Economic Life | The Roman Military

Economic Life of the Soldier

The Roman soldiers were an integral part of the Roman economy. They expanded the Empire's territories, allowing the economy to expand, protected trade routes, and consumed large amounts of food and metals. The soldiers also required regular infusions of monetary supplements (i.e., salaries), which the government paid. Unfortunately, little is known about the amount of the salaries, but historians can say that it was large for a member of the working class. It is believed that the ranged from about 75 denarii per year for frontier Auxiliaries in the Augustian period to about 2250 for a praetorian guard in the age of Diocletian. Officers earned considerably more. Soldiers could supplement their incomes with what they could pillage from conquered territory, or occasional gifts from the government. These gifts were often given whenever a new emperor rose to power, as a way of securing the loyalty of the troops. One such "gift" was five years of pay! However, the increases in salaries rarely matched the rate inflation, so the soldiers became worse off as time passed. To decrease the amount of money they had to pay for food, many soldiers farmed land near where they were posted.