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150 million sesterces

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150 million sesterces

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:37 pm

Salvete commilitones!

I'm a little stymied by the following passage from the "Res gestae divi Augusti" in which he claims to have given (out of his own pocket) 150 million sesterces to the treasury. Or at least that is what the translation (from a calendar with some daily Latin) says. I do not understand how the "million" is being expressed. Here's the original passage:
Quater pecunia mea iuvi aerarium, ita ut sestertium milliens et quingentiens ad eos qui praerant aerario detulerim. Et M. Lepido et L. Arruntio cos. in aerarium militare, quod ex consilio meo constitutum est ex quo praemia darentur militibus qui vicena aut plura stipendia emeruissent, HS milliens et septingentiens ex patrimonio meo detuli.

According to my dictionary "milliens" means "a thousand times", and "quingentiens" means "500 times". Put together this ought to mean "1,500 times" instead of "150 million times". Is it simply understood in view of the context that greater sums are meant? Even then, why exactly by a factor of "100,000"?

And what in general was the way of the Romans of the late republic and early empire to express the concept of "million".

Valete,

Carolus Raeticus
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Re: 150 million sesterces

Postby adrianus » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:47 pm

I'm writing in Latin hoping for correction, and not because I'm confident in how I express myself. Latinè scribo ut ab omnibus corrigar, non quod confidenter me exprimam.
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Re: 150 million sesterces

Postby Imber Ranae » Wed Sep 15, 2010 1:55 am

Sestertium is the old 2nd declension genitive plural of sestertius, modifying an implied centena milia (literally: "one thousand five hundred times [each one hundred thousand] of sesterces"). This was how large sums of money were regularly reckoned.
Ex mala malo
bono malo uesci
quam ex bona malo
malo malo malo.
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Re: 150 million sesterces

Postby Carolus Raeticus » Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:46 am

Thank you, Adrianus and Imber Ranae!

Equipped with your help concerning the omitted centena milia, I was able to find a detailed covering of this topic:
http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~silver/Reference/money.html
Surprising what kind of difference a "milliens" instead of "milia" can make.

Yours sincerely,

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