Edict of Diocletian
An edict published by the emperor Diocletian about A.D. 303, directing those engaged in the
sale of provisions not to exceed certain fixed prices in times of scarcity. It is preserved in
an inscription in Greek and Latin on the outer wall of the cella
temple at Stratonicea (Eski-hissar) in Caria. It states the price of many varieties of
provisions, and these inform us of their relative value at the time. The provisions specified
include not only the ordinary food of the people, but also a number of articles of luxury.
Thus mention is made of several kinds of honey, of hams, sausages, salt and
fresh-water fish, asparagus and beans, and even pernae Menapicae
hams). At the time when the edict was published the denarius
obviously much reduced in value, that coin appearing as the equivalent of a single oyster. The
inscription was first copied by Sherard in 1709; it has been elaborately edited by M.
Waddington, with new fragments and a commentary, 1864; and by Mommsen in the third volume of
the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum.
Portions of the Greek copy and the Latin
preamble were found at Plataea in 1888-89 during the explorations of the American School of
Classical Archæology. In 1890, during the excavations of the British School of
Archæology, several hundred lines of the Greek version of the decree were discovered
at Megalopolis, including a list of pigments with their prices.