amazingly, pin down the inļ¬nite.
Maecianus starts with the subdivision of the coin known as the solidus,
also called libra or as. The three alternative nomenclatures are the prelude
to a systematic taxonomy, where each part of the as is introduced in turn
as a numerical fraction, a name (the formula is ā˜it is calledā™ (vocatur) or
ā˜its name isā™ (nomen est))14 and a sign (ā˜its sign isā™ (cuius nota)).15 The as
is subdivided into halves (semisses), thirds (trientes), fourths (quadrantes),
sixths (sextantes), eighths (sescunciae), ninths (unciae duae sextulae) and
twelfths (unciae) ā“ the ā˜elements, as it wereā™ of the ļ¬rst division (distributio).
12 Distrib. 61.12ā“19: Saepenumero, Caesar, animadverti aegre ferentem te, quod assis distributionem et in
heredum institutione et in aliis multis necessariam ignotam haberes. Quare ne tam exigua res ingenium
tuum ullo modo moraretur, cum partes ipsas tum vocabula et notas proponendas existimavi; et deprehendes
distributionem quidem partium inļ¬nitam, oppido autem quam exigua vocabula et notas.
13 Fanizza (1982) sees a link between the Distrib. and Maecianusā™ work on ļ¬deicommissa (15), and
between the Distrib. and Maecianusā™ post as praefectus annonae (112). Indeed, Dig. 188.8.131.52 (Mae-
cianus from book 9 of the Fideicommissa, commenting on the lex Falcidia) contemplates a propor-
tional contribution on the part of heir and recipient of legacy, in case they owe money as a result of a
case involving the deceased. According to Vindius noster, the contribution should be proportional to
their respective inheritances. Maecianus ļ¬nds this idea both fair and logical (aequitatem et rationem
. . . habet).
14 On the importance of names for measures, see Heilbron (1990) 207ā“42, especially 214ā“15.
15 In Pliny the Elderā™s discussion of Roman coinage, nota is the design on the coin: see HN 33.44ā“6.
210 s era fi n a cuom o
Maecianus perhaps alludes here to Euclidā™s Elements, and hence to the fun-
damental, seminal nature of his present work. These elements, he says, ā˜pre-
serve equalityā™,16 unless they are added or subtracted to each other, in which
case they sometimes produce equal, sometimes unequal parts. For example,
if you add a sextans to a quadrans, you obtain a quincunx, equivalent to ļ¬ve
unciae, i.e., 5/12; or, if you add a semis to a sextans, you obtain a bes, i.e.,
8/12.17 Those are unequal parts. In general, the subdivisions of the as can be
equal ā“ a certain multiple of each subpart produces a whole as; for instance,
six sextantes make an as, and so do two semisses, three trientes, and so on ā“
or unequal. No multiple of a quincunx can produce a whole as ā“ two will
fall short of an as by a sextans, three will exceed an as by a triens.
The two parallel subdivisions are distinguished also by the fact that
equal parts can only be characterised in one way, whereas unequal parts
have several alternative deļ¬nitions. For instance, a semis is, simply, one
half, 1/2, and is obtained by dividing the as into two. A bes, on the other
hand, can be obtained by adding 1/12 to 7/12, or by adding 1/2 to 1/6, or
5/12 to 1/4, or 1/3 to 1/3, and can be deļ¬ned as eight unciae or four sextants
or two trientes or even an as minus a third.18 Even though unequal parts
have a non-univocal nomenclature, and are characterised in a multiplicity
of ways, their distinctive ā˜signsā™ (notae) remain the same. A bes, no matter
how deļ¬ned in terms of addition or multiplication of parts, is denoted by
S =. The ā˜signsā™ of the unequal parts are in fact loaned from those of the
equal ones: the sign of the bes reveals, and possibly privileges, one of its
possible origins as the sum of a semis (denoted by S) and a sextans (denoted
After the as, Maecianus moves to a ā˜less known, but not totally obscureā™,
monetary sphere: that of the uncia or twelfth of an as,19 which is posited as
the mid-point between a tree of subdivisions upwards, towards the as, and
an open-ended subdivision tree downwards, into ever smaller parts. The
ļ¬rst subdivision of the uncia is along similar lines to that of the as: into
halves (semunciae), thirds (binae sextulae), fourths (sicilici), sixths (sextulae),
twelfths (dimidiae sextulae) and twenty-fourths (scriptula, also called scrip-
ula). In each case, as with the parts of the as, we are told what part of the
uncia the unit is, what it is called and what its denoting sign is.20
The apparently easy symmetry, however, is immediately shattered, as
Maecianus points out the complete arbitrariness of his own systematisation.
