Ancient Romans considered their orators civic artists whose rhetoric could shape communities, affect the character of citizens, even save the republic.
Romans may have proffered supreme homage to their orators who, according to one ancient philosopher, "founded cities and made laws and invented arts." But they certainly didn't pay them like we do.
Private companies, political action committees and other groups looking to galvanize their constituents are willing to pay huge sums for the world's most renowned public figures to speak to them. Need proof? A speech by Tony Blair costs roughly $8,600 a minute, says the Times of London. Bill Clinton, according to Hillary's Senate ethics reports, earned $31 million in speaking fees between 2001 and 2005. (Only about 20 percent of these earnings were for personal income.) Sarah Palin's lectures at events like the Complete Woman Expo and the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference each paid her a fee ranging in the six figures.
Check out some of the highest-paid public speakers: