Imperial Rome has a name for wealth and luxury, but was the economy of the Roman Empire as a whole a success, by the standards of pre-modern economies? In this volume W. V. Harris brings together eleven previously published papers on this much-argued subject, with additional comments to bring them up to date. A new study of poverty and destitution provides a fresh perspective on the question of the Roman Empire’s economic performance, and a substantial introduction ties the collection together. Harris tackles difficult but essential questions, such as how slavery worked, what role the state played, whether the Romans had a sophisticated monetary system, what it was like to be poor, whether they achieved sustained economic growth. He shows that in spite of notably sophisticated economic institutions and the spectacular wealth of a few, the Roman economy remained incorrigibly pre-modern and left a definite segment of the population high and dry.
Table of Contents
1. On the Applicability of the Concept of Class in Roman History
2. Poverty and Destitution in the Roman Empire
3. Towards a Study of the Roman Slave Trade
4. Geography, Demography and the Sources of Roman Slaves
5. Roman Terracotta Lamps: The Organization of an Industry
6. Production, Distribution, and instrumentum domesticum
7. Trade (70-192 AD)
8. Trade and the River Po: A Problem in the Economic History of the Roman Empire
9. Roman Governments and Commerce, 300 BC-AD 300
10. A Revisionist View of Roman Money
11. The Roman Economy in the Late Republic, 133 to 31 BC
12. Between Archaic and Modern: Some Current Problems in the Economic History of the High Roman Empire
W. V. Harris is Shepherd Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Ancient Mediterranean, Columbia University.