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mūnus


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A gift or service, given or rendered freely (a lover's gift, or the gifts of gods to men) or, more commonly, out of a sense of duty (burial of the dead, sacrifices, or funeral games). The latter sense leads to its use in Roman public life, for what a person owes to the state or community of which he is a citizen or in which he lives. There are personal munera, esp. military service or service as a magistrate—for the latter, the word becomes common, as such service, under the empire, turns into an onerous obligation—and financial munera: taxes and contributions corresponding to Greek liturgies. At least by the middle republic, men could be exempted by law from munera for various kinds of services, and such immunitas spread under the empire to whole classes of citizens deemed essential to the state, with increasing pressure on those not exempt. Immunitas could similarly be conferred on communities that would normally have owed taxes to Rome (see tributum).

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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