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STIPE´NDIUM (contracted for stipi-pendium) is derived from stips and pendo, from the fact of original payments for service having been made by weight (Varro, L. L. 5.36, 50, “Milites stipendia ideo quod eam stipem pendebant;” cf. Plin. Nat. 33.43): stips, of which only the oblique cases are found, meaning a donation in small coin (Dig. 55, 16, 17, “stipendium a stipe-quod per stipes, id est modica aera colligatur;” cf. Festus, pp. 296, 297). Its earliest meaning appears to be that of pay for the army, from which two kindred meanings are derived: that of military service, as in the phrases facere stipendia, emereri stipendia; and that of a campaign, as in the expressions semestria, annua. stipendia. The sense of a tax or impost is probably a secondary use of the word derived from its primary meaning of military payment, the original taxes being those levied to defray military expenses. (For this meaning, see TRIBUTUM.)

In B.C. 406, at the beginning of the Veientine War, a regular payment (stipendium) was first made to the army; previously to this there had been no provision made for the foot-soldiers (milites), but each had served at his own cost (Liv. 5.4, “moleste autem ferebat miles de suo sumptu operam reipublicae praebere;” Zonaras, 7.20, ἀμισθὶ γὰρ μέχρι τότε καὶ οἰκόσιτοι ἐστρατεύοντο), although Dionysius says of the year B.C. 466 that a semestre stipendium had been given to the army for the supply of provisions (εἰς ὀφωνιασμόν, Dionys. A. R. 5.47). The more probable date, however, is that of the siege of Veii; the ten years' campaign and the necessity of remaining in winter-quarters making it impossible for the legionaries to furnish their own support (Florus, 1.12, “tum primum hiematum sub pellibus;” Lydus, de Mag. 1.46). Previously to this some provision had been made for the equites, not in the way of furnishing them with necessaries during the campaign, but only for the purpose of supplying and maintaining their horses [AES EQUESTRE and AES HORDEARIUM]; but some years after the stipendium had been granted to the infantry we find the equites also receiving a similar support (Liv. 5.7, “equiti certus numerus aeris est assignatus;” Zonaras, 7.20). This original stipendium, however, was not a regular payment for services (μισθός), but an indemnity for the expenses of the soldiers during a campaign; it is described by the expressions ἐφόδια (Diod. 4.16), σιτηρέσιον (Lydus, de Mag. 1.45), ὀφωνιασμός (Dionys. A. R. 5.47); but that it left some margin over as a reward for service seems shown by the words of Livy (5.4, “miles gaudet nunc fructui sibi rempublicam esse” ), as in the time of Polybius, when the stipendium was still regarded as an ὀφώνιον, the daily payment certainly exceeded the cost of the provisions supplied (Plb. 6.39). The payments [p. 2.715]were made either half-yearly (Dionys. A. R. 9.59; 9.17, χρήματα εἰς ὀψωνιασμὸν ἓξ μηνῶν or yearly (Diod. 14.16), according as the campaign lasted, under: or over six months. Hence the transference of stipendium from its meaning of “pay” to that of “length of service or campaign.” The year of war service began on March 1st, the. old official New Year's day, and the six-months' service (semestre stipendium) ended with the close of August (Mommsen, Rechtsfrage <*>zwischen Caesar und dem Senat, p. 15 sq.). Before the creation of the standing army for the purpose of provincial control, a period of service over six months was unusual; but eventually military duties extended over the whole year, a period of service over six months or two periods of six months being regarded as an annuum stipendium (Lex Julia Munic. C. I. L. 1, n. 206, 50.92, “quae stipendia majorem partem. sui quojusque anni fecerit, aut bina semnestria, quae ei pro singuleis annueis procedere oporteat” ). The usual mode of payment before the time of the dictator Caesar was probably half-yearly; during the Empire, as will be seen in discussing the reforms in the rate of payment, the troops' were paid every four months.

The effect of the regular stipendium was that the cost of the provisions given to the Roman soldiers was subtracted from their pay by the quaestor; while the socii, who were not paid by the state, had such advances made to them free of charge (Plb. 6.39). The allowance for the allies in Polybius' time was, for the infantry 2/3 medimnus of wheat a month, for the cavalry 1 1/3 medimni of wheat a month and five of barley. The allowance for the infantry soldier of Rome was the same as that for the infantry soldier of the allied states, but the Roman equites received two medimni of wheat a month and seven of barley. The expenses for fresh supplies of uniform and arms were deducted, like the cost of provisions, from the Roman soldier's pay (Polyb. l.c.), and this was still the case in the early Empire. We find, indeed, that C. Gracchus passed a law which gave to the soldiers their uniforms free of charge (Plut. C. Gracch. 5); but even if this law was passed, it could not have been permanent, since we find from the complaints of the legionaries in the reign of Tiberius that the cost of uniforms, weapons, and tents was taken from their pay (Tac. Ann. 1.17). It is conjectured from two passages in Suetonius (Suet. Jul. 26 and 68) that in the later Republic corn was sometimes supplied by the state free of charge to the troops, and this certainly seems to be the case in the earlier Empire, since, on the meeting of the legions in the reign of Tiberius, they count among their grievances the fact that the expenditure for arms and uniforms was deducted from their pay, but do not mention the frumentum, which, if it had not been supplied gratis, would have been quite the largest item deducted (Tac. Ann. 1.17). The praetorian cohorts were first supplied with free corn in Nero's reign (Tac. Ann. 15.72; Suet. Nero 10), and during the later Empire it is known to have been supplied free of charge to the whole army (Lamprid. Alex. Sev. 52). The same was eventually the case with arms and uniform, and under the later Caesars the legionary's pay was unburdened by any military expenses (Dig. 49, 16, 14, 1; Lamprid. l.c. “non contra eum--Alexandrum--qui annonam, qui vestem, qui stipendia vobis attribuit” ).

As regards the rate of payment, there is no evidence to show that there was a fixed rate when the stipendium was first introduced. We first hear of regular proportions of pay in the time of Polybius, who tells us that the legionaries received two obols, the centurions four obols, and the equites a drachma a day (Plb. 6.39, 12). The drachma is equivalent to the denarius, which was originally worth ten asses; the foot-soldier received two obols, that is 1/3 denarius, or 3 1/3 asses a day, which Plautus, leaving out the fraction, calls tres nummi (Plaut. Mostell. 2.1, 10). For the year of 360 days this makes for the annuum stipendium of the foot-soldier, 1200 asses (360 [multi] 3 1/3 ); of the centurion, who received double this amount, 2400 asses; of the eques, who received a full denarius, 3600 asses. In B.C. 217 the new uncial measurement was introduced, and the denarius is from this time forth;worth sixteen instead of ten asses. Pliny, in his account of this lowering of the copper standard, says, “In militari tamen stipendio semper denarius pro decem assibus datus” (H. N. 33.45): that is, where ten asses (the old denarius) had been given before, the new denarius (sixteen asses) was given now, and “the soldiers received in silver as much pay as before” (Boeckh, Metrol. Unters. p. 425). The pay, therefore, was still 120 denarii a year, but this, instead of being 1200 asses a year (120 [multi] 10), was 1920 asses a year (120 [multi] 16), or 5 1/3 asses a day instead of 3 1/3 asses, the former rate of payment. Till the time of Caesar the daily pay of the legionaries was 5 1/3 asses; Caesar is said by Suetonius to have doubled the pay (Suet. Jul. 26, “legionibus stipendium in perpetuum duplicavit” ). If this were strictly true, the pay. should have been raised to 10 2/3 asses, but we find from Tacitus that it was only raised to ten: asses (Tac. Ann. 1.17, “denis in diem assibus animam et corpus aestimari” ). The true nature of Caesar's reform is explained by Marquardt by reference to a passage in Suetonius, who tells us that Domitian “addidit et quartum stipendium militi aureos ternos.” A stipendium is here said to be three aurei; the aureus was twenty-five denarii, and three aurei would be seventy-five denarii or 1200 asses (75 [multi] 16). This shows that 1200 asses were still counted a stipendium in the new coinage as it had been in the old; and since Domitian is said to have added a fourth stipendium, Caesar's reform consisted in giving the soldiers three stipendia, reckoned as a stipendium had been in the old coinage (1200 asses) instead of one stipendium reckoned as it had been in the new coinage (1920 asses). The soldiers now, instead of 1920 asses a year, received 3600 asses a year (1200 [multi] 3); that is, as Tacitus says, ten asses a day; or, reckoning the stipendium in denarii, the soldiers from the time of Caesar, instead of receiving 120 new denarii (1920 asses) a year, received 225 new denarii (3600 asses). Domitian increased the pay by three aurei, that is seventy-five denarii, so that after Domitian their pay would have been 300 new denarii a year (225 + 75) (Marquardt, Staatsverw. v. p. 93). That Caesar, in raising the pay to three stipendia a year, had [p. 2.716]made the payments every four months, and that Domitian, although he added a fourth stipendium, still retained this mode of payment, is shown by the passage of Zonaras in which he speaks of Domitian's increase of the pay: καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις ἐπηύξησε τὴν μισθοφοράν: πέντε γὰρ καὶ ἑβδομήκοντα δραχμὰς ἑκάστου λαμβάνοντος, ἑκατὸν ἐκέλευσε δίδοσθαι (Zonar. 11.29): that, is, as Caesar had divided the whole year's pay of 225 denarii into three stipendia of seventy-five denarii each, so Domitian divided the increased year's pay of 300 denarii into three stipendia of 100 denarii each. What the amount of the stipendium was in the time of the old libral as is unknown; but it has been conjectured that it was 240 of these libral asses, which would be about equivalent to 1200 of the later asses, at their value before the year B.C. 217; five of these asses sextantarii being, according to Boeckh, equivalent to one libral as (Boeckh, Metrolog. Unters. p. 458; Mommsen, Die römische Tribus, p. 43). We find in Gaius the mention of an old custom permitting the Roman soldier, in case of his not receiving the stipendium due to him, to distrain on the goods of the officer whose duty it was to administer the pay (Gaius, 4.26).

Under the Empire the Roman forces were divided into four parts--the legionaries, the home troops (consisting of the urban and praetorian cohorts), the auxilia, and the fleet. Of the strength and rate of payment of these last two branches of the force we know nothing. That the soldiers of the praetorian cohorts received two full denarii--that is, thirty-two asses a day--is implied in the passage of Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 1.17; cf. 26), where the legionaries claim a full denarius or sixteen asses a day, alleging that the praetorians received bini denarii, although it is elsewhere stated that they received double pay (D. C. 53.11, 5), which, as the legionaries received ten asses a day, would be twenty and not thirty-two asses; and it is possible that this latter statement is strictly true, and that Tacitus makes the legionaries purposely exaggerate the rate of pay of the praetorian. The gross annual amount expended on the legionaries and the home troops in the reign of Tiberius is estimated by Marquardt at 186,840,000 sesterces (Staatsverw. v. p. 94), so far as the common soldiers are concerned: for the pay of the higher officers in the period of the early Empire is not known; that of a tribune seems to have been high (Juv. 3.133), and we find in the third century that it was as much as 250 aurei or 25,000 sesterces (Mommsen in the Berichte der Kaiserl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, 1852, p. 240). The historians of the later Empire furnish us with instances of very large annual grants furnished by the emperors, both in money and in kind, to tribunes of the legion (Trebell. Poll. Claud. 14, where the grant is called solarium ex nostro privato aerario: cf. Vopisc. Prob. 4); but these were rather in the nature of private grants made to distinguished officers, such as Aurelian the future emperor, to enable them to maintain more state than their ordinary pay permitted (Vopisc. Aurel. 9).

(Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, v. p. 90 sq.; Boeckh, Metrologische Untersuchungen, p. 423 sq.; Dureau de la Malle, Économie politique des Romains, i. p. 134 sq.; Mommsen, Die römische Tribus, p. 31 sq.


hide References (11 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (11):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.16
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.12
    • Polybius, Histories, 6.39
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 26
    • Suetonius, Nero, 10
    • Tacitus, Annales, 15.72
    • Tacitus, Annales, 1.17
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 33.43
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 4
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 7
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 4.16
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