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CHALCUS (χαλκοῦς or χαλκίον). We have spoken, under AES of the use of bronze or copper for money, which began in most parts of the Greek world about B.C. 400. At Athens, the chalcus, or copper par excellence, is said by Pollux (9.65) to have been equivalent to the eighth of an obol: in some other places it was the sixth of an obol, and contained seven lepta.

The Scholiast to Aristophanes, Ranae, 720, says that copper coins (χαλκία) were first issued at Athens in the archonship of Callias, B.C. 406; and Aristophanes (loc. cit.) seems to be speaking of them. In the Ecclesiazusae (816) the same writer speaks of the demonetization of certain copper coins, and the reversion to a silver currency. It seems likely that the coins referred to in both these passages are the pieces still extant with the head of Athena on one side, and an owl with two bodies and one head on the other, which resemble the silver diobols of Athens. Coins of late period struck in Syria bear the inscription χαλκοῦς, which declares their value. Δίχαλκα and other multiples of the chalcus were also struck at Chios and other places. When, however, bronze coins do not bear inscriptions stating their value, the latter cannot with certainty be fixed.


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