties for the trade of making armour and weapons.
The contrast between the conditions of the armourers as compared with that of the gold miners is shown indirectly by Ammianus Marcellinus. For whereas he relates that the miners in Thrace joined the Gothic invaders, he tells how these same Goths were a short time before forced to leave Adrianople by the mob of the city and by "a body of armourers of whom there were a great number in the place."
The special privilege of not having to provide quarters for soldiers (metatus) was conceded to then all the armourers in 400.
The forman of a factory (primicerius) was discharged at the end of two years service and was honoured by being placed among the "protectores".
We do not know whether the prfimicerius was elected by the other armourers or appointed by the "praeposities fabricas".
Gothifredus refers to a tribunicus fabricae spoken of by Ammianus Marcellinus in Bk. XIV, and VX. but I have been unable to trace the reference. The man spoken of in Bk. 20, Ch. III.4. as being put to death by the Emperor is called the praepositus fabricae i.e. the government official who was responsible for the direction of the arsenal, not the primicerius who was a sort of foreman. Ammianus relates how this praepositus had brought the Emperor an exquisitely polished breastplate in expectation of a reward. Instead he was put to death by the Emperor because the steel was of less weight than the latter considered requisite. The praepositus was therefore responsible for the right use being made of the metals supplied to the arsenal.
Still it need not be imagined that the toil of the fabricenses was light; the desire of members of other collegia to become armourers is only explained by the greated wretchedness of all the other workers.
In the 5th Century the law shows that the fabricenses had to be strictly kept to their work and their children forced to follow their father's trade. "It is provided by law that the fabricenses shall be so closely bound to their appropriate duties that worn out at last by their toil, they shall die in the profession to which they were born, both they and their children after them".
C H A P T E R V
GYNAECIA, DAPHIA, BARBARICARIA
It remains to consider the workers in the imperial weaving, dyeing and embroidering establishments. The Emperors nourished the court, the administration and the army and under the late Empire also furnished them with clothing. Some of these establishments provided for the wants of the Emperor and his household, some for those of the Civil Service, some for the weaving and preparing of garments, blankets, cloth for tents and other furnishings of the army. The greater number of the gynaecia, probably existed for th is latter purpose.
Raw material was furnished by the imperial officers: comites commerciorum, who, one in each of the great divisions of the Empire, bought or collected the necessary milk, wool, purple, skins, etc. and forwarded them to the several factories. The imperial factories were situated with regard to (a) the suply of raw material, (b) the needs of the army. This is also true of the other state workshops and arsenals.
In the case of weaving and dyeing the supply of skilled weavers, dyers and so forth had also to be considered, and so it is not surprising to find that the imperial linen factories were all in the East. At Taraos not only fine stuff was made but also a coarse weaving for coarse clothes and for tents. It was called "cilicium" and it was used by the apostle Paul as a tentmarker. These facts speak for the correctness of the supposition that the towns of Skythopolis, Tarsus and Alexandria and probably Byblos and Laodikeia already possessed imperial linen factories at the time of Diocletian.
As regards the woollen industry the following cities were the centres of manufacture: Damascus and Laodikeia in Syria, Milebue and Kagnesia in Asia Minor; Mutina, Canusium, Venusia, Trier and Postovia (Fettan in Steirmark) in the West. Of these five towns in the West, three are known from the Not. Dign. to have been centres of imperial manufacturers. These three are Carusium, Vemusia and Rrier.
Over each manufacture was an imperial "procurator" as we have seen. He was responsible for the work done and for any loss or spoiling of the materials. It has already been mentioned that in certain circumstances (i.e. when he had himself procured his own appointment) the procurator of a dyehouse might be punished by death if he had allowed material to be spoilt in the dyeing by a wrong admixture of dye.
It may be imagined with what severity the procurator held responsible for the slightest fault in the factory which he managed, treated the work people under him. The weavers and dyers indeed belonged to the least respected and worst paid of all the workers and the laws show that they all tried to get free of their trade.
The Three Classes of Workpeople
We have seen that criminals were sometimes put to work in the “gynaecia” and Sozomen and Essehius leaves us in no doubt as to the painful nature of the work in these establishments. They speak of the persecuted Christians who had been robbed of their right of birth and thrown into weaving establishments to follow a hard and painful work. Persson remarks that the words (in Greek) show that the work in the weaving factories was as greatly feared as imprisonment. The fiscal weavers are spoken of elsewhere as I have already spoken of the story of the wife of Theodorus told both by John Chrysostom and Amm: Marcelluius.
To judge from the number of decrees relating to them more slaves were employed in the weaving establishments than in the other state manufacturies. Constantine in March 338 threatened with a fine of 5 lbs. of gold anyone who should not have produced before Sep.1. a slave of the gynaecium whom he might be hiding. The decree is repeated in 372. In 380 3 lbs. of gold only is the fine imposed for hiding a slave of the Gynaecium.
The “free” weavers and dyers being strictly bound to their calling and being of very low condition do not seem to have been of much more account than the slaves. For instance those who have detained linen weavers are fined 5 lbs. of gold, exactly the same amount as the fine for hiding a slave belonging to a weaving establishment.
Similarly marriage to a gynaecarius, that is to a non servile but hereditarily bound weaver, by a free woman is treated like the marriage of a free woman and a slave. That is to say that in such case the woman is made to adopt her husband’s condition unless she repudiates the “vile alliance”; it has already been seen that the same application of the law for slaves was being made to the workers in the Mints. It is only one of many instances of the gradual application and semi servile status to all the workers agricultural and industrial (coloni and corporati). In 372 and again in 371 severe penalties are threatened against those who solicit the hereditary linen weavers to go and work for them secretly. Such linen weavers are to be claimed at once for the making of such linen garments where they belong (“quin etiam opifices ipaos tasrinis lintsas vestis vindicari convenict”). In future the fine of 5 lbs. of gold shall always be imposed on those who try to take away those bound to a linen weaving establishment for the benefit of the public revenue (obnoxious linyfos publico canoue).
The members of the corpora of gynaecarii, lintaerii or linyfarii together with the monetarii and Hurlieguli were allowed to leave their work if they could produce substitutes as “idonsi” as themselves who would in turn become hereditary state employees. As already noted in Chap.1. this concession must have been an illusory one for the very reasons which made the weavers and dyers anxious to abandon their work would make others unwilling to take their places.
It does not seem that these hereditary “free” weavers worked in factories. They appear to have lived and worked in their own homes and to have been paid by the piece. The passage of Sozomen already referred to indicates that this was the case at Cyzicus. Although living at home the putting together of weavers and coiners in one category leads to the assumption that the weavers worked only for the state as coiners obviously must have done. Still it is impossible to say whether the workers were concentrated in factories or worked in their own homes to produce the due measure of clith. Person thinks everything points to their working in their homes. I would suggest that most must have worked at home, as in Western Europe before the introduction of machinery, but that those who were too poor to possess a loom may have worked like the slaves and criminals in the State workrooms.
It should be noted that, whereas Sozomen is referring to woollen weavers, the laws dealt with above all seem to refer to linen weavers. Possibly therefore woollen weaving was done in the worker’s home, and linen weaving in state workshops, but there seems insufficient reason for the distinction, except that the weaving of linen was harder and needed more skill and stricter supervision.
Both men and women were employed by the State, presumably the women spun and the men wove, as was generally the case before the late 18th century.
That the weavers and spinners were poor people and their work very arduous is not only shown by the laws, and by the fact that criminals were condemned to the Gynaecia, but John Chrysostom refers to the manufacture of robes as normally the work of the poor and of slaves: “Let us clothe ourselves with a robe not the manufacture of poor men or slaves but wrought by our Lord.” Yet the Th. Code implies that they sometimes had property (cum omnibus ejue qui ebsolvitur rebus obnoxism largitionibus asoris futuram easo non dubitet). This “property can have been little more then the worker’s petty savings; something like the peculiu of a slave. In deed it seems to me that in the case of the weavers their “res” may merely mean their tools, i.e. their looms. I have not been able to do more than deal very shortly with the workers in the weaving establishments. It seems to me that the whole question of weaving in the later Empire needs investigation and that it is difficult to treat the state manufacturies entirely separately. It would be interesting to discover how far the state factories were a result of the decline in home manufacture of cloth and linen and how far they were the cause of that decline. It is to be noted that “adaeratio” of the tax of militaris vestia was allowed long before “adaeratio” of the “indictio” food supplies. It is known that in the Byzantine Empire the state manufacturies came to supply the public demand and merchants are found who sell the state manufacturers and are exempt from taxation.
There is material in the inscriptions and in John Chrysostom relating to cloth and linen merchants and to home weaving and spinning which space has not allowed me to make use of in this study.
The dyers and fishers for the murex were in much the same position as the weavers. The Murilaguli and conchylioleguli who collected the murex fish or conchylium, from which the purple dye was made, were also hereditary state employees who could only leave their condition if they could find a substitute under the different terms mentioned above. They also had the servile law of heredity applied to them; the children of mothers who were the daughters of murileguli and of fathers of another origin belonged to their mother’s status, i.e. were Murileguli. It would seem that those purple fishers also worked in t he dye houses as dyers but the evidence for this is not certain.
Another group of workers who must be mentioned in connection with the state factories are the Bastagarii. The taxes in kind collected for the use of the imperial facgories and arsonals, and the raw materials bought for the same purposes, were transported from the central treasury of the Count of the Sacred Largesses or of the Court of the Res Privata, to the imperial workshops by these Basts agarii similarly they transported the finished products from the workshops t their destination. Two decrees deal with the Bastagarii. One of 368 A.D. relates to the provision by the Treasury of one in ten of the animals they used for their transport service but it is evidently a special measure for a particular occasion. The other decree, of 384, forbids the Bastagarii t leave their service which is called a Militaryam one (Militiam). Evidently some had been trying to become actual soldiers.
P A R T I I I
The Collegia in the Municipalities, and in Rome
and Constantinople, considered as municipalities . . .
The internal organisation of the Collegia, their aims
and their place in the local administration, accompanied
by some remarks on conditions of labour
In their final Part there remain to be considered the members of the various collegia of all sorts throughout the Empire who were not connected with the "Annona" and were not employed by the central government. These collegia were frequently employed by the municipalities in some public capacity and carried out duties in the local administration to correspond with those carried out in the Central administration by the "collegia" considered in Part I. This aspect of the "municipal" collegia will be considered separately at the end of this Chapter.
The epigraphic evidence for these collegia is abundant for the 1st and 2nd centuries and there seems no doubt in their case about the appropriate use of the word "collegium". They are the associations of natural growth which had long existed, either officially or unofficially, before they were finally transferred into strict hereditary associations in the 4th Century. The word "corpus" is rarely applied to them in place of collegium in the provinces though at Rome the names collegia and corpera seem to be used indiscriminately to designate all associations of merchants and artisans. This is explained by the fact that no sharp distinction is made between those who served the "annona" and those who performed the duties necessary to Rome considered as a simple municipality. Symmachus, in his opt quoted letter begging the Emperor not to impose the ‘collatio equorum’ on them, refers to the corporati negotiatores and under this designation refers to the pecuarii, suarii, pistores and other associations connected with the "annona" together with those who put out the fires, those who attend to the public baths, and the rest of those collegia who serve their "patria": - - "hie lanati pecoris invector est, ille ad victum pupuli cogit armentum, hos suillae carnis tenet functio, pars ureutia lavacris ligna conportat - - - per aleos fortuita arcentur incendia, Iam caupones et obsequia pistoria, frugis et clei bejulos multosque id genus patriae servientes enumerare fastidium est".
We know from inscription that most artisans had liked to group themselves into collegia from the earliest times and Lampridius says that all artisans and merchants at Rome were gathered together in official corporations under Alexander Severns. Whether this is so or not there can have been fre people by the 4th Century left outside a collegium or some similar association though opinions differ as to the existence of any number of artisans who never formed collegia at all.
I reproduce below a list of the industrial collegia which existed in the municipalities before the 4th Century according to the inscriptions collected by Waltzing. I have, however, added a few names not found in his list which does not include those at Rome even wh en they are not ‘Official’ ones. Where I have done so I have given reference to the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. I have not added any of those dealt with in Part I.
Collegium aquarisrum - water carriers, or workers on the aqueducts
Aurificos universi - gold beaters
Collegium mulionum et - muleteers and
Asinariorum - also mulliones ass drivers
Collegium aurariarum - gold miners
Collegium caplatorum - possibly coopers
Cuparii - ditto
Caupones - tavern keepers
Centonariorum, Collegium - patchwork dealers
(found almost everywhere) (see discussion in Ch. II)
Cisiarei - drivers of Hackney carriages
Clibanarii - bakers
Corarii (at Rome) - tanners
Coci - cooks
Culinari - cooks
Dendrophori (in 65 towns) - wood merchants (see Ch. II)
Diffusores olearii - wholesale oil merchants
Socii dissignatores - distributors of seats in theatre
Fabri, or collegium, Fabrum or
fabrorum (found in 75 towns) - builders
other Fabri navales ferrarii etc. - See Ch. II
publicorum - druggists
Collegium focariorum - heaters of the public baths
or makers of kitchen utensils
Forenses - merchants in the form
Socalicium fullonum and
fullones (at 4 places) also - fullers
Greek oesin about 4 other
places, also collegium lotorum
Ballinarii - game merchants
Collegium jumentariorum - drivers of draught animals who
also hired out their animals
Negotiatores salsari leguminari - pickle dealers
Negotiatores vinarii, Lugunduni
incanobia consistentes - wine merchants at Lyons
Offectores, dyers in East - dyers and purple dyers
Holitores - vegetable merchants
pequariorum - mutton dealers (see Pt. I)
Piscatores - fishermen
Pistores at Pompei & Sitifis - bakers
Pelliones - furriers
Pomari universi - fruit dealers
Propolae - retail dealers
Saccarii - porters
Sagari - makers of silk blouses
Servi publici (at Sarmizegetusa
in Dacia) - public slaves
Sintoniaci - weavers of fine material
Slave dealers and workers in
the slave market at Thyatira
in Lycia -
Collegium sutorum - shoemakers
Speclarii (at Rome) - makers of mirrors
Soliarii (at Rome) - sandal makers
Tabernarii - shopkeepers
Lunarii pectinari - workers in wool
Lanariorum carmin atorum
socalicium (also various Greek
associations of some workers) - carders of wool, etc.
Lani and laniones - butchers
Lapiderii (also a Greek Assoc) - stonecutters
Lapidari structurae - masons
Lecticarii - litter bearers
Lignari universi - wood merchants
Lignari plastrari - charcoal burners
Collegium lintionum, Lyntoarii - Linen weavers
Collegium munipum - ?
Manticularii negotiatores - retail merchants
Sodalicium marmorariorum - marble workers
Nautae (very numerous) - sailors on the rivers
Navicularii marini - ship owners
Collegium negotiantium - merchants
(of a town)
Negotiatores ortis vestiariasi -
et lintiariae - merchant sailors
Tonsores - barbers
Unguentarii - perfumers
Utricularii (found in many - makers of gourds or special
Vinarii urbani - wine merchants
The large majority of these associations are found in the Western provinces; it was here where Roman civilisation prevailed that they formed naturally.
Presumably most of these collegia continued to exist in the 4th Century but there are very few in inscriptions of the late Empire, this dearth of epigraphic evidence is no doubt due to the increasing poverty of the collegia in that period.
Below is a list of the collegia which are specially mentioned as still existing in the 4th Century.
Collegium fabrorum (in all the cities)
Centonarii (in all the cities)
Dendropheri (in all the cities)
Corpus saponariorum - soap merchants
Honorius recalls the "collegiates, ut vitutiaris, nemesiacos, signiferos, cantaorarios, et singularium urbium corporates.
It is of course impossible to say whether all artisans and traders belonged to collegia but it would seem that by the 4th Century the government grouped all men of one trade or calling together for purposes of taxation and service, whether they had previously been members of collegia or not.
As regards the reason for the formatin of the Collegia before the 4th Century I have, in the Introduction, attempted a survey of their early history and have stated the generally recognised reasons for their formation.
To ensure burial to the members, to perform religious rites, and to gorm within the vast imensity of the Empire some small association of men of a similar kind where the individual might satisfy his social and even his political instincts.
The religious objects need not detain us; they have been fully studies elsewhere and do not concern this thesis. A few more words are necessary on the subject of the convivial or social aspect of the collegia of which the inscriptions give abundant evidence.
Frequently the members met for banquets, the cost of which was defrayed by the generosity of some individual benefactor or patron or even occasionally from the common treasury (arca) whose funds came from the subscriptions of the individual members. There were other meetings of a business nature for the election of the collegium’s officials and for transacting general business. The law only allowed one business meeting a month - this was no doubt a precaution against the collegia becoming political or treasonable bodies.
A very large number of inscriptions relate to legacies given for annual feasts to collegia by patrons and by strangers outside the collegia. The former would also give moneys during their lifetime and the grateful collegiati would th en put up a statue to their benefactor commemorating the gift. In the case of legacies from strangers or from wealthy members the gift would be on condition that roses and libations be scattered over the donor’s grave or that an annual feast of the members should be held there. If the members neglect to tend the grave the legacy is to be transferred elsewhere. The object of the gifts of richmen to the collegia was obviously to ensure that their tombs should be looked after. Such legacies were nearly always made to industrial collegia and very rarely to simple funerary collegia, the latter were presumably too poor to be trusted. The most legacies were left to the fabri and centonarii the most abundant and prosperous of the municipal collegia (see Chapter 2).
The inscriptions dealing with such legacies date mostly from the 1st and 2nd century - the collegia were too strictly under state control and too oppressed and there were too few rich townsmen for many such legacies to be possible in the 4th Century. There is however one very interesting 4th Century inscription in which it is recorded how P. Aelius Apellinaris Arlenius, a young man of good character and liberal education at his death beggedhis father, a virperfectissimus, to give a certain farm to the collegia of Praeneste on condition that from its revenues they should feast twice a year on the date of his birth and death. He also asked his father to buy up certain gardens to be given to the collegia. The grateful collegia put up a statue to him dressed in a toga.
Of courst there are other undated inscriptions which may belong to the 4th Century.
Until the funds of the collegia were confiscated by the state as being used for pagan purposes, the former legacies were presumably still applied to their original purpose of giving free banquets to members, but as the collegia became collectively responsible for these members to the State it is possibly that such legacies were used to defray their Corporate fines. Much property must also have been ruined in the 3rd Century, and so heavily taxed in the 4th Century, that it became almost valueless. Furthermore legacies of other kinds much have become almost valueless owing to the depreciation of the currency.
