Sunday, 2 December 2012

The cost of living

The cost of living isn't a new thing, the moment someone figured out what a shekel was, was the moment someone figured out there was no such thing as a free ride. In the 1st-century BC, Rome was the already the world's super city, with inflated living costs just like those we see in Manhattan or down-town London. At a time when the Roman soldier's annual salary was 900-sesterces ($22,500)...

Living in Rome an average rent could set you back 38-sesterces/wk ($961)

A family sized loaf of bread cost half-a-sesterce (2-as or $12)

Entry into a bathhouse was 1-quadranus (one-sixteenth of a sesterce or $1.56)

A wet-nurse cost 40-sesterces per month ($1000).

A woollen tunic (the Roman equivalent to a pair of Levis and a T-shirt) was worth 30-sesterces ($750)

A pair of army boots was 50-sesterces ($1250)

Half-litre of high-grade fresh olive oil cost 20-sesterces ($500)

Half-litre of beer was 2-sesterces ($24)

Half-litre of aged wine was 12-sesterces ($300)

Half-litre of wine with wormwood (Roman Vermouth) - 10-sesterces ($250)

Half-litre of ordinary wine  was 4-sesterces ($100) - this seems pretty steep, but a jug of wine was usually diluted with three or four parts water once served - a cup of diluted wine would actually cost about 2-as or $12

Some of these dollar values seem pretty high, but remember this was an era before mass manufacturing of cloth, with most wine and oil imported at considerable expense from the furthermost parts of the Roman world.  What we see here is the reflection of how much it could cost to be an Empire.

Find out if Calvus was fiscally conservative