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Merchant

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For the category list, see Merchants.
RomanDailyLifeFood&DrinkPlacard

This is a market stall selling food and drink in Rome. A merchant stands near bowls of fruit and a tall, dense basket used to hold live snails. This marble relief was found on a Roman funerary stele dating to approximately the second century C.E.

Sellers of anything from fine silks, perfumes and jewelry to food and weapons. The Latin word for merchant was Mercator. A Mercatoriam Mancipium, for example, was a dealer in slaves.


Publicani were associations formed higher up members of the mercantile class, often Equestrians, who were contracted by the Roman authorities with the collection of taxes, hence they labelled as "tax-farmers". With the expansion of Roman rule across the Mediterranean, publicani, both Roman and allied Italians, moved to the provinces and opened their offices, and carried out the collection of revenue on behlf of the provincial governor in return for their commission. Publicani also supplied essential goods and equipment to the Roman legions posted abroad.

On a more individual basis, there were the Negotiatores, who were part-way moneylenders, in addition to whatever commodities they traded. A subset of negotiatores who specialized as private bankers were known as Argentarii. Some negotiatores were even employed by the state as public bankers, and were called Mensarii.

Lower level Mercatores were often Plebeians, immigrant Peregrini (foreigners) or freedmen.

Notable ExamplesEdit

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