Out Shoppin'

Facets of everyday Roman life, from food to travel to petkeeping. "How did the Romans...?" answered here!

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Out Shoppin'

Postby Aldus Marius on Wed Aug 06, 2003 3:32 am

Avete Romani!!

I have here a little book called Pompeii: The Day a City Died. In the back of it are reprinted several contemporary documents. And among these are a week's worth of shopping-lists for a small Pompeiian household, with prices. Now, I'm pretty sure I saw a request for some such information; but I don't remember in which thread, or even which Collegium, as it was a long time ago. So I'm posting selections of it here...

[atque memento: 4 asses = 1 sestertius; 4 sestertii = 1 denarius; 25 denarii = 1 aureus.]

- a modius (14 pounds) of corn: 12 asses
- a modius of wheat: 30 asses
- a modius of lupins (beans, I think): 3 asses
- a pound of oil: 4 asses
- a measure of ordinary wine: 1 as
- a measure of fine wine: 4 asses
- a stewpot: 1 as
- a plate: 1 as
- a small drinking-vase: 2 asses
- a bucket: 9 asses
- a lamp: 1 as
- a silver sieve, if you just had to have one: 90 denarii
- a tunic: 15 sesterces
--- take said tunic to the cleaners: 1 denarius
- a mule: 520 sesterces
- two slaves: 5048 sesterces
- cheese: 1 as
- bread for family: 8 asses
- bread for slave: 2 asses
- onions: 5 asses
- semolina: 3 asses
- dates: 1 as
- incense: 1 as
- hard wheat: 16 asses
- black pudding: 1 as
- soft cheese: 4 asses
- leeks: 1 as
- small fishes: 2 asses

Okay. Consider that the as was the Roman equivalent of the penny...
...and the sestertius filled the role of a quarter...
...and the denarius, being the actual unit of exchange, was basically used like a dollar.

Then consider all those supermarkets that advertise their "Low, LOW Prices!!!", and dare any competitor to beat them.

What say we each print out this list and show the loudmouths what competition really looks like!?!

** Marius sprouts an absolutely Fiendish Evil Grin, wolfish as well **

In amicitia,
Aldus Marius Peregrinus.
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Fri Aug 08, 2003 11:37 am

Salve Mari

Most interesting. I suppose you haven't the Latin version. Perhaps a reference to where it could be found? I am curious as to the distinction between corn, which I would think is unprocessed grain for making gruel, then the wheat (flour) from hard wheat, and both from seminola.

The silver seive, for straining wine, yes I would have to have one, just as I prefer my coffee made through a gold seive. It does make a difference in the flavor of your better coffees.

For comparisons, I have that price list of sacrifices for a temple at Ostia, and then there is the property qualifications for the census, and the average wage of a legionary. One of the "poorer" consuls of the Second Punic War era I think was said to have property valued at 394,000 sesterces, while Paulus received something like 193,000 sesterces in just one gift from his ventures in Greece. But comparing to modern costs of living, maybe better to think of the Philippines where the cost of servants is considerably cheaper than 5000 sesterces, and where my pension, coverted to sesterces, would sound a good deal better.

Vale mi amice
M Horatius Piscinus

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