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Highest-Paid Athlete Hailed From Ancient Rome
Discovery News ^ | 9/1/10 | Rossella Lorenz1

Posted on 09/02/2010 12:07:51 PM PDT by wagglebee

Ultra millionaire sponsorship deals such as those signed by sprinter Usain Bolt, motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi and tennis player Maria Sharapova, are just peanuts compared to the personal fortune amassed by a second century A.D. Roman racer, according to an estimate published in the historical magazine Lapham's Quarterly.

According to Peter Struck, associate professor of classical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, an illiterate charioteer named Gaius Appuleius Diocles earned “the staggering sum" of 35,863,120 sesterces (ancient Roman coins) in prize money.

Recorded in a monumental inscription erected in 146 A.D., the figure eclipses the fortunes of all modern sport stars, including golfer Tiger Woods, hailed by Forbes magazine last fall “sports' first billion-dollar man.”

Diocles, “the most eminent of all charioteers,” according to the inscription, was born in Lusitania, in what is now Portugal and south-west Spain, and started his spectacular career in 122 A.D., when he was 18.

Life for a charioteer in Rome wasn’t easy. Often slaves who could eventually buy their freedom, these racers engaged in wild laps of competition at the Circus Maximum, running a total of about 4,000 meters (nearly 2.5 miles).

“After seven savage laps, those who managed not to be upended or killed and finish in the top three took home prizes,” wrote Struck.

Experienced charioteers drove hard-to-manage chariots driven by four or even more horses.

Their sporting equipment included a leather helmet, shin guards, chest protector, a jersey, a whip, and a sharp knife with which to cut the reins if the chariot overturned.

Although drivers did not have their helmets or whips blessed by generous sponsorship, they could rely on stables or factions, basically teams similar to today’s Formula One: the Reds, Greens, Blues and Whites.

“The drivers affiliated with teams supported by large businesses that invested heavily in training and upkeep of the horses and equipment,” said Struck.

Diocles won his first race two years after his debut with the Whites, four years later, he briefly moved with the great rivals the Greens. But had the most success with the Reds, with whom he remained until the end of his career at the age of  “42 years, 7 months, and 23 days.”

He is said to have won 1,462 of his 4,257 races and finished second 861 times, making nine horse “centenari” (100-time winners) and one horse, Pompeianus, a 200-time winner.

The inscription details his winning tactics: he “took the lead and won 815 times,” took the competitors by surprise by “coming from behind and winning 67 times,” and “won in stretch 36 times.”

Although other racers surpassed him in the total number of victories -- a driver called Pompeius Musclosus collected 3,599 winnings -- Diocles became the richest of all, as he run and won at big money events. For example, he is recorded to have made 1,450,000 sesterces in just 29 victories.

Struck calculated that Diocles’ s total earnings of 35,863,120 sesterces were enough to provide grain for the entire population of Rome for one year, or to fund the Roman Army at its height for more than two months.

“By today’s standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion,” wrote Struck.

“Even without his dalliances, it is doubtful Tiger could have matched it,” he added



TOPICS: History; Society; Sports
KEYWORDS: ancientrome; chariotracing; chariots; circusmaximus; godsgravesglyphs; hippodrome; romanempire; sports
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To: wagglebee

sesterces were worth 1/4 of silver denarius - which was
daily pay of Roman soldier or skilled laborer as
comparision


21 posted on 09/02/2010 12:41:23 PM PDT by njslim
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To: xsmommy

Well, it says he was illiterate, so he obviously wasn’t one of the “lucky” ones with a hot teacher.


22 posted on 09/02/2010 12:47:30 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: wagglebee

bookmark


24 posted on 09/02/2010 12:56:13 PM PDT by GOP Poet (Obama is an OLYMPIC failure.)
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To: oldbill
==== ________
CCCLDCCCLXMMMCXX

Took some liberty with the double overline above CCCL. It was suggested on a site, but couldn't find any examples. A single overline (like over the DCCCLX indicates *1000), so a double indicates *1,000,000 (*1000*1000).

Had flashbacks to Catholic School there and a sudden urge to watch Blues Brothers....

25 posted on 09/02/2010 12:59:54 PM PDT by Textide
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To: wagglebee

Michaelus Jordanus?


