Homer Hesiod Hymns Tragedy Remythologizing Tools Blackboard Info
COINAGE
(1) Greek. As late as the Homeric age, cattle, especially oxen, served as a medium of exchange, as well as a standard of price [11 . xi 211, xxi 385]. We find, however, that the metals were put to the same use, their value being decided by their weight as determined by a balance. The weight, as well as the balance, was called talanton. [It is probable that the gold talanton of Homer weighed two drachmce, and was equivalent in value to an ox; see Ridgeway, in Journal Hell. Studies viii 133.] The idea of giving the metal used in exchange a form corresponding to its requirements is no doubt an early one. The date of the introduction of a coinage in the proper sense, with an official stamp to denote its value and obviate the necessity of weighing the metal, cannot now be determined. But as early as the 6th century B.C. we find a highly developed and artistic system of coining money in existence. The various Greek standards of value were all developed-in several gradations, it is true from the gold and silver standard of Asia Minor. It was not until a later time that the standard of the Persian gold money was in some cities transferred to the silver coinage. The proportion of gold to silver was commonly reckoned among the Greeks as 10: 1, so that a gold piece weighing 2 drachmoe was = 20 silver drachmoe. But in commerce the proportion assumed was 12:1, and this was the average generally observed in the Roman empire. The measure of weight most commonly current was the talent, which contained 60 minoe. Like the talent, the mina was not a real coin, but a standard of measurement. The unit of coinage was the drachma, 100 drachmas being reckoned to the mina. The drachma, again, contained 6 obols. In ancient times the commonly accepted standard was that of Aegina. The coins of the island of Aegina were stamped on one side with the figure of a tortoise, on the other side with a roughly executed incuse square. The largest silver coin was the stater or didrachmon (fig. 1), (=about 2s. 2d., the Aeginetan drachma, being =1s. 1d.). Solon abolished this standard in Attica, and introduced a lighter drachma equal to about 8d. The Attic talent (=6,000 drachmoe) was thus worth about £200, the rains, about £3 6s. 8d. The silver coins of Attica bore on the front the head of Pallas, and on the reverse the figure of an owl. The principal coin was the tetradrachmon or 4 drachmoe (fig. 2), the largest (which was only issued occasionally) the didrachmon or 10 drachmoe. The didrachmon (2 drachmoe)was in like manner issued rarely. The triobolon (3 obols), the obolos , and the hemiobolion (1/2 obol) were small silver coins; the tetartemorion (1/4 obol) the smallest of all. The Greek states always adopted a silver Currency, gold being rarely issued. The largest gold piece was the didrachmon or golden stater ( = 20 silver drachmoe). Besides this we find drachmas, triobols, obols, half-obols, quarter-obols, and even eighth obols in gold. The gold money most commonly current in Greece was, down to the Macedonian age, the royal Persian coin called Dareikos, or Daric (fig. 3). It was stamped on one side with a crowned archer, on the other with an oblong incuse. This corresponded with the gold stater of Attica and of the cities of Asia Minor. Among these should be especially mentioned the stater of Cyzicus or the Cyzicenus = 28 silver drachmoe. The earliest copper coin issued at Athens was the Chalkus =1/8 of a silver obol (440 B.C.). In the time of Alexander the Great the silver coinage stopped at the triobolos, and it therefore became necessary to represent the smaller fractions in copper. The silver money of Attica was in very general use, but the Attic standard was not adopted in Greece Proper. It spread westward, however, in quite early times. In the greater part of Sicily, and in Taren tum and Etruria, the coinage was from the first regulated in accordance with the Attic standard. But the wide diffusion of this standard was mainly due to the action of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. The former adopted it when introducing his gold coinage (Philippus, fig. 4), the latter for his silver money (fig. 5). For even after Alexander's death this standard held its ground in the kingdoms of the Macedonian empire, except in Egypt, where the Ptolemies maintained the old coinage of the country. Macedonian influence extended the Attic currency into many other states, e.g. Epirus, the coasts of the Black Sea, and even Parthia. The largest Greek gold coin is the 20-stater piece of the Graeco-Bactrian king Eucratides, now preserved in Paris; the largest silver coins are the 10-drachma pieces of Athens, Syracuse (fig. 6) and Alexander the Great. Hellenic coins are important as giving a grand and complete idea of the development of plastic art among the Greeks. In the Greek cities of Italy and Sicily, in particular, the art of stamping coins had attained considerable importance as early as the 5th century B.C., and in the 4th century with its life-like characterisations, and with the rich variety and noble perfection of its forms, it reached the highest degree of finish. (2) Roman. As in Greece, so in Rome, oxen and sheep were originally the medium of exchange. The oldest pecuniary fines were exacted in cattle, and the Latin word for money, pecunia, is derived from pecus. In later times unwrought copper (oes rude ) given in pieces according to weight, took the place of oxen. Bars of cast copper marked on both sides with some figure (as of an ox, pig, or fowl) are said to have been introduced by king Servius Tullius, when he took in hand the regulation of weights and measures. The first demonstrable example of a coin is from the age of the decemvirs (about 450 B.C.). The unit of coinage was the as of cast copper, carrying the nominal weight of the Roman pound (libra = 12 uncioe, see fig. 7). The as (oes grave) bore the image of Janus; the coins representing its fractions were all stamped on the reverse side with the figure of a ship's prow. These were, semis, with the head of Jupiter = 1/2 as or 6 unciae; triens with tthe head of Minerva, 1/3 of an as = uncioe; quadrans, with the head of Hercules, 1/4 as = 3 uncioe; sextans, with the head of Mercury, 1/6 as = 2 uncioe ; uncia, with the head of Roma, 1/22 as. As in the course of time the copper money became lighter, the smaller fractional coins were first struck, and afterwards all the fractions. This copper currency was calculated exclusively for the home trade, so that it was easily allowed to suffer a continuous depreciation, at first to 4, then to 2, after 217 B.C. to 1 ounce, after B.C. 89 to 1/2 an ounce, and under the Empire even to 41 an ounce. In 269 B.C. a silver currency was introduced, and a mint for it set up oil the Capitoline Hill in the temple of Juno Moneta. The silver fractional coins struck according to the Athenian and Sicilian standard were the denarius, somewhat higher in value than the Attic drachma (about 91/2d., figs. 8 and 9)= 10 asses of 4 ounces; the quinarius=5 asses; and the sestertius = 2 1/2 asses. These coins were denoted by the marks X. V. and II S. (or 2 1/2) respectively (fig. 10). They all bore, on the upper side, the head of the goddess Roma with her winged helmet, and on the reverse the two Dioscuri on horseback. In later times Diana Victoria in her two-horse chariot, and Jupiter in his four-horse chariot, successively took the place of the Dioscuri. From the middle of the 1st century there was no fixed device for the reverse side. The sestertius was the equivalent of the old heavy as, which although long disused, survived as the standard of reckoning. Payments were generally made in denarii, but the amount made up in sestertii, whence the word nummus (coin) was applied par excellence to the sestertius . The reduction of the copper as to 1 uncia in 217 B.C. degraded the copper money to the position of small coin, and a silver currency drove out the copper. The denarius sank at the same time to the value of about 8 1/2d., which it maintained till the time of Nero. The denarius was reckoned as = 15 asses, the quinarius as 8, and the sestertius (about 2d.) =4. At about the same period a temporary effort was made to introduce gold coinage. This movement was not taken up again till towards the end of the Republic, when Caesar struck a large number of gold coins (aureus) equal in weight to 1/40 of the Roman pound, and in value 25 denarii or 100 sestertii (nearly 23 shillings). No regular coinage was carried on in the time of the Republic, but the necessary, money was minted as occasion required. This was done in Rome at the commission of the senate under the superintendence of certain officials entrusted with the duty. A permanent board of three persons (tres viri monetales) was at last appointed for the purpose. In the provinces money was coined by the Roman generals and governors. From the time of Augustus the emperor retained the exclusive privilege of coining gold and silver money, the copper coinage being left to the senate. The standard of the imperial coinage was the aureus of Caesar, the weight of which sank (with many variations) lower and lower as time went on, till in 312 A.D. Constantine fixed it at 1/12 of a lb. (=between 12 and 13 shillings, fig. 11). The aureus was now called solidus, and was stamped at first with the Latin mark LXXII, afterwards with the Greek OB (=72). It continued in use until the fall of the Byzantine empire. Of the silver coins of the Republic the denarius and quinarius alone held their ground under the Empire, the rest being stamped in copper. The denarius retained the value fixed 217 B.C. (about 8 1/2d.) until the time of Nero, under whom it fell in weight and purity till its value was only sixpence. During the 2nd century it sank to 3 1/2d., below the half of its former value, and the silver coinage was consequently changed into small money. Diocle- tian was the first to restore some order to the currency. After 292 A.D. he issued a coin (argenteus) of pure silver, and equal in weight to the Neronian denarius. The argenteus maintained its ground till 360 A.D., When it made way for a new system of silver coinage on the standard of the gold solidus. The copper coins bore the mark S.C. (Senatus Consulto), because issued by the senate. Under the Empire the following small coins were minted; the sestertius =4 asses; dupondius =2 asses, both of brass; the semis ( = 1/2 an as), and the quadrans =1/4 as, both of copper. These last were the smallest change. The quadrans went out of use as early as Trajan, at the beginning of the 2nd century A.D., the dupondius, as, and semis, in the middle, and the sestertius in the last half of the 3rd century, when Diocletian issued two new copper coins, one of which was called denarius.

Pictures and Media
DIDRACHMON OF AeGINA. (B.C. 700-550.)
TETRADRACHMON OF ATHENS. (Time of Persian wars.)
DARIC.
GOLD STATER OF PHILIP II OF MACEDON.
TETRADRACHMON OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT.
DECADRACHMON OF SYRACUSE. (about 400 D.C.)
ROMAN AS OF CAST COPPER.
DENARIUS.
DENARIUS OF JULIUS CAeRSAR.
SESTERTIUS.
AUREUS OF MARCUS AURELIUS.
Query:
Type: Standard
SoundEx
Results:
  
gutter splint
gutter splint
PLACE HOLDER FOR COUNTER
gutter splint