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VECTIGA´LIA TEMPLO´RUM the revenues of temples.


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 Greece [ARGENTARII Vol. 1.180 b]. 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, 23.148; 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 (Il. 2.506), Pyrasus on the Pagasaean gulf Δημητρὸς τέμενος (ib. 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, Il. 5.9, 10) 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. p.503; 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 DECUMAE Vol. I. pp. 603 b, 604 a. 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 (Thuc. 3.50). 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) growing upon private lands were themselves the property of the goddess, and the oil from them was given away at the Panathenaic festival (Lys. Or. 7, περὶ τοῦ σηκοῦ). [OLEA p. 263 a.] 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; Paus. 11.1.2; for another case, cf. C. I. G. 162).

Temple property, whatever its description, was let on much the same terms as other property. Sacrifices were paid for ἀπὸ μισθωμάτων (Isocr. Areop. § 29); i. e. as explained by Didymus, ap. Harpocrat. s. v. ἀπὸ μισθωμάτων, ἐκ τῶν τεμενικῶν προσόδων (cf. Xen. de Vet. 4, § 19; Plat. Legg. vi. 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 ξένος (Eur. Ion 323). The 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. 23).

(Schömann, Gr. Alterth. 2.181-246, 297-328; Hermann, Gottesd. Alterth. § 20; Boeckh, P. E. p. 303 = Sthh.3 1.372; R. Kohts, de Reditibus Templorum Graecorum, Göttingen, 1869).


2. Roman

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 duties.

The temples had a treasury (arca) into, which flowed revenues from various sources. We have special mention of the arca 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, Staatsverw. 2.82). The revenues of these treasuries arose:--

1. From lands: these. were, as was said above, originally part of the king's domain (Dionys. A. R. 2.7, 3.1); 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. 5.18: cf. Liv. 1.20; D. C. 43.47; Appian, App. Mith. 22). This fact.and the use of the lucars 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]Liv. 24.3), in 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. 2.5; Cic. de Dom. 49, 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. Considerable sums were paid “pro introitu sacerdotii” (Suet. Cl. 9, Cal. 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 admission.

4. Profits on victims: the sale of hides [compare DERMATIKON].

5. Votive offerings made to the temple (Dig. 33, 1, 20.1; cf. Varro, ap. Macr. 3.12, 2).

The area pontificum (under control of the senate, with the arcarius pontificalis to manage it: Symmach. Ep. 1.68) received the proceeds of (a) the forfeited deposits called sacramenta [see VINDICATIO]; (b) fines for damage to, or trespass on, tombs (see Mommsen, Staatsr. 1.70) [it is possible that the frequency of these fines may be accounted for by the superstitions mentioned on p. 729 a]; (c) fines 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. 4.16), 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).


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