Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

Last time we saw that the Romans did not have anything like a banking system i. e. a machinery for creating credit through various negotiable instruments.

What they did have was minted coin -- and that was the sole monetary instrument. So at a personal level, if you wanted money, you went to a rich friend and hoped he would help you out with a loan. But if there were no bankers in our sense, there were small-scale businessmen such as money-changers, charging up to 5 per cent to change high-value into low-value coins, who also received deposits and advanced credit. We hear of one Novius receiving a short-term loan of 10,000 sesterces from such a businessman against collateral of grain, chick-peas, lentils and spelt. Penalties for late payment are often attached.

If you wanted serious money, however, this could come only from elite financiers, who were looking primarily for security, or from risktaking 'entrepreneurs', more interested in profit. These are the sort of people who would go into partnership together and bid for big Senate contracts -- everything from building aqueducts to supplying the army or raising taxes.

There were still crises. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.