We are prevented from giving a similar comprehensive view of the
moneyed economy of Rome, partly by the want of special treatises
descending from Roman antiquity on the subject, partly by its very
nature which was far more complex and varied than that of the Roman
husbandry. So far as can be ascertained, its principles were, still
less perhaps than those of husbandry, the peculiar property of the
Romans; on the contrary, they were the common heritage of all ancient
civilization, under which, as under that of modern times, the
operations on a great scale naturally were everywhere much alike.
In money matters especially the mercantile system appears to have been
established in the first instance by the Greeks, and to have been
simply adopted by the Romans. Yet the precision with which it was
carried out and the magnitude of the scale on which its operations
were conducted were so peculiarly Roman, that the spirit of the Roman
economy and its grandeur whether for good or evil are pre-eminently
conspicuous in its monetary transactions.