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Talent (measurement)


The talent (Latin: talentum, from Ancient Greek: τάλαντον, talanton 'scale, balance, sum') was one of several ancient units of mass, a commercial weight, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal. The talent of gold was known to Homer, who described how Achilles gave a half-talent of gold to Antilochus as a prize. It was approximately the mass of water required to fill an amphora. A Greek, or Attic talent, was 26 kilograms (57 lb), a Roman talent was 32.3 kilograms (71 lb), an Egyptian talent was 27 kilograms (60 lb), and a Babylonian talent was 30.3 kilograms (67 lb).Ancient Israel, and other Levantine countries, adopted the Babylonian talent, but later revised the mass. The heavy common talent, used in New Testament times, was 58.9 kilograms (130 lb).

An Attic talent was the equivalent of 60 minae or 6,000 drachmae.

An Attic talent was about 26 kg. Friedrich Hultsch estimated a weight of 26.196 kg, and Dewald (1998) offers a weight of 25.992 kg.

An Attic talent of silver was the value of nine man-years of skilled work. In 415 BC, an Attic talent was a month's pay for a trireme crew,Hellenistic mercenaries were commonly paid one drachma per day of military service. There were 6,000 drachmae in an Attic talent.



  • Herodotus (1998) [440 BC]. Dewald, Carolyn, ed. The Histories. Translated by Waterfield, Robin. Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
  • Hultsch, Friedrich (1882). Griechische und Römische Metrologie [Greek and Roman Metrology] (in German) (2nd ed.). Weidmannsche Buchhandlung. 
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