Romans not only gave gifts to express emotion and build relationships; a long-standing tradition of mutual aid gave rise to more intensive exchange of gifts and services (or reciprocity), among relatives, friends, and business associates; from the wealthy to the public in the form of public benefactions; and in legally sanctioned relationships between patrons and clients. Roman gift culture, distinctive among its contemporary Mediterranean societies, became increasingly transactional from the middle Republic to early Empire.
Gloria Vivenza and Neville Morley
Roman attitudes to wealth were complex and sometimes ambivalent. Wealth was an essential basis for political and social life, but also a topic of extensive debate, which focused on the proper uses of wealth and the proper ways of attaining it. These moral, philosophical, and literary debates had practical implications for how the Romans spent their wealth and how they acquired it.
Arising from the agrarian and domestic contexts of classical antiquity, the notion of “frugality” (frugalitas) was a positive, desirable, and in many respects distinctively Roman concept that generally refers to a set of practices, ethical principles, and cultural and moral values pertaining to the production and consumption of resources. Closely related to this more general category is the concept of “parsimony” (parsimonia), which, as one type of frugalitas, is properly concerned with the prudent and judicious management of property and wealth. Both concepts tend to be associated with temperance and moderation (moderatio; cf. Gk. sophrosyne) and are often framed in opposition to “luxury” (luxuria) and “greed” (avaritia). Partly as a response to perceived increases in social ills and partly under the influence of Greek philosophy, the moral connotations of frugalitas and parsimonia become increasingly pronounced over time and are variously embraced by later Christian writers. Prominent historical exempla for these important Roman concepts include L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi, M.’ Curius Dentatus, and Cato the Elder.
The practice of fulling woollen garments was never part of an integrated textile production chain in the Greco-Roman world, though in several contexts, there were developments towards large-scale investment and rationalization in fulling workshops. Fullers, particularly in the Roman period, developed a strong, and positive, occupational identity, and were well-integrated members of their respective urban communities.
Robert I. Curtis
The Mediterranean Sea dominated Greco-Roman society in many ways, but none more importantly than as a source of food. Early Punic settlers in the West and later Greeks and Romans, motivated by the need for long-term storage and commercial transportation of highly spoilable marine products, developed methods for salting fish that have persisted, albeit in more technically sophisticated ways, into modern times. Salted fish products took two basic forms, salt-fish (salsamentum, tarichos) and fish sauce (garum, liquamen, allec, muria). The former served as an appetite enhancer during the gustatio; the latter was the primary condiment used in food preparation and consumption. In addition, both products had perceived dietary and therapeutic value.
Ancient literary, epigraphic, papyrological, and archaeological sources show that salt-fish products were produced at family, artisanal, and industrial levels and played a significant role in long-distance trade. Greeks and especially Romans, for whom evidence is more plentiful, established processing centers at places on the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, including in some urban areas, that offered sources for fresh water, salt, and fish, particularly pelagic species. Extant remains of fish salteries (cetariae), especially in Spain, North Africa, and the Black Sea, display consistent patterns of vat construction, arrangement, and operation that imply a common origin for the salting process. The most active period of production of and commerce in salted fish occurred between the 1st century
Energy and power are closely related concepts: energy implies the capacity to do work, and power affects the rate at which work is done (energy transmitted per unit of time). The availability of energy, and the rates at which that energy can be converted into heat or mechanical work, for example, constitute fundamental limits to the performance of any economy.
“Energy” derives from the Greek ἐνέργεια. The word is used by Diodorus Siculus (
David M. Lewis and Sara Zanovello
In the Greek world, manumission, which spelt the end of an individual’s life in slavery, was achieved in a variety of ways, but it often entailed legal obligations to remain (paramenein) as a free servant for a fixed period of time. In some cases, freedmen and freedwomen subject to paramone obligations were able to “buy out” of this condition (apolysis). Manumission documents, which have been found in many parts of the Greek world, particularly in northern Greece (especially Delphi), reveal the legal position of slaves and how it differed from the legal position of freedpersons. Unlike in Rome, freedpersons in the Greek world did not automatically become citizens of their ex-owner’s polis (although some freed slaves did manage to achieve naturalization in return for benefactions bestowed on the community). In Athens, they held a legal position almost identical to that of resident foreigners (metoikoi), with some minor differences. Manumission was usually a private act, but in some cases the polis manumitted privately owned slaves, and in Sparta, helots could only be manumitted by the state. The frequency of manumission in the Greek world remains a debated topic, but recent work has raised the possibility that its use as an incentive for slaves was probably targeted mainly at slaves working in skilled, “care-intensive” roles, and also for slaves (including hetairai) with whom individuals conceived sexual attachments.
Vladimir F. Stolba
Panskoye I is one of the most prominent and best-studied settlements in the rural territory of Chersonesus on the Tarkhankut Peninsula (north-western Crimea). Founded in the late 5th century
Jared T. Benton
Almost all inhabitants of the ancient world were dependent to varying degrees on retailers to supply them with at least some food items, raw materials, or manufactured goods, and this was particularly true of urban inhabitants. While the amount of built commercial space increased in the Hellenistic period and was a particular feature of Roman urban centres, we cannot trace a simple linear development from periodic markets through to permanent shops. Instead the retail trade remained varied throughout antiquity, consisting of periodic and permanent markets, shops and workshops, and street stalls and ambulant hawkers, all of which performed complementary roles within an integrated network of distribution. The size of the local market, however, inevitably had an impact on the organisation of the retail trade, with increased specialisation and clustering of trades possible in larger urban centres, where a wider range of products was typically available to the consumer and capital investment in dedicated commercial space was encouraged by the level of demand for goods.
Ancient shopping was an immersive and interactive experience. Prices fluctuated in response to market pressures and were very often arrived at through haggling and bargaining. Markets, shops, and streets were as much places of social interaction as they were of shopping, and men and women mixed freely as both buyers and sellers. Advertising and marketing may have been rudimentary, but the attempts by retailers to maximise sales contributed to the colorful and vibrant nature of the ancient commercial environment; the open doorways of shops and workshops facilitated interaction between those inside and outside, and goods, sellers, and customers often spilled out onto the street, while painted notices and signs displayed goods for sale, and the distinctive shouts of sellers competed loudly for the attention of potential customers.