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(481 words)

Author(s): Corbier, Mireille (Paris)
[German version] Derived from congius (a liquid measure), the term congiarium designated in the Republican period the distribution of wine and oil organized by Roman officials, but under the Principate the distribution of money to the plebs urbana. The term congiarium is rarely used in the context of extra payments to soldiers ( donativum; CIL VIII 18042). In the course of the 2nd cent. AD, the term congiarium is replaced by the term liberalitas and in the 4th cent. by largitio. The distribution occurred on the occasion of triumphs, the accession of a princeps, the tirocinium of the heir …

Storage economy

(2,351 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel) | Corbier, Mireille (Paris)
[German version] I. Ancient Near East The creation of stores, esp. of less perishable foodstuffs (esp. grain), is essential to the existence of societies whose agriculture is strongly exposed to environmental and political risks. The paradigm for such experiences is found in the OT story, referring to ancient Egypt, of the seven 'fat' and seven 'lean' years (Gn 41:25-36). The economy (I.) of Mesopotamia, centralized from the 4th millennium BC, also had a central SE, but it is known only from texts. In…


(1,102 words)

Author(s): Corbier, Mireille (Paris)
[German version] A. Definition The Latin term munificentia is derived from munificus (‘one who carries out the duties of office’, ‘munificent’), an adjective in turn derived from munia ( munus ) and facere. The term munificientia, used by Sallustius to characterise Caesar's generosity (Sall. Catil. 54,2), is found neither in Caesar nor in Cicero (but cf. munificentissimus: Cic. Q. Rosc. 22). In Sallustius and Livy (Liv. 5,3,8)  munificentia describes the gifts or favours bestowed on or granted to the people in order to acquire gratia (‘influence’, ‘esteem’). Like liberalitas , munifi…

Munus, Munera

(5,302 words)

Author(s): Corbier, Mireille (Paris) | Hönle, Augusta (Rottweil)
I. Etymology and definition [German version] A. Definition As demonstrated by Benveniste [1] Lat. munus, derived from the root mei, to ‘(ex)change’, is closer related to exchange rather than gift. Varro, in his proposed etymology of munus (Varro, Ling. 5,179: munus, quod mutuo animo qui sunt, dant officii causa; alterum munus, quod muniendi causa imperatum; cf. [5. 141]), emphasised in his first example the reciprocity of giving; in his second example munus referred to a contribution towards fortification purposes. The grammarian Verrius Flaccus, a contemporary of …


(972 words)

Author(s): Corbier, Mireille (Paris)
[German version] ( luxuria; Greek τρυφή; tryphḗ). In the centre of the Latin terminology around luxury, the noun luxus stands together with its derivatives luxuria and luxuries. The word luxus denotes first a crossing of the line or an excess, a spontaneous un-wished-for growth, especially an excess in lifestyle. The connotation here is clearly negative, whereas magnificentia has rather the meaning of ‘splendour’ and ‘expenditure’. The general term luxury encompasses other terms, such as lautitia, apparatus, sumptus. Luxury is considered a vice in Latin literature, beca…

Liberalitas, largitio

(1,766 words)

Author(s): Corbier, Mireille (Paris) | Schneider, Helmuth (Kassel)
[German version] A. Etymology and development of the word's meaning The term liberalitas (= li.) denotes, on an abstract level, an attribute (cf. Sen. Dial. 7,24,3: ... quia a libero animo proficiscitur, ita nominata est), in a particular case an act of generosity. The term largitio (= la.) belongs to the area of gifts, as does li.; derived from the adjective largus (in the original sense of a freely flowing spring, Cic. Off. 2,52) la. usually signifies the distribution of gifts. In the political vocabulary of the late Republic la., seen as a gift by means of which a particular purp…