Andrew Lintott

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Proletarii, as opposed to assidui, were the citizens of Rome too poor to contribute anything to the state except their children (proles). They seem to have been equated with the capite censi as persons who paid no tribute and were exempt from military service except in an emergency (*tumultus), when they were issued with armour and weapons. The alternative explanation produced in *Gellius (NA 16. 10), that the proletarii had property between 1,500 and 375 asses, while the capite censi had 375 or less, is not confirmed elsewhere nor can it be easily reconciled with the single century of capite censi/proletarii in the *comitiacenturiata.In the mid-2nd cent. bce direct taxation for Romans was suspended (see tributum) and the property qualification for military service was lowered. Nevertheless, the distinction between those who were sufficiently wealthy to be regarded as both sound citizens and reliable defenders of their country, and those who were not, remained important in Roman political ideology. C.

Article.  295 words. 

Subjects: Economic History ; Greek and Roman Law

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