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ALIM ITAL






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ALIM ITAL

ALIM. ITAL. Alimenta Italiae.-- This legend, of which the general meaning is nourishment, food, provisions in corn, and other resources furnished by Trajan to Italy, has particular reference to the subsistence given by him to children of both sexes out of the public funds.

On a rare gold coin of the above-named emperor (in de cabinet de France), inscribed ALIM. ITAL. : on the exergue, the figure of Trajan, clothed in the toga, stands with his right hand extended over the heads of two children, who appear with uplifted hands before him. Around the field we read COS V. P. S.P.Q.R. OPTIMO PRINC.-- Another aureus, minted under the same reign, with the same legend, has for its type a woman standing. This good emperor, desirous to favour the population of Italy, which had suffered much during the civil wars, assigned to his subject certain landed estates, the produce of which was appropriated to the maintenance of a great number of children, otherwise destitue and unprovided for-- an excellent trait of his, and worthy of great praise, although he owed the example of it to Nerva, his father by adoption. The attention which Trajan bestowed, says the author of Doctrina, on the nurture of the young Italians, is attested as well by ancient authors as on marbles and coins. Dion alludes to this munificence, when he tells us, that on his return to Rome, U. C. 852 (A.D. 99), the Emperor applied himself immidiatly to improve the condition of the commonwealth: and this he did with such extensive liberality, as to expend large sums on the provinces even for the education of children.-- Pliny, too, in his panegyric, testifies that infants were dingently looked after and registered, in order to be brought up at the expense of the state. "There were very nearly 5000 free-born children, whom the liberality of our prince (says he), sought out and adopted. A reserve in case of war, and an ornament in peaceful times, they are nourished at the public cost; and learn to love their country, not as their country only, but also as their nurshing mother. From the ranks of these will our camps, our tribes, be filled," &c-- This panegyric was spoken in the year U. C. 853 (A.D. 100), and it shows that from his first accession to the empire, Trajan applied his thoughts to these public plans of benevolence. On a first braas of the same Emperor, a similar legend of reverse is to be found, accompanied with an allegorical type of elegantly simple design, as the subjoined engraving faithfully displays:--

In this we see the figure of a woman, clothed in a long robe. She bears a horn of plenty in her left hand; and in her right a bunch of corn ears, which she holds over the head of a small togated figure. Between the years U. C. 854 and 856 (A.D. 101 en 103) a stone was erected, as is shown by its having his 4th consulate inscribed on it, the language on which (as published by Muratori) extols the same example of Trajan's beneficence.

The monument next in order of time, commemorative of Trajan"s unceasing care for the wants of people, is a brazen tablet, 10Ĺ Italian fcet wide, 5Ĺ in height, and covered with an inscription in several columns, dug up in 1747, near Piacenza, and at a short distance from the Via AEmilia. This relic has been explaind by Muratori, Maffei, and others, and copied in extenso by Eckhel (vol. vi. 424), who remarks, that it was completed immediatly after the year U. C. 856 (A.D. 103). It is by this inscription, contemporaneous with the date of the coin (to adopt the appropriate language of Dr. Cardwell), an inscription as remarkable as any one which has ever fallen under the notice of Antiquaries, that the case in question is strikingly illustrated. It records the bounty conferred by Trajan upon the obscure town of Velcia, a town almost unknown in ancient history: it specifies the monthly allowance granted to 281 children belonging to this town; and describes, with the greatest exactness, the proprietors in the neighbourhood, with the reports made by them of the value of their property, and the sums which they recieved on mortgage; binding themselves in return to pay the moderate interest of five per cent. for the support of the institution.-- (Lecture ix. p. 222) Trajan's efforts directed towards the improvement of the condition of his subjects, are also recorded by Spartianus. Whilst the fact is proved by numerous coins, struck not only during his 5th consulship, but even later in his 6th, and which present elegant types allusive to that subject. We see, therefore, the liberalety of Trajan designated and enlogised on public monuments, throughout his five last last consulates, or from A.D. 99, to at least A.D. 112. Spanheim affords a variety of information respecting the alimenta distributed by Trajan; and Reinicius has collected, from inscribed marbles, a numerous list of Quaestores (paymasters) alimentorum, or as they are elswhere called, Quaestores pecuniae alimentariae.-- (Eckhel, vi. 424). It is pleasing to regard these monuments of Trajan's humane care of the families of the destitute poor; but it is not to be overlooked that the operation of this benevolent measure gave constant rise to fresh claims on the public treasury.-- "By these and other prodigal largesses, frequently renewed, the Emperor is said to have supported nearly two millions of his people.-- But in excuse for such wholesale pamperism, it must be remembered, that in Trajan's reign, most of the provinces suffered greatly by earthquakes; and many places were grievously afflicted with plague, famine, floods, and frequent conflagations."--


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