The collegia met in a special place of reunion, a ‘schola’ or temple, they sometimes had permission from the curia to assemble in a public place or temple, but the richer ones built their own.
When a banquet washeld, or money and food (aportules) distributed to the members, there were rules laid down as to how much each member was to receive and what was to happen to the unclaimed shares, in the case of the ebonarii and citriarii such unclaimed shares were divided between all the members at the end of the year
Some wax tablets found in the gold mines at Verespatak seem to contain a record of the cost of a banquet. The various foods bought show that on these special occasions even the miners, who were mainly if not only slaves and freedmen, thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Here are the items still legible:
5 lambs 18 deniers
1 milch abv. 5 deniers
White bread 2 or 3 deniers
Pure wine 2 deniers
194 Homines of ordinary wine 97 deniers
Salad 1 denier
Salt or oil 1/4 denier
Other inscriptions record exactly what was given to the euinquennales, the magistri, etc., and what to the ordinary members, is a descending scale. That even the funerary collegia existed in large part to provide feasts and pleasant reunions for their members is shown in the illuminating History of Rome.
Although it concerns a funeral collegium it is worth quoting in full as it is evidence as regards the social function and internal regulations of all the collegia.
"It is unanimously voted that whoever wishes to enter this society shall pay an initiation fee of one hundred Sesterces and an amphora of wine and shall pay a monthly due of five ances.
"If a member in full standing dies there shall be drawn for his account three hundred Sesterces, one-sixth of which shall be divided among the attendants of the funeral. The funeral procession shall go on foot. Any member who commits suicide shall not be buried by the Society.
If any member who is a slave shall become free he shall provide the Society with an amphora of good wine. If an officer elected in due order does not give a dinner to the members, he shall be fined 30 Sesterces. The officers are each to furnish an amphora of good wine, 2 asses worth of bread for each member, four sardines, and provide for the service.
If any member causes a disturbance by changing his seat he shall be fined 4 Sesterces; if anyone insults another member the fine shall be 12 Sesterces; if he abuses the presiding officer the fine shall be 20 Sesterces.
Every collegium chose one or more patrons on the analogy of the municipalities in early times. Those patrons were obviously chosen who would be wealthy enough to confer benefits and largesses on the collegia. The patron usually gave a sum to provide for a banquet or for distributions of money and fod (sportulae) to members. In return the collegium set up a statue in gratitude and in anticipation of benefits to come. The patron himself might also defray the expenses of putting up the statue; "honors contentus impensa sua posuit, honore accepto impensam remisit." By the time of Theodosius II this had become so customary, owing no doubt to the poverty of the collegia, that it was degreed that any statue asked for should be set up at the expense of the one interested "ejue, eujus, ad honorem petitur expensis propriis statuam collocari praecipimus.
The inaugural banquet was sometimes attended not only the the members of the collegium but also by the decurions, the Augustales and the plebs of the municipality. In such cases the collegiati received more victuals or money than the plebs. In one case they even are known to have received more - than the decurions; this was at Antinum where the dendrophori had put a statue to their patron, and on the day of the dedication he distributed 8 Sesterces to the decurions, 6 to the Augustales and 12 to the members of the collegium in question. The plebs of the city received 4 Sestorces only.
There are also many cases of yearly anniversaries from the interest on capital given by patrons during their lifetime on the sole conditin of looking after their statue.
But the services of th e patrons were not only pecuniary, they sometimes helped the collegia to defend or to obtain privileges. This aspect of the patronatus concerns us particularly as it was very important in the 4th Century. In this century for instance the fabri tignarii of Rome set up a statue to their patron because his patronage had often been useful to them "multis in se patrociniis do. The patron in question L. Aelius Helvius Dionysius v. had been jucax of the sacred cognitiones of the whole Orient, praeses of Coclo Syria and so on down to curator of the public places and public works, and became praefectus urbi in 301. The fishermen and divers of Rome speak of their patron as having procured for them the right to navigate the river in their boats. The fabri tiguarii of Vienne give him the name of praesidium suum.
The patrons were municipal magistrates or high imperial functionaries who could support their clients in their relations with authority.
More closely in touch with the members of the collegia and nearer to those in social status were the "mothers" and "fathers" (patres, matres) found in some collegia. The dendrophori of Troemisus have the wife of a veteran for "mater" the fullersof Falerie the wife of their register.
The title conferred honour, but honour in recogniation of feelings of friendliness and gratitude to friends and old associates as contrasted to that shown to the powerful or wealthy strangers who were patrons. In some collegia, however, pater and mater is occasionally used to designate the people who were in the positin of patrons or patronesses.
The collegia could inherit wealth in other ways than from patrons or wealthy strangers. They could inherit from their freedmen when these died intertate, and without heirs. The navicularii since 354 and the fabricenser from 438 could inherit from their colleagues who died without heirs. This was of course the result of the hereditary lien on their property (Chapter IV, Part I). Rich members, magistrates, citizens all might give largesses in the form of houses, gardens, farms or temples and halls of meeting (secular) or paticoes and tombs. Besides the patrons and patronesses who were honorary officials, the collegia had active officials to deal with their internal administration. There was great variety in organisation. In the earlier ones the general assembly of all members (conventus) elected the officials and settled matters of importance. In the larger, such as those of the fuhri, the members were sometimes divided into decurine with a decuris at the head of each. The decuriones then decided matters in place of the assembly of members or at any rate took a more prominent part in settling decrees.
At the head of the whole collegium were 2 magistri or cuinquennales elected for five years, as their name implies. They presided at meetings, at the banquets and at the distributions of sportulae. Their function sometimes even included the duty of putting oil in the public baths for the use of members before a banquet. The following officials are also found in most collegia - Curatores, quaester, or arcarius - the Treasurer; Scriba, or tabularius - keeper of records, Secretary. Occasionally there was a Viator who took round the president’s messages to the members when he wished to convoke a meeting. It is obvious that the organisation of the collegia was modelled on that of a municipal government and indeed the collegia did form little states and satisfied the desire of the individuals for association with his follows, for honour and office and so forth. In fact the collegium did for the poor artisan or slave all that the Roman State failed to do.
The interesting and controversial question now arises as to whether those collegia did in any sense resemble medieval guilds or modern trade unions. Was th3ere any idea of regulating methods of production, arranging apprenticeship, securing monopolies, undertaking enterprises in common, rendering help to sick members and so forth? Were those associations formed with a view to raising wages and obtaining better working conditions generally?
Although the answers to the above questions seem to be generally in the negative it would be unwise to conclude that no ideas of this sort were present.
The collegia are found mainly in the Western provinces; it was here where Roman civilisation had spread that they formed naturally. In the eastern provinces Greek civilisaiton prevailed and the ‘polis’ seems still to have satisfied man’s need for a group life. But may there not also have been an economic cause for the difference between the Eastern and Western provinces. The explanation may be found in the fact that the craftsmen in the Eastern provinces had never had to compete against large numbers of slaves exploited by individuals or companies. In the west and especially in Italy the collegia may have originally been formed to meet the competition of the servile companies exploited by rich contractors.
This is the opinion of Wallen, but Waltzing argues that if this were the case the union could only have been efficacious if the workmen had set up establishments like the servile workshops and undertaken enterprises in common. This they do not appear to have done and furthermore associations were formed in all professions whether there was servile competition or not.
I do not think that Waltzing’s arguments are conclusive. The case of the builder’s “union” and Sardis dealt with so fully by H.H. Buckler in his “Labour Disputes in the Province of Asia” seems to show that in this trade at any rate the members undertook work in common under a definite agreement between the Union and the employers. Similar communal enterprises may well have been undertaken by other collegia, for instance by the fullers.
The mutilated inscription of an unknown collegium found at Rome may possibly refer to some such communal enterprises, but this Collegium and its lex seem too vague to draw conclusions from.
Although the collegia were not associations of workmen formed to procure better conditions, there seems no doubt that they used the strength which association gives to defend their common interests. They generally approached the authorities through their patron and it is obvious that thus they would receive far more consideration than as individuals. At Brixia, for example, the dehdropheri thank their patron for that through him their immunities had been confirmed: “quod ejus industria immunites collegii sit confirmata”.
There is a very interesting inscription about a long case of law concerning the right of the collegium of fullers at Rome in the 3rd Century to use a public well, or the water of a fountain, supplied by an aqueduct. The said fullers claimed that they were exempted from payment to the Treasury for the use of the fountain. The collegium says it can prove that it has had immunity since the time of Augustus, (“ex, eo tempore, inquit, ex quo Augustus, rem publican obtinere cospit usque in hodiornum numquam hasc loon pensiones pensitesse”). The praefectus vigilum, Florianus having found that the place was sacred (to the gods of the fullers) granted them their case as evidently a locus sacer was always exempt from payments. Subsequent efforts to reverse his decision were defeated.
Such associations as the fullers must obviously have worked together sharing data, stretching apparatus buildings and so forth, as they shared the use of the fountain. It does not seem unwarrantable to conclude that the collegium of fullers must sometimes have contracted to sell so much cloth in a body.
As regards regulation of methods of production Waltzing quotes Choisy who thinks that they had such rules in the art of building and Gerard who extends Choisy’s conclusions to other collegia.
