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The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum, where the Roman treasury was kept

The aerarium , s. a. Arar , (from Latin aes 'bronze') was the ancient Roman treasury, which contained the movable national wealth. Its full name was Aerarium populi Romani ('Treasure of the Roman People'). It was located in the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and was therefore also called aerarium Saturni .

Roman Republic

The aerarium was initially administered by two quaestors and later by up to eight popularly elected quaestors at the end of the republic and was subject to the right of disposition of the Roman Senate . It consisted of precious metals, money and bonds. At the same time, it also served as a depository for public documents, such as leases for public communal land, tax lists and accounts for public funds. It was also the magazine for the standards as well as the archive for the people's resolutions and Senate reports ( senatus consulta ). The judge and jury lists were also kept there. The aerarium was fed by taxes, surpluses from the provincial administrations, income from leases, fines and spoils of war.

Roman Imperial Era

During the imperial era , the importance of the aerarium saturni decreased, since the imperial treasury, the fiscus , received a considerable part of the income that had previously been granted to the aerarium since Augustus . The additional income from the senatorial provinces continued to flow into the aerarium , which also retained its importance as a state archive. The treasury was administered in 23 BC. Transferred to two praetores aerarii . The fiscal administration of the aerarium finally came under Nero into the responsibility of imperial agents ( praefecti aerarii ), in order to be completely absorbed in the fiscus in the period following the principle .

Special forms

In addition to the original aerarium populi romani, there were three other special forms.

Aerarium sanctius populi romani

The income from a five percent release tax flowed into this department of the state treasury, which was intended as a reserve for emergencies . This estimate was made in 357 BC. Introduced by a lex Manlia .

Aerarium militare

The aerarium militare founded by Augustus , from which veterans received their supplies, was initially administered together with the Senate, but also came under imperial control during the course of the imperial era. This pension fund was financed through a five percent inheritance tax ( vicesima hereditatium ), which only had to be paid by Roman citizens, and a one percent sales tax ( centesima rerum venalium ). In 6 AD Augustus paid 170 million sesterces from his private fortune into the fund as start-up capital ; In return, however, the soldiers had to accept the extension of their terms of service ( Praetorians from 12 to 16 and legionaries from 16 to 20 years). It was initially determined that the soldiers should receive the following sums at the end of their service : each Praetorian 20,000 and each legionnaire 12,000 sesterces.

Aerarium publicum

The public coffers of cities ( Municipia ) and smaller rural communities in the Roman Empire could also be called aerarium .



  1. Titus Livius , Roman History 7:16 (English translation)
  2. To this Giovannangelo Camporeale : Aerarium militare. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 12/2, Metzler, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-476-01487-8 , column 880 f.
  3. Werner Eck : Securing power and expansion: The Roman army under Augustus In: Studi su Augusto. In occasione del XX centenario della morte, ed. Giovanni Negri e Alfredo Valvo, Turin (2016), pp. 77–94, here pp. 86–89 ( online ).