Diocletian and Constantine
Efforts to Stabilize the Economy
Source: Bruce Bartlett, "How Excessive Government Killed
Ancient Rome", Cato Institute Journal 14:
2, Fall 1994.
Diocletian: Prices Edict, 301, Preamble
For who is so hard and so devoid of human feeling that he
cannot, or rather has not perceived, that in the commerce carried on in the
markets or involved in the daily life of cities immoderate prices are so
widespread that the unbridled passion for gain is lessened neither by abundant
supplies nor by fruitful years; so that without a doubt men who are busied in
these affairs constantly plan to control the very winds and weather from the
movements of the stars, and, evil that they are, they cannot endure the
watering of the fertile fields by the rains from above which bring the hope of
future harvests, since they reckon it their own loss if abundance comes through
the moderation of the weather.
Constantine: Edict on Employment
Any person in whose possession a tenant that belongs to
another is found not only shall restore the aforesaid tenant to his place of
origin but also shall assume the capitation tax for this man for the time that
he was with him. Tenants also who meditate flight may be bound with chains and
reduced to a servile condition, so that by virtue of a servile condemnation
they shall be compelled to fulfill the duties that befit free men.