Bread & Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy

By Kathryn Lomas; Tim Cornell | Go to book overview

1

THE PATRON AS BANKER

Thomas Wiedemann

A generation ago, analysis of the economic structure of the ancient world, where it did not concentrate on the effects of slavery, tended to be in terms of the polarity between a 'primitivist' and a 'modernist' interpretation. Early twentieth-century 'modernists' such as Meyer and Hasebroek emphasised those elements which seemed to have analogues in nineteenth-century economics such as the search for colonies in response to the need for raw materials, long-distance trade and increased population; the 'primitivists', influenced by Marx, Weber and Polanyi, saw the ancient economy as embedded in social structures and therefore quite different to a modern industrial world in which capitalism had made the economy autonomous and supreme. In his discussion in the 1970s of the origins of the Peloponnesian War, de Ste Croix minimised the role of the commercial interests which Cornford in the heyday of European imperialism had posited as controlling Athenian policy. Finley in particular preferred to see the ancient economy as based on small-scale units of production centred on the individual oikos or domus, and aiming at self-sufficiency rather than producing for the market-place. 1

Finley (and other scholars who followed Marx and Weber) appeared to have won the argument in favour of the 'primitivist' approach, and the view that antiquity was fundamentally unlike our own world continues to be important to the way in which it is represented by many social historians. But there is now a large corpus of detailed work on different aspects of the economy of the ancient world which shows that the two views do not need to be as mutually exclusive as Finley's polemics made them seem. Finley's lasting contribution to English-speaking scholarship was to draw attention to the importance of slavery and the primacy of agriculture. By the 1980s scholars - some of them Finley's own students and collaborators - had moved on to look at the ways in which other kinds of labour were being exploited, and at the complexities of agriculture and manufacturing in specific contexts; amongst the new influences have been feminism and environmentalism. 2 It became clear that the model of the economically self-sufficient household, while a useful starting-point for an analysis of the ancient economy, was indeed only a starting point. Antiquity may have had institutions which, whether 'primitive' or not, were quite unlike those of the

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Bread & Circuses: Euergetism and Municipal Patronage in Roman Italy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Patron as Banker 12
  • 2 - Public Building, Urban Renewal and Euergetism in Early Imperial Italy 28
  • 3 - The Development of Public Entertainment Venues in Rome and Italy 46
  • 4 - Euergetism in Its Place 61
  • 5 - The Emperor and the Cities of Italy 89
  • 6 - Imperial Building at Rome 105
  • 7 - Favor Populi 125
  • 8 - 'Restored Utility, Eternal City' 142
  • Index 167
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