Waltzing himself says that nothing has been found to confirm this in the logos and secrets preserved and after considering the inscriptions it must be admitted that he is right. It is true the Pliny the Elder cites a “Lex metalls fulionious dieta” but this law, which is of Republican date only legislated against frauds by individual fullers and lays down the technical processes to be employed by them. It has nothing to do with the control of its members by the collegium or of the collegium as a whole by the state. It would however seem very probable that in the 4th Century such collegia as were held collectively responsible for the work of their members such as the fabricenses and the pistores, must have laid down rules about methods of production.
As regards apprentices, most authorities think the collegium did not supervise them. Krause indeed thinks that the scaols were schools for the apprentices but Maue, Boissier and Waltzing are convinced it was only the place of reunion of a collegium. The evidence to the contrary concerns the Eastern provinces where the conditions were peculiar and the collegium as we know them not indigenous.
In Eurapolis there is an ------- attached to the collegium of purple dyers. It has been thought that this was a corps of young workers, an apprenticeship workshop for poor children. If this is so, little can be argued from it as the dyers were mostly slaves and later hereditarily bound to their conditions in the state -----. The training of young workers in a sort of school is therefore extremely probable.
The other information I have found about apprenticeship also concerns the East and does not mention the collegi. John Chrysostom in one of his sermons spoke as follows: “For tell us if thou hadst commanded one of thy sons to learn some art and then he had continually stayed at home, or even missed his time somewhere else, would not the touched reject him? Would he not say to thee: Thou hast made an agreement with me and appointed a time if now thy son will not spend this time with me but in other places, how shall I produce him to thee as a ‘scholar’? (i.e. an artist)”
At Beneventure there were studies synonymous with collegia and in them were discentes. The meaning is very obscure and Waltzing thinks that these Collegia were not artisan collegia at all.
It seems fairly certain that apprenticeship was a matter for individual arrangement and that a father either taught his son himself or sent him to another man to be trained. A workman who had special skill or knowledge might give lessons or impart it to others. There is the poem ar Arles written by his daughter and wife to “he who had the greatest skill in making things, the greatest zeal, knowledge and modesty, he whom great artisans (artifices) always called their master; no one was more skilled (doetier) than he, no one could surpass him, who knew how to make all hydraulic works (organis – organs, mills, clepsydras, etc.) or to direct the course of the waters , he was a sweet companion and knew to cherish his friends, who taught others easily because of his zeal and who was kindly in spirit.”
His man must indeed have been an expert who gave instruction not only to young people but to experienced artisans. I have quoted the inscription in full as it is one example showing pride in good and expert workmanship.
In the 4th Century, when almost every man had to follow his father’s trade, it would naturally be a boy’s father who taught him. Even before the 4th Century most sons would follow their father’s calling and be taught by their fathers.
Whether or not the collegia undertook enterprises in common there is no trace of monopolies of a certain trade. The only exception is the porters at Rome and their case is quite peculiar – a necessary measure to ensure that a body of workers is essential so the “annona” should survive. Still, in other trades it is unlikely that any workman tried to stand alone. His desire for companionship, and for the security which combination with one’s fellows affords, would lend every worker to join a collegium. Trades were furthermore grouped together, such in their own quarter of the city, and a man’s neighbours would therefore generally be those engaged in the same trade. But it is well to bear in mind that most work before the introduction of machinery in modern times was individual, there were few trades which demanded the cooperation of large bodies of men. Hence even when the individuals occupied in one trade formed one collegium they continued to work as individuals, buying their own materials, selling their own goods, and making their own contracts for the performance of work. Of course a workman often had slaves working under him and he must also have had apprentices. Again a rich merchant might employ many slaves and freedmen in manufacturing the goods he sold, or might even contract with free men for the performance of so much labour. This must have been the case in the woollen and linen trades; the sellers of woollen and linen goods (lanarii and lintiari) must have made arrangements with individual workers, slave or free, to weave the cloth they sold, or have had factories where only slaves and freedmen were employed.
We know that a few individuals did sometimes combine by working together in one workshop and sharing profits: “and in the same manner as persons inhabiting the same shop carry on a separate traffic, yet put all afterwards into a common fund, as also let us act”.
It is also clear that free artisans did not all work on their own account. Many were employed at a wage and this wage varied according to whether the artisan lived with his employer or had to feed himself. In the former case the board was counted as part of a man’s wages, in the latter case the whole wage was paid in money.
There is not only the evidence of John Chrysoatom. The Tariff of Dioletian lays down wages for the various kinds of workmen and incidentally shows that the normal method was for the workman to live with his employer.
The following are a few of the rates laid down. They are all for workmen who are nourished by their employers:
Agricultural labourer 25 den
Lapidarius structor 30 den
Faber intestinarius 50 den
Caleis coctor 50 den
Harmorarius 60 den
Musaenius (mosaic worker) 60 den
Albarius (worker in stucco)
Pistor parisbarius 70 den
Pistor imaginarius 150 den
Sarpentarius 50 den
Faber ferrarius 50 den
Pistor 30 den
Naupego in navi maritimo 60 den
In navi munica 50 den
It would be very interesting to compare the status of the various kinds of workmen as reflected in their rates of pay. Obviously any artisan whose work was well connected with building was comparatively well paid.
The farm labourer, as always, was the worst paid of all.
What was the relation between employers and employed from the social point of view? Were they both members of the collegia? Unfortunately the information available about wages all concerns the Easten half of the Empire where collegia were few. It is possible that here the few collegia, which existed had only independent workers as their members and that in the case of men working for an employer there was no question of a collegium. How then was a man held to his hereditary status in the 4th Century? Artificial groupings, ‘corpora’ as opposed to collegia - may have been applied by the Government. The whole question needs far more consideration than can be given to it here. One thing it however specially to be noted; the producer is generaly also the seller. In other words there are vew middlemen except in so far as trade at a distance or overseas is concerned. The master workman of course sold the products of his employees but he was not a middleman in the strict sense of the word. J. Chrysoatom speaks of “the handicraftman, the sandal maker or the leather cutter or the brassfounder, or any other artificer when he sells any articles of his trade.” Of course merchants sold the products of the country in the town and vice versa and in the case of some articles, such as woven goods, they were also middlemen as regards home products.
From the evidence as to large scale production of pottery in the first centuries of the Empire one might have concluded that there would have been wholesale production of pottery in our period and merchants to sell it. No evidence however is extant. There are very few inscriptions of potters (figuli) and none that I have found of pottery sellers. From the Theodosian Code it seems that most pots were made locally; had the great factories of Gaul been destroyed in the3rd Century? I understand that no imported sumian ware is fond in Britain in the 4th century and that pots were of very inferior workmanship in this period.
The question as to the trades in which the workman who made the article also sold it is very obscure. There are many funerary inscriptions of individuals whose profession is formed by the name of an article with arius added, e.g. sericarius, coactiliarius Pomarius, etc. Sometimes the individual is obviously a seller of the article, e.g. the pomarius (apple seller) but sometimes he is the maker or workman, e.g. the coactilarius – felt maker, and the coriarius – tanner. Of course the makers may also have sold direct to the public and this would perhaps explain the double meaning of the termination arius.
It is time now to return to the other questions asked at the beginning of this chapter though it has not been possible here to consider all the evidence for and against the existence of rules about production, the undertaking of enterprises in common by the collegium, the question of monopolies and of the relation of employers and employed, the existence of middlemen in the smaller trades, the relatively well paid and badly paid trades and so forth.
Did the collegia ever act as charitable institutions or associations for mutual help? Waltzing says emphatically ‘No’ as there is no trace anywhere of gifts for this purpose and the “Sportulae” even where distributed on the principle of the most to the wealthiest (the parri and matres, the presidents and other officials) and the least to the ordinary members, i.e. presumably the most needy. I do not iknow whether the ordinary members need necessarily have been the most needy. The officials in most collegia were freely elected by all and need not have been the richest men. Their right to large amounts of “sportulae”
Can very well be considered as payment for their services. Still his other objection seems valid. People never seem to have left legacies to the collegia for the care of their poorer members as they left legacies to the municipalities for the care of the poor.
The epyos at Amisus referred to by Pliny seems to have been a religious association which also lent money free of interest to the poor. This is special and was forbidden in the cities under Roman law.
It seems to me that it is this latter case lies the explanation why the collegia never developed a charitable side like the Medieval guilds. Before the 3rd Century the government would have objected, and it would have objected because of the dangerous influence and power such charity would have given to the collegia.
In the 4th Century, when the collegia were entirely in the hands of the state, and there was nothing more to be feared from them, they were too poor and too heavily taxed to have funds for the purpose. (Part of their taxes were indeed distributed in free alms to the idle by generous emperors like Constantine; Waltzing remarks on the fact that thinfluence of Christianity does not seem to have influenced the collegia to become charitable, and concludes that probably many Christians left the collegia because of their religious character (common worship of a patron god, burial rites and so forth). This does not of course apply to the 4th Century, but as already stated the collegia more now too poor and too busy carrying out their public duties.
That to outsiders at any rate the collegia seemed mainly to exist to hold banquets and for the Members to meet together for riotous living is attested by the following passage of Tortullian:
“We have as presidents the most virtuous old men who have not obtained this honour for gold, but by their good name, for nothing that appertains to God can be bought. If we have a sort of treasury it is not formed by the contributions honoraria summa) paid in by the elected, as if religion were put up to auction; a modicum contribution is brought by each, every month or when one wishes, and if one wishes or if one can; for no one is forced, the contribution is voluntary. This one is like a depot of piety for one does not draw upon it to organise meals, drinking bouts and sterile feasts; but to nourish and bury the poor, the children of both sexes, indigents and orphans, then old serviators and shipwrecked folk; if one of our brethran is condemned to the mines to exile, to prison, so long as it is because of his faith; he is nourished by the religion he has confessed.”
The contrast between what is done by the Christians and what is done by the collegia is obious although it is implied, not stated.
I had hoped to deal in detail with the evidence relating to stricken, the inscriptions relating to which in Asia Minor have been connected by W.R. Buckler in his “Labour disputes in the Province of Asia”, but consideration of th is question must be postponed till Part III of this subject has been completed.
C H A P T E R I
Role of the collegia in the local government and condition of their members in the 4th and 5th centuries.
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Each collegium belonged to its city; there is no question of one collegium comprising members from different cities. In the 4th and 5th Centuries they shape the municipal services with the coriales but their role is a subordinate one. “They execute by turns certain ‘corvees’ under the direction of the curiales and “the upkeep and care of their city are confided to them”. Just as the central government confided certain functions of the administration to the collegia dealt with in Part I, so the curiales, whose assembly was the local government, ‘confided’ to the collegia the actual performance of certain local public services. For instance Fabri would be commanded by the curiales to execute repairs on the public buildings and possibly to act as a fire brigade (see Ch. III) the limeburners would have to supply lime for the public buildings, other collegia, probably the detdropheri, would have to bring wood for use of the public baths.
The best example is perhaps the collegium of pistores. Some of the municipia did not leave breadmaking to public enterprise and in such cities the governing body supervised the pistores and sometimes subsidised the bread supply. Even in Republican days some Italian cities seem to have undertaken to supply cheap bread to their inhabitants and in the 4th Century we find in many cases a certain number of “possessores” were entrusted with the ‘cura conficiendi pollini’ or the ‘panis coctio’; these were not bound to do actual service, they had to contribute to the expenses; the collegium of pistores under the direction of the curie had to do the actual baking of the bread.
There is an inscription from Sitifin in Mauretania which dates from the time of Valentinian, Theodosius and Arfadius and which shows that there were bake ovens for breadmaking set up in the interest of the public annona. It refers to the restoration of the ovens or mills “instituted long before for the annona publica by the governor” and to his clearing away the ‘aqualor’ with which they had been littered and almost destroyed. The said governor had handed them over equiped to the pistores for the annona publica for them to cook in and had thus fed the people.
There is an interesting reference in Socrates to an allowance of corn made by Constantine to the Church of the Alexandrians for the relief of the indigent. It was indeed no uncommon thing for great men to give largesses of this sort to their native cities, and with the introduction of Christianity such “poor relief” became more common.
In all such cases it may be concluded that the pistores were given the task of turning the corn into flour and making the flour into bread.
Generally speaking the curiales were responsible for the performance of public duties in their cities but the actual work involved was performed by the collegiati under their direction.
Just as the possessores used their coloni to transport their annona taxes, so the curiales used the collegiati to do the actual labour necessary in carrying out the demands of the central government and in the local administration.
It was merely an extension of the right of the givernment ti impose ‘corvees’ on all its subjects; it was more convenient to impose a special task on a body of workmen skilled to perform it, than to demand the same unpaid labour from all.
Hence their service is called ‘opera’ publica officia, obsequium, propriao urbis, and they are designated as “corpora publicis necessitatibus obligata”.
Still their ‘opera’ were intermittant and did not occupy nearly as much time as the public services of the collegia dealt with in Part I.
Both curiales and collegia could have their members made up from amongst the ranks of the ‘vacantem’; the curialis was naturally more important than the collegiatus, hence the receiver of an escaped curial paid a fine of 5 lbs. of gold, whereas the receiver of an escaped corporatus paid only 1 lb.
The upkeep of the collegia was regarded as necessary by the central government, not only on account of their services in the local administration, but also to ensure the existence of essential crafts and trades.
Hence the Emperors might even exempt from all burdens special trades whose existence was regarded as vital and to whom the government therefore wished to give encouragement.
In 337 Constantine ordained “that those who practise any of the arts enumerated below shall be free from all burdens whilst remaining in the separate cities, if indeed leisure must be employed in learning these arts, let them desire all the more both to become skilled themselves and to instruct their sons”. Below I reproduce the list.
Architecti - painters
Albarii - plasterers
Tignarii - builders, carpenters
Medici - doctors
Lapidarii - stonecutters
Argentarii - silversmiths
Structores - builders, masons
Mulomedici - mule doctors, veterinary surgeons
Quadratarii - stone cutters who prepare squares of hewn stones
and marble (Gothefredus)
Scansores - makers of staircases
Pictores - painters
Sculptores - carvers, particularly of wood (Gothefredus)
Diatretarii - carvers (Gothefredus says those who made holes
Intestinarii - joiners who did inlaid or fine work
Statuarii - makers of statues
Musivarii - workers in mosaic
Aerarii - coppersmiths
Ferrarii - workers in iron, blacksmiths
Marmorarii - workers in marble
Desuratores - gilders
Fuscros - metalfounders (?)
Blattiarii - those who dye silk purple
Tesellarii - makers of tessalated pavement
Aurifices - goldsmiths (Thesaurus)
Specularii - makers of mirrors (Gothefredus says those who placed
mirrors as ornaments in the walls)
Carpentarii - carriage makers
Aquae libratores - conduit masters, water inspectors?
Vitriarii - workers in class either as windows or ornaments
in walls (Goth_
Oburarii - ivory workers (Goth. Says those who make furniture
out of ivory)
Fullones - fullers
Figuli - potters
Plumbarii - leadworkers, plumbers
Pelliones - furriers
Whether this exemption included the non-payment of the chrysargyrum is doubtful, so many trades are included that it seems a little unlikely.
Another law of Constantine’s gives immunity to “mechanicos geometriis and architectos qi divisiones partium omuium incisioaesque servant mensurisque et institutis operem fabricatione stringunt et cos qui aquarum inventos ductus et modos docili libratione ostendunt” so long as they both learn and teach their art.
It is beyond the scope of this work to deal with similar exemptions from taxation granted to professors of painting, philosophers and doctors. The Emperors did not always take such gentle means as these to enforce the teaching of a trade by a man to his son. The collegiati in the municipalities were hereditarily bound to their work like those employed by the central government. The artisan had to follow his father’s calling whether he wished to or not and was finally as closely tied to his tools as the colonus to his land. Still, it is to be noted, that it is not till the late 4th Century that laws are found specifically dealing with the hereditary status of masters of municipal collegia. However, in these laws it is implied that the hereditary lien had long been enforced.
Honorius recalls the members of the collegia who have fled in the following terms:-
“Competent judges are to give their help in bringing back members of the collegia so that they shall command those, who have gone far away, to be brought back with all their possessions, so that they shall not from want of their possessions be in no condition to (fulfil the duties) of their hereditary station. In the case of their sons this principle is to be followed, that when the marriage is not between equals the son shall follow his mother, but when it has been justum (equal), the free son shall follow the hereditary calling of his father.
Similarly in 412 after the sack of Rome by Alaric he again recalled the members of the Collegia and corpora. “We order that the members of the collegia, and the vitutarii and the nemesiaci (fortunetellers), and the standard bearers for festive occasions, the numbers of corpora of all the cities, be recalled on a similar principle. To whom also we decree t hat the opportunity of making a supplication must be denied, so that no one’s hereditary status should seem to be changed by any command (which is not allowed) and if perchance anyone is known to have been set free by the sacred authority (i.e. that of the princeps) his favour shall cease and he shall revert to his hereditary status.” A law of 400 deals with the regulation to be followed in the case of people who had “left their condition” and had not been discovered till long afterwards: “This precept of our clemency being observed that he who is shown to have performed his duties for 30 years, and not to have been hindered by any interruption, is to fear no action of calumnitas about his status by the agents of a private person or of the State, in so far as this province is concerned. If anyone within the limits of the definite period is shown to have been summoned before a tribunal he is to accused by the ordinary law in the usual seat of justice, in order that there sentence may be pronounced upon his status. Indeed we constrain the primates of the ‘ordos’ and the ‘defensores civitatum’ by the threat of punishment, not to suffer there to be public loss by the flight of a member of the curia or the collegia, who wangers hither and thither, but if, through favour, they are found to have kept silence they shall suffer the punishment of degradation.”
Some “collegiati” evidently found their burdens so heavy that they preferred to become coloni. They were recalled by Honorius without any exception and he at the same time lays down further regulations regarding the succession of children whose mother and father do not belong to the same condition:
“The municipalities deprived of those who look after them have lost the splendour in which they used to shine, very many members of collegia abandoning the care of the cities that they might follow a rural life and betake themselves to secret and hidden places. But we put an end to such devices by an ordinance of this kind, i.e. that wheresoever they shall have been discovered on the land, they are to be recalled to their duties without pressure of any exception. But concerning their sons, who nevertheless are shown to have been begotten within approximately these last 40 years, this principle is to be observed, that they are to be divided between the municipality and those of whom they have married the inquiline or colona or ancilla, in such a manner t hat the succession being put off to a lower grade it shall not be checked by any ‘calumnitas’ ’’. These laws make it abundantly clear that by the end of the 4th Century the members of the collegia throughout the Empire were hereditarily bound to their condition without any possibility of escape.
