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A [Roman] soldier's payslip reveals he was left broke after military deducted his uniform and food


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A payslip made from a sheet of papyrus shows a Roman soldier was left penniless 1,900 years ago after the military took out fees for certain items.

 

The document was made out to a Gaius Messius, who participated in the Siege of Masada, one of the last battles during the First Jewish-Roman War.

 

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The receipt shows Messius received 50 denarii as his stipend, but fees for barley money, food and military equipment were taken out that totaled to the amount of his full pay.

 

Because part of the deductions taken were for fodder, food for livestock, experts believe he was a legionary cavalryman and had to feed his horse and mule.

 

It reads:

 

‘The fourth consulate of Imperator Vespasianus Augustus.’

 

‘Accounts, salary. Gaius Messius, son of Gaius, of the tribe Fabia, from Beirut.’

 

‘I received my stipendium of 50 denarii, out of which I have paid barley money 16 denarii. […]rnius: food expenses 20(?) denarii; boots 5 denarii; leather strappings 2 denarii; linen tunic 7 denarii.’

 

And the total of deductions is 50 denarii – Messius’ entire pay cheque.

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9237493/Roman-soldiers-payslip-1-900-years-ago-reveals-left-BROKE-military-deductions.html

 

Some things don't change, eh?

 

Panda Commander

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I think the main benefit of service in the Roman army came at the end of your time (20 plus years) with a large payment or land grant.  Also you would become a Citizen if not already, this was not the status of most Roman people.

Perhaps if Tommius Atkinsius didn’t think he’d get through to his long service award he might well burn through his salary.

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1 hour ago, 3DStewart said:

I assume this was a special case. Armies that don't pay their soldiers tend to disappear.

 

1 hour ago, malpaso said:

I think the main benefit of service in the Roman army came at the end of your time (20 plus years) with a large payment or land grant.  Also you would become a Citizen if not already, this was not the status of most Roman people.

Perhaps if Tommius Atkinsius didn’t think he’d get through to his long service award he might well burn through his salary.

 

 

Actually I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't a special case.  Many, some 1500 or so years later, seem to have a rather romanticised view of the Roman Empire.

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This is really interesting me as I enjoy Roman history.

 

Some things just never change!

 

Bear in mind that in the early days of Rome it was Roman citizens formed the backbone of the military (and viewed as a civic duty to state) and had to pay for all their own equipment.  This determined what role you played in the army, e.g. as horses were expensive so cavalry were wealthy Roman citizens (equestrians or 'Knights'), right down to the poorer citizens who could afford armour playing roles of light skirmishers 'Velities'.   The very poorest Roman citizens were exempt from military service.

 

This system was said to have been reformed (during the late Roman Republic) under Gaius Marius (a politician and general) who opened up service in the army as a career to even the poorest of citizens.   All military arms, equipment and food was supplied by the state to the legionary but the cost of this was deducted from their pay.  Joining the army was often seen as lucrative despite this because money could be made from successful campaigns in terms of spoils such as money or captured enemy sold as slaves.

 

As Malpaso has said, if a legionary survived his 25 year service, there would land grants, Roman citizenship (a very important right if not already a citizen) and any money gained over his years of service.

 

Regards

 

Dave

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Roman soldiers also received extras, for example on the accession of a new empire or on other occasions. A good guide to the Roman Army is the book by Adrian Galsworthy called 'The Complete Roman Army' which discusses pay. The 'payslip' only tells part of the story as Roman solders were paid in equal instalments, but the deductions were not made equally, so the deductions for uniforms were made only made once in a year. Evidence of unit accounts from Egypt show that over a year most soldiers had some money. The fact that the army clothed and fed its troops (even if it charged the soldiers) was a plus in societies where the gap between sufficiency and starvation was very narrow. Also campaigning and the fact that soldiers often acted as a police force or other capacities meant other ources of income were available. 

Soldiers in the British Army had deductions made for clothing at least up to the time of Culloden. 

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13 minutes ago, Epeeman said:

This is really interesting me as I enjoy Roman history.

 

Some things just never change!

 

Bear in mind that in the early days of Rome it was Roman citizens formed the backbone of the military (and viewed as a civic duty to state) and had to pay for all their own equipment.  This determined what role you played in the army, e.g. as horses were expensive so cavalry were wealthy Roman citizens (equestrians or 'Knights'), right down to the poorer citizens who could afford armour playing roles of light skirmishers 'Velities'.   The very poorest Roman citizens were exempt from military service.

 

This system was said to have been reformed (during the late Roman Republic) under Gaius Marius (a politician and general) who opened up service in the army as a career to even the poorest of citizens.   All military arms, equipment and food was supplied by the state to the legionary but the cost of this was deducted from their pay.  Joining the army was often seen as lucrative despite this because money could be made from successful campaigns in terms of spoils such as money or captured enemy sold as slaves.

 

As Malpaso has said, if a legionary survived his 25 year service, there would land grants, Roman citizenship (a very important right if not already a citizen) and any money gained over his years of service.

 

Regards

 

Dave

Exactly what Dave said. The value of Roman Citizenship was also what attracted auxiliary troops to the service in spite of their lower serving pay. There were also the bonuses (Donativum) issued by various Emperors to encourage loyalty and curry favour with the legions. 

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6 minutes ago, Mr T said:

Roman soldiers also received extras, for example on the accession of a new empire or on other occasions. A good guide to the Roman Army is the book by Adrian Galsworthy called 'The Complete Roman Army' which discusses pay. The 'payslip' only tells part of the story as Roman solders were paid in equal instalments, but the deductions were not made equally, so the deductions for uniforms were made only made once in a year. Evidence of unit accounts from Egypt show that over a year most soldiers had some money. The fact that the army clothed and fed its troops (even if it charged the soldiers) was a plus in societies where the gap between sufficiency and starvation was very narrow. Also campaigning and the fact that soldiers often acted as a police force or other capacities meant other ources of income were available. 

Soldiers in the British Army had deductions made for clothing at least up to the time of Culloden. 

And don't forget, they were also given a nice shiny hat! :wink:

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Some things never change! When I was in the RAF the first pay rise we got after the Falklands actually left me worse off than before as they also raised the cost of the accommodation and food by a higher percentage. Talk about a back handed compliment!

 

Duncan B 

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Talking of rather large deductions, here's a true story.  During the miners' strike of 1984/5 some men, who's wives were working, transferred the married person's tax allowance to the said wives.  Wife paid less tax, great!  Move forward to the end of the strike and the men returned to work and started to receive their wages.  Some weeks on, someone, (who knows who), noticed that the men were still receiving their married person's tax allowance as well as their wives.  Obviously both could not receive it, so there had been an underpayment of tax by the men.  Now, it might have been nice if the sum owed had been recovered in instalments, wouldn't it?  No, it was all taken back in one payment, resulting in men receiving zero pay one week.  I well remember that pay day, in particular a friend of mine walking up and down the lockers waving his pay slip and shouting.  I won't reproduce what he was shouting, just use your imagination!  I understand he took it up with his wife on his return home after the shift.

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