Rossi not as rich as Rome’s chariot racers

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Valentino Rossi may be on the verge of signing a £12.5m contract with Ducati, but it’s still peanuts compared to the wealth of ancient Roman charioteers.

One racer, a Spaniard named Gaius Appuleius Diocles, amassed a personal fortune of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money, the equivalent of £9.6bn in today’s money.

The figure was proposed by Professor Peter Struck of the University of Chicago and revealed in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. 

Struck apparently calculated that Diocles’ wealth could have funded the Roman army at its imperial peak for two whole months. At current spending levels of £24bn per year Rossi’s wage wouldn’t last the Italian army through breakfast.

Still, if he’s not quite as wealthy as his forebears, at least he doesn’t have to ride, “with little more than a leather helmet, shin guards and simple chest armour for protection”.

Or does he? We’ll find out on Sunday.


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Dan Aspel

By Dan Aspel