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