By Tenney Frank
Passenger fares appear to us to were very low. Passengers notwithstanding seem to have been accountable for their very own sustenance, the quarters have been most likely faraway from sumptuous and naturally demise via shipwreck not like lack of freight entailed no monetary loss to the provider. -from "Chapter XVI: trade" during this vintage work-an enlargement of an past 1920 edition-a revered classical pupil sketches the industrial lifetime of the Roman tradition throughout the republican interval and into the fourth century of the empire. even though later books unfairly supplanted it, this quantity is still an outstanding advent to the capital, trade, hard work, and of the instant forerunner of recent civilization. In transparent, readable language, Frank explores: .agriculture in early Latium .the upward thrust of the peasantry .Roman coinage .finance and politics .the "plebs urbana" .the beginnings of serfdom .and even more. American historian TENNEY FRANK (1876-1939) used to be professor of Latin at Bryn Mawr collage and Johns Hopkins college, and in addition wrote Roman Imperialism (1914) and A heritage of Rome (1923).
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Additional info for An Economic History of Rome
It is customary to say that when Rome gained possession of Sicily m the first Punic war and thus inherited from Carthage the grain tithes of that island she destroyed agriculture in Latium by flooding the market of the Latin farmer with cheap grain. But is it probable that the Roman landlords, who after all controlled the state, would have adopted a policy so ruinous to their own interests? Or is it likely that they were so stupid as not to see that this would be the result of bringing the Sicilian tithes to Rome?
The soil there had not had a long time for accumulation. Along the extensive ridges of lava that radiate from the Alban hills toward the Anio, along the Appian way, and down toward Ardea, the surface was so hard that soil-making was well-nigh impossible. In such places the plow cannot now be driven. A mere scratch in the thin turf exposes the lava. In other places the conditions were more favorable since the ash and tufa are fairly productive for plants of powerful roots when covered with a humus of proper physical consistency and containing some nitrogenous matter.
The three centuries of selfish manipulation by the autocratic emperors that followed brought the coins down to less than one fiftieth of their one-time value, thereby destroying the returns of all trust-funds and charitable foundations. Desirable as it would be, it seems impracticable to estimate the value of Roman money in terms of modern standards. To be sure if we might attempt a purely statistical calculation without raising the question of what ought to enter into the cost of living, we might draw up a brief though wholly inadequate comparative list of Roman and modern commodity prices, and this would show that gold bought considerably more of the poor man’s necessities then than it has in recent years.