Indeed, among all the Greek systems of weights and moneys, the Sicilian alone was brought into a determinate relation to the Italian copper-system; not only was the value of silver set down conventionally and perhaps legally as two hundred and fifty times that of copper, but the equivalent on this computation of a Sicilian pound of copper 1/120th of the Attic talent, 2/3 of the Roman pound) was in very early times struck, especially at Syracuse, as a silver coin (--litra argurion--, i.e. "copper-pound in silver"). Accordingly it cannot be doubted that Italian bars of copper circulated also in Sicily instead of money; and this exactly harmonizes with the hypothesis that the commerce of the Latins with Sicily was a passive commerce, in consequence of which Latin money was drained away thither. Other proofs of ancient intercourse between Sicily and Italy, especially the adoption in the Sicilian dialect of the Italian expressions for a commercial loan, a prison, and a dish, and the converse reception of Sicilian terms in Italy, have been already mentioned.(25) We meet also with several, though less definite, traces of an ancient intercourse of the Latins with the Chalcidian cities in Lower Italy, Cumae and Neapolis, and with the Phocaeans in Velia and Massilia. That it was however far less active than that with the Siceliots is shown by the well-known fact that all the Greek words which made their way in earlier times to Latium exhibit Doric forms--we need only recall -Aesculapius-, -Latona-, -Aperta-, -machina-. Had their dealings with the originally Ionian cities, such as Cumae(26) and the Phocaean settlements, been even merely on a similar scale with those which they had with the Sicilian Dorians, Ionic forms would at least have made their appearance along with the others; although certainly Dorism early penetrated even into these Ionic colonies themselves, and their dialect varied greatly. While all the facts thus combine to attest the stirring traffic of the Latins with the Greeks of the western main generally, and especially with the Sicilians, there hardly occurred any immediate intercourse with the Asiatic Phoenicians, and the intercourse with those of Africa, which is sufficiently attested by statements of authors and by articles found, can only have occupied a secondary position as affecting the state of culture in Latium; in particular it is significant that--if we leave out of account some local names--there is an utter absence of any evidence from language as to ancient intercourse between the Latins and the nations speaking the Aramaic tongue.(27)
If we further inquire how this traffic was mainly carried on, whether by Italian merchants abroad or by foreign merchants in Italy, the former supposition has all the probabilities in its favour, at least so far as Latium is concerned. It is scarcely conceivable that those Latin terms denoting the substitute for money and the commercial loan could have found their way into general use in the language of the inhabitants of Sicily through the mere resort of Sicilian merchants to Ostia and their receipt of copper in exchange for ornaments. Lastly, in regard to the persons and classes by whom this traffic was carried on in Italy, no special superior class of merchants distinct from and independent of the class of landed proprietors developed itself in Rome. The reason of this surprising phenomenon was, that the wholesale commerce of Latium was from the beginning in the hands of the large landed proprietors--a hypothesis which is not so singular as it seems. It was natural that in a country intersected by several navigable rivers the great landholder, who was paid by his tenants their quotas of produce in kind, should come at an early period to possess barks; and there is evidence that such was the case. The transmarine traffic conducted on the trader's own account must therefore have fallen into the hands of the great landholder, seeing that he alone possessed the vessels for it and--in his produce--the articles for export.(28) In fact the distinction between a landed and a moneyed aristocracy was unknown to the Romans of earlier times; the great landholders were at the same time the speculators and the capitalists. In the case of a very energetic commerce such a combination certainly could not have been maintained; but, as the previous representation shows, while there was a comparatively vigorous traffic in Rome in consequence of the trade of the Latin land being there concentrated, Rome was by no means essentially a commercial city like Caere or Tarentum, but was and continued to be the centre of an agricultural community.
Notes For Book I Chapter XIII
1. I. II. Agriculture
2. I. III. Clan Villages, I. V. The Community
3. The system which we meet with in the case of the Germanic joint tillage, combining a partition of the land in property among the clansmen with its joint cultivation by the clan, can hardly ever have existed in Italy. Had each clansman been regarded in Italy, as among the Germans, in the light of proprietor of a particular spot in each portion of the collective domain that was marked off for tillage, the separate husbandry of later times would probably have set out from a minute subdivision of hides. But the very opposite was the case; the individual names of the Roman hides (-fundus Cornelianus-) show clearly that the Roman proprietor owned from the beginning a possession not broken up but united.
4. Cicero (de Rep. ii. 9, 14, comp. Plutarch, Q. Rom. 15) states: -Tum (in the time of Romulus) erat res in pecore et locorum possessionibus, ex quo pecuniosi et locupletes vocabantur--(Numa) primum agros, quos bello Romulus ceperat, divisit viritim civibus-. In like manner Dionysius represents Romulus as dividing the land into thirty curial districts, and Numa as establishing boundary-stones and introducing the festival of the Terminalia (i. 7, ii. 74; and thence Plutarch, -Numa-, 16).
5. I. XI. Contracts
6. Since this assertion still continues to be disputed, we shall let the numbers speak for themselves.