Monday, April 30, 2018
Thanks to several sources consider the extreme wealth of those Roman generalissimo during the Imperial period. Generalissimo as I understand the word to mean a combat commander who also wields political power of an almost absolute nature.
First from the book: "The Fall of the ROMAN EMPIRE The Military Explanation" by Arthur Ferrill.
"A recent estimate puts the annual military budget of the Roman Empire in the the second century at 450 million to 500 million sesterces. Although there is no way to which ancient Roman coinage can be converted into its equivalent in modern U.S. dollars [USD], some idea of the amounts involved here can be derived from a few comparisons. Perhaps the most telling one is that there were individual Romans in the first century who had private fortunes of nearly this amount. In the first century B.C. Crassus had a private fortune of 200 million sesterces, and Caesar and Pompey eventually probably had much more."
That conversion of ancient Roman coinage into modern value however easier than assumed?
A sesterce in the time of ancient Rome would buy you two loaves of bread. Two loaves of bread today worth about $4 USD..
By modern standards Crassus nearly a billionaire and Caesar and Pompey easily billionaires.
Also the debauched extravagance of Pompey in the aftermath of military victory. [thanks here to the tip from Professor Al Nofi]
"Following Pompey the Great’s triumph on Dec. 29, 71 BC for his victories in Spain, he held a banquet, which opened with appetizers that included 5,000 specially raised thrushes, worth 3 denarii each, or nearly a week’s pay for a legionary soldier, a good bit of change for the Roman equivalent of Buffalo wings."
"A denarius (or 'penny') was what an agricultural worker typically was paid for one day's labor (Matthew 20:2). If we assume U.S. minimum wage for 10 hours, that would be $72.50 USD currently ."
That cost for the thrushes alone about $1 million USD total.
Any of those devoted readers to the blog have a problem with my monetary calculations and assumptions? Let me know.