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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines the nature and use of money in the late Roman Republic (from the creation of the denarius system during the Second Punic War down to the battle of Actium in 31 BCE) in order to understand better the development of the Roman economy in this period of rapid imperial expansion and increased wealth. The complexity of and variation among different monetary systems in history has led to a variety of definitions of money, some broad, others quite narrow. Weber and Polanyi provide the tools with which one can begin to identify the more archaic aspects of the Roman monetary system. They emphasize the need for a broad understanding of ‘money,’ the ability of different objects to perform different monetary functions, and the likelihood that different forms of money operated in different economic contexts or zones.

Keywords: denarius system; Marcus Tullius Cicero; pecunia; Polanyi; Roman monetary system; Roman republic; Weber

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