Ancient History

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Ancient History Sourcebook:
Pliny the Elder (23/4-79 CE):
Natural History, XXXIII.47: A Wealthy Roman's Fortune

[Davis Introduction]

Great fortunes under the Empire fell into two general classes---those founded on commerce, and those founded on land. A good instance of the latter is here cited from Pliny the Elder. Isidorus must have been a great territorial lord---almost a petty prince upon his vast domains. It was estates like his---worked by cheap slave labor---which ruined the honest peasant farmers of Italy.

Gaius Caecilius Claudius Isidorus in the consulship of Gaius Asinius Gallus and Gaius Marcius Censorinus [8 B.C.] upon the sixth day before the kalends of February declared by his will, that though he had suffered great losses by the civil wars, he was still able to leave behind him 4,116 slaves, 3,600 yoke of oxen, and 257,000 head of other kinds of cattle, besides in ready money 60,000,000 sesterces. Upon his funeral he ordered 1,100,000 sesterces to be expended.


From: William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West, pp. ??

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.

This text is part of the Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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© Paul Halsall, July 1998