26 posted on 09/02/2010 1:00:27 PM PDT by JRios1968 (The real first rule of Fight Club: don't invite Chuck Norris...EVER)
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To: njslim

Marcus Licinius Crassus was an supporter of Julius Caesar and is generally thought to be one of the ten wealthiest men in hostory had a fortune of 200 million sesterces.


27 posted on 09/02/2010 1:01:58 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 70th Division

Probably some spinners.


28 posted on 09/02/2010 1:05:38 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: JoeProBono

Go Maximus!


29 posted on 09/02/2010 1:26:21 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: wagglebee
And you can bet he was getting paid in REAL Gold, not fiat money.


30 posted on 09/02/2010 1:32:06 PM PDT by Clock King (Ellisworth Toohey was right: My head's gonna explode.)
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To: wagglebee

If life imitates life, then I will wager that a lot of his money went to managers, gambling, bling, women, hanger-ons, relatives, drink and by no means least - TAXES!!! Do you suppose that he had any left in his old age, assuming he lived into it?


31 posted on 09/02/2010 1:34:00 PM PDT by SES1066 (Cycling to conserve, Conservative to save, Saving to Retire, will Retire to Cycle.)
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To: Textide

I had to dig around and yours was creative, but I don’t really think they had a way of expressing such huge numbers. I never saw the double bar multiplier.

I think a Roman would have said “numerus maximus, ultra descriptionum” (a humungous number so big you can’t describe it).

Sister Agnes would be ashamed of both of us.


32 posted on 09/02/2010 1:48:13 PM PDT by oldbill
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To: The KG9 Kid

Is that you King Richard? I think that this is late 60s and may be Daytona? Can you believe it, you can actually see the paint job, not the decals!


33 posted on 09/02/2010 1:48:48 PM PDT by SES1066 (Cycling to conserve, Conservative to save, Saving to Retire, will Retire to Cycle.)
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To: wagglebee

I bet Spartacus would have been paid more, but he broke his contract at the very end......


34 posted on 09/02/2010 1:53:14 PM PDT by Brett66 (Where government advances, and it advances relentlessly , freedom is imperiled -Janice Rogers Brown)
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To: wagglebee

I think it’s Circus Maximus not Circus Maximum.


35 posted on 09/02/2010 1:59:09 PM PDT by Drawsing (The fool shows his annoyance at once. The prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16))
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To: Clock King
And you can bet he was getting paid in REAL Gold, not fiat money.

Permit me to give you a caveat on this. Two ways of 'false money' in that era were gold-over-lead 'slugs' and 'clipped' coinage. Both were considered forms of counterfeiting although the lead slug was an invitation to immediate judgement and death. As for 'clipping', that is why you see most non-ancient high-value coins being 'reeded' (the mini cog-wheel ridging along the edges, credited to Sir Isaac Newton). In ancient times, a bit cut off of silver and gold coins was a common way to make money "go farther" so long as the coins could be still exchanged for "face value".

36 posted on 09/02/2010 2:05:05 PM PDT by SES1066 (Cycling to conserve, Conservative to save, Saving to Retire, will Retire to Cycle.)
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To: wagglebee; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 21twelve; 240B; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

· join list or digest · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post a topic · subscribe ·

 
Gods
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Thanks waggs.

It was this guy for whom the phrase was coined, "those who are about to cash our checks salute you!"

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

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37 posted on 09/02/2010 5:16:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Democratic Underground... matters are worse, as their latest fund drive has come up short...)
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To: xsmommy
and i bet he didn’t have a sex tape circulating either... ; )

Uh, I wouldn't count on that. They probably did a pantomime show about him in the theaters.
38 posted on 09/02/2010 9:04:10 PM PDT by Antoninus (It's a degenerate society where dogs have more legal rights than unborn babies.)
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To: SES1066
In ancient times, a bit cut off of silver and gold coins was a common way to make money "go farther" so long as the coins could be still exchanged for "face value".

Yup. Under Justinian, there was an official in Italy named Alexander "the Scissors" who was famous for just this type of operation.
39 posted on 09/02/2010 9:06:58 PM PDT by Antoninus (It's a degenerate society where dogs have more legal rights than unborn babies.)
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To: a fool in paradise
I have his rookie card.

I had his rookie card, but it was defaced by Vandals. :(

40 posted on 09/06/2010 1:04:12 AM PDT by Lonely Bull
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