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Aerarium, derived from aes, denotes ‘treasury’. The main aerarium of Rome was the aerarium Saturni, so called from the temple below the Capitol, in which it was placed. Here were kept state documents, both financial and non-financial (including leges (see lex (1)) and senatus consulta which were not valid until lodged there), and the state treasure, originally mainly of bronze (aes) but including also ingots of gold and silver and other valuables. The tabularium (1) was built near it in 78 bce.

The aerarium was controlled by the quaestors under the supervision of the senate, with a subordinate staff of scribae, viatores, etc. The tribuni aerarii, men of a property-class a little below the knights, were probably concerned with making payments from the tribes into the treasury. The aerarium sanctius was a special reserve, fed by the 5 per cent tax on emancipations. Treasure was withdrawn from it in 209 bce and on other occasions. Caesar in 49 bce seized the reserve for his own uses.

Caesar placed two aediles in charge of the aerarium, Augustus two praefecti (28 bce) and then two praetors (23). Claudius ( ce 44) placed it again under the quaestors, Nero, finally, in ce 56 under two praefecti. These officials are last attested in the mid-4th cent. In the earlier empire at least the aerarium remained the official repository for state documents and cash; payments from it could be ordered by the senate and, in practice, by the emperor. Bona caduca (property without an heir), bona damnatorum (property of the condemned), and other public revenues were increasingly diverted to the fiscus. The details of this process remain obscure.

The aerarium militare, also situated on the Capitol, was founded by Augustus in ce 6 to provide for the pensioning of discharged soldiers. Augustus provided for it a capital sum of 170,000,000 sesterces from his own funds and an income from the centesima rerum venalium (1% tax on sales by auction) and the vicesima hereditatum (5% tax on inheritances). It was administered by three ex-praetors (praefecti aerarii militaris), at first chosen by lot, later by the emperor.


O. Hirschfeld, Die kaiserlichen Verwaltungsbeamten (1905), 13 f.Find this resource:

    A. H. M. Jones, Studies in Roman Government and Law (1960), ch. 6.Find this resource:

      F. Millar, “The Aerarium and Its Officials under the Empire,” Journal of Roman Studies 1964, 33 ff.Find this resource:

        M. Corbier, L'aerarium Saturni et l'aerarium militare (1974).Find this resource:

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