), the public treasury at Rome. After the banishment of the
kings the temple of Saturn and Ops was employed, upon the proposition of
Valerius Poplicola, as the place for keeping the public money, and it
continued to be so used till the later times of the empire. (Plut.
12, Quaest. Rom.
Festus, s. v. Aerarium
; Serv. on
) Besides the public money and the accounts connected with its
receipts, expenditure, and debtors, various other things were preserved in
the treasury. Of these the most important were:--1. The standards of the
legions (Liv. 3.69
). 2. The various laws passed
from time to time, engraven on brazen tables (Suet.
). 3. The decrees of the senate, which were entered there
in books kept for the purpose, though the original documents were preserved
in the temple of Ceres under the custody of the aediles. (J. AJ 14.10.10
; Plut. Cat. Mi. 17
; Tac. Ann.
Various other public documents, the reports and despatches of all generals
and governors of provinces, the names of all foreign ambassadors that came
to Rome [LEGATUS
was the common treasury of the
state, and is sometimes spoken of as the publicum
(e. g. Liv. 2.5
Niebuhr's view that the publicum
treasury of the populus
or patricians (Hist.
ii. notes 386, 954) is erroneous, and has been
disproved, among others, by Schwegler, Gesch.
the republic the aerarium was divided into two parts: the common
treasury, in which were deposited the regular taxes
[TRIBUTUM; VECTIGALIA], and from which were
taken the sums of money needed for the ordinary expenditure of the state;
and the sacred
; Caes. B.C.
Att. 7.2. 1
), which was never touched except in cases of extreme
peril. Both of these treasuries were in the temple of Saturn, but in
distinct parts of the temple. The sacred treasury seems to have been first
established soon after the capture of Rome by the Gauls, in order that the
state might always have money in the treasury to meet the danger which was
ever most dreaded by the Romans--a war with the Gauls. (Appian, App. BC 2.41
.) At first, probably part of the
plunder which the Romans gained in their wars with their neighbours was paid
into this sacred treasury; but a regular means for augmenting it was
established in B.C. 357 by the Lex Manlia, which enacted that a tax of five
per cent. (vicesima
) upon the value of every
manumitted slave should be paid into this treasury. This money was kept in
the treasury in bars of gold: hence Livy speaks of aurum
; comp. Cic. Att. 2.1. 6
). A portion of the immense
wealth obtained by the Romans in their conquests in the East was likewise
deposited in the sacred treasury; and though we cannot suppose that it was
spared in the civil wars between!Marius and Sulla, yet Julius Caesar, when
he appropriated it to his own use on the breaking out of the second civil
war, B.C. 49, still found in it enormous sums of money. (Plin. Nat. 33
. § § 55, 56;
D. C. 41.17
; Lucan 3.155
(10.3.3) speaks of it, in a metaphor, as still remembered, if not actually
Upon the establishment of the imperial power under Augustus there was an
important change made in the public income and expenditure. He divided the
provinces and the administration of the government between the senate, as
the representative of the old Roman people, and the Caesar: all the property
of the former continued to be called aerarium,
and that of the latter received the name of fiscus
consequently received all the
taxes from the provinces belonging to the senate, and likewise most of the
taxes which had formerly been levied in Italy itself, such as the revenues
of all public lands still remaining in Italy, the tax on manumissions, the
custom-duties, the water-rates for the use of the water brought into the
city by the aqueducts, the sewer-rates, &c.
Besides the aerarium
and the fiscus,
Augustus established a third treasury, to provide for
the pensions due to veterans on their discharge, and this received the name
of aerarium militare.
It was founded in the
consulship of M. Aemilius Lepidus and L. Arruntius, A.D. 6. Augustus paid a
very large sum into the treasury upon its foundation, and promised to do so
every year. In the Monumentum Ancyranum
says that he paid into the treasury in the consulship of Aemilius and
Arruntius 170 millions of sesterces; it has been suggested that this sum is
probably the entire amount which he [p. 1.38]
it during his whole reign. As he reigned eight years and a half after the
establishment of the treasury, he would in that case have contributed ten
millions of sesterces every half year; but there is no authority for this
view. He also imposed several new taxes to be paid into this aerarium.
(Suet. Aug. 49
; Res Gestae D. Aug.
ed. Mommsen.) Of these the
most important was the vicesima hereditatum et
a tax of five per cent., which had to be paid by every
Roman citizen upon any inheritance or legacy being left to him, with the
exception of such as were left to a citizen by his nearest relatives, or
such as were below a certain amount. (D. C.
37-40; Capitol. M. Anton.
