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AES EQUESTRE, AES HORDEA´RIUM, and AES MILITA´RE, were the ancient terms for the pay of the Roman soldiers, before the regular stipendium was introduced. The aes equestre was the sum of money given for the purchase of the horse of an eques; the aes hordearium, the sum of money paid yearly for the keep of the horse of an eques--in other words, the pay of an eques; and the aes militare, the pay of a foot-soldier. (Gaius, 4.27.)

The aes equestre was probably introduced in the Constitution of Servius Tullius, by way of compounding for the horse previously supplied at the public cost to the country. It amounted, according to Livy (1.43), to 10,000 asses: according to the method probably followed in Livy's estimates [CENSUS], this sum represents 2000 libral asses, or pounds of copper. As each knight had two horses (Paul. p. 221)--one for himself, one for his attendant squire-this tallies with Varro's statement (L. L. 8.71), equum publicum mille assarium esse.

The aes hordearium was the money paid annually by the state for the purchase of corn (hordeum) for the equi publici. It was derived from the contributions of the viduae et orbi, i.e. the unmarried women (whether widows or not), orphans, and perhaps also childless old men, past the age for military service. The sum allowed to each knight was 2000 asses, i. e. 400 pounds of copper: the total amount paid to the 1800 knights was therefore 720,000 libral asses. There can be little doubt that this sum was levied upon the viduae et orbi in proportion to their rateable property, and paid into the aerarium, whence, like the aes equestre, it was distributed by the tribuni aerarii [q. v.]. Both Gaius (4.27) and Gellius (7.10) expressly tell us that the knights had a right of distraint (pignoris capio) against the tribuni (or, as Gaius says, is qui distribuebat), and there is nothing in the principles of Roman law to make us doubt this. The statement of Cicero that this practice was introduced by Tarquinius Priscus is probably only based upon the erroneous notion that it was borrowed from Corinth (de Rep. 2.20). Cf. Lange, Röm. Alt. 1.474-478; Marquardt, Röm, Staatsv. 2.90 ff.

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hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 43
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 7.10
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