The Romans were people, and therefore they also
had to think about earning and living wages. Here we give some
quotations on life and how ordinary citizens of the Roman Empire
spent their lives.
Goods and services
While the city of Pompeii
was a more industrial metropolis, Herculaneum was more prosperous
and more residential. However, citizens in both cities still had to
earn a living.
Some of the estates around
Pompeii and Herculaneum were built for the rest of wealthy Roman
citizens, that is, they were holiday villages. Other estates were
quite working, where they cultivated various crops on the fertile
slopes of Mount Vesuvius, where they grew crops and vegetables
between the rows of vineyards and olive trees. Animal breeding also
flourished. The money earned from the land was concentrated in the
hands of several important families, who, thanks to this,
accumulated both economic and political power.
The staple foods were mainly produced by small
traders, but, sometimes, they were also produced by wealthy
Bread was produced daily in local bakeries.
Pistrinum (Pistrinium) on Kardo V Street in Herculumum is an
excellent example of such a bakery in which the entire baking cycle
from grain to baking of bread was performed. After baking, the bread
was then usually sold at a nearby store.
Since both Pompeii
and Herculaneum stood on the sea and were port cities, fishing was
an important source of income for many of its inhabitants. The fish
were sold entirely or used in the production of the garum.
Garum, a favorite seasoning in the life of Roman citizens, was a
strong-smelling fish sauce made from fish with salt added as a
preservative. The fish rotted in large amphoras and its internal
juices decomposed all tissues into one large porridge. A few days
later the juice was poured, and everything else was thrown away. The
quality of the garume largely depended on the type of fish. Used
fish such as tuna and mackerel for more expensive varieties, and
anchovies for the less sophisticated.
production of wool and wool products used any number of artisans,
depending on the wealth of the employer. Raw wool supplied by local
landowners was treated in the same way as today. Wool was originally
washed, defatted, and then fought off.
Spinning and weaving
was a slave in private houses and in large manufactories. The
finished fabric will be sent to the final process - felting and
dyeing. The fabric was kept in a large vat of mixed slurry from
water, potash, soda, and urine. After rinsing and drying, the fabric
is then bleached due to sulfur evaporation, or stained, before being
Shopkeepers, small traders, servants and slaves
the Forum, along the sidewalks, in open spaces, there were a lot of
small traders who were smartly selling their products, whether they
were shoes or fabrics or ceramics. Doctors, musicians, teachers and
other workers also stood here and looked for work for themselves
among the rich citizens of the city.
After the earthquake of
62, the city of Pompeii still came to its senses from devastation.
Simple workers, builders and other professions of work were quite a
lot and unemployment was quite small.
The cost of living
The Romans were a developed civilization and most people used money
to sell and buy goods and services. The Roman currency consisted
entirely of coins, which included aces (copper coins), dupondii
(bronze coins), sesterces (bronze), denarii (silver) and aureas
(gold). The ratio of coins is given below.
1 dupondii = 2
1 sestertia = 2 dupondii
1 dinar = 4 sesterces
staphylococcus = 25 denarii
Quadrans, quinarium argentus and
quinarium aureus were also used at different times.
of living in Pompeii seems to have been relatively low. In addition,
judging by the amount of money found on the bodies of its
inhabitants (more than 25 bodies carried between 3,000 and 10,000
sesterces while 60 victims carried about 200 sestertia), many
Pompeii citizens were clearly wealthy and very rich.
Some examples of basic costs are:
||Average wine glass
||Loath of bred
||1 kg/2lbs of butter
||Modius (6.5 kg) of grain
||On average 2- 8 aces