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Increase of Rome’s wealth during republic

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Food on a Roman fresco
Food on a Roman fresco

The intensive expansion of the Roman state during the republic led to a marked increase in wealth in Rome. Mastering foreign territories and gaining new slave masses led to the enrichment of not only the state, but also individual layers of society.

Conquered lands became provinces, which were obliged to pay tribute to the Roman treasury. With the conquest of new lands, Rome not only confiscated lands, which he later included in ager publicus, but also confiscated all domains of previous rulers, including their mines, quarries, salt deposits and forests and pastures. This was the case, for example, with Corinth and Carthage.

Defeated enemies were forced to pay extremely high war reparations; this was the case, for example, with Carthage, Macedonia, Philip V and the Syrian state Antiochus III. The gains in the budget must add war gains and income from the sale of slaves. All these issues meant that Rome in the middle of the 2nd century BCE he was not only a military power in the Mediterranean but also a financial power.

A great example of how financially Rome changed as a result of conquests is how triumphs were celebrated at different times. After conquering Taranto in 272 BCE extremely rich triumphant celebrations were organized, which were full of splendor, compared to the triumph on the occasion of defeating Samnites and Wolsks. Even more beautiful and abundant was the triumph of Titus Flaminius, awarded by the Senate in 196 BCE for defeating and expelling Macedonia from Greece. In a triumphal parade, they were transported through the streets of Rome on carts 3713 pounds of gold and 43270 silver.

A large portion of the profits were obtained from war looting. Sometimes legions were so laden with wealth that the army could only cover 5 km a day. It happened that Roman authorities commissioned military expeditions, only to get slaves for sale and to get rich. This was the case even in 167 BCE, when the legions marched in Epirus against Molossom. Then, in one day, 70 towns were plundered and burned, and 150,000 people were sold into captivity.

  • Kumaniecki Kazimierz, Historia kultury starożytnej Grecji i Rzymu, Warszawa 1965
  • Plutarch from Cheronea, Titus Flamininus

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