Alimentarii Puĕri et Puellae
In the Roman Republic the poorer citizens were assisted by public distributions of corn,
oil, and money, which were called congiaria.
.) These distributions were not made at
stated periods, nor to any but grown-up inhabitants of Rome. The emperor Nero first conceived
the notion of extending them, not only to other Italian towns, but also to children (Aurel.
Epit. xii. 4
); and Trajan appointed them to be made every month, both
to orphans and to the children of poor parents. The children who received them were called
pueri et puellae alimentarii
, and also (from the emperor) pueri
and the officers who administered the institution were called
quaestores pecuniae alimentariae, quaestores alimentorum, procuratores
, or praefecti alimentorum.
A decree of Hadrian (Dig.
34, tit. 1, 5, 14) says that boys enjoyed the
benefits of this institution up to their eighteenth and girls up to their fourteenth year; and
we learn from an inscription (Fabretti, 235, 619) that a boy four years and seven months old
had received nine times the ordinary monthly distribution of corn. See Desjardins,
Disp. Hist. de Tabulis Alimentariis.