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MONE´TA (ἀργυροκοπεῖον), a mint. The mint of Rome was a building on the Capitoline hill, attached to the temple of Juno Moneta, which was dedicated, in consequence of a vow, by L. Furius Camillus when dictator. (Liv. 7.28;, Ovid. Fasti, 6.183.) Under this head should come an account of the law in ancient coinage, of rights of coinage, monetary magistrates, and the organisation of mints. The fullest treatment of these subjects will be found in the second and third volumes of Lenormant's La Monnaie dans l'Antiquité; but as regards Roman coinage, Mommsen's Röm. Münzwesen is the soundest authority. In this place a brief summary must suffice.

(1) Rights of Coinage.--No privilege of power was in antiquity more highly regarded or more jealously preserved than that of issuing money. In Asia the king of Persia appears from the first to have claimed and reserved the sole right of issuing gold money. The royal Darics or τοξόται thus constituted a sort of royal standard coin: they circulated in vast quantities, and thus controlled and kept within limits the issues of Asiatic mints. But the Greek cities of the coast seem to have enjoyed the privilege of issuing silver and copper money at pleasure. Even the issue of electrum coins by trading cities, such as Phocaea and Cyzicus, does not seem to have been regarded as a breach of the monopoly of the Great King. Satraps also, at least in the western provinces of Asia, were allowed to issue silver money bearing their own names: we possess many specimens bearing the names of Pharnabazus, Tiribazus, Datames, and other Persian satraps; though some numismatists suppose that this privilege was exercised only on occasion of military expeditions. Herodotus dotus states (4.166) that Darius put to death Aryandes, governor of Egypt, for issuing silver coins of a finer quality than his own, but his narrative clearly shows that the issue of silver coins by satraps was usual; it was only the innovation in the quality, and the ambitious motives which prompted it, which amounted to an act of rebellion. In Greece proper and in the Greek colonies in Italy, Sicily, and Africa, and the shores of the Euxine Sea, each separate to state or πόλις claimed and exercised the full right of issuing such money as it chose, but in the exercise of that right did not of course lose sight of the reasons of commercial expediency. As a result of perfectly free competition the money circulating in each region acquired a certain general character, and to this character all the coins issued in that region tended to conform, form, as regards material and weight. Subject to such general control as this, the mint-cities of Greece exercised the freest choice in all their successive issues. Hence the condition of the Hellenic world, while it was a congeries of small independent states, is exactly reflected in the great abundance and unlimited variety of the issues of Greek coins, large numbers of which enrich the museums of the present day, every specimen evidencing civic independence, complete political organisation, and local religious cults. Already we know of some 2,000 mints which issued coin of their own before the fall of the Roman Empire, and fresh mints are discovered covered every year. We have money of more than fifty Greek cities of Sicily; and the little island of Ceos, not ten miles across, had three active mints. Colonies sent forth by the great commercial cities had no sooner settled in their new abodes than they began to issue coin, commonly monly of quite a different character from that of the mother-city. There are of course certain exceptions to this rule. Athenian cleruchies appear to have used the coins of Athens; and when the towns of any district in Greece formed among themselves a close alliance for any political or commercial purpose, greater uniformity at once appeared in their monetary issues. Thus the cities of Magna Graecia which were united in the sixth century for mutual defence against the semi-barbarous Italic races issued coins in which a common character clearly appears: and [p. 2.178]the cities which belonged to the Aetolian and Achaean Leagues used uniform weights and types for their coins. In late Greek times those cities of Greece which had lost their civic autonomy and become dependent upon the Hellenistic kings of Pergamon, Macedon, and Syria, appear still to have preserved to a considerable extent their right of issuing money: even when it became necessary to place on it the effigy of their regal protector, they retained the control of the mint. In the Roman age the issues of Greek silver money came to an end, except in the case of a few favoured cities, like Antioch, Tarsus, and Caesareia in Cappadocia; but the issue of copper money was still permitted to hundreds of towns, great and small, in Greece and the Asiatic mainland.

