Winter, Gift Giving and the "Embedded" Economy in the Ancient World, pp. 213-239, 2014
33 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2013 Last revised: 11 Nov 2017
The peculium is one of the most fascinating institutions of Roman law. It is also one of the most complicated. Over recent decades, it has become popular to explain the peculium as a legal instrument through which businessmen could team up and finance capital-intensive projects. This idea, however, faces two critical objections: first, there is no evidence that the peculium was indeed used to organize large business ventures, and second, the peculium’s legal regime seems less than optimal, and in some respects even ill-suited, to fund such enterprises. This gives rise to a second hypothesis: was the peculium primarily a legal device for donations to slaves and other individuals who lacked the capacity to hold property on their own?
Keywords: peculium, theory of the firm, entity shielding, asset partitioning, Roman law, slaves, gifts
JEL Classification: D23, K11, K12, K22, L22, N40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation