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DARI´CUS or daric stater (στατὴρ δαρεικός). This was the name of the gold coin which constituted for centuries, until the time of Alexander the Great, the main part of the coinage of Asia under Persian dominion. Gold darics are to be found in all great museums: their type is on the obverse a crowned archer kneeling, on the reverse a mere rude incuse; their weight is about 130 grains [PONDERA], and their intrinsic value about twenty-two shillings of our money. In allusion to their [p. 1.598]type they were sometimes called τόξοται; whence the saying of Agesilaus (Plut. Ages. 15) that he had been driven from Asia by 30,000 archers, when his recall was the result of Persian bribery at Athens and Thebes.

The Greeks (Etym. Mag. s. v.; Harpocrat. s. v.) connected the word δαρεικὸς with the name of Darius Hystaspis, to whom they attributed the first issue of these coins. This derivation; however, is certainly erroneous. Not only is there small likeness in sound between the name of the coin and that of the king in their Persian forms, but we learn from the Book of Ezra (2.69, 8.27) that darics were in circulation in Palestine in the time of Cyrus; and M. Bertin has found the word dariku on a tablet of the reign of Nabonidus, which is still earlier (Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch. 1883-4, p. 87: cf. Head, Historia Numorum, p. 698). Of course in the cases just cited, though we have a complete proof of the great antiquity of the word daric, we cannot be sure whether a fixed weight of gold or a coin is intended. The probability is that the nations of the Euphrates valley did not coin money until they had conquered Lydia and Ionia in the time of Cyrus. Darius, Herodotus tells us, issued gold coin of great fineness (Hdt. 4.166); and this may have caused the Greeks to suppose that he issued the earliest Persian coins. The abundance of the darics in circulation in Asia Minor in the days of Xerxes is shown by the well-known story of Pythius the Lydian (Hdt. 7.28), who possessed four millions of them.

Gold Daric. (British Museum. Actual size.)

Silver Daric. (British Museum. Actual size.)

Beside the gold darics there circulated silver coins of the same shape and bearing the same device of the archer: these were commonly known as the σίγλος or shekel, but were sometimes termed silver darics (Plut. Cim. 10). Their weight is about 86 grains; thus, the value of gold in relation to silver being in Asia about thirteen to one [see ARGENTUM], twenty sigli were equivalent to a gold daric. In some parts of Asia, as in Ionia, Cilicia, and Phoenicia, Greek cities and Persian satraps were allowed to issue silver money as they pleased, of any standard and any types which suited them, the mintage of gold only being reserved for the supreme government. As a corroboration of these statements may be cited Herodotus's story, that Aryandes satrap of Egypt incurred the displeasure of Darius by issuing silver coin of greater purity than his own; for it seems that Darius, though excited to jealousy, could not punish Aryandes for this, but had to find another charge against him.

It appears that in the time of Xenophon a daric was a month's pay of a Greek mercenary in Asia (Anab. 1.3.21).

With the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great the issue of darics ceased, and their place was taken by the regal gold coins of Alexander, which were a few grains heavier. In the far East, however, there were minted for a time at the Greek cities coins of the same type as the darics, but of double weight, and sometimes bearing Greek letters in the field. These

Double Gold Daric. (British Museum. Actual size.)

double-darics are not mentioned by extant ancient authors.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.28
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.166
    • Plutarch, Agesilaus, 15
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 10
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