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The article deals with basic aspects of an economic life of the Roman elite familia in the last decades of the Roman Republic. The attempt to approach the solution of one of the most diffi cult problems of an economic history of Antiquity – the correlation between political changes and economic development of Ancient Rome is made in this paper. Cicero’s correspondence contains valuable information about an important feature of an ancient citizen’s life - his involvement – both in political and economic life – in different contact groups where all the decisions were taken. For the elite such an association was a traditional Roman institute of amicitia that includes a group of friends and relatives whose relations were based on values in spirit of ancestry morals and manners. The role of this institute was growing at the end of the Republic when, under the circumstances of a sharp political struggle, simultaneously familia property increased in Italy and in its provinces. The letters say that, besides plan discussions, different forms of participation of relatives and “friends” in familia management were coming into practice, as an enlarged household of an owner and his active participation in political life did not allow a pater familias to succeed in a single-handed control of all the spheres of economic life. To apply to “friends” in the form of an order (mandatum) was not linked with money fee and existed besides market relations.

Assistance of friends and relatives in management of enlarged familia property reveals important changes that happened in a previously closed familia with clear delineated limits. Development of familia household demanded a pater familias to come up to a new level of association and economic ties that were boosted by the phenomenon of amicitia. In addition to individual efforts of householder, the amicitia became an important tool of purchase of material and financial resources in a decent way that was necessary for maintaining a high social status by the elite as well as for a political career.


the late Republic, the Ancient Rome economy, Cicero, familia, amicitia

Boris S. Lyapustin

Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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