Appendix IV: Roman Prices

All figures are given in sesterces. Please remember that calculating costs and figures for ancient Rome is very difficult and it is very hard to be precise – it is pretty much impossible to express these in terms of any modern currency.

Incomes in Rome


Imperial income: 400 million sesterces per annum?

Day laborer’s income: 3-4 sesterces a day (city of Rome)[1]

Roman soldier’s income: 900 sesterces a year

Equestrian estate (minimum):[2] 400,000

Senatorial estate (minimum): 1,000,000 (from land in Italy)

Augustus’ estate at death (14 CE): over 1,000 million sesterces

Tiberius’ estate at death (37 CE): 2,700 million sesterces

GDP: Estimates vary from 10,000-20,000[3]


Domitian’s (81-96 CE) imperial income: 1-1.2 billion sesterces per annum?

Roman soldier: 1,200 sesterces a year

Patrons’ payments to clients for daily visit (reign of Domitian): 6 ¼ sesterces

Elite estates

Titus Antistius (quaestor 50 BCE): 18 million

Marcus Crassus the Triumvir (c. 114-53 BCE): c. 200 million

Lucius Lucullus (118-56 BCE): c. 100 million

Pompey the Great (106-46 BCE): over 200 million

Cicero (106-43 BCE):  c. 13 million

Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus (50s BCE-25 CE): 400,000 million

Pliny the Younger (61-112s CE): c. 16 million estate; lifetime gifts to his home town of Comum: 1.6 million sesterces

Seneca the Younger (d. 65 CE): 300,000 million

Gaius Caecilius Isidorus, freedman of Gaius Caecilius (d. 8 BCE): estate of 60 million sesterces + over ¼ million cattle and oxen

Narcissus, freedman of the Emperor Claudius (d.54 BCE): estate of 400,000 million

  1. Wages were lower elsewhere: in rural Egypt, for example, labourers earned c. 1 sesterce a day. However, costs of living were also lower outside Rome.
  2. This is the annual income required to belong to the equestrian or senatorial class; many members of this class had incomes much higher than this. Senators had to have at least 1 million sesterces from land; there was no such restriction on equestrians.
  3. 10,000 (Peter Temin), 12,500 (Keith Hopkins); 20,000 (Raymond Goldsmith),


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