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HO´RREUM (ὡρεῖον, σιτοφυλακεῖον, ἀποθήκη) was, according to its etymological signification, a place in which ripe fruits, and especially corn, were kept, and thus answered to our granary. (Verg. G. 1.49; Tib. 2.5, 84; Her. Carm. 1.1, 7; Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.3. 3, § 89.) During the empire the name horreum was given to any place destined for the safe preservation of things of any kind, when not required for use. Thus we find it applied to a place in which statues were kept (Plin. Ep. 8.18); to cellars (horrea subterranea, horrea vinaria, Dig. 18, 1, 76); to depôts for merchandise, and all sorts of provisions (horreum penarium, Dig. 30, 9, 3). Seneca (Ep. 45.2) even calls his library a horreum. But the more general application [p. 1.976]of the word horreum was to places for storing fruit and corn; and in order to keep the floor dry, and out of the reach of vermin, they were often built, like our own, upon dwarf piers, and were then called horrea pensilia or sublimia (Col. 12.50, 1.6; Vitr. 6.6, 4).

In imperial times Rome possessed two kinds of horrea. The one class consisted of buildings in which the Romans might deposit their goods, and even their money, securities, and other valuables (Cod. 4, 24, 9), for which they had no safe place in their own houses. Public horrea of this kind are mentioned as early as the time of Antoninus Pius (Dig. 1, 15, 3); again under Alexander Severus (Lamprid. Al. Sev. 39; cf. Dig. 10, 4, 5). There were also private horrea or warehouses built on speculation in order to be let as strong rooms, like our London “repositories” and “pantechnicons.” The second and more important class of horrea, which may be termed public granaries, were buildings in which a plentiful supply of corn was constantly kept at the expense of the state, and from which, in seasons of scarcity, the corn was distributed among the poor, or sold at a moderate price. These dated from C. Gracchus and his Lex Sempronia frumentaria; the ruins of the great granary (horrea populi Romani) which he built were seen down to the sixteenth century between the Aventine and the Monte Testaccio (Appian, App. BC 1.21; Plut. C. Gracch. 5; Liv. Epit. lx.; Veil. Pat. 2.6.3; Cic. pro Sest. 25.55). The plan of C. Gracchus was carried further by Clodius, Pompey, and several of the emperors; and during the empire we thus find a great number of public horrea which were called after the names of their founders: e.g., horrea Aniceti, Vargunteii, Seiani, Augusti, Domitiani, &c. According to the Regionary Catalogues, the number of these at length mounted up to 291. The officers who super-intended them were called horrearii or vilici ex horreis (Dig. 9, 3, 5.3; Hirschfeld, Getreideverw. pp. 52, 61). The manner in which corn from these granaries was given to the people differed at different times. (Cf. Mommsen, Privatl. 395; Staatsverw. 2.128-9, 469; FRUMENTARIAE LEGES

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hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (7):
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.3.21
    • Cicero, On the Agrarian Law, 2.3.3
    • Vergil, Georgics, 1.49
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 6.4
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 6.6
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 8.18
    • Columella, Res Rustica, 1.6
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