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Ancient History Sourcebook:
The Manner of Roman Charity


[Davis Introduction]

The Imperial Age was one of great benevolence if we are willing to give that name to acts of generosity which were often too showy and ostentatious to merit the highest praise. The cases here cited are nearly all (except that of Pliny) based upon the evidence of inscriptions.

1. Ummidia Quadratilla built at Casinum an amphitheater and a temple.

2. Secundus at Bordeaux built an aqueduct costing 2,000,000 sesterces.

3. Perigrinus [a character in Lucian] is represented as giving during his lifetime his whole property, 30 talents, to his native city.

4. Crinas of Massillia expended 10,000,000 sesterces in rebuilding the walls of that city.

5. The two brothers Stertinus gave a still larger sum than the last for erecting public buildings in their native Neapolis.

6. Hiero gave 2000 talents to Laodicea, his native town.

7. The younger Pliny spent on his native town of Como 11,000,000 sesterces, though by no means a very rich man. He founded a library, a school, and a charity institute for poor children; also a temple to Ceres, with spacious porticoes to shelter tradespeople who came to the fair held in honor of that goddess. His grandfather had already built for the town a costly portico, and provided the money for decorating the city gates.

 


Source:

From: William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West, pp. 224-225

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.


This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu