the revenues of
Ancient temples, like modern churches, often contained large accumulated
treasures in the precious metals and other valuable objects. So far as
these were merely stored up unproductively (κειμήλια
), they will not be noticed here: we are
concerned only with sources of annual income. We have seen, however,
that the productive employment of such treasures dated from a very
remote period, and that, before the rise of the τραπεζιται,
the temples were the earliest. banks, in
]. Other revenues, by which the
priests were maintained and the splendour of religious establishments,
supported, are now to be considered.
The first and most important of these was the rent of land. In the heroic
age, indeed, there was little other wealth, and it was the monopoly of a
royal and noble caste. The same word τέμενος
denotes both the royal domain and estates belonging
to a temple (τέμενος βωμός τε θυήεις,
Hom. Il. 8.48
; Od. 8.363
). In two
instances in the Homeric Catalogue we find expressions implying that the
entire territory of a city was sacred to a god: Onchestus in Boeotia is
called Ποσιδήϊον ἱερὸν ἄλσος
), Pyrasus on the
Pagasaean gulf Δημητρὸς τέμενος
696). Wealthy priests are mentioned, who are either royal or noble:
Chryses, who offers ἀπερείσι᾽ ἄποινα
for his daughter (Il. 1.13
), and Anius
(Verg. A. 3.80
; Ov. Met. 13.631
), are both kings of men
and priests of Apollo: in the case of Dares ἀφνειός, ἀμύμων, ἱρεὺς Ἡφαίστοιο,
) it may be a question whether his riches are derived from.
his priesthood or the priesthood bestowed upon a man of birth and
wealth. This state of things, which, may remind us of the
“prince-bishops” of modern Europe, survived to a much
later period in Asia Minor and adjoining countries: in several instances
a priest is next to the king, and enjoys large landed revenues; among
the Albanians of the Caucasus, Strab. xi.
; at Comana in Cappadocia, Id. xii. p. 535; at Cabira or
Sebaste and another Comana, p. 557; at Zela, p. 559; these last places
are all in Pontus. Actual figures are not wanting: in Morimene, a
district of Cappadocia, was a temple of Zeus with 3000 hieroduli, and
yielding an income of fifteen talents a year to the priest: this, after
Comana, was the next best thing of the kind in Cappadocia (Strab. xii. p.537
). Cato, charged. by
the senate with the deposition of Ptolemy of Cyprus, proposed to pension
him off handsomely as priest of the Paphian Aphrodite (ὡς οὔτε χρημάτων οὔτε τιμῆς ἐνδεᾶ βιωσόμενον,
Plut. Cat. Mi. 35
Temples were also endowed with tithes of various kinds, described under
Vol. I. pp. 603
We add here some further examples. The Athenians, when they conquered
Chalcis and divided the lands of the HIPPOBOTAE
among cleruchs, assigned τεμένη
to Athena in the Lelantine plain, the
richest part of the territory in question: this must [p. 2.935]
have been of the nature of a tithe, though the exact
proportion so dedicated is not mentioned (Aelian, Ael. VH 6.1
). On the fall of Mytilene, out of 3000 lots of
land they devoted 300 to the gods and sent cleruchs to the remainder
). When they planted a colony
at Brea, they decreed that whatever lands already belonged to the gods
should remain sacred: this was probably their general practice (Inscr.
ap. Rhangabé, Ant. Hell.
785 b, 50.19). We
find a τέμενος
of Athena in Samos
(C. I. G.
2246); at Aegina (C. I. G.
[add.] 2638). Brasidas, after the storming of Lecythus in Sithonia,
where there was a temple to Athena, dedicated the whole territory to the
goddess, and pulled down all the secular buildings (Thuc. 4.116
). Sometimes the cultivation of
lands thus dedicated was forbidden, as in the well-known instance of the
Cirrhaean plain on the coast below Delphi, the cause of two sacred wars
in the time of Solon and again in that of Philip: the object of this was
to give the Delphians exclusive possession of that region, and to secure
the approaches to the oracle (Aeschin. Ctes.
