This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Increase of Rome’s wealth during republic

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Carle Vernet, The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus
Carle Vernet, The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus

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 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 splendour, 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 of 3713 pounds of gold and 43270 silver.

A large portion of the profits was 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.

It is worth mentioning that the growing influence of the Roman state and its elites caused Roman society to flaunt its wealth more and more publicly. It was against the ancient Roman moral values, which assumed moderation and frugality. Pliny the Elder reports:

Men of the Republic criticised their wives for their love of pearls, but wives responded by criticising their husbands’ obsession for collecting tables made of rare African citrus wood – a craze they called ‘mensarum insania’. Cicero paid a million sestertii for one such table.

Pliny the Elder, Natural history, XIII.29

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

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: