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The Peculium

Winter, Gift Giving and the "Embedded" Economy in the Ancient World, pp. 213-239, 2014

33 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2013 Last revised: 27 Jan 2016

Andreas M. Fleckner

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance; Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Abstract

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

Fleckner, Andreas M., The Peculium. Winter, Gift Giving and the "Embedded" Economy in the Ancient World, pp. 213-239, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2313795 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2313795

Andreas M. Fleckner (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law ( email )

Mittelweg 187
20148 Hamburg
Germany

Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance ( email )

Marstallplatz 1
80539 Muenchen
Germany

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