Turning to Italy, we have to observe the process by which the Roman state, acting without pause or change in one direction, reduced the number of mints and gradually introduced uniformity in the place of wide diversity. In the fourth century B.C. the Italian, Greek, Etruscan and Oscan coinages present the same variety and autonomy as those of Greece. At that time Rome issued only the heavy libral asses of copper. But as soon as denarii in silver were coined at Rome, in B.C. 269 [see As, Vol. I. p. 205], the Senate awoke to the desirability of putting down rival issues in cities which came under Roman dominion; and from this policy the rulers of Rome never swerved until in the reign of Diocletian coinage was uniform through the length and breadth of the Empire. Within the Roman organisation, however, the right of coinage did not always belong to the same functionaries. In consular times it was exercised within the city by regularly appointed officials, usually three in number, iiiviri monetales, though their number, as well as the conditions attached to their duties, appears to have fluctuated. Abroad, Roman Imperators exercised the right of issuing such coins as suited their military necessities, and placing upon it their name or even their image. This accounts for the existence of money, especially in gold, belonging to the last century of the Roman Republic, and bearing the names and portraits of Sulla, Pompeius, and other generals. Augustus, on his accession to power, having such precedents to allege, took into his own hands the issue of all Roman gold and silver money, leaving to the Senate only the issues in copper, each specimen of which bears thereafter the letters S. C. to show that it was minted by senatorial authority.

(2) Organisation of Mints.--On this subject our information is very insufficient; and we are confined in the main to the testimony of the coins themselves, which is not exact or conclusive. Of the Athenian coin issued after Alexander the Great, the type is an owl standing on an amphora: there are in the field three names of magistrates, and detached letters, some on the amphora and some below it. The first two names are those of annual magistrates, no doubt high officials and treasurers: these names change but once a year. The third name changes twelve times a year, and with it changes the letter on the amphora (A to M),--facts which show that the third magistrate, probably the man actually responsible for the goodness of the coin, was elected in rotation for one month from one of the twelve tribes. The letters indicate the division of the year, first to twelfth, during which the tribe represented by this; official prytanised. The letters below the amphora are supposed to indicate the particular workshop of the mint where each of the coins was manufactured. Thus every piece could be traced back with certainty to those who were actually responsible for its production, and the possibility of forgery was almost destroyed. At Rome we find no such elaborate scheme for fixing responsibility, but on the other hand great care in stating the authority by which the coin was issued. The name of the person who ordered the coin to be made, whether imperator or monetalis, is after a certain time never wanting. We meet on coins such inscriptions as IIIVIR ˙ AAAFF, i. e. “triumvir auro argento aere flando feriundo” (Cic. Fam. 7.1. 8; de Leg. 3.3, 7); AED ˙ CVR ˙ EXSC, “aedilis curulis ex senatus consulto,” and the like. Some of the Roman denarii also bear, in addition to the name of the issuer, some device. letter or numeral which seems to have reference to the particular officina whence they issued. See also As, Vol. I. pp. 206, 207.

The processes used in minting were of course very simple compared with those of modern times. One engraved die was let into an anvil, another into the end of a metal bar. Between the two was placed a blank, roughly cast in the required shape and size and heated to redness. A single blow from a heavy hammer on the upper end of the metal bar would probably usually suffice to finish the coin, which would then be removed by the tongs and a fresh blank substituted. Collars and milling were unknown. Such a process would very soon wear out any die; and as a consequence, the continual engraving of new dies was one of the chief occupations of the workmen of the mint. The rapidity with which they could be prepared is. shown by the fact that the most ephemeral pretenders to the throne of the Caesars seldom failed to leave us coins bearing their name and effigy. On this subject, see Gardner's Types of Greek Coins, chap. iii.


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    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 7, 28
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