Beggars and charity

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Beggars and charity

Postby Tiberius Dionysius Draco on Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:05 pm

Salvete Romani,

I was recently wondering about beggars in the Roman empire. Nowadays in every major city, there are beggars about, so surely there would have been in big cities such as Rome. What were peoples opinions about these people? Or isn't much know about this aspect?

And another question which is somewhat related to my previous question. Was there any kind of charity amongst the Romans. I remember reading something about rich Romans who would have somekind of charity funding for poor people that didn't have enough money to get a decent burial. However, I am quite sceptic about this and if it actually happened that some poor bloke got a decent burial thanks to this.

Does anybody know any anwsers to these questions?

Valete bene,
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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Tue Feb 24, 2004 2:28 pm

Salve Tiberi,

Two main forms of charity existed in Imperial times :

1) The annona, the official grain distribution programme of the Roman emperors
2) The sportulae, originally a basket with foodstuffs in it, later mostly a sum of money, which clientes received from their wealthy patrons every day early in the morning.

As for burials, poor people often united in so called "burial clubs". Every member had to pay a certain annual sum to the cashbox of the club, which would be used to give each of them a decent burial when his time came. These clubs also had a less morbid aspect, in the sense that they also united now and then to have a meal together and to socialize.

Vale,

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