Tradesmen and plebs

Menno Fenger and Paul Henman

in Rome in Late Antiquity

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9780748612390
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651009 | DOI:
Tradesmen and plebs

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In Rome, trades were structured in professional bodies, the corpora, whose management was regulated by imperial legislation. These corpora had patrons, chosen from among the great Roman notables. Several were in the service of the city of Rome, and hence enjoyed special privileges. Furthermore, in those corporations deemed to be most useful to the public good, it was obligatory for offices to be hereditary. The members of these corporations were unable to dispose freely of their possessions, as these were used as security against the fulfillment of their duties. The existence in Rome of a large population of plebs who were dependent on the state and receiving assistance goes back to the second century bc. They eked out a living not only from a variety of jobs, but also from free, or cost price, distributions of food.

Keywords: Rome; trades; corpora; patrons; notables; plebs

Chapter.  3948 words. 

Subjects: Classical History

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