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ALIMENTA´RII PUERI ET PUELLAE In the Roman republic the poorer citizens were assisted by public distributions of corn, oil, and money, which were called congiaria [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. Vict. Epit. 12.4); 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.

The fragments of an interesting record of an institution of this kind by Trajan were found at Veleia, near Placentia, in 1747; and much light has been thrown upon their interpretation by the discovery of a similar table in 1832 at Campolattaro, near Beneventum (Mommsen, Inscr. Lat. Regn. N. 1354; Desjardins, Disputatio hist. de tabulis alimentariis, Paris, 1854). We learn thus the sums which were thus distributed, and the means by which the money was raised. The emperor lent considerable sums at low interest on the security of landed estates belonging to members of the municipality, and the interest was paid to the municipal chest for the support of orphans. The idea appears to have been borrowed from the institutions due to private benevolence, such as that founded by the younger Pliny at Comum (Plin. Ep. 7.18, 1.8 ; and the inscription in Annali dell' Inst. Arch. 1854), and by Helvius Basila at Atina (Orelli, 4365, C. I. L., vol. 10.5056). The records of similar foundations have been discovered at Tarracina, at Sicca, and at Hispalis (Wilmanns, 2846-8). Trajan's benevolent plans were carried on upon a larger scale by Hadrian and the Antonines, who established additional foundations in honour of the two Faustinas. Under Commodus and Pertinax the distribution ceased. In the reign of Alexander Severus we again meet with alimentarii pueri et puellae, who were called Mammaeani, in honour of the emperor's mother. We learn from a decree of Hadrian (Ulp. in Dig. 34, tit. 1, s. 14) that boys enjoyed the benefits of this institution up to their eighteenth, and girls up to their fourteenth year; and 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. At Sicca 300 boys, between three and fifteen, and 200 girls between three and thirteen, received the benefits of the foundation. (Capitolin. Ant. Pi. 8, M. Aur. 26, Pert. 9; Spart. Hadr. 7; Lamprid. Sev. Alex. 57; Orelli, Inscr. 3364, 3365; Rasche, Lex. Univ. Rei Num. s. v. Tutela Italiae; Eckhel, Doctr. Num. Vet. vol. vi., p. [p. 1.98]408; F. A. Wolf, Von ciner milden Stiftung Trajans; Henzen, Tabula alim. Baebiorum, Romae, 1845; Desjardins, op. cit.

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