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AERA´RII a class of Roman citizens, excluded from the tribes, and liable to pay a poll-tax, at the discretion of the censors. They consisted of three classes :--

All these three classes were aerarii, as they had to pay protection-money (aes); their exclusion from the tribes and the centuries involved the loss of the suffrage, and doubtless also (though this has been denied) the ius honorum. The only instance of a magistracy held by an aerarius is to be regarded as the result of an amnesty passed by the supreme authority of the people. The infames were always excluded from military service (Liv. 7.2; V. Max. 2.4, 4), and could not rise above the class of aerarii: the municipes sine suffragio served in the legions, or formed a special corps (e.g. legio Campana), and ceased to be aerarii when they [p. 1.37]attained the full franchise, as all the Italians did by the leges Julia and Plautia Papiria (q. v.). Those notati by the censors generally had more burdensome conditions of service (Liv. 24.18), but the nota could be removed by succeeding censors.

The origin of the class of aerarii is a much disputed question, the ancient authorities only referring to the class as existing. Mommsen (Hist. 1.101; cf. Forsch. 1.389) and Lange (Röm. Alt. 1.406) held that they were originally resident aliens (metoeci) holding no freeholds, and therefore not included in the tribes. Niebuhr (Hist. 1.472) held that they consisted of artisans and freedmen, a view not widely differing from that of Mommsen in practice, though based upon a different idea. Madvig (Verf. 1.122) maintains that they were only a class of degraded citizens, not including either the cives sine suffragio or the artisans, who would be classed according to their property. Willems (Droit Romain, p. 97, note 4), following Göttling, argues that these could not have been citizens in any sense, and that the class cannot be traced back as far as Servius Tullius, but probably grew up by degrees. The first view is perhaps the most correct. (Comp. Zonaras, 7.9; Huschke, Verfassung des Serv. Tull. p. 494, &c. ; Göttling, Gesch. der Röm. Staatsverf. p. 260, &c. ; Becker, Handbuch der Röm. Alterth. vol. ii. pp. 183-196; Lange, Röm. Alt. i. pp. 408-9, 678-9.)


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