FABRI, CENTONARII AND DENDROPHORI
The most noticeable thing in going through all the inscriptions relative to the collegia is the prevalence of the fabri, centonarii and dendrophori. In the western provinces where most of the collegia inscriptions come from, there seem to be one or other or all of these three collegia in every town. They are found where no trace of other collegia remain and they are very frequently found all together in one inscription.
The ubiquity of the faber is not remarkable when we remember how many kinds of artisan come under the designation of faber; all land workers in stone, metal, wood or any other hard substance. The ubiquity of the centonarii is far more remarkable if the generally accepted meaning of this work is accepted; patchwork makers. It is difficult to believe that so many people could be employed all over the Empire making up old rags into cheap patchwork garments.
The dendrophori are not found so often and their trade, probably that of woodcutters and wood dealers, would naturally be a common and necessary one.
Before considering some of the theories to explain the ubiquity and close association of these three collegia a few remarks are necessary on the fabri.
The word faber is often found in inscriptions of the imperial period without an epithet and the people thus shown are mostly slaves and freedmen. It is therefore concluded that such a faber is either a technical member of a great household and a slae, or, where a freeborn man is designed, an independent workman and a builder; i.e. faber in the second case is a shortening for ‘faber tignarius’; a freedman might belong to either category. Otherwise an epithet is usually added showing in what mater the faber worked.
There are accordingly many different kinds of faber and a very great division of labour is shown to have existed. The following are the main classes as specified in Pauly Fissona.
Faber intestinarius – the workman who dealt with the finishings inside the houses, e.g. the doors, windows, etc. There are also lagrearii and lacunarii.
The ‘Fabri subsediarii’ seem to have been much the same type of workmen as the intestinarii.
Faber lectarius, a specialised joiner who made beds and similar articles – the highest branch of ancient furniture making.
Faber pecturarius – a combmaker.
Faber tignarius was extended to mean a stone mason when houses began to be built of stone instead of wood, and so faber alone also comes to mean a stonemason or boulder.
The special builder is called structor or structor parietarius. Amongst the fabri who worked in metals are found the following varieties:
Serarii and fabri serarii: the former are possibly workers in the copper mines but since serarius statuarius and vascularius are also found, this does not seem likely. The sigillarius or serarius signifies a maker of little images and in the edict of Diocletian, distinction is made between the serarius in vasculis diversi gereris and the serarius in sigillis vel statius.
Faber pestinarius – maker of metal combs
Faber eborarius – a trader in ivory but also a maker of ivory objects
Fabri navales – ship builders
Fabri balueator – worker in connection with building of baths.
The extraordinary specialisation of labour is obvious from the above list which is not exhaustive and does not constitute all the subdivisions of labor. Probably all the fabri in a small town would form one collegium, but in large towns the fabri serarii and the fabri tignarii and so forth would form separate organisations. The eborarii and citriarii formed one collegium alone at Rome.
It is quite easy to see why the fabri are found everywhere, since so many and such important trades are comprised under that name and especially in view of the amount of public and private building which helped to exhaust the public finances. But as already stated the question of the Centonarii is much harder and various explanations have been attempted.
A cento was a patchwork quilt and the centorarius obviously implies a maker or seller of such patchworks. Old bits of cloth were made into patchwork garments not only for slaves and poor people but also for military purposes (protection from missiles, etc.) and for extinguishing fires. From this latter fact Hirschfeld has evolved an apparently convincing theory as to the role of centonarii, fabri and dendrophori. Briefly it is this: the fabri are known to have been employed by the State as firemen. The products and tools of the centonarii and dendrophori were used to put out fires. The presumption is that the joining together of the collegia of these three trades had to follow in consequence of their common interpretation of centonarius as a patchwork maker in the following argument: The ordinary view, that the collegia whose names are derived from the names of products of industry are to be regarded as associations of makers of such products, is false. A glance through the inscriptions and a comparison of the collegia with the artifices not shown in collegia, shows unequivocally that the makers of goods on a little or a great scale form a very small number among the collegia, that the preponderant portion of workers in the widest sense is made up by the inclusion of the artists and traders. In the case of those names such as cisarii and lecticarii which can mean either makers of carriages and litters or coachmen and litter bearers, unlike those collegia such as the fabri, fullones, tibices about the character of whose numbers there is no doubt. The interpretation “coachmen and litterbearers” is obviously the right one in so far as the members of the collegium are concerned; for as the navicularii are ship owners and not shipbuilders and are characterised as sea or river shipmen, so the cisarii would be given the name of their “standplatz”. It would appear that the right to form a collegium was usually only given to those who fulfilled an obviously useful public function, accordingly
The centonarii must not be explained as patchwork makers or “patchwork tailors” but rather as a group of men who bear their name from the centones with which they perform their duty demanded by the needs of the community, i.e. the extinguishing of fires. In proof of this interpretation comes the inscription from near Como of the “centuria centonariorum, scalariorum” which no one could explain as an association of pillow, axe and ladder manufacturers. The interpretation that the names are derived from the objects used to put out the fires seem much more convincing. At Aquileia when the fabri, centonarii and dendrophori are closely connected, a stone has been found on which a colabrarius is shown in charge of the collegium of fabri and is depicted holding an exe in one hand and a cento in the other; at Cenustum a collegium veterenorum centonariorum has been found; obviously here the fire brigade was composed of veterans. By these arguments and examples Hirschfeld therefore proves the close connection of the three collegia to be due to their common duties as members of the local fire brigade.
Although his ingenious explanation may be the correct one it is hard to accept the whole of Hirschfeld’s theory about the collegia. Certainly the interpretation of the termination arius as a user of an article rather than the seller, will not always do, e.g. formarius figmentarius. This is, however, a theory which it is impossible to refute in the short space available here. Other explanations of the word centonarius have been manufacturers or sellers of coarse weavings of wool, tilers or thatchers. It seems also possible that they made pillows or cushions of old bits of material but I would tentatively and provisionally make the following suggestion. It is extremely remarkable that so few weavers or cloth sellers are met with the inscriptions since clothing is man’s second most universal want. There were, of course, the slate factories but they did not supply the public in general in the 4th Century. Much weaving was done at home for home use but the workers in factories and in the various trades and also the middle classes in the towns who had not slaves to weave for them must have wanted to buy cloth.
Is it not possible that the centonarii were the clothiers in the towns who bought up from individual weavers all the odd bits of cloth they made? Such coarse homespons as some labourer or artisan’s wife made from any wool she could procure might well be called rags and the centonarii would make up coarse tunics or cloaks from such odd pieces.
This suggestion may seem far fetched and it needs further research to come to any conclusion, but it is put forward in view of the following reasons:
a) Hirschfeld’s explanation does not seem convincing; why should such
Large numbers of individuals be required for local fire brigades?
b) The ubiquity of the centonarii implies that they satisfied a universal
c) Garments to wear are a universal requirement.
d) There are few inscriptions relating to makers or sellers of cloth.
e) Not all cloth for consumption in the towns can have been homespun
f) Cento implies the use of cloth of some description by the centonarii.
g) The centonarii cannot have been able to collect enough old rags to keep
Them occupied, and why, if they could buy old rags, could they not buy
It has become clear in the preceding pages that in the course of the 4th Century A.D. the members of all the collegia and corpora, from the rich ship owners to the poorest artisans, were hereditarily bound to their calling. Although the closeness of the bond whereby a man and his possessions were tied to his corpus or collegium varied, generally speaking it was impossible for anyone to choose his own trade or calling, the State demanded that he should be what his father had been, and his possessions were only his so long as he used them for the particular purpose which the Government decreed.
In so far as the collegia or corpora dealt with in Part I were concerned, the practice had been adopted of confiding a definite function of the Administration to one group of citizens. In return for their special services these were exempted from most of the general taxation. The navicularii, pistores, etc. were lifted out of the ordinary framework of the Empire to form a class apart, directly under the central administration. They ceased to bear their share of the burdens placed on their fellow citizens because they were employed by the central government as part-time civil servants, if I may so describe them. From one point of view there was nothing inherently unjust or vicious in this practice. All taxation being in a sense a commitation, for money or goods, of the services owed by the individual to the community, it might be argued that it was quite legitimate to demand services instead of money from some groups of citizens, and so to exempt from taxation all those who rendered actual services to the community. The trouble was that in the Roman Empire these “state collegia"”did not render their services to the whole community, but only to a small privileged portion thereof. The naviculari who transported the grain, and the bakers who made it into bread, the suarii who collected and prepared the pork, and all the rent, worked for the benefit and enjoyment of the Emperor and his court and of the various officials in the capitals and in the provinces, for the army, and for the idle populace of Rome and Constantinople. Chiefly, indeed, they worked for the benefit of the latter who did nothing in return for what they received from the State. Again, the officials of the vast bureaucracy which was crushing the life out of the Empire would have had more justification in receiving their rations and their payments if they had done all the work of collecting taxes and supervising transport, which was in large part performed by other corpora (suarii, mensores and, of course, the curiales). Just said that about 1/10th of the population of Antioch is rich, 1/10th poor and 8/10ths of the middle sort, and he proceeds as follows: “nevertheless although there are so many that are able to feed the hungry, many go to sleep in their hunger, not because those that have are not able with care to succor them, but because of their great barbarity and inhumanity. (Shortly before Chrysostom had been pleading for an increase in alms giving). For if both the wealthy and those next to them were to distribute amongst themselves those who are in need of bread and raiment, scarcely would one poor person fall to the share of 60 men or even 100. Yet nevertheless though with such great abundance of persons to assist them they are wailing every day. And that thou mayest learn the inhumanity of the others, when the church is possessed of a revenue of one of the lowest among the wealthy, and not of the very rich, consider how many widows it succors every day, how many virgins; for indeed the list of them had already reached unto the number of 3000. Together with those she succors them that dwell in prison, the sick in the caravansora, the healthy, that are absent from their home, those that are maimed in their bodies, those that wait upon the altar; and with respect to food and raiment, from that casually come every day; and her substance is in no respect diminished. So that if ten men were thus willing to spend, there would be no poor. And what, it will be said, are our children to inherit? The principal remains, and the income again is become more abundant, the goods being stored up for them in Heaven.
