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NUMMUS or NUMUS, money. The history of Greek money being set forth under PONDERA and that of Roman money under As, we will confine ourselves in the present article to the following points:--(1) the names of money in antiquity, and more especially the usage of the word nummus; (2) the materials of which it was made; (3) the inscriptions of ancient coins; (4) their types and accessory devices or symbols. We discuss the history of the right of coinage in antiquity, and the regulations and organisation of mints, under MONETA

(1.) The ancient Names of Money.--The term χρήματα originally stood for possessions of any kind; in fact, wealth. And hence at a later time, when wealth came to be measured by money, χρήματα might vaguely be used for money. But in speaking of money as distinguished from other kinds of property, the Greeks would call it either ἀργύριον or νομίσματα. Of these terms the former came into use at an early period in Greece proper, where silver rather than the other precious metals was the standard of value. Νομίσματα (from νόμος, “law” ) stands for coin which was legal tender in a state, and so for all moneys coined by authority (Hdt. 1.94). In the South of Italy and Sicily the word νόμος, or as it was locally written νοῦμμος, was applied to coin, and in particular to the standard coin of the district. It thus corresponded in usage nearly to the term stater, which was in use in the East [STATER]. And in fact, in the transliterated form nummus, it is frequently used by the Roman writers as equivalent to stater. Thus Plautus (Pseud. 3.2, 19) uses nummus for didrachm, and in other places (Trin. 1.2, 115) speaks of the staters of Philip as nummi. So the Roman denarius was sometimes called nummus; but the term was applied in a special and restricted sense to the Roman sestertius. The reason of this is that the sestertius nearly represented in silver the value of a pound of copper, which among the peoples of Italy and Sicily was the unit of value, [p. 2.249]and so became the νόμος or standard coin. The term moneta is only equivalent to money at a late period of Roman literature. The Roman mint (Liv. 6.20, 13) was connected with the temple of Juno Moneta: thus the word moneta came into use in the sense of mint, and afterwards in that of money produced by the mint. Among the Greeks, whose currency (except in Asia) mostly consisted of silver, the ordinary word for money was regularly ἀργύριον; and aes was sometimes used for a parallel reason in the same sense by the Romans.

It used to be disputed whether the Greek and Roman coins which have come down to us were actual money, or rather medals issued on occasions. This controversy is completely closed. It is universally agreed that the only medals of antiquity are the Roman so-called medallions, pieces of unusual size issued at Rome to commemorate various events, which may be distinguished among Roman copper coins by the omission of the letters S. C. (senatus consulto), which regularly distinguish these latter; as well as a few pieces of the Greek Imperial class, struck in imitation of the Roman medallions in cities of Asia Minor, and distinguished by a special formula of inscription. Greek coins and the regular issues of Rome frequently contain allusion to political events, but they were nevertheless fully intended to pass as money, as the uniformity of their weight and other indications abundantly show.

(2.) Materials of Money in Antiquity.--An important distinction holds between money of intrinsic value and money of account. Money of the former class consisted merely of ingots, the weight and fineness of which was certified by the state or the ruler who stamped them, and which passed in the market according to their actual value. Money of account, on the other hand, might consist of pieces in themselves nearly worthless, made for instance of tin or leather, but kept in circulation at a fictitious value, either in consequence of their being at will exchangeable for valuable coin, or in consequence of the arbitrary law of some ruler, who obliges people to accept them at a fictitious value under some penalty. In modern phraseology the money of account is said in the one case to be convertible, in the other to be inconvertible. We will speak in order of the two classes of coin:--

α) Money of intrinsic value. The bulk of this has at all times consisted of gold, silver, and copper, or rather bronze, pure copper not having been used by the ancients except in rare cases. As to the use of these three substances in antiquity, see AURUM, ARGENTUM, and AES Electrum was also a usual material for money. [ELECTRUM] In addition, iron is said to have been used as money at Sparta; and although no specimen has come down to us, we may easily account for this fact by the liability of iron to rust away when buried. It is also noteworthy that Sparta had no coinage in any other metal until the reign of Areus. Iron money was also current at Byzantium (Aristoph. Cl. 249). Some specimens of iron money struck in the cities of Peloponnesus are now extant. Greek kings in India issued coins of nickel (Num. Chron. 1868, p. 305).

