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PO´NDERA (σταθμοί). In recent years the subject of Greek and Roman weights has received much attention, especially in connexion with the history of the coinage; and the researches of Boeckh, Hultsch, Mommsen, and Brandis have thrown light over what was before their time a most obscure field. The method of these inquirers, especially that of the two latter, has been scientific induction. In the ancient world coins were always struck on one or another of the weight-standards in use for commercial purposes, and in Greece the stater of gold or silver always bore a simple and definite relation to the talent and mina in use in the state where they were struck. In Rome the as was originally merely a pound of copper. Thus it is by weighing great quantities of coins that we are enabled to recover the weights in use in Greece and Italy, and trace the historical succession and the derivation of the various standards. When we have thus reached definite results, we can turn to the works of ancient writers on metrology with better hope of understanding them.

Weights of Babylon.--It is known from the testimony of cuneiform inscriptions that at a very remote period the people of that city developed an elaborate and scientific system of numerical notation, and applied it to the reckoning of time, of weights, and of measures. The basis of this system of notation was neither decimal nor duodecimal, but sexagesimal; that is to say, the first figure in the line represented units, the second sixties, the third 60 [multi] 60, three thousand six hundreds, and so forth. The convenience of this system will be clear if we consider that sixty is divisible by both ten and twelve.

Of the sexagesimal division introduced by the Babylonians into the reckoning of time, traces remain to our own day: still sixty seconds make a minute and sixty minutes an hour. We also inherit from the Babylonians the division of a foot into twelve inches. This system of division was used by the Babylonians, and after them by the Greeks in the case of weights.

For the verification of Babylonic standards, we are not left to conjecture. Mr. Layard brought from the ruins of Nineveh a number of [p. 2.445]weights, some in the shape of a lion and some in that of a goose or duck. These weights bear upon them complete and satisfactory legends, stating what they are, partly written in the cuneiform character, and partly in the Aramaic character which was commonly used in Asia Minor at the time of the Assyrian dominion. The name of the king in whose reign they were made is added, so that our information regarding them is of the most definite character.

A detailed account of these weights is given by Mr. E. Norris in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xvi., by Dr. Brandis (pp. 43 sqq.), and in the ninth Report of the Warden of the Standards. The facts established by them may be briefly put. They show that under the Assyrian Empire there were in use in Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor two principal standards of weight. The minas of these two standards were related one to the other in the proportion of 2 to 1. The mina of the heavier standard weighed about 1010 grammes or 15,600 grains troy; the mina of the lighter standard, 505 grammes or 7,800 grains. Whether the two standards had different origins, or represent only a different mode of calculation, is obscure.

It can scarcely be a coincidence that the sixtieth parts of these two minae, the heavier sixtieth weighing 260 grains (16 8 grammes) and the lighter weighing 130 grains (8 4 grammes), were the weights according to which many of the earliest gold coins of Asia Minor were struck. This fact seems to prove that the weights in question had long been in use in that district for the precious metals, before coins were invented. According to the view of Brandis, accepted by Mr. Head, the heavier sixtieth was the accepted unit in Phoenicia; whereas the lighter travelled overland to Lydia, and thence reached the Greek colonies of the coast of Asia Minor.

On the ground of Homer's mention of the talent, which mention proves at any rate that fixed standards of weight for gold and other metals were in his time current, Mr. Ridgeway has maintained (Journal of Hellenic Studies, 8.133) that by the Greeks, even in the Homeric age, gold bars of the weight of 130 grains were regarded as the equivalent of an ox, and gold bars of 260 grains as the equivalent of a yoke of oxen. But granting the probability of the fact, it seems most likely that the Greeks did not arrive at the gold bar of 130 grains by an empirical process, but derived it directly from some metrological system in force among their neighbours, and perhaps arbitrarily regarded it as equivalent to an ox under ordinary circumstances. If either gold or oxen became abnormally scarce, of course the equation would no longer hold good.