But are ye not willing to do this? At l east do it by the half, at least by the third person, at least by the 4th, by the 10th. For owing to God’s favour it were possible for our city to nourish the poor of 10 cities….. . It is enough for thee to have the money of thine income pouring in on thee as from a fountain; make the poor share with thee, and become a good steward of the things given thee of God”.
The interesting point is that although alms-giving on a large scale is preached there is no word as to where the alms come from, no question of giving up the principal, i.e. no question of ceasing to demand labour from others that one may live in idleness onself. John Chrysostom is merely urging that each rich man should live simply and give away part of what he receives from the labour of others. Many of these addressed had their income from lands and J. Chrysostom has himself drawn a piteous picture of the wretched coloni who cultivated them: “For if anyone were to examine how they treat their wretched and toil worn labourers he will see them to be more cruel than savages. For upon them that are pining with hunger and toiling throughout all their life they impose constant and intolerable payments. . . . “he speaks of the torments inflicted by the overseers, the services demanded, the wicked usury of the lanowners who lend money to the wretched labourers at 50% interest, “and this when he of whom it is expected has a wife and is bringing up children, is a human being and is filling their threshing floor and their wine press with his toil”. In spite of their appreciation of the misery of the people who worked, the priests never seem to have said that men ought to own the product of their labour; they were usually far more concerned with the giving of alms to the idle poor than freeing the working poor from their burdens of rent and interest. The giving of alms was beneficial to the soul of the rich man, and the slave or poor labourer might console himself for his live of toil and hunger by the thought of his easy access into heaven as contrasted with the difficulties in the way of entrance to the rich.
Similarily the Church although it urged masters to treat their slaves well never insisted on the abolition of slavery. John Chrysostom was a sincere and fearless Christian who was not afraid to incur the imperial displeasure by his condemnation of the extravagance and vices of the Empress and the Court. He was one of the truly great and humane people whom the Church produced in this period; he was tireless in his efforts on behalf of the poor and oppressed, but he never appears to have seen that a total reorganisation of society was necessary if the teachings of Christ were to be carried out in fact as well as in theory. It may be objected that the Church could do no more than champion the poor, and impress upon the rich the duty of almsgiving of kindliness towards their slaves. If she had tried to do more she would not have been listened to and Christianity would never have been accepted; she would have effected nothing whereas she did in fact to some extent ameliorate social conditions.
This raises the eternal question as to whether it is ever right to compromise on essential principles in order to effect some slight reforms. Christianity in the 4th century compromised with the powers that were in order to gain influence; having done so it gradually and imperceptibly “lost its savour” and ceased its conflict with the forces of oppression.
Nay more, by its efforts to improve the condition of the poor and the slaves without in any way altering the organisation of society which produced them, it helped to increase the burdens of the masses all over the empire and finally to bring about the complete disorganisation of society.
For the latter result they cannot indeed be reproached, for, after a consideration of the general condition of the people in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. one cannot wonder that in many places they welcomed the barbarian invaders, or regret that Roman society was finally dissolved in the West.
However our concern here is with the economic consequences of the prevailing attitude of mind. Always to give without enquiring where the gifts came from, possibly a sort of theory that the Lord would provide, meant laying heavier and heavier burdens on the producers of wealth and, even more serious in its final consequences, meant discouraging labour and encouraging pauperism.
The imperial laws seem to reflect the same to pay survey economics as the Church writers. In 314 A.D., Constantine, who has been so ruthlessly legislating for the performance of his hereditary labour by every colomus and artisan, merchant and curial, tells Ablavius the practarian prefect that any parent in any Italian city who brings along a new born infant which he says he is too poor to bring up is to be immediately supplied with food and clothing. Who wherewithal for this clarity is to be supplied by the fiscus and the private.
In 322 he remarks that provincials suffering from lack of the necessaries of life and from want of nourishment sell their children or pledge them and decrees that throughout Africa the proconsuls and praesides and finance officers, are “to bestow a necessary sum upon those whom they find in miserable want and immediately give them a sufficient quantity of food.” The recipients of this charity are to be “those who are supported by no substance of property and who support their children in misery and difficulty.”
One has only to contract the evidence of Liberius as to the miserable artisan forced to pay taxes although he possesses only his tools, or the unhappy coloni who, “being consumed with frost and rain and watchings go away with their hands empty and in debt” brought their hard won produce to the imperial granaries and saw it distributed to beggars.
Wallon has pointed out the analogy with the late 18th and early 19th century in England when small proprietors and artisans paid a heavy poor rate to support the paupers. He has not remarked however on the similarity of the causes of the pauperism; the lack of incentive to work when one is no better off working than when one is a pauper. Constantine is only reflecting the spirit of Christianity in the 4th Century when he says that “it is an outrage to the spirit of our times that anyone should be destroyed by hunger or burnt out in an unworthy crime (i.e. either sell or expose their children) and he fails to see who it is that pays for his humanity and generosity. It is indeed Constantine especially, on the evidence of the Christian and pagan writers, who seems to have held the typically Christian attitude towards economics.
Julian said sneeringly of aim that when asked what, in his opinion, constituted virtue, he replied: “For a man who hath much to give much away”.
The most illuminating remarks of all are in the pages of Evagrius and they illustrate the shortsightedness and illogicality of the prevalent attitude of mind so clearly and, if I may so remark, so humorously, that it has seemed worthwhile quoting them in full. He has shortly before told how Auastasius abolished the Chrysargynum and related what a vile and wicked tax it was. He then proceeds to refute “the wicked Zoeimus” who had stated in his history that Constantine first imposed the Chrysargynum. This is how he does it; “He in such fashion encircled the place with walls, so far extended the former city and embellished it with buildings so splendid, as hardly to be surrpassed by Rome itself, which had received gradual increases through so long a course of years. Thou sayest also that he made a distribution of provisions at the public cost so the people of Byzantium and bestowed a very large sum of gold upon those who had accompanied his thither for the erection of private houses”. He then relates other generous deeds of Constantine not relating to money and finally sums up his argument “How canst thou then maintain that the same person would be so liberal, so munificient, and at the same time so paltry and sordid as to impose so accursed a tax I am utterly unable to comprehend.
It really is incomprehensible to Evagrius that a man who gave much away had to procure his gifts from somewhere.
The contemporary writer who seems alone to have a clear conception of the economic mistakes committed by an administration like that of Constantine is Zosimus. He speaks of Constantine as follows: “When he was delivered from the distractions of war, he yielded himself to volumptousness and distributed to the people of Byzantium a present of corn, which is continued to this day. As he expended the public treasure in unnecessary and unprofitable buildings, he likewise built some which in a short time were taken down again, because being erected hastily they could not stand long . . .”
“Constantine not only continued to waste the revenue of the Empire in useless expenses, and in presents to mean and worthless persons, but oppressed those who paid the tributes, and enriched those who were useless to the State. For he mistook prodigality for magnificence”.
It seems to me that Hosimus has exactly expressed as regards Constantine what was happening all through the period covered by the Theodosian Code.
Elsewhere, in speaking of the monks, he again shows his appreciation of the wickedness of giving what is not really yours to give and of living without rendering any service to the Community: “The Christian church was then filled (at the time of J. Chrysostom) with those men whom they call monks. These are persons who abstain from lawful marriage and who fill large colleges in many cities and villages with unmarried men, incapable of way, or of any other service to the commonwealth. These men by their arts have from that to the present time acquired possession of extensive lands and under the pretext of charity to the poor have produced, I might almost say, all other men to beggary.” Indeed one must not disregard the additional burden placed upon the community in the 4th Century by the support of the priests and monks who, although their labours as the prayers of the community were doubtless invaluable, economically were entirely unproductive and constituted another class of consumers who did not produce. This aspect of the help which Christianity gave to the barbarians in destroying the Empire seems as important as their work in undermining the subject’s senses of civic duty.
Presumably the duty of a good Christian to trust in the Lord made it, if not a sin to labour, yet a sin to feel bound to rely on oneself to produce the necessaries of existence. Many Christians at any rate preferred the pleasant existence of the lilies of the field.
One monk is related to have annually burnt all the produce of his labour.
The frequent church synods placed another burden on the taxpayers, for the bishops were allowed to use the Public Post. Only occasionally did the Emperor remember how much expense was entailed by the convening of all the bishops in one place.
Lastly it may be remarked that in reading the pages of the Church historians one is struck by nothing so much as by the frequency of the religious meetings in the many cities of the Empire and the constant presence of masses of people who listen, applaud, hiss, make riots, and otherwise waste their time in religious controversy. Here again the Church must have helped to decrease the productivity of labor; the people now had much more constant entertainment than previously when they had only bad circuses, gladiatorial shows or theatrical performances. The people most affected must have been the artisans, not the agricultural workers who could not leave their fields.
