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1 WE must, in the next place, give an account of the ores of brass,2 a metal which, in respect of utility, is next in value; indeed the Corinthian brass comes before silver, not to say almost before gold itself. It is also, as I have stated above,3 the standard of monetary value;4 hence the terms "æra militum," "tribuni ærarii," "ærarium," "obærati," and "ære diruti."5 I have already mentioned for what length of time the Roman people employed no coin except brass;6 and there is another ancient fact which proves that the esteem in which it was held was of equal antiquity with that of the City itself, the circumstance that the third associated body7 which Numa established, was that of the braziers.

1 The present Book is translated by the late Dr. Bostock, the translation being corrected by the readings of the Bamberg MS., which do not appear to have come under his notice. Some Notes by Dr. Bostock will be also found at the commencement of Books 33 and 35; they are distinguished by the initial B.

2 "Æris Metalla." The word "Æs" does not entirely correspond to our word "brass;" the brass of the moderns being a compound of copper and zinc, while the "Æs" of the ancients was mostly composed of copper and tin, and therefore, would be more correctly designated by the word "bronze." But this last term is now so generally appropriated to works of art, that it would seem preferable to employ in most cases the more general terms "copper" or "brass." For an excellent account of the "Æs" of the ancients, see Smith's Dict. Antiq. "Æs."—B. Mr. Westmacott, in the above-mentioned article, says that the ancient "Æs" has been found, upon analysis, to contain no zinc, but in nearly every instance to be a mixture of copper and tin, like our bronze. Beckmann says, on the other hand, that the mixture of zinc and copper now called "brass," first discovered by ores, abundant in zinc, was certainly known to the ancients. "In the course of time, an ore, which must have been calamine, was added to copper while melting, to give it a yellow colour." Hist. Inv. Vol. II. pp. 32, 33. Bohn's Edition. There can be little doubt that the native Cadmia of Chapter 22 of this Book was our Calamine, hydrosilicate of zinc, or carbonate of zinc, or else copper ore impregnated with calamine.

3 In B. xxxiii. c. 13.

4 "Stipis auctoritas." The standard in money payments.

5 These terms must have come into use when brass, "æs," was the ordinary medium of circulation.—B. Their meaning is, "soldiers' pay," "tribunes of the treasury," the "public treasury," "made bondmen for debt," and "mulcted of their pay."

6 In B. xxxiii. c. 13.—B.

7 "Collegium." The colleges of the priests and of the augurs being the first two associated bodies.—B.

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  • Cross-references to this page (4):
    • Harper's, Aes
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), AES
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TRIBUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), BE´RGOMUM
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