From the gold shekel of 130 or 260 grains, whencesoever the weight was derived, the peoples of Asia Minor and of Syria seem to have formed metrological systems. By multiplying by 50, they formed minae of 6,500 and of 13,000 grains, and from these minae again talents of sixty times those weights. All this appears to have taken place before coins were in use, while the currency of the precious metals consisted only of bars or rings.

It is clear that in the circulation of the precious metals two plans might be adopted. Either bars both of gold and of silver might be current of the weight of the shekel, which would exchange against one another at any time or place according to the proportion between the value of silver and that of gold; or else different standards of weight might be adopted for the two metals, and bars of gold and of silver issued of such weight that a round number of.the silver bars would exchange for one of the gold. In point of fact, both these courses were adopted at various periods in the countries of Western Asia and Europe.

In his list of the Persian tribute (3.89 sqq.), Herodotus reckons the proportionate value of gold to silver as 13 to 1. This proportion seems to have been fixed by custom, and not to have changed during the Assyrian and Persian empires. Mommsen and Brandis, however, agree that the relation would be more exactly expressed by the figures 13 1/3 : 1 or 40 : 3. In practice the rule of Herodotus might be maintained in small transactions, but there seem to be grounds for holding that in dealing with large sums the fraction was taken into account. Had the fixed proportion been 12 : 1 or 10 : 1, bars of gold and silver of the same weight would have exchanged conveniently one against the other. Indeed, in Greece at various periods, this did take place. But the awkwardness of the relation 13 or 13 1/3 to 1 necessitated in Asia the adoption of a different standard for silver, in order that a round number of the current bars of silver should exchange for one of gold.

According to the theory of Brandis the Phoenician standard for silver, which was certainly in use from early times to late times, was formed on this principle from bars of gold weighing 260 grains. Multiply 260 by 13 1/3 , and we get the weight of the silver equivalent of this unit, 3466 grains. Dividing this again by 15, we get a convenient bar of silver of the weight of 231 or 230 grains of the value of the fifteenth part of a gold shekel. Thus four gold shekels would be equivalent to 60 bars of silver formed on this new unit. We have reason to believe that the silver currency in Syria and Phoenicia before the invention of coining was,. in accordance with the standard afterwards followed in the earliest coins, composed of bars of metal of about 230 grains each, of which fifteen went to a gold shekel.

In Asia Minor and Lydia the ordinary unit of value in gold weighed but half this amount,, 130 grains. Its silver equivalent was 1720 or 1730 grains. This sum was represented in the currency by ten bars of about 172 grains each,. which would together be equal in value to a bar in gold. From this new silver unit, 172. grains, were formed, by multiplying by 50,. a mina of about 8,600 grains and a talent of 516,000 grains, which were known among the Greeks as the Babylonian silver talent and mina. Dr. Brandis tries to show that these were in use in Mesopotamia as early as the 16th century before our era. In any case, it is clear from the testimony of Herodotus that they were in use in Persia for estimating the tribute paid in silver by subject nations. The passage, indeed, in which Herodotus sums this tribute (3.89) is perplexing, and certainly corrupt, since his [p. 2.446]totals do not represent the sum of his items. As the passage stands, the Babylonian talent is said to be equivalent to 70 Euboic minae. But Mommsen, by an emendation universally accepted (Röm. Münzwesen, p, 22), alters the figures to 78, so making Herodotus consistent. 78 Euboic minae give a weight nearly equal to that above attributed to the Babylonic silver talent.

In Egypt, in early times, the weights used were the kat and the outen or ten, which was its tenfold. Various metrologists have given different values of the kat; and as existing Egyptian weights vary considerably in force, no accurate determination is possible. The generally received values are, for the kat about 9 grammes or 140 grains, and for the ten 90 grammes or 1400 grains. Various attempts have been made to derive from these Egyptian weights those current in historical times in Greece. And in fact the smallness of the difference between the kat and the lighter shekel of Babylon seems to indicate that they had either a common or a parallel origin. We cannot, however, prove that Egyptian weights were used out of Egypt, while the Aramaic inscriptions on the Assyrian weights prove that they were in use in countries where the Aramaic writing was used; that is to say, in Asia Minor or N. Syria. Brandis also has argued that when certain weights of precious metal are recorded in Egyptian inscriptions as paid by way of tribute by the peoples of Syria, the sum, though expressed in Egyptian weights, almost always consists of a round number of Babylonish shekels. So far therefore as research has at present gone, it would seem that the monetary systems of Syria, Asia Minor,

        Avoirdupois.     Avoirdupois.
  Part of Talent. Grammes. Grains. lbs. oz. Grammes. Grains. lbs. oz.
I. Babylonic Talent for weighing goods.                  
Talent 1 60,600 936,000 133 5/7   30,300 468,000 66 6/7  
Mina [frac160] 1,010 15,600 2 3 2/3 505 7,800 1 1 5/6
Sixtieth 1/3600 16.83 260   3/5 8.41 130   3/10
II. Babylonic Gold Talent.                  
Talent 1 50,490 780,000 111 3/7   25,245 390,000 55 5/7  
Mina [frac160] 841.5 13,000 1 13 5/7 420.7 6,500   14 6/7
Shekel 1/3000 16.83 260   3/5 8.41 130   3/10
III. Babylonic Silver Talent.                  
Talent 1 67,320 1032,000 147 3/7   33,660 516,000 73 5/7  
Mina [frac160] 1,122 17,200 2 7 1/3 561 8,600 1 3 2/3
Shekel 1/3000 22.4 344   4/5 11.2 172   2/5
IV. Phoenician Silver Talent.                  
Talent1 1 44,700 690,000 98 4/7   22,350 345,000 49 2/7  
Mina [frac160] 745 11,500 1 10 2/7 372.5 5,750   13 1/7
Shekel 1/3000 14.9 230   1/2 7.45 115   1/4

Greece, and Italy were derived rather from Babylon than from Egypt.

The silver talent in use among the Jews was that of the Phoenicians in its heavier form. To quite a late date the Jewish mina weighed 11,500 grains and the shekel 230. This is sufficiently proved by the statements of Epiphanius (Hultsch, Metrolog. Script. reliqq. p. 265) as well as from the testimony of a Jewish stone weight with the legend PONDO. CXXV. TALENTVM SICLORVM III.: whence it appears that the Jewish talent weighed even in Roman times as much as 125 Roman pounds, 637,500 grains, which is but a little below the heavy Phoenician standard (see table); and contained 3,000 shekels.

We have reason to believe that the Phoenician weight was in use also at Carthage; having doubtless accompanied the emigrants from the mother-country. For the coinage of Carthage, which does not however begin at an early period, is chiefly struck on the Phoenician nician standard, and slightly heavier than the money of Tyre and Sidon. And no doubt the Carthaginians, like the Phoenicians, applied the same standard they used for money in weighing other articles.

Derivation of Greek Monetary Standards.--We have already seen what were, before the invention of coinage, the principal monetary standards in use in Western Asia. These we will briefly recapitulate, and assign them names, in order that we may cite them with more convenience hereafter. First, there was the heavy Babylonian gold standard, with its shekel of 260 grains. Next there was the light Babylonian gold standard, with its shekel of 130 grains. Next there was the Babylonian silver standard, of which the unit weighed 172 grains. Last, there was the standard called by Brandis Graeco-Asiatic, but which, as it originally ginally spread from Phoenicia, we shall prefer [p. 2.447]to call the Phoenician. It was used only for silver, and its unit weighed about 230 grains. it is probable that from one or other of these four units all monetary systems, except those of the ancient Chinese and the modern French, have been derived.

Considering the vigorous commercial activity of the Phoenicians in the eighth and ninth centuries before our era, it cannot appear surprising if the standards adopted by them spread more rapidly and obtained wider currency than the standards which were transmitted by land only. In particular they spread to the Greek cities of the Asiatic coast, which were at this time far superior in wealth and splendour to the cities of Greece proper. Ephesus and Miletus, Phocaea and Smyrna, learned to accept as units of value the heavy Babylonian gold shekel of 260 grains, and the Phoenician silver shekel of 230 grains. And from Ephesus and Smyrna the Phoenician silver standard passed to Sardis, the wealthy capital of the Lydian kings, though the greater part of the Lydian money was minted on the Babylonian standard which reached the country by land.

The credit of inventing the idea of money--that is, of stamping an ingot of metal of fixed weight with an official die, which should guarantee its quality and value--belongs to the Lydians. Herodotus (1.94) states that this people were the first to strike coin in gold and silver. But probably the earliest coins were neither of gold, nor of silver, but of electrum, which is a natural mixture of those two metals, found in the bed of the Pactolus and other rivers of Asia Minor, and reckoned by the G(reeks as a separate metal. [See ELECTRUM] Whether ingots of electrum unstamped had previously been current, we cannot say; but it is likely. If we are to suppose, with Brandis, that by a fixed convention the value of the Lydian electrum was regarded as 3/4 of that of gold, gold standing to silver in the relation of 13 1/3 to 1 as regards value, electrum would appear to have stood to silver in the relation of 10 to 1. In this proportion recent metrologists have found an explanation of the fact that the electrum was struck upon the standard used for silver and not that used for gold, each of the new coins of electrum passing for ten of the previously used bars of silver. We must, however, observe that the proportion of value between gold and electrum cannot be regarded as ascertained fact.

The claim of the people of Lydia to have invented money is usually allowed by numismatists. The invention appears to belong to the seventh century, when Lydia was ruled by the Mermnadae. It spread to the towns of the Ionian coast, and thence with decreased rapidity south and west. The great bulk of the early electrum coins are struck on the Phoenician silver standard. In their division the duodecimal system prevails; the third, fourth, sixth, twelfth, and twenty-fourth parts of the stater being usual. Some of the early coins of Lydia are on the Babylonic silver standard. This, however, was not used out of Lydia. Electrum pieces on the Phoenician standard, on the contrary, were struck in a host of cities; including Sardes, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Lampsacus, and even the distant Aegina. A few cities, such as Samos and Eretria, seem in the earliest times to have struck electrum coins on the Babylonic gold standard. For further details as to the early electrum coinage, see ELECTRUM and the authorities there cited.

The city of Phocaea, which enjoyed great wealth and prosperity during the half-century previous to its destruction by Harpagus, the general of Cyrus, issued at that period coins of dark electrum, containing a considerable proportion of gold, minted on the heavy Babylonian gold standard,--coins which seem during the earlier half of the sixth century to have pushed their way on the Asiatic coast, and in many places to have taken the place of the Milesian electrum. (Head, Numismatic Chronicle, 15.272.)

The supersession in Asia of the electrum coinage by one of gold and silver has been generally regarded as the work of Croesus. This able and wealthy monarch is supposed to have recognised the fact that electrum, in consequence of its varying purity and value, is ill-fitted to be a measure of value, and so to have stopped the issue of electrum coins in the mint of Sardes, and in the place of them to have substituted pieces of pure gold struck on the light Babylonian gold standard (126 grains) and pieces of fine silver struck on the Babylonian silver standard (168 grains). Of these coins, which bear as type the head of a lion and the head of a bull, many specimens survive to our day. Ten of the silver pieces were equal in value to one of the gold, being considerably heavier. It is, however, the view of M. Six that this monetary reform was the work not of Croesus, but of his Persian conqueror, Cyrus (Head, Historia Numorum, p. 546). Darius, son of Hystaspes, regulated the internal affairs of the Persian Empire, and introduced a state coinage on the model of that of Lydia, which continued unchanged until the overthrow of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great.

The coinage of gold he claimed as his own peculiar privilege, and insisted on his exclusive right in this matter with so much vigour that it became a settled principle of Persian rule that no power in Asia, save the Great King only, had the right to issue money of gold. The staters of Darius were in weight identical with those of Croesus (128-130 grains). They were called Darics, perhaps from the king who instituted them; also τοξόται. [See DARICUS] Darius issued also silver coin, in shape and type similar to the gold. He adopted as his monetary unit the half of that of Croesus, at the same time somewhat raising the standard. Thus the silver pieces called σίγλοι or shekels weighed about 86 grains, and twenty of them were equivalent in value to a Daric. [See SIGLUS.] But the right of issuing silver money was not reserved exclusively to the king. Satraps, especially when in command of military expeditions, were allowed to strike in silver, to adopt any types or devices they might think proper, and even to place their names on the coin. The cities of the Asiatic coast, of Lycia, and of Cyprus were allowed to have coins of their own. In these cases the standard was the same as that of the siglos, but the pieces issued were usually of the weight of two sigli (about 172 grains). The cities of Phoenicia, on the other hand, which issued silver coin in great abundance, retained, Aradus excepted, [p. 2.448]their ancient silver standard. Such was the general nature of the Asiatic issues of coin until the Persian Empire fell.

But we must now trace the rise of coining in Greece proper; and for this purpose return to a period before the date of Darius. We have already mentioned that, probably as early as the seventh century B.C., the cities of Euboea minted electrum on the Babylonian gold standard (130 grains), and Aegina on the Phoenician silver standard (230 grains). At this period the cities of Euboea, together with Corinth and Aegina, were the great commercial states of Greece. So it is not surprising that with these issues in electrum all the coinage of Greece proper took its rise. A coinage in electrum, however, could not exist long in Greece, for the substance of which it was formed had to be imported from Asia Minor. Silver, on the contrary, was abundant in Hellas, being procured in large quantities and many places, especially in Thrace. [See ARGENTUM] It was therefore natural that the cities of Greece proper should have adopted silver for their currencies. But in so doing they adhered in the main, as we shall see, to the standards which had reached them from Asia.

Herodotus states that it was Pheidon, king of Argos, who regulated the measures of the Peloponnese (Hdt. 6.127); and Ephorus, quoted by Strabo (viii. pp. 358 and 376), says that he struck νόμισμα τὸ τε ἄλλο καὶ τὸ ἀργυροῦν at the island of Aegina. Certainly some of the earliest of the coins of Greece proper were the electrum and silver money of Aegina, bearing the type of a tortoise. According to Herodotus (6.127), Pheidon's son was one of the suitors of Agariste, daughter of Cleisthenes of Sicyon. If this be true, his date must be brought down to that of Cleisthenes, about 600-580 B.C.; and we agree with Unger, who has discussed the whole question of the date of Pheidon in the Philologus (vols. 28, 29), that there is good reason to believe that there was a Pheidon ruling in Argos at that period. The testimony of Herodotus is too clear and explicit to be rejected. And this king it must certainly have been who introduced coins into Greece. It is contrary to all evidence to place that introduction at so early a period as the eighth Olympiad.

Whether it was this Pheidon who also regulated the measures of the Peloponnese may be considered more doubtful. That the same ruler regulated the weights also is not stated by Herodotus, but is probable. That there was an earlier Pheidon is proved by a mass of testimony; and the explicit statement of Pausanias (6.22, 2) that he presided at the eighth Olympic festival appears too definite to be disputed. The conjecture of Weissenborn, who wishes to substitute twenty-eighth for eighth, is rightly rejected by Unger, and has indeed nothing in its favour, besides being quite inconsistent with the testimony of Herodotus; and it may be this earlier Pheidon who regulated Peloponnesian weights and measures.

