Aezanis, Temple of Zeus, 117-138 AD 
  
History/Classics 310
 
Athenian Empire: 480-404 B.C.

Index 

Syllabus: 
 Structure
 Schedule 

Readings: 
 Book List 
 Reserve Readings
 Themistocles Decree
 Megarian Decree
 Athenian Treaties

Chronologies: 
 Early Sparta and Athens
 514-482 B.C. 
 Pentekontaeteia, 479-431 B.C.
  Peloponnesian War 

Handouts: 
 Finances in Athens
 Greek Coinage and Measures
 Military

Links

COINAGE AND FINANCES:
 
I. Revenues of the Athenian State
II. Building Costs in Athens
III. Wages and Prices in Athens
 
REVENUES OF THE ATHENIAN STATE
 
Annual Tribute to Athens, 477-454 B.C. 
 
Date 

477 B.C. 
454 B.C. 
431 B.C. 
428 B.C. 
425 B.C. 
421 B.C. 
 

Sum 
Attic Talents 
460 
500 
600 
800 
1,500 
1,200
Drachmae 
2,760,000 
3,000,000 
3,600,000 
4,800,000 
9,000,000 
7,200,000
 
Source 

Thuc. I. 96 
Meiggs, AE, p. 253 
Thuc. I. 99. 3 & II. 13. 6-7* 
Meiggs, AE, p. 325** 
Meiggs, AE, p. 343 
Andoc. III. 9 
 

*Meiggs, AE, pp. 62-63, doubts Thucydides' figures for 477 and 432 B.C.  Meiggs' lower sums  are implausible,     and his proposed sum of 400 talents in 432 B.C. is based on fragmentary ATL in which many of the sums are guesswork. 
**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 
 
Date 

454 B.C. 

432 B.C. 
430 B.C. 
 

Sum 
Attic Talents 
8,000 
10,000 
9,000 
6,000
Drachmae 
48 million 
60 million 
54 million 
36 million
 
Source 

Diod. XII. 28. 2 
Diod. XII. 30. 1-2 
Thuc. II. 13. 6-7 
Thuc. II. 13. 6-7* 
 

*Meiggs, AE, pp. 524-39; figures of Diodorus are often doubted and reduced to 5,000 talents (a sum inferred from Demosthenes). The siege of Potidaea and naval operations in 432-430 B.C. reduced the reserve from 9,000 to 6,000 talents. 
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BUILDING COSTS AT ATHENS, 447-425 B.C.
 
Date B.C. 
 
447-432 
447-432 
447-432 447-432 

447-432 
433-425 
 

 

Sum 
Attic Talents 
700 
1,000 
400 
3,000 

200 
2,700 

8,000 

Drachmae 
4,200,000 
6,000,000 
2,400,000 
18,000,000 

1,200,000 
16,200,000 

48,000,000

 
Project 

Parthenon 
Gold and Ivory Statues of Athena Propylaea 
Odeum, Ship-houses, Middle Wall 
and expansion of docks at Piraeus 
Two gold statues of Nike 
Temple of Athena Nike, completion of Parthenon & related projects 
TOTAL 
 

See A. Zimmern, Greek Commonwealth (Oxford, 1931), p. 412. 
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WAGES AND PRICES AT ATHENS, 480-300 B.C.

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). 
 
At the siege of Potidaea (432-429 B.C.), each hoplite received 2 drachmae per day (one for himself, one for his servant); each cavalryman received double this rate (Thuc. III. 17. 4).  An Athenian trireme, manned by 170 rowers and 30 officers and marines, cost 200 drachmae per day in wages or 1 talent per month.  Athens paid her citizens well.  In 420 B.C. Athens agreed to a treaty whereby Argos agreed to pay each Athenian hoplite, archer, or peltast 3 Aeginetic obols per day and each cavalryman 1 Aeginetic drachma, which was equivalent to only two-thirds of their usual pay.  Wages were a fraction of total military costs.  The siege of Potidaea cost Athens between 2,000 and 2,400 talents or 12 to 14.4 million drachmae (Thuc. II. 70. 2 and Isoc. XV. 113).  The total wages of the 3,000 hoplites and the sailors on the 30 triremes deployed in this operation (984 talents or 5,904,000 drachmae) account for less than half of total expenditures. 

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). 

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Dr. Kenneth W. Harl 
Office: History 211 (504)862-8621 
Fax: (504) 862-8739 
Home: (504)866-5392 
 
 Tulane University
Last updated 03/19/98
by Annette Lindblom