In the legend surrounding The Renaissance , Pater’s book exploded onto the Victorian cultural scene in 1873 and, with its bold embrace of atheism and hedonism, plunged him into a scandal from which his career never recovered. While this legend contains elements of truth, the actuality seems to have been more complex. In the first instance, The Renaissance drew disapproval within the hothouse world of Oxford, where Pater spent his academic career. Negative responses came especially from Oxford’s religious and conservative quarters.  John Wordsworth, one of Pater’s former students and Chaplain of Brasenose College, wrote an oft-quoted letter to Pater in 1873 describing his pained disappointment in the book:
Calculating modern equivalences is very difficult and gold prices fluctuate; it may be easier to keep in mind a few “price points” for comparison. In 1500, a pilgrim traveling in relative comfort from Italy to the Holy Land would expect to pay about 150 ducats for the months-long journey. Annual wages of the typical mathematics tutor were 100 ducats, about the same as those of a skilled craftsman, while a hired foot soldier could expect only 15 ducats for a year’s service. The king of Naples, whose yearly income was estimated at more than 800,000 ducats, paid a salary of 500 ducats to his court historian and 400 to his chief advisor for defense, but only 144 to the architect who designed the main reception rooms in the palace. His head cowherd received 24 ducats. The family palace of a wealthy Florentine merchant might cost about 40,000 florins.