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"Roman Soldier’s Payslip Found…Reveals the Infantryman" Topic

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Tango0105 Mar 2022 9:34 p.m. PST

… was Left BROKE

"Roman soldier Gaius Messius fought in a major battle. What did he earn for his trouble…? Nothing, according to an ancient payslip!

Most people complain about their pay, However when it comes to Ancient Rome those gripes are on a whole other level. The withered document is 1,900 years old, made of papyrus and was found at Masada, a former mountain stronghold in the Judean Desert, Israel.

Messius' face no doubt fell when he read the details of his due. As with today's slips, deductions were on the large side…"

Main page


Andrew Walters06 Mar 2022 10:23 a.m. PST

So many ads on that web page! So many!

I found another, also with a zillion ads, that includes a translation:


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.

Assuming he doesn't need new boots and tunic every paycheck eventually he makes some money. I believe that typically the soldier would try to buy the boots, tunic, and straps from a suttler at a more reasonable price. Something must have happened, maybe he ruined or stole someone else's stuff and was forced to pay this price. Puzzling that the tunic cost more than the boots. Really nice tunic and really cheap boots?

gavandjosh0206 Mar 2022 3:36 p.m. PST


Tango0106 Mar 2022 3:47 p.m. PST



Gazzola07 Mar 2022 9:41 a.m. PST

Great post. But the surviving fragment looks incomplete, so, you never know, the missing part or parts might have mentioned he received some form of bonus or share of loot?

Tango0107 Mar 2022 3:35 p.m. PST

Agree…. we never know…


mckrok Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2022 5:54 p.m. PST

As a US Army Soldier, I recall marching to a cadence which went,…"They give you a hundred dollars and take back ninety-nine…" I guess somethings don't change.


Au pas de Charge12 Mar 2022 2:04 p.m. PST

I guess his pay wasn't worth the papyrus it was written on.

Tango0112 Mar 2022 3:14 p.m. PST



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