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FENUS.

futes at length the two opinions ; but it may be sufficient to observe that one is inconsistent with common sense, and the other with the early history of the republic. A third and satisfactory opinion is as follows : — The uncia was the twelfth part of the as, and since the full (12 oz.) copper coinage was still in use at Rome when the Twelve Tables became law, the phrase unciarium fenus would be a natural expression for interest of one ounce in the pound ; i. e. a twelfth part of the sum bor­rowed, or 8^- per cent., not per month, but per year. This rate, if calculated for the old Roman year of ten months, would give 10 per cent, for the civil year of twelve months, which was in common use in the time of the decemvirs. The analogy of the Greek terms toko?, eirirpiTOS, &c., confirms this view, which, as Niebuhr observes, is not invalidated by the admission, that it supposes a yearly and not a monthly payment of interest; for though in the later times of the republic interest became due every month, there is no trace of this having been the case formerly. (Rein, Romische Privatrecht, p. 304.) Nor is it difficult to account for the change : it probably was connected with the modi­fications made from time to time in the Roman law of debtor and creditor (such as the abolition of personal slavery for debt), the natural effect of which would be to make creditors more scrupulous in lending money, and more vigilant in exacting the interest due upon it.

If a debtor could not pay the principal and in­terest at the end of the year, he used to borrow money from a fresh creditor, to pay off his old debt. This proceeding was very frequent, and called a versura (compare Ter. PJiorm. v. 2. 16), a word which Festus (s. v.} thus explains: " Versu-ram facere, mutuam pecuniam sumere, ex eo dic­tum est, quod initio qui mutuabantur ab aliis, ut aliis solverent, velut verterent creditorem." It amounted to little short of paying compound in­terest, or an Anatocismus anniversarius, another phrase for which was usurae renovatae j e.g.cen-tcsimae renovatae is twelve per cent, compound interest, to which Cicero (ad Att. v. 21) opposes centisimae perpetuo fenore = 12 per cent, simple interest. The following phrases are of common occurrence in connection with borrowing and lend­ing money at interest: — Pecuniam apud aliquem collocare, to lend money at interest ; relegere, to call it in again ; cavere, to give security for it ; opponere or oppo?iere pic/nori, to give as a pledge or mortgage : hence the pun in Catullus (Car. 26),

"Furi, vilhila nostra non ad Austri Flatus opposita est, nee ad Favoni: Verum ad millia quindecim et ducentos. 0 ventum horribilem atque pestilentem."

The word nomen is also of extensive use in money transactions. Properly it denoted the name of a debtor, registered in a banker's or any other ac­count-book ; hence it came to signify the articles of an account, a debtor, or a debt itself. Thus we have bonum nomen, a good debt: nomina facere, to lend monies (Cic. ad Fain. vii. 23), and also to borrow money (Id. de Off", iii. 14). Moreover, the Romans generally discharged debts through the agency of a banker (inforo et de mensae scriptura} rather than by a direct personal payment (ex area domoque) ; and as an order or undertaking for pay­ment was given by writing down the sum to be paid, with the receiver's name underneath or along-

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FENUS.

side it (see Dent. c. Calllp. p. 1236), hence came the phrases scribere nummos alicui, to promise to pay (Plant. Asin. \\. 4. 34) ; rescribere, to payback, of a debtor (Ter. Phorm. v. 7. 29). So also per-scribere, to give a bill or draft (perscriptio) on a banker for payment, in opposition to payment by ready money. (Cic. ad Att. xii. 51, xvi. 2.)

The Roman law of debtor and creditor is given under nexum. It is sufficient to remark here that the Licinian laws [leges liciniae], by which the grievances of debtors were to a certain extent redressed, did not lay any restriction on the rate of interest that might be legally demanded ; and it is clear from various circumstances that the scarcity of money at Rome after the taking of the city by the Gauls had either led to the actual abolition of the old uncial rate (unciarum fenus) of the Twelve Tables, or caused it to fall into disuse. Nine years, however, after the passing of these laws (Liv. vii. 16) the rate of the Twelve Tables was re-es­tablished, and any higher rate prohibited by the bill (rogatio} of the tribunes Duilius and Maeiiius. Still this limitation of the rate of interest did not enable debtors to pay the principal, and what Tacitus (Ann. vi. 16) calls the fenebre malum became at last so serious that the government thought it necessary to interfere, and remedy, if possible, an evil so great and inveterate. Accordingly, fourteen years after the passing of the Licinian laws, five commissioners were appointed for this purpose under the title of mensarii or bankers. These opened their banks in the forum, and in the name of the treasury offered ready money to any debtor who could give security (cavere) to the state for it: moreover, they ordered that land and cattle should be received in payment of debts at a fair valuation, a regulation which Caesar adopted for a similar purpose. (Suet. JuL Cues. 42.) By these means Livy (vii. 21) tells us that a great amount of debt was satisfactorily liquidated. Five years afterwards, the legal rate of interest was still further lowered to the semun-ciarium fenus, or the twenty-fourth part of the whole sum (ad semuncias redacta usura, Tac. Ann, vi. 16) ; and in b. c. 346 we read of several usurers being punished for a violation of the law (Liv. vii, 28), by which they were subjected to a penalty of four times the amount of the loan. (Cato, de Re Rust, init.) But all these enactments were merely palliatives ; the termination and cure of the evil was something more decisive—neither more nor less than a species of national bankruptcy —a general abolition of debts or xPe®v awo/conr^. This happened in b.c. 341, a year remarkable for po­litical changes of great importance, and was fol­lowed up by the passing of the Genncian laws, which forbade the taking of usury altogether. (Liv. vii. 42.) A law like this, however, was sure to be evaded, and there was a very simple way of doing so ; it only affected Roman citizens, and therefore the usurers granted loans, not in the name of them­selves, but of the Latins and allies who were not bound by it. (Liv. xxxv. 7.) To prevent this eva* sion the Sempronian law was passed (b.c. 194), which placed the Latins and allies on the same footing in respect of lending money as the full Roman citizens. At last, after many futile at­tempts to prevent the exaction of interest at any rate, and in any shape, the idea was abandoned altogether, and the ceritesima or 12 per cent, per annum became the legal and recognised rate, Niebuhr, as we have already observed, is of opi-

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