The People of Beneventum

  Throughout its history Beneventum has been a prosperous center of commerce.  A number of specialized positions existed in the ancient city.  Among these were a nummularius, and a few mercatores.  A nummularius was originally an assayer of coins that came to be a type of banker[1]. Mercatores were a group of mostly middle class merchants[2]. Also present in the city were a few famous grammarians along with poets of only local celebrity which implies a lively literary community in the town. Specifically, Orbilius and Rutilius Aelianus were grammarians of historical note who originated in Beneventum[3]. Through the study of local tombs it can be seen that there were a number of upwardly mobile slaves and lower class citizens that eventually rose to considerable wealth[4].  Many of the people of Beneventum were quite wealthy, 65% of landowners held land worth over 500,000 sesterces.  3% of landowners owned 1,000,000 sesteres worth of land.  Amidst this prosperity 64 peasants were known to share one aroura(2,200 sq. m)[5]. Overall the setting depicted by these few known occupations is one of a bustling commercial center with a thriving intellectual community and opportunities for advancement for all members.

1. Andreau, Jean, Janet Lloyd. 1999. Banking and Business in the Roman World. New York: Cambridge University Press. pg.31
Brewster, Ethel Hampson. 1917. Roman Craftsmen and Tradesmen of the Empire. Wisconsin: George Banta Publishing Company. pg. 36
3. Patterson, John R. 2006. Landscapes and Cities: Rural Settlement and Civic Transformation in Early Imperial Italy. Oxford, Ney York: Oxford University Press. pg. 107
4. ibid, pg. 108
5. Alfody, Geza. 1985. The Social History of Rome. Great Britain: Biddles Ltd.