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Alimentarii Pueri et Puellae

p75 Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on p75 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

ALIMENTARII PUERI ET PUELLAE. In the Roman republic, the poorer citizens were assisted by public distributions of corn,º oil, and money, which were called congiaria. [Congiarium.] These distributions were not made at stated periods, nor to any but grown-up inhabitants of Rome. The Emperor Nerva was the first who extended them to children, and Trajan appointed them to be made every month, both to orphans and to the children of poor parents. The children who received them were called pueri et puellae alimentarii, and also (from the emperor) pueri puellaeque Ulpiani; and the officers who administered the institution were called quaestores pecuniae alimentariae, quaestores alimentorum, procuratores alimentorum, or praefecti alimentorum.

The fragments of an interesting record of an institution of this kind by Trajan have been found at Velleia, near Placentia, from which we learned the sums which were thus distributed, and the means by which the money was raised. A similar institution was founded by the younger Pliny, at Comum (Plin. Epist. VII.18, I.8; and the inscription in Orelli, 1172). Trajan's benevolent plans were carried on upon a larger scale by Hadrian and the Antonines. Under Commodus and Pertinax the distribution ceased. In the reign of Alexander Severus, we again meet with alimentarii pueri and puellae, who were called Mammaeani, in honour of the emperor's mother. We learn, from a decree of Hadrian (Ulp. in Dig. 34 tit. 1, s14), that boys enjoyed the benefits of this institution up to their eighteenth, and girls up to their fourteenth year; and, from an inscription (Fabretti, 235, 619), that a boy four years and seven months old received nine times the ordinary monthly distribution of corn. (Aurel. Vict. Epit. XII.4; Capitolin. Ant. Pi. 8, M. Aur. 26, Pert. 9; Spart. Had. 7; Lamprid. Sev. Alex. 57; Orelli, Inscr. 364, 3365; Fabretti, 234, 617; Rasche, Lex. Univ. Rei Num. s.v. Tutela Italiae; Eckhel, Doct. Num. Vet. vol. VI p408; F. A. Wolf, Von einer milden Stiftung Trajans.)


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