ā˜These partsā™, he says, ā˜can be further divided into however many parts you
16 Distrib. 62.13ā“15: Haec velut elementa primae de asse distributionis aequalitatem servant.
17 18 Distrib. 62.22ā“4; 63.28ā“31.
Distrib. 62.15ā“18 and 22ā“4, respectively.
19 20 Distrib. 64.18ā“28.
Maecianusā™ monetary pamphlet for Marcus 211
want, but below them you do not ļ¬nd signs or proper names apart from
thoseā™.21 The reason why some subdivisions have signs and names and
others do not, is simply not given: Maecianus observes that, for instance,
the as could be divided into eleven equal parts, but it is not. There are no
names and no signs for elevenths or tenths, the way there are for ninths
or sixths. In other words, the relationship between thing and name and
symbol, which had seemed rather straightforward in the ļ¬rst subdivision
and had acquired multiplicity in the second subdivision, has now been
exploded ā“ there are things that, although at some level they exist for us, do
not have a name or a distinctive sign, unless they serve speciļ¬c purposes.22
Thus ā˜some accountants call the half scriptulum a simpliumā™, or again a 1
per cent interest rate is endowed with a speciļ¬c name.23
From mentioning interest and capital, the account moves on to a sort
of interlude. Maecianus comments: ā˜The nomenclature of the as has to do
with concrete things and bequests taken as a whole, while its division has
to do with a description of the parts; it can also be applied to numbered
wealth (pecunia numerata), which used to be in bronze, later started to be
struck in silver, so that each silver coin had value depending on the quantity
of bronze [it amounted to].ā™24 A historical dimension is thus introduced.25
For instance, Maecianus says that the libella, i.e., a tenth of a denarius, used
to have the same function as the as, but is now associated with the past
and the ways of the ancients (exemplo maiorum).26 The victoriatus was once
a foreign coin, ā˜as tetradrachma and drachma are todayā™: originally from
Illyria and Thessaly, it started to be issued in Rome between the First and
21 Distrib. 65.13ā“15: Has quoque partes in quantum libet dividere possis; verum infra eas neque notas neque
propria vocabula invenies praeter ea.
22 Distrib. 65.19ā“66.14. Similar questions arise in contemporary literature (Gell. NA 2.26, on how
there are more colours than there are names for them in either Greek or Latin) and jurisprudence
(Neratius in Dig. 22.6.2 posits a contrast between the determinacy of law and the indeterminacy of
facts subsumed under it; see discussion in Scarano Ussani (1979), 5ā“77).
23 Distrib. 65.15ā“16: Dimidium scriptulum audio quosdam ratiocinatores simplium vocare) and 66.14ā“15,
24 Distrib. 66.21ā“6: Sicut autem assis appellatio ad rerum solidarum hereditatisque totius, divisio autem
eius ad partium demonstrationem pertinet, ita etiam ad pecuniam numeratam refertur, quae olim in aere
erat, postea in argento feriri coepit ita, ut omnis nummus argenteus ex numero aeris potestatem haberet. I
have translated aes throughout as ā˜bronzeā™ for convenience, but in fact it could indifferently denote
bronze or copper.
25 Temporal adverbs abound; the Greeks and the Twelve Tables are mentioned at Distrib. 67.5ā“9. Gell.
NA 20.1 features a discussion of the laws of the Twelve Tables, revolving around the changing value
of the as: when the Tables were written, it was a remarkable sum, but no longer so in the second
century ce. This sparks off the debate whether the ancestral laws were excessively cruel and are now
outmoded. Historical awareness was a fundamental component of jurisprudence; see, e.g., Casavola
(1980) 9ā“12; Bretone (1982) 10.
26 Distrib. 70.16ā“30.
212 s era fi n a cuom o
the Second Punic Wars, and gradually assimilated into ā˜normalā™ currency.27
The parallels between appropriation of the coin and gradual incorporation
of Illyria within the Roman state (effective by the early ļ¬rst century ce),
sanctioned by the appropriation of the image of Victory, which gives the
coin its name, are obvious.
Having gestured towards the potential inļ¬nity of micro-units lurking
beneath the as and uncia, a whirlpool of nameless bits of money, a ā˜here be
monstersā™ on the map of currency that he is drawing, and after the historical
interlude, Maecianus continues his deliberate ordering. He launches into
subdivisions of larger denominations, the denarius and the sestertius; the
accounts are punctuated by direct appeals to the reader to denote each part
with its sign and name.28 The author declines to go into the subdivisions of
the victoriatus or the quinarius because he does not know the Roman way
of proceeding; he says, however, that the reader can work it out by analogy
with other monetary units.29
Finally, Maecianus turns to weight, liquid and grain measures, which are
organised along lines similar to money. In fact, units for weight and for
money often share names and values, because at least in origin each coin
was denoted by its weight. This relation was loosened and partly broken
down when ļ¬nancial circumstances required devaluation of the currency.
The conclusion is tantalisingly fragmentary: ā˜The natural cause of the
parts and of number remains unchanged, however much they may differ
in name with each nation. The size of weights and measures is unstable,
because its weighing and measuring out . . .ā™30 It would seem that Maecianus
was commenting, perhaps as a conclusion to his survey, on the complex
relationship between the thing and its stand-ins (number that expresses its
measure, coin that expresses its value and is also represented by a number,
sign that denotes the coin that expresses the value of a certain quantity of a
thing), and on the permanence and variability of these various classiļ¬cations
and correspondences ā“ issues that have already emerged at several points
in the text.
Using a coin is ultimately an act of trust in the correspondence established
between the piece of metal and the thing one wants to buy, a correspondence
represented by an equivalence of value between the price of the merchandise
and the amount the coin is worth.31 Money is in fact the prime example
27 Distrib. 66.29ā“67.2. Cf. Mattingly (1928) 13ā“17.
28 29 Distrib. 69.1ā“6.
Distrib. 67.12ā“68.24; e.g., 67.14ā“15, 17ā“18, 19ā“20, passim.
30 Distrib. 71.23ā“6: Partium et numeri naturalis causa durat, quamvis nominibus apud quasque gentes
different. Ponderis et mensurarum modus incertus est; nam eius dispensio ac dimensio . . .
31 Cf. Arist. Eth. Nic. 1133a20ā“b15. For assessments of the cultural and political background to classical
Greek monetary economies, see von Reden (1997), Kurke (1999), Seaford (2004).
Maecianusā™ monetary pamphlet for Marcus 213
of a metrological object which has turned from representation of reality
into reality ā“ an inscription device where the signs meant to depict a thing
are now taken as the thing itself. The Latin word for ā˜moneyā™, pecunia, is
semantically multi-layered: fundamentally, and originally, it denotes sheep;
it also comes to signify wealth in general, because those who owned a large
number of sheep were wealthy; and hence also money, the translation of
a certain number of sheep into a quantity of metal which can travel and
be stored and exchanged in a way that sheep cannot. Money is quantiļ¬ed
value, sheep or other bodies that have become a number: pecunia numerata,
or ā˜reckoned pecuniaā™.32 Of course the sheep are no longer important ā“ what
used to stand in for the object of value is now the object itself. In fact, money
now signiļ¬es on the basis of other money rather than of things outside:
the value of coins is expressed in terms of other coins, their universe of
reference is self-contained and independent of its original meaning.
The story of Rome could be narrated as that of the changing relations
between things and the inscription devices which stand in for them: a
metrological story.33 It is in parallel with the development of the empire,
the accumulation of riches and various devaluations, regulations and dereg-
ulations, that pecunia, the substance for which coins stand in, becomes
ā˜reckonedā™ (numerata) ā“ it becomes inscribed and entangled in an intricate
network of correspondences. The network pictured in Maecianusā™ short
treatise is revealing of wider webs and ramiļ¬cations, and it gives rise to
several questions. How does the Distributio relate to contemporary metro-
logical literature? How does it relate to jurisprudence, which was Maecianusā™
main ļ¬eld of expertise? And, ļ¬nally, why should the emperor know about
the subdivisions of the as?
th e treatise in a m e trologi c a l con t ex t
In many respects, the Distributio is quite unique in ancient metrology. The
closest comparable account is a passage from the ļ¬fth book of Varroā™s On the
Latin Language (47ā“45 bce), where the author performs a sort of naming
ceremony for all aspects of reality, including public ofļ¬ces and elements of
religious ritual, bestowing Latin names upon them.34 One of the underlying
32 Dig. 50.16.178 (Ulpian): ā˜The word pecunia consists of not only counted money (pecunia numerata),
but absolutely all money, that is, all bodies: for nobody will doubt that ā˜bodiesā™ are included in the
designation of moneyā™.
33 See Nicolet (1991).
34 Varro Ling. 5.36 (169ā“74), excerpted in Hultsch (ed.) (1866) ii, 49ā“51. Unsurprisingly, given the time
gap between them, Varroā™s and Maecianusā™ subdivisions overlap but do not coincide.
214 s era fi n a cuom o
issues is, on what basis is this naming operation performed: what makes
a certain name go with a certain thing? The section on money (ā˜stamped
(signata) pecuniaā™ ) starts rationally enough: as comes from aes, the metal
it is made of; dupondius from its ā˜double weightsā™ (duo pondera), and so
on. But by the time we get to a hundred asses, the stable, almost natural,
connection between thing and name breaks down: ā˜ducenti (two hundred)
and higher numbers which are made by analogy do not indicate asses any
more than they do denarii or any other thingā™.35 What this brings home,
once again, is the ambiguous nature of money and of its relationship with
For Pliny the Elder, the creation of money is just another of the crimes
committed in the name of greed. In the section of his Natural History
(published in 77 ce) devoted to precious metals, he tells us that initially the
Romans used raw metal, then King Servius introduced stamped bronze,
and then ā˜stamped silverā™ (argentum signatum) came after the victory over
King Pyrrhus. Pliny points out the original relation between coins and
ā˜stuff ā™, reminding the reader of some weight-linked etymology: ā˜expendi-
tureā™ derives from expensa, sums weighed out, and pecunia from the design
stamped on the metal, which was an ox or a sheep.36 Whereas Varroā™s order
is, one could say, linguistic, trying to show that the relation between name
and thing has a rationale, and Maecianusā™ account is anchored to simple
arithmetic, Plinyā™s monetary map is shaped like a historical and moral nar-
rative, where the explanation of various currency values, signs and names, is
to be found in the circumstances of Roman history, down to the present.37
Take this passage: ā˜Next according to a law of Papirius asses of half an ounce
were made. When Livius Drusus was tribune of the plebs he mixed the
silver with an eighth of bronze. The coin now called victoriatus was struck
under the Clodian law; but previously this coin imported from Illyria was
used as an article of trade. It is in fact stamped with a Victory, hence the
nameā™.38 The value and composition of coins are often changed by deed of
Roman ofļ¬cers ā“ the stability of the original relation between ā˜realā™ thing
and monetary value, in its turn signiļ¬ed by the stable relation between
the name of the coin and its composition or weight, both grow weaker
with time, and are more and more subject to the vicissitudes and even
whims of power. ā˜The emperors gradually made the gold denarius smaller,
35 Varro Ling. 5.170, Engl. tr. R.G. Kent with my modiļ¬cations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
36 Plin. HN 33.42ā“45. Crawford (1985) 19ā“20; Burnett (1987) 15, and Savio (2001) 109ā“10 think Plinyā™s
testimony is not to be taken literally.
37 38 Plin. HN 33.46.
Plin. HN 33.44ā“7.
Maecianusā™ monetary pamphlet for Marcus 215
and most recently Nero had forty-ļ¬ve denarii stamped from a pound of
The third ā˜metrologicalā™ work I shall discuss is Columellaā™s On agricul-
ture. While he does not talk about currency speciļ¬cally, Columella discusses
measures of land; his work begs comparison with Varroā™s treatise on the same
subject, both being repositories of useful knowledge and at the same time
of ethical guidelines for the estate-owning members of the upper orders.
Showing an attitude quite at odds with Maecianus, Columella states that
metrological matters do not really pertain to him, but are rather the job
of surveyors. He compares his role as a farmer to that of an architect, who
plans the building project, but delegates measuring and cost-calculating to
other people. Nevertheless, he proceeds to provide a discussion of measure-
ments for the beneļ¬t of his reader and friend Silvinus ā“ even architects,
after all, have to be acquainted with the ā˜account of measurementsā™ (ratio
mensurarum).40 Columella thus lists units of land measurement, drawing
on Varro on a couple of occasions, and, like Varro, occasionally provid-
ing etymologies and local variations in nomenclature and subdivisions.
In a manner analogous to that of Varroā™s piece on money, the temporal
dimension sneaks in, as a factor that loosens the relation between thing
and ā˜stand-inā™ for the thing:
[F]ormerly the centuria was so called because it contained 100 iugera [approximately
2/3 of an acre], but afterwards when it was doubled it retained the same name, just
as the tribes were so called because the people were divided into three parts but
now, though many times more numerous, still keep their old name.41
After a further disclaimer, in which Columella says that the smaller frac-
tions of the iugerum are superļ¬‚uous because no transaction depends on
them, he goes on to list subdivisions of the iugerum anyway, from its small-
est fraction, the half-scripulum, to the iugerum itself, which is explicitly
compared to an as.42 The next section applies these measurements to pieces
of land of different shape, used as formulae.43 In other words, a further
level is inserted between thing and measure: the geometrical representation
of a ļ¬eld. A piece of land becomes a geometrical ļ¬gure, becomes a cer-
tain quantity of iugera; and from there it can come to represent a certain
quantity of any other units of measurement, even non-Roman ones, even
those no longer in use, provided one can establish a relation between those
39 Plin. HN 33.47.
40 Columella Rust. 5.1.2ā“4. Engl. tr. E. Heffner (London/Cambridge, MA: Heinemann and Harvard
University Press 1954).
41 42 Columella Rust. 5.1.8ā“12. 43 Columella Rust. 5.1.13ā“2.10.
Columella Rust. 5.1.7.
216 s era fi n a cuom o
and the iugera. The well-established, solidiļ¬ed, inscription device allows
connections and comparability across time and space.
The surveyors Columella refers to often feel it necessary to impart some
metrological knowledge onto the readers of their treatises. The authors in
the collection we now call the Corpus agrimensorum romanorum frequently
and explicitly equate measure and order in a wider political sense, and their
closeness to the centres of power can be argued from their biography, as
in the case of Frontinus, or from their own statements, as in the case of
Balbus. The job of the surveyor consisted to a great extent in negotiat-
ing the metrology of a territory: converting un-measured pieces of land
into measured ones, converting non-Roman or pre-Roman measures into
Roman ones, or juxtaposing them to Roman ones, and making sure that
the relation between measure and thing remained stable through the use
of boundary stones, indeed making it stable by producing maps.44
A Roman surveyor from probably the ļ¬rst century ce states that ofļ¬cial
measurements should be given both in Roman and in local units. But ā˜if
there was a dispute whether a versus [a Dalmatian unit of measurement] had
8,640 feet, conļ¬dence (ļ¬des) could nevertheless be placed in the iugera [. . .]
When the iugera have been recorded, even if something can be <done>
using local terminology, a system involving iugera will be inherently reliable
for usā™.45 The desire for stability and systematisation of measures unsur-
prisingly tends to privilege Roman standards, but is compounded with
the recognition of local realities and local networks of consensus: ā˜each
region follows its own practice so that a trustworthy method can be agreed
uponā™.46 In general, ā˜we must watch out <for the practices of> different
regions in case we seem to be doing something unusual. For our profession
44 E.g., Frontinus, De limitibus 10.16ā“25 (ed. and Engl. tr. Campbell (2000)); Hyginus 1, De condi-
cionibus agrorum 88.22ā“90.9 (Campbell); Hyginus 2, Constitutio limitum 136.28ā“38 (Campbell);
Balbus, Expositio et ratio omnium formarum 204.19 (Campbell); Deformatio 240.15ā“22 (Campbell);
De mensuris agrorum 270.10ā“34 (Campbell); De agris 272.22ā“5 (Campbell); Marcus Nipsus, Podis-
mus 296.4ā“26 (ed. F. Blume, K. Lachmann, A. Rudorff, Gromatici veteres, Berlin: Reimer 1848ā“52);
Mensurarum genera 339.1ā“340.8 (Blume); De mensuris 371.1ā“376.13 (Blume); [Boethius], Demonstra-
tio artis geometricae 407.1ā“408.2 (Blume). De mensuris agrorum, Mensurarum genera, De mensuris
and the pseudo-Boethius would warrant further study, but, given their late date, not as part of this
paper. All quotations from Campbellā™s edition reproduce his translation. For Frontinus, see Alice
KĀØ nigā™s chapter in this volume.
45 Hyginus 1, De condicionibus agrorum 88.23ā“90.12, especially 88.25ā“32. Cf. also ibid. 96.23ā“24 (Camp-
46 Hyginus 1, De generibus controversiarum 92.24ā“25. See also Ordines ļ¬nitionum. Latinus et Mysrontius
togati Augustorum auctores. De locis suburbanis vel diversis itineribus pergentium in suas regiones 254.13:
ā˜In many lands trust (ļ¬des) is required in different markersā™ (Campbell).
Maecianusā™ monetary pamphlet for Marcus 217
will retain its integrity if we also conduct our investigations principally
according to the practice of the regionā™.47
Sometimes the similarities with Maecianusā™ small treatise are striking, for
example when Siculus Flaccus talks about subdivision of the main Roman
unit of measurement for land areas: ā˜Centuriae do not contain 200 iugera
in all regions. For in some we ļ¬nd 210, in others 240. So this matter also
will have to be carefully examined, since it follows that limites will not be
of an equal length between the boundary stones if centuriae have more
than 200 iugera. For example, if a centuria has 240 iugera, it follows that
there will be 24 actus from stone to stone along one limes, . . . and 20 actus
along the other . . . I have discovered that in some lands that had been
divided, although the centuriae contained 200 iugera, they had not been
given equal lengths of 20 actus between the marker stones, along the limites.
In the territory of Beneventum there are 25 actus along the decumani, and
16 along the kardines. Nevertheless, 200 iugera are enclosed by this type of
measurement, but square centuriae are not thereby producedā™.48 As in the
case of the as, there can be various subdivisions, and they can be related
to the passage of time or political events in certain regions: the surveyor,
the administrator and, by extension, the emperor have to be aware of these
ļ¬‚uctuations in the relations between things and measures.
