Personal Purpose and the Eightfold Path of Possibility pt. 206/12/2023
COTRUGLI Celebrates Successful Final Project Defenses by EMBA 19 ZG and EMBA 14 BG Generations06/12/2023
Professional Bankers in Ancient Rome
Professional bankers were a special group of Roman society, usually belonging to the class of the “equites” whose level of wealth was just below that of senators. In Rome, one of the business spots they frequented was the “Janus medius”, an arch or vaulted passageway probably situated at one end of the “Basilica Aemilia”.
The economic stability of the population was an issue of major importance for the government which wanted to avoid social unrest. To help citizens to overcome economic difficulties in times of crisis such as shortages and war, the state formed public banks where specially appointed officials called “mensarii” (lat. “mensa” means “bank”) were appointed to regulate the problem of citizen’s debts. Like the ordinary bankers, they had their banks around the forum where they, in the name of public treasury (“aerarium”), offered money to debtors who could give security for it. They were mentioned for the first time in 352 BC.
A somewhat different type of public bankers represented “nummulari” (lat. “numus” – a silver coin) who were employed as officers of the mint. Their main task was to test the quality of the new coins, exchange old coins for new ones, and place the new coins in circulation. They appeared in Rome at the end of the 1st century BC and remained active until the beginning of the 4th century BC.
And finally, the professional money dealers of ancient Rome were called “argentarii” (lat “argentum” meaning silver), the freemen who formed a “collegium” which provided professional and social ties to its members. Their banking shops or “tabernae argentaria” were located in the Forum offering their financial services to clients of different economic powers. Some “argentarii”, called “coactores argentarii”, active from the mid-2nd century BC until the mid-2nd century, also offered credit facilities to those purchasing goods at auctions and making arrangements in the auctions.
A successful and skillful “argentarius” who ran a business on a large scale enjoyed an honorable place in society. Some of these, such as Jucundus of Pomei and Pompeius Trimalcion, who became extremely rich, were highly esteemed in society. The business books (codices) made of wax-covered tablets of wood and led by “argentarii” were very accurate and could be used as evidence in the court of justice.