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TIRIBU´TUJM as paid by Romans, took two forms.

(1) A charge on special classes of the Roman people. [AERARII; ARS HORDEARIUM.]

(2) An extraordinary source of revenue, opposed to the ordinary vectigalia. A property-tax, raised when needed, and chiefly to cover the expenses of war (e. g. Liv. 6.32). When regular pay was given to the soldiers [STIPENDIUM], tributum must have been raised practically every year. It was levied, not upon land held in possessio [AGRARIAE LEGES], but only on property (res mancipi) held by a full title. If the tithes upon possessio were not properly paid, tributum would be both heavier and more frequent, since money must be found somehow, and we accordingly find the plebeians complaining at an early time, when they held little or no ager publicus, as if tributum were a burden chiefly upon them (Liv. 4.60, 5.10). The pressure of it on poor people was all the more severe because debts incurred since the last census were not deducted from the valuation of a person's property, so that he had to pay tributum upon property which was not his own, but which he owed, and for which he had consequently to pay interest as well. Still, the tax might be repaid after successful wars (Liv. 39.7; Dionys. A. R. 5.47); hence perhaps the complaints against generals who paid all the booty into the treasury instead of using it for repayment. The usual amount of the tax (tributum simplex) was one for every thousand of a man's fortune (Liv. 29.15); in B.C. 215 it was doubled (tributum duplex, Liv. 23.31); and in B.C. 184 it was raised to three in a thousand (Liv. 39.44). It was raised, according to the tribes instituted by Servius Tullius, by the tribuni-aerarii (Liv. 1.43; Dionys. A. R. 4.14, 15, and see Index), and was therefore not, like other branches of the revenue, let out to farm. It rested originally with the senate to appoint (indicere) when the tax should be levied, and to what amount. If, however, Livy (5.12) can be trusted, the people could, with the aid of tribuni plebis, withhold payment. Later, the censors are found fixing the amount (B.C. 184; Liv. 39.44). No citizen was legally exempt; the attempt of the augurs and pontiffs to claim exemption in B.C. 196 came to nothing (Liv. 33.42). Occasionally, on emergency, the tributum was not raised according to the census, but got in as best it could be, and it was then known as tributum temerarium (Festus, s. v. Tributorum Collationem). Examples would be the collection of B.C. 387 and that of 210 (Liv. 26.35) repaid in 204 (Liv. 29.16). After the successful Third Macedonian War, tributum ceased de facto to be levied on Roman citizens ( “unius imperatoris praeda finem attulit tributorum,” Cic. de Off. 2.2. 2, 76; cf. V. Max. 4.3, 8, and Plin. Nat. 33.56), although it might at any time have been re-imposed (Cic. pro Flacco, 32, 80). This state of things lasted till B.C. 43, when in the crisis of the civil wars a similar tax was again levied (Plut. Aem. 38). There has been great discussion as to whether this was a revival of tributum; but probably Dr. Merivale (History of the Romans under the Empire, 100.25) is right in saying that it was only “extraordinary contributions” (cf. Willems, Senat, 2.359; Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, 2.172). It could at most only be a tributum temerarium. Mommsen, however (Staatsrecht, 3.229), maintains that the ordinary tributum was revived in B.C. 43. Whether tributum was raised after this date, there is no distinct proof, but it is unlikely, as the government of the emperors did its best to keep the Roman population free from taxes. The taxes imposed in Italy by Maximianus should rather be classed with the provincial tribute than with the old Roman tributum.

For the tribute of the provincials, see VECTIGALIA


hide References (17 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (17):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.56
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 12
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 33, 42
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 44
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 23, 31
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 29, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 43
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 60
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 26, 35
    • Cicero, De Officiis, 2.2
    • Plutarch, Aemilius Paullus, 38
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 4.3
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 4.8
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