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CISTOPH´ORUS (κιστοφόρος) was a term applied to certain silver coins issued in Western Asia Minor, in consequence of the type with which they were impressed, a Dionysiac cista out of which a serpent glides. The other side of the coin bears the name or monogram of the city of issue. “According to Dr. Imhoof (Die Münzen der Dynastie von Pergamon, p. 33), this coin originated in Ephesus shortly before B.C. 200, and its use rapidly extended throughout

Cistophorus. (Head)

the dominions of Attalus I. of Pergamum. Henceforth the cistophorus became a sort of Pan-Asiatic coin, . . . and was issued in vast quantities from numerous Asiatic mints” (Head, Historia Numorum, p. 461). (Cf. Liv. 37.46, 58, 59, 39.7; Cic. Att. 2.6, 2, 2.16, 4, 11.1, 2; pro Dom. 20, 52.) Mommsen assigns a somewhat later date (reign of Eumenes II., B.C. 189-159), and therefore disbelieves the statement of Livy (l.c.), that after the defeat of Antiochus III. in B.C. 190, large numbers of cistophori were brought to Rome by the conquerors. They continued to be the currency of the Roman province of Asia even under the Antonines, and many bear the heads of early Roman emperors.

The coins or staters weigh up to 196 grains; the question of their value in exchange has been confused from the fact that the ancient writers sometimes consider them as tetradrachms and sometimes as didrachms. According to Festus (p. 359), the cistophoric stater was regarded as equivalent to three Roman denarii, which, however, it outweighed by about fifteen grains: other authorities give a still lower valuation. The cistophoric drachm, or quarter of the stater, is said by Festus to have been equal to the Rhodian drachm, and it is likely that the whole coinage was introduced by the Pergamene kings to succeed that of Rhodes at a time when the decay of Rhodes had set in. (Mommsen, R. M., pp. 48, 703; Numismatic Chronicle, 1883, p. 196.)


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