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p978 Quadragesima

Unsigned article on pp978‑979 of

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

QUADRAGESIMA, the fortieth part of the imported goods, was the ordinary rate of the Portorium p979(Suet. Vespas. 1; Quintil. Declam. 359; Symmach. Epist. V.62, 65). Tacitus (XIII.51) says that the Quadragesima was abolished by Nero and had not been imposed again (manet abolitio quadragesimae); but it appears most probable that this Quadragesima abolished by Nero was not the Portorium, but the tax imposed by Caligula (Suet. Cal. 40) of the fortieth part of the value of all property, respecting which there was any law-suit. That the latter is the more probable opinion appears from the fact, that we never read of this tax upon law-suits after the time of Nero, while the former one is mentioned to the latest times of the empire. Considerable difficulty, however, has arisen in consequence of some of the coins of Galba having Quadragesima Remissa upon them, which is supposed by some writers to contradict the passage of Tacitus, and by others to prove that Galba abolished the Quadragesima of the portorium. The words, however, do not necessarily imply this; it was common in seasons of scarcity and want, or as an act of special favour, for the emperors to remit certain taxes of a certain period, and it is probable that the coins of Galba were struck in commemoration of such a remission, and not of an abolition of the tax. (See Burmann, de Vectigal. p64, &c., who controverts the opinions of Spanheim, de Praest. et Usu Numism. vol. II p549).


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