Duhaime's LawGallery - The Law In Pictures

  

l’Institutio alimentaria

  • Object type: Document
  • Formal Title: l’Institutio alimentaria
  • Creator: unknown
  • Date Created: 101
  • Origin: found at Circello, Benevento, Italy
  • Current Location: Rome, Italy

The Romans, starting with Emperor Trajan (53-117), had a stunning avant-garde welfare program for young people in need.

Under the program, called Institutio alimentaria or alimenta, landowners took out loans and the interest payments went to the fund which gave money to youth in need. It was a high honour in Roman society to be appointed administrator, or Consul of the alimenta.

At least 53 cities in Roman control had implemented the program such as set out in this contract written on metal, and signed by the local landowners. This one is of the ancient city of Ligures Baebiani and its discovery was essential in confirming the existence of Institutio alimentaria of which legal historians had read of indirectly in other legal documents but had not, as yet, found direct evidence.

The bronze Institutio alimentaria contract had three parts.

The top is the formal preambles identifying the emperor and other officials.

The middle part confirms the loan and the receipt of interest so that “the young boys and girls receive alimony from the list.”

The bottom part sets out the terms of each individual loan including the interest rate each landowner had to pay to the fund.


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