The Athenian House and its Furnishings
Most native Athenians own their houses. Houses indeed can be rented, usually by the foreign traders and visitors who swam into the city; and at certain busy seasons one can hire "lodgings" for a brief sojourn. Rents are not unreasonable, 8% or 8 1/3% of the value of the house being counted a fair annual return. But the average citizen is also a householder, because forsooth houses are very cheap. The main cost is probably for the land. The chief material used in building, sun-dried brick, is very unsubstantial, and needs frequent repairs, but is not expensive. Demosthenes the Orator speaks of a "little house" (doubtless of the kind last described) worth only seven minuæ [about $126.00 (1914) or $2,242.80 (2000)], and this is not the absolute minimum. A very rich banker has had one worth 100 minuæ [about $1,800.00 (1914) or $32,040.00 (2000)], and probably this is close to the maximum. The rent question is not therefore one of the pressing problems at Athens.
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