Roman Economy  Prices in Ancient Rome:
Daily Life:
The bread consumption in ancient Rome was quite high. A average male roman
ate about 2 pound bread a day.
The ultimate unit of measurement for wheat was the Modius (plural: modii).
One modius equals 20.7 libra (1 libra (roman pound) = 322.5 g) equals 6.67 kg.
For the average monthly bread consumption for one person about 4 modii (26.68
kg = 58.8 pound) were neccesary.
One modius was used to produce 16  20 one pound loaves.
Virtually no price information for meat, fruits and vegetables is handed down.
1 Denari = 4 Sestertii = 16 As
Monthly Income and Prices for 1 modius Wheat in the 1st century
AD:
Job 
Denari / month

Secretary 
15

Lecturer 
12

Messenger 
9

Haruspex (fortune teller) 
10

Legionary Soldier (Private) 
20

Praetorian (guard in Rome) 
60

Legionary Soldier (Centurion) 
~300

6th century AD 

laborer/semiskilled worker 
9 folles/day
1020 solidi / year


Location 
Price / As

Rome 
up to 32

provincial Italy 
16

Africa 
9  16

Asia minor 
8  16

Palestine 
10  12

Egypt (bread basket) 
7  9


Other Prices:
1st century AD 
Price

1 modius wheat 
see above and right

1 loaf bread 
1 dupondius
(=2 As ; in Rome)

1 sextarius wine
(~0.5 liter) 
1  5 as

1 sextarius fine wine 
up to 30 as

a bath at a public bath 
1/4 as

1 tunika (clothing) 
15 sestertii

1 donkey 
500 sestertii

1 slave 
2000 sestertii = 500 denarii (up to 1500)

1 female slave 
2000  6000 denarii

1 morgan land 
1000 sestertii = 250 denarii


Average price in As for 1 Modius wheat:
(values of Rome and Italy derived from Egypt)

Rome

Italy

Egypt

18BC14AD 
16

8

4

14  98 
32

16

8

98  192 
40

20

10

193  260 
68

34

17


Pompeii 79 AD 
Price

1 modii wheat 
7 sestertii = 28 as

1 modii rye 
3 sestertii = 12 as

1 litra (1/3 kg) oil 
1 sestertii = 4 as

1 pound bread 
1 as

1/2 liter tablewine 
1 as

1/2 liter fine wine 
2  4 as

1 pot 
1 as

1 dish 
1 as

1 oillamp 
1 as

1 bucket 
2 sestertii = 8 as

1 tunika (clothes) 
15 sestertii = 3 den. 3 ses.

1 donkey 
500 sestertii = 125 den.

1 slave 
2500 sestertii = 625 den.

1 fine for a criminal action 
25 sestertii = 6 den. 1 ses.

mid 3rd cent. 
Price / Antoninianii

1 fishing net 
14

1 fish trap 
6

1 small fishing boat 
186

1 cooking pot 
3

1 oil lamp 
1

1 loaf of bread (1 pound) 
1 (province)

1 sextarius wine 
4

1 soldiers wintercape 
75

camelleather boots 
20

light leather shoes 
12

1 sword 
60

1 donkey 
145

1 horse 
250

1 healthy & strong slave 
8001200

~ 6th cent. 
Price

1 unskilled slave 
20 solidi

vegetables per day 
5 folles (10 solidii / year)

1 lb. fish 
6 folles

1 loaf of bread 
3 folles (= half a day's labor wages)

1 wool blanket 
1/25 solidus

1 secondhand cloak 
1 solidus

1 donkey 
34 solidii

1 copy of the New Testament 
3 solidii

501: famine in Edessa 
Price

wheat 
rose from 30 to 4 bushels / solidus

barley 
rose from 50 to 6 bushels / solidus

40 bronze nummi = 1 copper follis
180 folles (7,200 nummi) = 1 solidus
72 solidi = half lb. of gold
Time 
Soldier Income / Day 
Price f. 1 Mod. Wheat
see note 3 
211  210 BC see note 1 