β) Money of account. The smaller denominations of coin were usually among the Greeks, from the 4th century onward, issued in copper, but for the convenience of the people these coins were seldom of such weight as to be in actual value what they were in nominal value. The subject is a difficult one. Greek copper coins seldom bear marks of value, and it is nearly always uncertain in regard to them what is their real denomination. But when that denomination is fixed by type or inscription, we usually find that they passed at a nominal value greatly in excess of the intrinsic worth of the material. There are exceptions: the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, for instance, issued copper of full weight; but such a proceeding was as unusual in the Greek as it was usual in the Roman world. The light copper of the Greeks was thus in a sense fiduciary; but it is well known that small change may be fiduciary without affecting trade or credit, and the English bronze coinage is now, strictly speaking, money of account no less than was that of the Greeks. Making this exception, we may state the general rule that the Greeks seldom made any attempt to pass any of their coin at a fictitious rate; usually they were contented to let it find its own level in trade and pass for what it was. The reason of this is not so much the commercial morality of the Hellenic race as their keen sense of business, and the incessant competition which the issues of various cities had to keep up in neutral markets and on the tables of the money-changers. A few important exceptions to this rule should be noted. Thus it is said, though the story is open to doubt (Hdt. 3.56), that Polycrates passed off as gold on the Lacedaemonians a quantity of leaden coins gilt. We are informed that Dionysius of Syracuse issued coins of tin, which he compelled people to accept as tetradrachms, though they weighed but a drachm (Pollux, 9.79); also that Perdiccas II. of Macedon paid his mercenaries with copper coins plated with silver (Polyaen. Strat. 4.10, 2). A better attested instance than any of these, because recorded in an inscription, occurred in Boeotia in the 2nd century B.C., drachms of copper, not even plated, being there forced into circulation as the equivalent of silver pieces of the same size and types. The frequency in certain classes of Greek coins of plated specimens which have not the appearance of being the work of forgers, drives us to the supposition that the mints of Greece may have on occasion mingled a certain proportion of plated coins with their regular issues. In fact, that this was done in Rome openly, and in accordance with law, has been completely proved. There were even stringent laws passed at that city to compel citizens to accept these plated pieces as legal tender: and the bad custom may have spread from Rome into Greece. Of course there existed, in Rome and Greece alike, a natural tendency, which especially showed itself in time of poverty and need, to diminish the weight and the fineness of current coin. But in the great commercial cities of Greece this tendency was counteracted by circumstances, and the classes of coin most used in commerce, such as the pieces of Aegina, Athens, and Corinth, retain their excellence to a late period. This does not hold to the same extent in later Greek days. The drachm of Rhodes, for instance, which weighed in the 4th century nearly 60 [p. 2.250]grains, fell in the course of the 2nd to half that weight; and the coins of the later Ptolemies, though they did not lose in weight, were made the legend of continually baser metal. At Rome, as was natural from the imperious and uncommercial character of the people, laws were frequently passed from the first debasing the coin, and attempting to substitute worse money for better in the public issues. More than once in Roman history this process took a course so rapid and violent that the value of the various denominations of state-coin became entirely confused, and all coin passed only by weight. [See As.] If Seneca is to be believed (de Benef. 5.14), the Laconians used pieces of leather stamped with the state-mark as fiduciary coins. This may have arisen from the weight and clumsiness of their iron currency. We hear of a similar practice among the Carthaginians. The subject of the mixture of metals is too complicated to be here treated of. Naturally the alloy used in coining in Greece and in Italy varied greatly, both in quality and quantity. The best account will be found in Lenormant's Monnaie dans l'Antiquité, vol. i. pp. 187-206.

(3.) The Inscriptions of Coins.--Greek coins bear several kinds of inscriptions; the name of the city or the ruler who issued them, that of the monetary magistrate or magistrates who directed their production, that of the artist who cut the die. Sometimes their inscription is of another kind; stating their denomination or value, explaining the type, or occasionally stating the occasion on which they were issued. It is very difficult to make general statements as to these classes of inscriptions, especially as this has scarcely been before attempted; and the present sketch must be considered as tentative,

α) Names of rulers and cities. The earliest coins bear no legends; but when by degrees these make their appearance, they at first nearly all contain the name of a city, whether in full or in abbreviated form, or the name of a dynast. The usual civic inscription is in the genitive plural of the ethnic: thus the coins of Syracuse are usually inscribed Συρακοσίων, and those of Cos Κωίων. Sometimes the adjective in--κὸν takes the place of this form, as in the cases Ἀρκαδικόν, Σολικόν, Πανορμιτικόν, &c., in which case we must understand some such noun as ἀργύριον, κόμμα or νόμισμα. Sometimes the name of the city occurs in the nominative or genitive, as Τάρας, Ἀκράγαντος. More often still this name is represented by a few letters of it only, more especially in early times; the coin of Athens bears only tie letters ΑΘΕ, that of Elis only FA, that of Corinth only the koppa. Kings and dynasts, on the other hand, usually inscribe their names in full in the genitive; the money of Alexander I. of Macedon is inscribed Ἀλεξάνδρο, that struck by Themistocles at Magnesia Θεμιστοκλέος. In the coin of Seuthes, king of Thrace, we have the genitive Σεύθα, but the words κόμμα and ἀργύριον are added in some specimens to explain and to govern the genitive. Some of the money of Alexander of Pherae is inscribed with the adjective Ἀλεξανδρεῖος, with which we must understand νόμος or some such word, and a parallel form is not rare among civic coins, e. g. Νεοπολίτης, Καταναῖος. Sometimes, as in early dedicatory inscriptions, the word ἐμὶ or εἰμὶ is added for explanation. The earliest of inscribed coins, struck probably at Halicarnassus (Num. Chron. N.S. 18, 261), has φανός ἐμι σῆμα. The proprietary name on a coin, if we may use the expression, is sometimes neither that of a city nor of a ruler, but of a district or tribe, as Αἰτώλων, Ἀπειρωτᾶν, sometimes of a religious body or a temple, as in the case of the coins reading Ἀμφικτιόνων, and ἐκ Διδυμῶν ἱερή, the latter being the mintage of the temple of the Branchidae near Miletus.

In regard to the comparative frequency of the names of cities and those of rulers on coins, it should be observed that despots of cities in Greece and the West did not before the age of Alexander place their names on coin. We have no coins stamped with the name of Anaxilaüs of Rhegium, Hiero I. of Syracuse, Pisistratus or even Jason of Pherae. To this rule Alexander of Pherae is an almost solitary exception. On the other hand, kings of Macedon and Thrace, despots of Asiatic cities, and even satraps of the Persian king, very usually place their names on money. After Alexander the custom spread into all the Hellenic world save Greece proper, and even there was adopted at various times by a variety of rulers. Areus of Sparta, Aristotimus of Elis, and a few others place their names on coins; so do Agathocles and all the subsequent kings of Syracuse.

β) Names of magistrates. The period at which these first appear, and the prominence given to them, vary in a most marked way from city to city, and we are usually without sufficient historical information to enable us to trace the reasons of the variety. At Abdera in Thrace, almost from the foundation of the city (B.C. 543), we have on the coin a succession of magistrates' names in the genitive preceded ceded by the preposition ἐπί, or sometimes in the nominative. These were, as the ἐπὶ sufficiently proves, the eponymous magistrates of the city, and it may be that they exercised a stronger rule than that of magistrates in other cities. At most Greek cities before the middle of the 4th century, magistrates' names occur only at intervals, and usually in an abridged form. Early in the 4th century the magistrates of Boeotia, whether Boeotarchs or not is uncertain, begin regularly to sign the coin; and about the same time a parallel custom began to obtain at the principal cities of the Asiatic coast--Ephesus, Samos, Miletus, and others. In the regal coinages of later Greece magistrates' names seldom occur, or are concealed in the form of monograms; but in the Greek cities which remained free, whether in Asia or Hellas, the names of officers begin to take a place more regularly and with more evident purpose. Thus at Athens, during the later days of her independence, every coin bears the name of three distinct magistrates, whereof two have been conjectured to be high functionaries of state, and the third the officer specially detailed to control the mintage of the money which bears his name. The later coins of Rhodes, Ephesus, and other cities, as well as the copper money of the Achaean League, and the coins of the Thessalian Epirote and Acarnanian Leagues, bear the name of a single magistrate; the coins of Dyrrhachium and Apollonia those of two magistrates. The most important works on the subject [p. 2.251]of magistrates' names on coins are Beulé‘s Monnaies d'Athènes and a dissertation on the coins of Apollonia and Dyrrhachium by Dr. Brandis, Zeitschrift für Numismatik, vol. i.

γ) Artists' names. That artists' signatures do occur on coins is rendered certain by the occurrence of the full phrases Νεύαντος ἐποεῖ on coins of Cydonia in Crete and Θεοδότος ἐποεῖ on coins of Clazomenae. A full list of supposed signatures will be found in Von Sallet's Künst-lerinschriften auf gr. Münzen (1871), and Lenormant's Mon. de l'Antiq. iii. p. 255. Among the more certain and important signatures are those of Aristoxenus at Heraclea in Lucania, of Exacestidas at Camarina, Herakleidas at Catana, and of Euaenetus, Eucleidas, Eumenus, Cimon, Sosion, and Phrygillus at Syracuse. It is to be observed that, save in the two cases already mentioned of Neuantus and Theodotus, we have no certain engraver's name out of Italy and Sicily. They are by far commonest in Sicily; but there, as elsewhere, are only found during a period of about sixty years, from B.C. 410 to 350.

δ) Explanatory inscriptions. The object of these is to acquaint us with the meaning of the types of a coin, with its value or denomination, or with the circumstances of its issue. The word Σοτερ (Σωτήρ) accompanies the figure of Zeus on a very early coin of Galaria in Sicily, Νίκα that of Nike at Terina, Σελινοῦς and ῞υψας those of the two river-gods at Selinus, Αἴας that of a warrior at Locris, Σώτειρα that of Artemis at Cyzicus, and so forth. At the Italian Locri a group representing a standing female figure crowning a seated one is explained by the inscription to represent the crowning of Roma (Ρώμα) by Good-faith (Πίστις). The denomination of a coin is seldom stated at full-length on it, but often indicated by a few letters or a slight variety in the type (see next head). ΔΙΟ and ΤΡΙΗ occur on the diobols and trihemiobols of Corinth, Ὀβολὸς at Metapontum, Ἡμιοβέλιν at Aegium, Δράχμη and Δίδραχμον at Ephesus. On the late: coins of Chios the number of Ἀσσάρια represented by a coin is regularly marked on it. In the Peloponnese in early times a single letter usually sufficed to mark denomination, H beings placed on hemiobols, T on tetartemoria, and so forth. The circumstances of issue are stated in the inscriptions of many coins of Imperial times, especially those which bear the names of the games, Pythia, Actia, Olympia, &c., in connexion with which they were struck, and those with a legend, δεῖνα ἀνέθηκε, followed by the genitive or dative of the name of a city. The latter class are supposed to be the result of the munificence of individuals who on some special occasion struck a quantity of coin at their own private cost, but for general use and enjoyment. Even in early times, however, a few inscriptions of tie same class may be found, as in the case of the archaic coin of Metapontum, which bears the legend Ἀχέλοιο ἄεθλον, and was clearly issued on the occasion of public games. The coin of Locri already mentioned contains in the words Ρώμα and Πίστις a clear allusion to the circumstances under which it was issued, some instance of good faith on the part of the Romans towards the people of Locri.

The inscriptions of Roman coins present us with less variety than those of Greek. The earlier gold and silver money bears no inscription save the word ΡΟΜΑ or ΡΟΜΑΝΟ, together with a mark of value. About the time of Sulla (Mommsen, R. M. p. 451) the name of the city and the indication of denomination alike disappear. The empire of Rome by that time was so widely extended that her coin was known on every shore, and her system of reckoning in all markets. The place of these simpler legends is henceforth taken by the name of a monetary magistrate, which is usually that of one of the triumvirs appointed to strike the money of the Republic. In a more modest and abbreviated form indeed we find such names as early as B.C. 190, but they appear more prominently as time passes on. About B.C. 100 occurs the first appearance (Mommsen, p. 453) of such formulae as S. C. (Senatus Consulto), ARG. PVB. (Argento Publico). At about the same period first occur legends explanatory of the types of the coins, which first consist of mere initials, as I. S. M. R. (for Juno Sispes Mater Regina), or P. P. (for Penates Publici). Afterwards we have inscriptions like those mentioned under (δ) above in the case of Greek coins; for instance, Numa Pompili beside a figure of Numa Pompilius, and Salus beside a head of that deity. In the case of Roman Imperial coins one side is regularly occupied with the name and titles of the emperor accompanying his effigy; the other side bears sometimes merely a date, as COS III TR P XX, which indicates that the piece was issued in the third consulate and the 20th tribunician year of the emperor: but more usually an inscription containing allusion to a historical event and accompanying a type of similar allusion, such as Fides Militum, when the army presented a loyal address; Fecunditati Augustae, when the empress bore a child; Debellatori Gentt. Barbara(rum), when the emperor reduced a refractory tribe, and so forth.

(4.) Types and Symbols.--In the language of numismatists the term type is applied to the principal device or subject of either obverse or reverse of a coin; the term symbol is applied to any subordinate or smaller figure which accompanise the type. In the later coinage of Athens, for instance, the type of reverse is always an owl standing on an amphora, but the symbol varies continually, changing indeed every year. The type belongs to the mint-city, and is usually either the figure or head of a deity, some object sacred to a deity, or the effigy of a king or emperor. The symbol, on the other hand, belongs to the monetary magistrate, and is impressed by him to indicate his responsibility for the weight and fineness of any issue of coin. It is usually supposed to be copied from his signet, the signet in antiquity answering in many points of use to the modern signature.


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