This book does not start out well. Saller writes, “Most recent efforts do not hold up to close scrutiny and so do not demonstrate sustained growth up to the Antonine Plague” (9). Saller cites Harper in this regard, but he fails to note Harper’s 2016 article that showed real wages increasing in Roman Egypt during those years.1

Although wages are not strictly a proxy for the national product, rising wages are a good index of national income in an agricultural economy in which a plague did not reduce the quantity of labor. The rest of Chapter 1, which summarizes other publications about growth, seems pointless given its omission of an important source of ancient Roman economic data.

Saller arrives at his main topic in Chapter 2, describing Pliny’s life and work habits, as well as a detailed description of Pliny’s Natural History and its probable readers. The chapters that...

You do not currently have access to this content.