Balbusā™ treatise The description and account for all shapes (Expositio et
ratio omnium formarum) is again a foil to the Distributio. Its declared aim
is to set out the basics of the surveying profession, starting from measure-
ments, i.e., ā˜anything that is deļ¬ned by weight, capacity or by judgementā™,
although Balbus is thinking essentially of measures of length.49 He proceeds
to expound the twelve names of the measurements in use, and some of their
subdivisions: for instance, a sextans, also called dodrans, encompasses three
palmi, nine unciae and twelve digiti. The objects of Balbusā™ account start in
a two-dimensional world, as it were, and expand into further dimensions:
the ā˜concave square footā™ (pes quadratus concavus), for instance, ā˜has the
capacity of an amphora of three modiiā™.50 In fact, it is when explaining this
expansion that he invokes the real world behind the intricate web of names,
equivalences and subdivisions: ā˜Measurements are taken in three ways, by
length, by breadth, and by height. That is, a straight line, a plane ļ¬gure,
47 Hyginus 1, De generibus controversiarum 94.25ā“7. Cf. also Siculus Flaccus, De condicionibus agrorum
104.34ā“106.13, 17ā“18, 108.20ā“21, 26ā“27, 114.34; Agennius Urbicus, De controversiis agrorum 20.16ā“21,
30.31ā“33, 34.19ā“21, 36.11ā“12, 40.4ā“6, 42.10ā“13 (Campbell).
48 Siculus Flaccus, De condicionibus agrorum 126.6ā“17 (Campbell).
49 Balbus, Expositio 206.5ā“6 (Campbell).
50 Balbus, Expositio 206.8ā“27, in particular 27 (Campbell).
218 s era fi n a cuom o
and a solid ļ¬gure. A straight (line) is where we measure the length without
the breadth, for example, lines, porticos, running-tracks, length in miles,
the length of rivers, and similar things. A plane (planum) is what the Greeks
call epipedon; we refer to ālevel feetā (pedes constrati).ā™51 A correspondence is
established between a thing (a river), the geometrical representation of that
thing (a straight line) and what we call that representation (the name of the
measurement, in Latin or Greek). Whereas we cannot really manipulate
the real thing at will, we can operate on its representations, especially on
the measurement, which can be further ordered according to divisions and
correspondences. This aspect becomes crucial in the ā˜tamingā™ of wild terri-
tories, which are subsumed, if only in an imperfect and approximate way,
under a geometrical representation ā“ are inscribed in the various senses
we have given this word ā“ and thus domesticated and made part of the
Finally, we have archaeological and epigraphic evidence on the regulation
of weights and measures.52 One of the duties of the ofļ¬cial known as an
aedile was to inspect weights and measures in use in a market to prevent
frauds, and it is well known that ofļ¬cially approved weights and measures
had to be used in cities across the Empire: this is testiļ¬ed by archaeological
ļ¬nds of measuring tables (mensae ponderariae) in many marketplaces,53 by
inscriptions54 and by legal rescripts such as the following: ā˜If a seller or a
51 Balbus, Expositio 206.34ā“7 (Campbell).
52 A further category of metrological texts is papyri dealing with units of measurement, including
monetary units. E.g., PSI 763 (ļ¬rst century bce, provenance unknown); PLond. 2.265 (ļ¬rst century
ce, ed. F. G. Kenyon, London: British Museum Publications 1898); POxy. 9 verso, 669, 3455ā“60
(ranging from the ļ¬rst to the fourth century ce); PRyl. 64, 538 (second to fourth century ce);
PVindob. G 26012 (third to fourth century ce) in Sijpesteijn (1980). See also Boyaval (1971) and
Pintaudi and Sijpestijn (1989) 114ā“15, relative to Ammoniosā™ notebook, Louvre MNE 911, probably
sixth century. The Distributio often shares with them a didactic approach, the familiar tone, the
frequent direct appeals to the reader in the second person singular, the exhortations to ā˜sayā™ or ā˜writeā™,