Home Introduction Persons Geogr. Sources Events Mijn blog(Nederlands)
Religion Subjects Images Queries Links Contact Do not fly Iberia
This is a non-commercial site. Any revenues from Google ads are used to improve the site.

Custom Search
Quote of the day: Zalmoxes reigned whom many writers of an
Do not display Latin text
Annals by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book VI Chapter 16: Lending money and usury[AD 33]
Next chapter
Return to index
Previous chapter
Meanwhile a powerful host of accusers fell with sudden fury on the class which systematically increased its wealth by usury in defiance of a law passed by Caesar the dictator defining the terms of lending money and of holding estates in Italy, a law long obsolete because the public good is sacrificed to private interest. The curse of usury was indeed of old standing in Rome and a most frequent cause of sedition and discord, and it was therefore repressed even in the early days of a less corrupt morality. First, the Twelve Tables prohibited any one from exacting more than 10 percent, when, previously, the rate had depended on the caprice of the wealthy. Subsequently, by a bill brought in by the tribunes, interest was reduced to half that amount, and finally compound interest was wholly forbidden. A check too was put by several enactments of the people on evasions which, though continually put down, still, through strange artifices, reappeared. On this occasion, however, Gracchus, the praetor, to whose jurisdiction the inquiry had fallen, felt himself compelled by the number of persons endangered to refer the matter to the Senate. In their dismay the senators, not one of whom was free from similar guilt, threw themselves on the emperor's [Note 1] indulgence. He yielded, and a year and six months were granted, within which every one was to settle his private accounts conformably to the requirements of the law.

Note 1: emperor = Tiberius

Interea magna vis accusatorum in eos inrupit qui pecunias faenore auctitabant adversum legem dictatoris Caesaris qua de modo credendi possidendique intra Italiam caventur, omissam olim, quia privato usui bonum publicum postponitur. sane vetus urbi faenebre malum et seditionum discordiarumque creberrima causa eoque cohibebatur antiquis quoque et minus corruptis moribus. nam primo duodecim tabulis sanctum ne quis unciario faenore amplius exerceret, cum antea ex libidine locupletium agitaretur; dein rogatione tribunicia ad semuncias redactum, postremo vetita versura. multisque plebi scitis obviam itum fraudibus quae toties repressae miras per artes rursum oriebantur. sed tum Gracchus praetor, cui ea quaestio evenerat, multitudine periclitantium subactus rettulit ad senatum, trepidique patres (neque enim quisquam tali culpa vacuus) veniam a principe petivere; et concedente annus in posterum sexque menses