1922 115 Reviews of Books X An Economic History of Rome to the End of the Republic. By TENNEY FRANK. (Baltimore : Johns Hopkins Press, 1920.) READERS of Professor Frank's numerous contributions to periodical literature will be prepared for an original and stimulating, as well as learned, treatment of the subject : their only regret will be that the book is not planned on a larger scale (it only numbers 303 pages) and that it does not include the imperial period. Dr. Frank has not, as a matter of fact, confined himself strictly within the limits set by his title : for the last forty pages are largely concerned with conditions under the empire, and we hear something of the collegia, the tabulae alimentariae, and the inscriptions relating to the African domains. It is to be hoped that Dr. Frank will deal more fully with these matters in a second volume, although we gather from his preface that this is likely to be deferred. The book will be useful both to students of Roman history, for whom the well-chosen references to authorities will be very valuable, and also to a wider public, since it is not overloaded with detail. The opening chapters on agriculture in early Latium and on the early trade of Latium and Etruria contain much that will be fresh to many readers. The fine products of sixth-century art which have come to light in Latium tend to overshadow those found in Rome itself, and it should always be remem- bered that their comparative rarity in that city is due to the continuous transformation of the site ; this is perhaps not sufficiently emphasized. The chapter on the Roman coinage is likely to provoke some controversy. Dr. Frank seeks to maintain the thesis that Rome endeavoured to main- tain a bimetallic system in spite of violent fluctuations in the market price of silver and copper. This involves the supposition that there was an enormous appreciation in the value of bronze towards the close of the fourth century B.C., owing (as Dr. Frank believes) to the circulation of the vast treasures of silver and gold acquired by Alexander in the East ; and that ' when in 269 Rome reformed her coinage on a new system she was able to restore the old ratio of 120 : 1 which had for some years fallen to 20 : 1 '. We doubt whether numismatists will prefer this explanation to that hitherto accepted. Dr. Frank, by the way, seems to think that denasius, later denarius, is connected by etymology with as (p. 73). Some of Dr. Frank's statements on the political history of Rome challenge criticism. The reform of 287 B.C. is represented on p. 45 as the establishment of ' a kind of soviet government ' : the analogy is somewhat remote, except in the formal sense that ' a state within the State . . . grew I 2
Page:English Historical Review Volume 37.djvu/123
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