Annual Tribute to Athens, 477-454 B.C.
**Plut., Aristides 24. 3, notes tribute was raised to 1,300 talents after the death of Pericles in 429 B.C.
Reported Reserves of Athens
WAGES. In imperial Athens (475-400 B.C.), a hoplite, rower, and laborer (free or slave) each received a daily wage of 1 Attic drachma. In 400-320 B.C. the daily wage rose to 1.5 Attic drachmae. Craftsmen and masons working on public projects in 447-408 B.C. received daily wages from 2 to 2.5 drachmae. Many artisans were paid by the amount of work. Bricklayers in 395-391 B.C. received 12 or 15 drachmae per 1,000 bricks laid; in 329-328. B.C. they received 17 to 25 drachmae for the same amount of work. Stonecutters of public decrees received a drachma for every fifty letters cut.
In the Athenian democracy, 6,000 jurors received each a daily wage (opsonion)
sufficient to purchase the minimum subsistence. In 460 B.C. this
was 2 obols (1/3 drachma); in 408 B.C. it was raised to 3 obols (1/2 drachma).
STATE REVENUES. In 450 B.C. Athens received an annual tribute of 500 talents or 3 million drachmae, which was tripled to 1,500 talents or 9 million drachmae in 425 B.C. Profits from mines, justice, customs netted another 2,000 talents or 12 million drachmae per year. This was only part of the wealth of Athens. It can be argued that total revenues might have exceeded 6,000 talents (or 36 million drachmae)--an impressive sum for a commercial city whose annual revenues might have been half of the revenues of King Artaxerxes I (465-425 B.C.) who received in annual tribute perhaps 12,000 talents after the losses of India, Ionia, and Egypt.
In 428 B.C. Athens levied an emergency war tax or EISPHORA on property at 1% of assessed value. Since the tax yielded 200 talents or 1.2 million drachmae, the propertied classes of Athens were assessed at a net worth of 20,000 talents or 120 million drachmae. In 413 B.C. Athens abolished the tribute (phoros) in favor of a 5% customs on imports and exports within the empire. Customs revenues annually netted 1,200 to 1,500 talents, implying a volume of commerce valued at 30,000 to 32,000 talents (180 to 192 million drachmae).
STATE EXPENDITURES In contrast to the Great King, the Athenian democracy was committed to a high expenditures each year. In 431 B.C., the service of 200 triremes for six months cost 800 talents or 4.8 million drachmae. In 483-410 B..C. Athens commissioned 1,500 triremes at a cost of 15,000 talents or 90 million drachmae. In 460 B.C., Athens had to pay out in wages at least 360,000 drachmae or 60 talents for the 180 days marked for jury service . In 408 B.C. this sum rose to 540,000 drachmae or 90 talents. The building costs recorded in 447-425 B.C. totaled at least 48 million drachmae for the construction of the main monuments on the Acropolis (Parthenon, Propylaea, Temple of Athena Nike, and cult statues), the Middle Walls linking the city to the Piraeus, and the expansion of harbor facilities at the Piraeus.
PRICES AND SUBSISTENCE. The cost of wheat is the best index of buying power. The Spartan hoplite received a generous daily ration of 1 choenix of wheat (or 2 choenikes of barley) per day or an annual ration of 7.5 medimnoi. An Athenian adult male of the thetic class required less, 3/4 choenix of wheat daily, or 6 medimnoi per year (150 kilogrs.) His grain needs (sitos) was 3/4 of minimum caloric intake. The other 50 kilograms came from oil, vegetables, and protein. A thetic family of four required annually 15 medimnoi of wheat.
In 460-400 B.C. 1 medimnos of wheat cost 3 drachmae so that the minimum needs of the adult thete cost annually 18 drachmae. The thetic family of four paid 45 drachmae for annual wheat. In 400-325 B.C., 1 medimnos of wheat averaged 5 drachmae so that the annual needs of wheat for adult male rose to 30 drachmae and that of the family of four to 75 drachmae. The price of wheat fluctuated seasonally. In times of famine prices soared as high as 16 drachmae per medimnos (over three times customary price). Xenophon (Anab. I. 15) reports that, in the market following the army of Cyrus the Younger in 401 B.C., Greek mercenaries bought wheat at the outrageous price of four shekels per capith, the equivalent of 5 Attic drachmae for every 2 choenikes of wheat or 120 drachmae per medimnos, i.e. 24 times greater than customary prices.
Olive oil was the principal fat consumed, and 1 kyathos of oil (1/6 kotyle), equivalent to 1.56 fluid ounces, was the daily minimum for an adult male. In markets, oil was prices at 1/2 obol per kotyle or 1 drachma per chous. The minimum needs of an adult male was 5 choes priced at 5 drachmae; that of a family of four was 12.5 choes at 12.5 drachmae.
Most thetes grew a substantial portion of their needs on private or leased land. An Attic farm of 20-40 plethera (5-10 acres or 2-4 hectares) could sustain most thetic families.
INCOME LEVELS. The first propertied class (pentakosmedimnoi) had annual incomes at or above 500 medimnoi of wheat (250 times the daily minimum of an adult male). This income carried a value of 1,500 drachmae in 460-400 B.C. The second class or cavalry (hippeis) had incomes between 300 and 500 medimnoi or 900 to 1,500 drachmae. The third class of hoplites (zeugitae) had annual incomes of 200 to 300 medimnoi or 600 to 900 drachmae. The PANOPLY or the suit of hoplite armor and weapons cost between 300 and 500 drachmae (equivalent of 1/2 to 1 year’s income of a zeugites). In 415 B.C. Athens armed 700 thetes as hoplites for service in Sicily at a cost of 210,000 to 350,000 drachmae (35 to 58 talents).
|Dr. Kenneth W. Harl
Office: History 211 (504)862-8621
Fax: (504) 862-8739