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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. (See Congiarium.) 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 puellaeque Ulpiani; and the officers who administered the institution were called quaestores pecuniae alimentariae, quaestores alimentorum, procuratores alimentorum, 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.

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