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(from νόμισμα, numus or nummus, “a coin”). The science which has to do with the study of coins and, in its widest acceptance, of medals also. The value of the science is not only historical and chronological, but artistic and archaeological in the broadest sense of the word. Ceins furnish very valuable clues to the names, governments, etc., of many obscure cities and peoples of whom other remains are often unknown. They also give information concerning the development of the alphabet and writing; and they record the progress of art through all its stages of development and decline.

The ancient names for money are various. The Greeks use χρήματα of wealth in general, not merely coined money; ἀργύριον denotes money of any kind (originally silver money only); νομίσματα (from νόμος, “law”), legal-tender money (Herod.i. 94). The Romans employ nummus in various ways, but when not qualified it usually refers to the sestertius, which was the standard coin. In Late Latin moneta is the generic term for money, whence the modern word; but in the earlier usage pecunia is the word employed.

The principal materials for money were gold, silver, bronze; sometimes electrum (gold alloyed with silver), iron (at Sparta and some of the other Peloponnesian cities), nickel (used by the Greek kings in India), and rarely pure copper. We also read that Polycrates made coins of lead (Herod.iii. 56), Dionysius of tin (Pollux, ix. 79), and the Laconians of leather (De Benef. v. 14). See Aes; Argentum; Aurum; Electrum; Metallum; Moneta.

Greek coins are variously inscribed, having the name of the city or ruler issuing them; that of the monetary official or officials, and sometimes that of the artist who cut the die. The earliest of all bear no legend. Later, the names of cities appear, or of the people of the city in the genitive case—e. g. Συρακοσίων; or else the genitive adjective is used—e. g. Ἀρκαδικόν (sc. νόμισμα.) Names of kings are usually in the genitive. When magistrates' names are given they are sometimes in the nominative case and sometimes in the genitive preceded by ἐπί. At Athens, during the later days of her independence, every coin bears the names of three distinct magistrates. Other Greek coins (e. g. the later coins of Rhodes and Ephesus, and the copper money of the Achaean League) exhibit the name of only one magistrate. Artists' signatures occasionally occur, oftenest upon Sicilian coins. See Von Sallat, Künstlerinschriften auf griech. Münzen (1871); and Lenormant, La Monnaie dans l'Antiquité, iii. p. 255.

The earliest gold and silver money of the Romans bears only the word roma or romano, with the mark of value; and by the time of Sulla the name of the city and the indication of value both disappear as unnecessary. There are used the names of the triumvir monetalis (this as early as B.C. 190), and from B.C. 100 legends explanatory of the “types” of the coins—e. g. P. P. (Penates Publici); or, fully written, salvs beside the head of their deity. Under the Empire, coins regularly show the effigy of the emperor with his name and title, and the other side a date or an inscription referring to some historical event, or to a “type” with a like allusion

e. g. fecvnditati avgvstae, when the empress had just borne a child; fides militvm, when the soldiers had just presented a loyal address, etc. A word of explanation as to the terms “type” and “symbol” in their technical sense is necessary. “Type” is used of the principal device or subject on either obverse or reverse; “symbol” is applied to a minor figure. Thus the “type” belongs to the city or State; the “symbol” to the monetary magistrate.

Greek Coins.—In Homer's time, cattle served as a medium of exchange and a standard of value ( Il. xi. 211; xxi. 385); but metals were also used in the same way, and their value was decided by weight. The balance in which they were weighed was called τάλαντον, and the same name was given to the weight. The gold τάλαντον or talent of Homer was probably equivalent to the value of an ox, and in weight=2 drachmae. At an early date the idea arose of giving the metal so used a special form, but just when money was first coined with an official stamp is not known. As early as the fifth century B.C. a highly elaborated and artistic system of coinage was in existence. Various Greek standards of value were 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 drachmae

Aeginetan Drachma, actual size. (British Museum.)

was=20 silver drachmae. 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 minae. Like the talent, the mina was not a real coin, but a standard of measurement. The unit of coinage

Attic Drachma, actual size. (British Museum.)

was the drachma, 100 drachmae 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 στατήρ or didrachmon (=about $0.52, the Aeginetan drachma being=$0.26). Solon abolished this standard in Attica, and introduced a lighter drachma equal to about $0.16. The Attic talent (=6000 drachmae) was thus worth about $1000, the mina about $16. 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 τετράδραχμον or 4 drachmae, the largest (which was

Tetradrachmon of Athens.

(Time of the Persian Wars.)

only issued occasionally) the δεκάδραχμον or 10 drachmae. The δίδραχμον (2 drachmae) was in like manner issued rarely. The τριώβολον (3 obols), the ὀβολός, and the ἡμιωβόλον (1/2 obol) were small silver coins; the τεταρτημόριον (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 στατήρ (=20 silver drachmae). Besides this we find drachmas, triobols, obols, half-obols, quarter-obols, and even eighth-obols in gold. The gold money most com

Gold Daric, actual size. (British Museum.)

monly current in Greece was, down to the Macedonian age, the royal Persian coin called δαρεικός, or daric. 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 drachmae. The earliest copper coin issued at Athens was the χαλκοῦς=1/8 of a silver obol (B.C. 440). In the time of Alexander the Great the silver coinage stopped at the triobolus, 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 Tarentum and Etruria, the coinage was from the

Silver Daric, actual size. (British Museum.)

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 (Φίλιππος), the latter for his silver money (see illustration); and 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

Gold Stater of Philip II. of Macedon.

Black Sea, and even Parthia. The largest Greek gold coin is the twenty-stater piece of the GraecoBactrian king Eucratides, now preserved in Paris;

Tetradrachmon of Alexander the Great.

the largest silver coins are the ten-drachma pieces of Athens, Syracuse, and Alexander the Great.

Hellenic coins are important as giving an admirable idea of the development of the 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

Coin of Chios.

the fifth century B.C., and in the fourth century, with its lifelike characterizations, and with the rich variety and noble perfection of its forms, it reached the highest degree of finish.

Coin of Carthage.

Roman Coins.—As in Greece, so at 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 (aes 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 B.C. 450). The unit of coinage was the as of cast copper, carrying the nominal weight of the Roman pound (libra=12 unciae).

of Cast Copper.

The as (aes grave) bore the image of Ianus; 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 Iupiter=1/2 as or 6 unciae; triens, with the head of Minerva, 1/3 of an as=4 unciae; quadrans, with the head of Heracles, 1/4 as=3 unciae; sextans, with the head of Mercury, 1/6 as=2 unciae; uncia, with the head of Roma, 1/12 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 intended exclusively for the home trade, so that it was easily allowed to suffer a continuous depreciation, at first to 4, then to 2, after B.C. 217 to 1 ounce, after B.C. 89 to 1/2 an ounce, and under the Empire even to 1/4 an ounce. In B.C. 269 a silver currency was intro

Denarii, actual size. (British Museum.)

duced, and a mint for it set up on the Capitoline Hill in the temple of Iuno Moneta. The silver fractional coins struck according to the Athenian and Sicilian standard were the denarius (about $0.19)=10 asses of 4 ounces; the quinarius=5 asses; and the sestertius=2 1/2 asses. These coins were denoted by the characters X, V, and HS (II.S [semis] respectively. There is displayed on the obverse the head of Roma personified, wearing a winged helmet, and on the reverse the Dioscuri on horseback. Later we find Diana Victoria in a biga or two-horse chariot, or Iupiter in a quadriga, but from the middle of the first century there is


no fixed device for the reverse. The sestertius was the equivalent of the old as. Payments were made in denarii, but calculated in sestertii, whence, as stated above, the word nummus (coin) is generally synonymous with sestertius.

The reduction of the copper as to 1 uncia in B.C. 217 degraded the copper money to the position of small coin, and silver currency drove out the copper. The denarius sank at the same time to the value of about $0.15, which it maintained till the time of Nero. The denarius was reckoned as=16 asses, the quinarius as 8, and the sestertius (nearly $0.03)=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 (aurei) equal in weight to 1/40 of the Roman pound, and in value 25 denarii or 100 sestertii (a little over $5). 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 intrusted 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, until Constantine (A.D. 312) fixed it at 1/12 of a pound (about $3). The aureus now got the name of solidus, and was stamped, first with the Roman numer

Aureus of Marcus Aurelius.

al LXXII, and later with the Greek numeral OB= 72. It remained in use down to the fall of the Eastern Empire, the name surviving in modern times in the Italian soldo. Of the silver pieces of the Republic, the denarius and the quinarius alone remained in use under the Empire, all the rest being stamped in copper. The denarius remained of the value of $0.17, as fixed in B.C. 217, until Nero's time, when it was reduced in weight and fineness until it was worth only about $0.12. During the second century it fell to $0.06, and the silver coinage in consequence was changed to small money. Diocletian, about A.D. 292, reformed the currency, issuing a new silver coin, the argenteus, equal in weight to Nero's denarius. This was in use until A.D. 360, when a new system of silver coinage on the basis of the gold solidus was instituted.

The copper coins, as issued by the authority of the Senate, bore the letters S. C. (senatus consulto). The following small coins were issued under the Empire: sestertius=4 asses; dupondius=2 asses; semis=1/2 as; and the quadrans=1/4 as. The sestertius and the dupondius were of brass; the semis and quadrans of copper. The quadrans was disused under Trajan; the dupondius, as, semis, and sestertius under Diocletian.

Gold Solidus.

Bibliography.—See Eckhel, Doctrina Numorum (1792-98); Head, Historia Numorum (Oxford, 1887); id., A Guide to the Principal Gold and Silver Coins of the Ancients (3d ed. London, 1889); Mionnet, Description des Médailles Grecques (Paris, 1807-37); Mommsen, Geschichte des röm. Münzwesens (Berlin, 1860); Babelon, Monnaies de la République Romaine (Paris, 1885); Cohen, Description Historique des Monnaies Frappées sous l'Empire Romain, 7 vols. (2d ed. Paris, 1880-88); and Stephenson, Dictionary of Roman Coins (London, 1889). For Byzantine and mediæval coins, see Sabatier, Monnaies Byzantines (Paris, 1862); and Serrure, Traité de Numismatique du Moyen Age (Paris, 1891). On the mintage, see Moneta.

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    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.94
    • Herodotus, Histories, 3.56
    • Homer, Iliad, 11.211
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