107 ff.; Dem. de Cor.
pp. 277-8.151 ff.).
Among the produce of sacred lands are to be reckoned cattle, timber,
particular fruits such as vines, figs, or olives, fisheries, and mines.
There might be, on the one hand, herds of cattle called ἄφετοι,
which no one could touch, just as
there might be sacred groves from which no stick was allowed to be
removed, or which no human foot might enter: but there were others
labouring under no such restrictions, and forming part of the
substantial endowments of temples. Such were the 3000 sacred cattle at
Minoa in Sicily (Diod. 4.80
); and those of
Juno Lacinia (Liv. 24.3
). In Attica, certain
olive-trees (μορίαι, σηκοὶ
upon private lands were themselves the property of the goddess, and the
oil from them was given away at the Panathenaic festival (Lys.
7, περὶ τοῦ
] In the deme Lakiadae was a grove of
sacred fig-trees (Paus. 1.37.2
Schömann, Gr. Alterth.
2.188). Pausanias gives
examples of fish-ponds which no one might disturb (3.21.5; 7.22.4);
others again where the priests alone were permitted to fish (1.38.1), A
Delian inscription is our sole authority for the fact that sea-fisheries
sometimes belonged to temples; the language of it, however, is clear and
unmistakable: τὴν θάλατταν τὴν Ἀθηναίων
οὖσαν καὶ τὴν ἐν Ῥηνείᾳ ἐμίσθωσαν δέκα ἔτη
(Boeckh, in Abh. d. Berl. Akad.
1834). The people of
Siphnos granted a tithe of their gold and silver mines to the Pythian
Apollo, and prospered exceedingly (Hdt. 3.57
; for another case, cf.
C. I. G.
Temple property, whatever its description, was let on much the same terms
as other property. Sacrifices were paid for ἀπὸ
i. e. as explained by Didymus, ap. Harpocrat. s. v. ἀπὸ μισθωμάτων, ἐκ τῶν τεμενικῶν
(cf. Xen. de
, § 19; Plat. Legg.
p. 759 E). The Athenian government allowed no perquisites to its
officers; hence it required those who purchased animals for
sacrifice--the βοῶναι, ἱεροποιοί,
&c.--to account for the skins of the victims. But whether such
money (the δερματικὸν
) went into the
sacred or the state treasury, seems uncertain [DERMATIKON
]. The revenue
derived. by temples from predial serfs and other slaves, is more fully
treated under HIERODULI
The more popular shrines, while their permanent treasure was increased by
votive offerings [DONARIA
further derived a large annual income from sacrifices and payments by
worshippers. This was more particularly the case, with oracles, which
were not to be consulted gratuitously. So Ion says of his life at
Delphi, βωμοί μ᾽ ἔφερβον οὑπιών τ᾽ ἀεὶ
(Eur. Ion 323
sums to which multitudes of small payments might mount up. are shown in
the case of the impostor Alexander of Abonoteichos. His charge for
consulting his sham oracle was 1 drachma 2 obols; his profits 70,000 or
80,000 drachmas a year (Lucian, Alex.
(Schömann, Gr. Alterth.
Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth.
§ 20; Boeckh,
p. 303 = Sthh.
3 1.372; R. Kohts, de Reditibus Templorum
In considering the Roman temple-treasuries and the source and management
of their revenues, it must be observed that the system was based upon a
different idea from that of the Greek temple-treasuries treated of
above. Religion at Rome was more entirely an affair of state: the
maintenance of religion, (apart from the family observances) was a state
duty, and even the revenues which were dedicated to religious purposes
were under state control. The temples had property: firstly, that which
from time immemorial had belonged to the deity and his temple, or had
been brought with him when he became part of the Roman order of gods by
the incorporation of his original state with Rome; secondly, the lands
and dues subsequently given or, assigned: but, this property was, as
will be seen, regarded as, part of the state possessions, merely
assigned to a special purpose--that of religious service. This view of
the matter arose naturally from the fact that in ancient times the king
defrayed the cost of religion out of part of his own revenues, being
himself responsible for the discharge alike of sacred and political
The temples had a treasury (arca
which flowed revenues from various sources. We have special mention of
of the Pontifices, the Vestals,
and the Fratres Arvales, and there can be little doubt that the case was
similar in all temples (C. I. L.
5.3924, 6.1600, 2028,
10284, 13618; and more references in Marquardt, quardt,
2.82). The revenues of these treasuries
1. From lands:
these. were, as was said above, originally
part of the king's domain (Dionys. A. R.
); and the same was
the case at Alba before its union with Rome (Id. 3.29). Under the
Republic the priestly colleges had lands within and without the city, of
which in critical times, part was sold for state uses, and any surplus
was no doubt ordinarily so appropriated (Symmach. Ep.
1.68; Fest. p. 189; Sic. Flacc. p. 162; Oros.
: cf. Liv. 1.20
; D. C. 43.47
; Appian, App. Mith. 22
). This fact.and the use of
or income from sacred groves for
games under state control [LUCAR
] show clearly the secular management of the treasuries. In
Italy temples were endowed in some cases from ancient rights [p. 2.936]
others by the Romans (e. g. the temple of Diana Tifatana at Capua by
Sulla; Veil. 2.25; C. I. L.
10.3828). Gifts of land to
temples were dedicated by the Pontifex Maximus, and it was necessary
that they should be confirmed by a vote of the people, even when the
donor was a private person (Fest. p. 318; Gel.
; Cic. de Dom.
, 127; Staatsr.
ii. p. 61): the priests had
nothing to do with its management; sales and leases were under the
authority of the magistrates. The temple land revenues lasted till
Christian times (Cod. Theod. 10, 10, 24; 16, 10, 19 and 20); the claim
to sell was of course based on the old Roman theory that all loca sacra
were part of the state domain
(Frontin. de Contr. Agr.
p. 56): hence they were
administered by the censor.
2. Fees on admission to a priesthood.
were paid “pro introitu sacerdotii” (Suet. Cl. 9
22; D. C. 59.28
): the enforcement of such payment rested with
the civil magistrates.
3. Fees paid by subordinate ministers of the temples.
These were themselves paid officials, but they paid fees on their
4. Profits on victims:
the sale of hides [compare DERMATIKON
5. Votive offerings made to the temple
; cf. Varro, ap. Macr. 3.12
The area pontificum
(under control of the senate,
with the arcarius pontificalis
it: Symmach. Ep.
1.68) received the proceeds of (a
) the forfeited deposits called sacramenta
fines for damage to, or trespass on, tombs (see Mommsen,
1.70) [it is possible that the frequency of
these fines may be accounted for by the superstitions mentioned on p.
levied on priests by the Pontifiex Maximus; (d
the property of a Vestal who died intestate.
All the above revenues being, as has been said, under state control, were
used for the maintenance of religion primarily, though the surplus might
in cases such as those before mentioned be devoted to other purposes.
The temple buildings were kept in repair by the state with funds taken
from the Aerarium under the authority of the Censors [Vol. I. p. 402]:
but the current expenses for regular sacrifices were provided by the
temple-treasuries, the priests having doubtless power to draw upon these
funds. The great priesthoods were posts of honour like the political
magistracies, and, like them, were unpaid; but the working staff of
priests, or permanent officials, so to speak, in the service of religion
were paid by the state. Maintenance was therefore provided for the
Curiones (Fest. Ep.
p. 49), the Vestals (Liv. 1.20
; Tac. Ann.
), and for all those who had to give their services
whenever called for, i. e. the haruspices and pullarii, and the
subordinate attendants, calatores, viatores, &c. For this
payment of ministers of religion the revenue from sacred lands was used,
and any other funds belonging to the temple treasuries. It may be
noticed that the Roman temples (since their property was directly under
state control) possessed no temple slaves, such as we find in Greece and
in some parts of Italy and Sicily (e. g. Eryx and Larinum).