But most important of all the affects of the teachings of the Church seems to be the point first mentioned: to insist on the giving of alms by the rich to the poor, rather than on the occasion of rents and interest paid by the working poor to the rich, to encourage the largesse’s of the government rather than to insist on the lowering of taxation.
It might be morally better that the rich should give some of their wealth to the poor than keep it all themselves, but economically it made things no better for the producers of the wealth; they were not usually those who received it. No questions were asked by the good Christian as to the circumstances of the recipient of his charity nor did he stop to enquire whether he was giving away to an idle beggar that which had been produced by a hard worked artisan. Even when the artisan or farm laborer received back in charity what he had paid in rent or interest or taxation he received it in common with idlers and he must have asked himself what was the use of working if he was no better off than a man who did no work. I referred earlier to the early days of the Industrial Revolution in England, before the Reform of the Poor Law in 1834; when the Laborer’s ’insufficient wages were supplemented from the rates to make them up to the same amount as the poor relief given to a pauper. The laborer obviously preferred to live half starved without work than half starved with work, and the number of paupers increased.
The parallel with the 4th Century A.D. is unmistakable.
It is true that there is one law in the Code “do medications n on invalidis” which commands the prefect of the city of Rome to examine separately all those who have been driven by want to beg in public and find out if they are well and strong. Those who were not suffering from some bodily infirmity are to be given back to their masters, if slaves, and to become hereditary coloni, if free.
This law was not issued till 382 and it is unique. The idea of compelling all who lived on charity to work would have eliminated the beggars so necessary to the rich as the recipients of the alms they paid to ensure their passage to heaven. If the law was carried out, even partially, at Rome no doubt many of the beggars mutilated themselves suitably and escaped.
It is of course possible that the Empire might have survived with the burden of idle poor which it sustained if that had been its only burden of parasites. But it also supported a class of idle rich, a much larger class of semi-idle, or at any rate unproductive, civil servants, and a growing number of priests and monks. In addition to this it no longer sustained the burden by ruthlessly exploiting its slave labour as it had sustained a similar, but smaller burden in centuries past. There were fewer slaves to exploit and less inclination to be ruthless; for a time the top-heavy edifice survived by making the free producers half slaves and forcing them to bear the burden.
In the West the end came when the barbarians toppled over the whole insecure creation, being in many cases greeted by the inhabitants as delivers from the tax collectors.
Perhaps again the Empire might have survived if improved methods of production had been adopted which would have made it possible to produce the same amount of foods and goods as before with less labour. Apart from the invention of watermills, no discoveries were made to render this possible.
So although so many were trying, successfully or unsuccessfully, to live without doing productive labour, the same amount of human energy was required as before, and hence less was produced.
This brings me to my final contention. I do not believe that all the various types of people who tried to escape from their trade or their public services did so merely because their labour was more arduous than before or because taxation was so heavy.
The wealthy navicularius cannot have felt himself a severely oppressed individual whose life was an intolerable burden. The demands of the State were vicious and onerous, he had less to spend on luxuries than he would have liked, but one cannot imagine from the evidence of the laws that he was really in a miserable plight. The same can be said of members of other wealthy corpora.
It seems that the desire of such men to escape from their position was the result of the prevailing wish to avoid all services and duties to the community, and to live as far as possible by making others work rather than by working onself. It would be possible to maintain the argument that all civilisations decay when a large proportion of the inhabitants of a country or Empire begin to realise that the way to become wealthy is to avoid work and make others work for you. For a long time this secret remains hidden to all but the few who profit; when the many begin to realise it, the foundations of society are destroyed. I think that in the 4th Century large numbers of people realised that the way to amass wealth was not to work hard at one trade or profession, but to bet into some government post, or, if not substantial riches, but an easy comfortable existence were the goal, to enter the Church. The many laws in which people are recalled to their duties even when they had obtained a government post by an imperial rescript, all show the prevalent desire, to become a member of the bureaucracy.
Furthermore, there were some professions left which were comparatively free and remunerative, and this seems to be specially true of the luxury trades and the profession of middlemen generally. It is to be noted that the majority of the craftsmen exempted by in 3—by Constantine from taxation in the municipalities, were men engaged in luxury trades. The luxury of the age is remarked upon by all the writers and no doubt those who could supply silk garments, incense, ornaments, beautiful furniture and so forth to the court, to the high officials, and to the wealthy prospered exceedingly and hardly felt the burden of the chrysargorum.
Similarly we have evidence of much profiteering and of cornering of supplies.
The Edict of Diocletian throws a clear light on the evils of the time; high prices not due to scarcity but to unscrupulous cornering of supplies; profiteering on an enormous scale: "But because the madness of gain knows no “rein but necessity, and that those whom extreme misery has made obvious their unhappy condition can do nought to free themselves from it, it behooved us, who are the fathers of the human race, to put an end by law to such an intolerable condition of affairs. We bring the remedy demanded for so long. Without taking notice of the complaints which our intervention will excite amongst bad citizens, who, while feeling that our long silence should persuade them to be moderate, would not take head. Everyone knows by his own experience that the objects of trade and the goods which are daily sold in the markets of the towns, have reached exorbitant prices; that the unbridled passion for profit is no longer moderated by the quantity of imports or the abundance of harvests, and that it considers the blessings of heaven as an evil.”
The Edict also refers to the monopolising of commodities along the routes where the armies passed in order to force up the price more than eightfold. He finally announces his maxium tarif, the object of which is to keep down prices in time of scarcity. He also hopes to circumvent the merchants who ensured a monopoly of commodities in one place in order to retail them elsewhere where there was scarcity at a higher price. In future they will find the same maximum everywhere.
Of course the Edict failed; it has been seen in recent times in this country that the only way to enforce maximum prices in times of scarcity, is by rationing the population. To do this would have been impossible for Diocletian; it would have led to endless corruption, and furthermore his whole scheme if enforced would have involved a total revision of the economic structure of the State. It seems clear that no other Emperor ever risked even to think of this. Did Diocletian perhaps once hope to effect an economic revolution in the Ancient World?
He was radical enough to reduce all the provinces of the Empire to equality; may he at one period have conceived the possibility of making all the citizens equal?
Whether or not this is a faint possibility, the current of the times was towards a stereotyping and sterilizing of the old structure and the old classes. In the past it had usually been the sons of administrators who became administrators; senatorial and equestrian families had supplied the bulk of the civil servants for over two hundred years and the hereditary system of the 4th and 5th centuries did not greatly effect the position.
Similarly the son of a member of the local senates had usually become a member himself. Even in the lowest grades of society a man must usually taught his trade to his children.
Inequality of economic opportunity had meant that there was little chance for a man to rise out of the lower divisions of society into the higher. But still some had been able to rise and until it was expressly forbidden for any man to leave the trade or profession imposed upon him by his “origo” the grievance did not become so apparent. Distinction of class and of material possessions and comforts are never felt to be so oppressive and unfair then they exist in fact though not in theory: once they are recognised and given the stamp of government approval they become conscious grievances.
The son of a miner or a textile operative today cannot become the Chairman of a big business concern or a Secretary of State because his father’s wages are insufficient to keep him while he studies, but there is no law to prevent him. If there were he would feel it far more of a hardship to become a miner or a textile operative than he actually does.
Similarly the very fact that a man had to be a baker would often make him hate the bakehouse and desire to be an armourer or an agricultural labourer or something else.
The baker or weaver forbad to marry a baker or a weaver’s daughter would naturally begin to violently desire to wed someone else’s daughter and would find all the children of bakers and weavers ugly folk.
There were always the psychological factors to be considered and amongst them the fact that is human to desire what is forbidden, and to hate that which is compulsorily enforced.
Therefore it is not surprising to find that as the laws which bound men to their hereditary calling became stricter they became less effective. The more determined the State Government became to hold each man to the duties imposed on him by his origin the more anxious each man became to escape from house duties. Hence although the collegiate seem at first only to have been bound to their calling if they retained property “obnoxious” to that calling, the tie of blood was finally the only one strong enough and general enough to content the State. In the words of Wellon: “La fatalite de la naissance, telle devient la loi supreme de l”empire.” The laws recalling collegiate to their labours are all of late date, and this seems to prove that the hereditary --- system achieved the very opposite result to what had been intended; instead of binding the Empire together and restoring its tottering ---- it caused greater disorganisation and disaster that which it had been instituted to remedy.
Whatever was the most important factor in the changing of the average man’s outlook in the 4th last period of the Eastern Empire, that attitude became one of refusing any longer to submit to old disabilities, old inequalities, old hardships which, however, aggravated by wars, plagues, and imperial taxation and legislation, were not created by them but had always existed. Nor was it only in the 4th and 5th centuries that those who produced the necessities of life: food, clothes, metals and stone houses and so forth were the worst paid and hardest worked part of the community. It was not only in the 4th century that the distribution of wealthy such as the navicularii, had a more ---- and less comfortable existence than those who lived in idleness and peace on inherited wealth.
Yet it is not till the period we are dealing with that all producers and distributors tried to escape from their labours.
I have touched on some possible causes for the economic decline of the Roman Empire which have been suggested by the subject of this thesis. Whatever was the real cause of that decline, there seems much to be said for the French writer’s contention that “Rome voulait avant tout consumer sans produire.” He might have added that the Roman Empire collapsed when all the inhabitants wished to consume without producing.