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Ancient Rome money geeking - Input Junkie
September 8th, 2010
08:35 am


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Ancient Rome money geeking
Was the best paid athlete of all time a Roman charioteer? What was the money worth? Compute in grain/percent of GDP/silver/cost of maintaining armed forces.......

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[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2010 12:52 pm (UTC)
This conclusion is based on an equivalence of enough money to pay all the Roman regular soldiers of Diocles' time with enough money to pay all of the current US armed forces today. I don't know the exact numbers, but I'm certain that the US armed forces are larger by orders of magnitude than the Roman army at its height. The comparison makes no sense.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
That's pointed out in comments, though a number of methods of calculation did give somewhat similar results. Of course, part of the problem is that you can't buy the same things in both societies.

I agree that the armed forces aspect is probably silly, though it might not be a totally crazy way of looking at the fraction of GDP someone has.
[User Picture]
Date:September 8th, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
The Roman army had about 30 legions. A legion was approximately 5,000 men, so that's around 150,000. The auxiliary forces totalled about the same number, another 150,000. That comes to around 300,000. The US armed forces number about 1.5 million active duty and the same number of reserves; you could reckon that as either 5x or 10x, depending on whether you count the reserves. So, one order of magnitude, or a bit less.

And of course the pay rate for everyone was lower, necessarily. Economic output in preindustrial societies has been something like $500 per capita per annum through most of history, with only modest growth over time. Even if soldiers were generously paid, they weren't making as much as American soldiers.
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