11.) This tax
was raised by Caracalla to ten per cent., but subsequently reduced by
Macrinus to five (D. C. 77.9
), and eventually abolished altogether.
(God. vi. tit. 33, s. 3.) There was also paid into the aerarium militare a
tax of one per cent. upon everything sold at auctions (centesima rerum venalium
), reduced by Tiberius to half per
), and afterwards abolished
by Caligula altogether for Italy (Tac. Ann.
; Suet. Cal. 16
); and likewise a tax upon every slave that was
purchased, at first of two per cent. (quinquagesima
), and afterwards of four per cent. (quinta et vicesima
) of its value. (D. C. 4.31
; Tac. Ann.
; Orelli, Inscr.
No. 3336.) Besides these
taxes, no doubt the booty obtained in war and not distributed among the
soldiers was also deposited in the military treasury.
The distinction between the aerarium and the fiscus continued to exist at
least as late as the reign of M. Aurelius (τὸ
βασιλικὸν καὶ τὸ δημόσιον,
D. C. 71.33
; Vulcat. Gallic. Avid.
7); but, as the emperor gradually concentrated the
administration of the whole empire into his hands, the aerarium likewise
became exclusively under his control, and this we find to have been the case
even in the reign of M. Aurelius, when the distinction between the aerarium
and the fiscus was still retained. (D. C.
.) When the aerarium ceased to belong to the senate, this
distinction between the aerarium and the fiscus naturally ceased also, as
both of them were now the treasury of the Caesar; and accordingly later
jurists used the words aerarium
indiscriminately, though properly speaking
there was no treasury but that of the Caesar. The senate, however, still
continued to possess the management of the municipal chest (area publica
) of the city. (Vopisc.
20.) The officers in charge are called in
inscriptions praefecti aerarii Saturni;
inscriptions which make mention of quaestores aerarii
who have been supposed to be their assistants under
Hadrian and Severus (Gudius, Ant. Inscr.
p. 125, n. 6, p.
131, n. 3; Gruter, p. 1027, n. 4), are of doubtful genuineness: the genuine
inscriptions refer to the time of Claudius (Mommsen, Staatsr.
2.525). These prefects had jurisdiction; and before their court in the
temple of Saturn all informations were laid respecting property due to the
aerarium and fiscus. (Plin. Paneg.
, tit. 14, ss. 13, 15.)
In the time of the republic, the entire management of the revenues of the
state belonged to the senate; and under the superintendence and control of
the senate the quaestors had the charge of the aerarium. [SENATUS; QUAESTOR.] With the exception of the
consuls, who had the right of drawing from the treasury whatever sums they
pleased, the quaestors had not the power to make payments to any one, even
to a dictator, without a special order from the senate. (Plb. 6.12
; Liv. 38.55
; Zonar. 7.13
.) In B.C.
45, when no quaestors were chosen, two prefects of the city had the custody
of the aerarium (D. C. 43.48
); but it doubtless
passed again into the hands of the quaestors, when they were elected again
in the following year. In their hands it seems to have remained till B.C.
28, when Augustus deprived them of it and gave it to two prefects, whom he
allowed the senate to choose from among the praetors at the end of their
year of office ; but as he suspected that this gave rise to canvassing, he
enacted, in B.C. 23, that two of the praetors in office should have the
charge of the aerarium by lot. (Suet. Octav.
36; D. C. 53.2
; Tac. Ann. 13.29.
) They were called praetores aerarii
; Frontin. de Aquaeduct.
No. 723). This arrangement continued till the reign of Claudius, who
restored to the quaestors the care of the aerarium, depriving them of
certain other offices which they had received from Augustus (Tac. Ann. 13.29
; D. C. 60.24
); but as their
age seemed too young for so grave a trust, Nero took it from them and gave
it to those who had been praetors or consuls, and who received the title of
(Tac. Ann. 13.28
.) In the time of Vespasian we read of praetores aerarii
) ; but in the reign of Trajan, if not before, it was again
entrusted to praefects, who appear to have held their office for two years;
and henceforth no further change seems to have been made. (Plin.
91, 92, Ep.
10.20; Suet. Cl. 24
The aerarium militare
was under the care of
distinct praefects, who were first appointed by lot from among those who had
filled the office of praetor, but were afterwards nominated by the emperor.
(D. C. 55.25
; comp. Tac. Ann. 5.8.
) They frequently occur in inscriptions under the
title of praefecti aerarii militaris,
Wilmanns, 1144, 1202, 1214, 1720, &c. ; Walter, Geschichte
des Römischen Rechts,
§ § 58, 179,
329, 405, 3rd edition, Bonn, 1860; Marquardt,
2.293-305; Lipsius, ad
Tac. Ann. 13.29.