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Bill Thayer

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p267 Centesima

Article by Leonhard Schmitz, Ph.D, F.R.S.E, Rector of the High School of Edinburgh,
on p267 of

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

CENTESIMA, namely pars, or the hundredth part, also called vectigal rerum venalium, or centesima rerum venalium, was a tax of one per cent. levied at Rome and in Italy upon all goods that were exposed for public sale at auctions. It was collected by persons called coactores (Cic. ad Brut. 18, pro Rabir. Post. 11; Dig. 1 tit. 16 s.17 §2). This tax, as Tacitus (Ann. I.78) says, was introduced after the civil wars, though its being mentioned by Cicero shows, that these civil wars cannot have been those between Octavian and Antony, but must be an early civil war, perhaps that between Marius and Sulla. Its produce was assigned by Augustus to the aerarium militare. Tiberius reduced the tax to one half per cent. (ducentesima), after he had changed Cappadocia into a province, and had thereby increased the revenue of the empire (Tac. Ann. II.42). Caligula in the beginning of his reign abolished the tax altogether for Italy, as is attested by Suetonius (Suet. Cal. 16) and also by an ancient medal of Caligula on which we find C.C.R. (i.e. ducentesima remissa). But Dion Cassius (LVIII.16), whose authority on this point cannot outweigh that of Suetonius and Tacitus, states that Tiberius increased the ducentesima to a centesima, and in another passage he agrees with Suetonius in stating that Caligula abolished it altogether (LIX.9; cf. Burmann, De Vectig. Pop. Rom. p70).

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