20  24 as 
203 BC 

4 as 
200  150 BC 
3 as 
4 as 
141 BC see note 2 
5 as 
6 as 
123 BC 

6.33 as 
100 BC 

8 as 
73 BC 
5 as 
12 as 
46 BC 
10 as (unskilled labourer 12 As) 
12 as 
0 
10 as 
16 as = 1 den. 
60 AD 
16 as 
32 as = 2 den. 
170 AD 
13 as 
40 as = 2 den. 8 as 
218 AD 
16 as = 1 denar 
68 as = 4 den. 4 as 
305 AD 

2  10 nummi see note 4 
Note 1: Time of the devastation of Latinum by Hanibal.
Note 2: Retarification of the Denar: before 141 BC: 1 denarius
= 10 As ; after 141 BC: 1 denarius = 16 As
Note 3: Average price in Rome (for provincial Rome half price ; for
Egypt 1/4 price)
Note 4: After struggling with the economy and a money reform in 214 AD
the nummi was introduced in 294.
It had the same buying power like the denari in early times. 2 nummi in Egypt
; 10 nummi in Rome.
Consumption of a family of 4 per year in Rome:
* in the Roman Republic (175  150 BC):
A family of 4 persons needed the following goods per year, where 40% were consumpted
by the adult male in the family.
120 modii wheat (= 800 kg) 
480 as 
120 sextarii of oil (= 65 liter) 
80 as 
720 sextarii of wine (= 400 liter) 
120 as 

680 as = 68 denari (see note 2) 
Soldier Income: ~100 denari / year 

* in the Roman Empire (75  125 AD):
Rome : 200 denari for wheat, oil, wine (2  2.5 as per day) 
Provincial regions: 100 denari 
EXAMPLES:
Republic: 137 BC: 1 denarius paid a soldier for 3 days. Enough to buy wheat
for one month.
1 As ~ 1 loaf of bread
Bibliography:
DuncanJones  The economy of the Roman empire
Kenneth W. Harl  Coinage in the Roman Empire

Adkins  Handbook to life in ancient Rome:
time 
payment 
comments 
2nd century BC 
legionary: 1/2 denarius /day
centurion: 1 denarius / day
cavalryman: 1 1/2 denarii / day 
soldiers also received an allowance of corn deducted from
their pay 
mid. 1st cent. BC 
legionary: 112.5 denarii / year 

time of Caesar 
legionary: 225 denarii / year 

time of Augustus 
legionary: 225 denarii / year
praetorian guard: 375 denarii / year
centurion: 3750  15000 denarii / year 
at the end of Augustus reign:
praetorian guard: 750 denarii / year 
8384 AD (Domitian) 
legionary: 300 denarii / year
praetorian guard: 1000 denarii / year
centurion: 5000  20000 denarii / year 

time of Sept. Severus 
legionary: 459 denarii / year
centurion: 8333  33333 denarii / year 

time of Caracalla 
legionary: 675 denarii / year 

In general: early empire:
auxiliary infantry: 1/3 legionary pay
auxiliary cavalry: 2/3 legionary pay
Adkins  Handbook to life in ancient Greece:
time 
payment 
comments 
late 5th cent. BC 
workman: 1 drachma / day
assistant: 3 obols / day
agricultural laborers: 4 obols / day + food for 2 obols / day 

beginning 4th cent. BC 
foreman of a gang of bricklayers: 2 drachmas / day
1215 drachmas / 1000 bricks

wages gradually became bases on piecework than
on daily rate 
mid. 4th cent. BC 
@Delphi plasterers 1  2.5 dra. / day 
end 4th cent. BC 
@Eleusis: bricklayer, carpenter, plasterer 2.5 drachmas
/ day
17 drachmas / 1000 bricks
sawyer 2 drachmas / day
laborer 1.5 drachmas / day



Fee for attandance of the Assembly in Athens 
4th cent. BC: 4 regular meetings in each prytany (40 per
year); fee introduced in 400 BC; 1 obol per meeting initially; 6 obols
in 327 BC with 9 obols for the main meeting in each prytany 
payment for jurors at the law courts 
trials by juries instituted in the 5th cent. BC; payment
introduced by Pericles; initially 2 obols / day; 425 BC 3 obols / day 
military training for 18 yearold men 
2 years training; after 305 BC ceased to be compulsory;
282 BC 1 year training
before 305 BC (compulsory): daily allowance of 4 obols / day 
last updated: 15/NOV/2003