In any case we may allow the truth of the tradition that silver coin was first struck in Hellas proper in the island of Aegina. Of this very primitive coinage we possess many specimens. Their type is a turtle, the emblem of the Phoenician goddess of trade. One specimen in the British Museum weighs 211 grains, but few weigh more than 200 grains. It is difficult to determine whence the Aeginetans or Argives derived this standard, which is called the Aeginetan. It is possible that it is merely a slightly degraded form of the Phoenician. Argos had been from early times in constant commercial intercourse with the Phoenicians, and long before the invention of coinage the Argives must have been in the habit of using bars of metal of fixed weight. It is possible that Pheidon, in regulating the weight of the Aeginetan stater, thought best to adapt it to the Babylonic gold standard, which was already in use, as we shall see, in some parts of Greece for silver. The Babylonic stater weighing 130 grains, he may have lowered the standard of Phoenicia (supposing that to have been in use at Argos) so that his new staters should weigh 195 grains, and two of them exchange for three of the Babylonic staters. Of late years attempts have been made to deduce the Aeginetic mina from the water-weight of the cube of the Olympic foot, and so to connect it with Hellenic systems of metrology.

These, however, are speculations; what is. certain is, that the scale of the coins with the tortoise on them, a scale henceforward called Aeginetan, spread with great rapidity over Greece. It was in the sixth century used everywhere in Peloponnesus except at Corinth, and was the customary standard in the Cyclades; in Thessaly, Boeotia, and the whole of Northern Greece, except Euboea; and some parts of Macedon. Its weights are as follows:--

  Grammes. Grains.
Talent 37,800 585,000
Mina 630 9,750
Stater (didrachm) 12.60 195
Drachm 6.30 97
Obol 1.05 16

It will be seen that we here reach new terms,--stater, drachm, and obol. The first is but a rendering of the Semitic word shekel [see STATER]. But the other terms are of Greek origin. The drachm became in Greece the unit in which calculations of weight and of money were made, and the obol, which was the sixth part of the drachm, was the coin used for small payments. [See DRACHMA]

The only other standard in use in Greece proper before the time of Solon was the Euboic. This was identical with the light Babylonian gold standard. The silver staters struck on the Euboic standard at Chalcis and Eretria weighed about 130 grains. This Euboic standard obtained currency in some other parts, such as the island of Chios. Herodotus in his account of the tribute paid by the Persian Satrapies (3.89) states that the gold was measured by the Euboic standard, clearly identifying it with the Persian official standard according to which the Darics. were coined. In the course of the fifth century B.C. we find Cumae in Campania and other Euboean colonies striking on a standard which is apparently the Euboic, the coins weighing from 120 to 110 grains. But about the middle of the sixth century B.C. the Attic standard arose, and it is impossible to distinguish henceforth the history of the Euboic from that of the Attic standard. [p. 2.449]

In the time of Solon the standard used at Athens for weighing both merchandise and the precious metals was the Aeginetan. Whether actual coins were minted then at Athens is uncertain; at all events, none survive to our day. It is probable that Athens was still trading with bars of silver of Aeginetan weight, or adopting the rude coins issued in quantities by Aegina and copied in all parts of Greece. Solon, as we are told by Plutarch (Plut. Sol. 15), introducing his laws for the relief of debtors, the celebrated σεισάχθεια, ordered that the standard of the drachm should be lowered to 73/100 of what it had previously been; that is to say, that the weight of the drachm should be lowered from 95 grains to 68, but that debts contracted in the old currency might be discharged in the new, the debtors thus gaining 27 per cent. The Aeginetan mina was still retained as a weight for merchandise, as we know both from several surviving specimens of Athenian weights, and from the testimony of a popular decree of later time (Boeckh, C. I. 123), which reckons the commercial mina at 138 silver drachmas. Further, Priscian states the larger Attic (commercial) talent, which was of course equal to 60 of its own minae, to be equivalent to 83 1/3 of the ordinary minae. These three testimonies agree then accurately as to the relations of the pre-Solonic and the Solonic weights of Attica; and as the coins of Athens of the Solonic standard survive in great quantities, there is nothing in the above account which admits of any doubt. It may indeed excite surprise that Solon should have lighted on so strange a proportion as 27/100 for the reduction of the coin. Most recent writers have supposed that his motive was to assimilate the new standard to the Euboic, which it only slightly exceeds in weight; but there is here room for doubt. For it does not appear why, if such were his intention, he should not have at once adopted a depreciation of 33 per cent. If he had issued the new coin of two-thirds the weight of the old coins or bars, he would have given greater ease to debtors, have lighted on an easy and simple proportion, and almost exactly adopted the existing Euboic weight. Attention is due to an ingenious suggestion put forth by Mr. Poole (Dict. of the Bible, art. “Weights and Measures” ) that the new Solonic standard is more likely to have been borrowed from Egypt than fiom Asia Minor. We have already seen that the Egyptian unit of weight, the kat, weighed about 9 grammes or 140 grains, and the Solonic drachms of Athens are thus nearly of the weight of half a kat. The intercourse between Egypt and Attica was in Solon's time very close; and it is far from improbable that in departing from the national standard of the Greeks he should adopt that of Egypt.

The weights of the units of the Solonic standard, henceforward known as the Attic, are as follows:--

  Grammes. Grains.
Talent 26,400 405,000
Mina 440 6,750
Drachm 4.40 67.5
Obol .73 11.25

The ordinary coin was the tetradrachm of about 270 grains.

The only remaining standard early used in Greece proper was the Corinthian. This has the same unit of value as the Euboic; namely, a stater of 130 grains, the weight of which rises under Athenian influence to 135 grains. But in the subdivisions of this stater the Corinthian mint took a line peculiar to itself. With it the drachm was not half but a third of this unit, and the obol again a sixth part of that:--

  Grammes. Grains.
Stater 8.80 135
Drachm 2.93 45
Obol .49 7.5

As many of the Corinthian coins bear marks of value, this fact cannot be disputed. Also Thucydides (1.27) mentions the Corinthian drachm as a thing apart. The reason of this method of division has been disputed. Mommsen (p. 61) is inclined to see in it a reminiscence of the Asiatic origin of the weight. But it is not improbable that the Corinthian drachms of 45 grains were intended to pass as Aeginetan hemidrachms, of which the weight was about the same. The money of Aegina and Athens would naturally meet in the market of Corinth; and the Corinthian coin seems to have been specially adapted to mediate between the two.

We must now follow the course of the invention of money westwards to Italy and Sicily. It is almost certain that when the people of Phocaea migrated to Velia in Italy, about B.C. 543, they took with them the art of coinage. But at about this period the Achaean cities of Southern Italy--Sybaris and Poseidonia, Rhegium and Caulonia, with Croton, Tarentum, and other towns--were already issuing money much of which still remains in our Museums, and is remarkable for bearing the same type on both sides; on one side in relief, on the other in intaglio. This money is apparently struck on the Euboic standard which the people of Chalcis and Corinth had already introduced in these regions. At some cities the drachm is half the stater, as in Euboea; in some a third of it, as at Corinth. Its date is certain, for we have specimens minted at Sybaris and Siris, which were destroyed not later than B.C. 510. At about the latter date Syracuse as well as Zancle, Naxos, and other Chalcidian colonies in Sicily began to issue coin. The Chalcidian cities, for some unexplained reason, began by issuing pieces weighing about 90 grains, which must therefore either be drachms of the Aeginetan, or, more probably, didrachms of the Corinthian standard. but they soon adopted--as Syracuse, Gela, and Leontini did from the first--the Attic standard, and struck coins as follows:--

tetradrachm 270 grains.
Didrachm 135 grains.
Drachm 67.5 grains.
Hemidrachm 33.75 grains.
Obol 11.25 grains.

But, in addition to the obol, we find at Syracuse a litra weighing about 13 1/2 grains. In order to explain its relation to the other coins, it is necessary to give some account of the systems of weighing and the monetary systems of Italy and Sicily. (See below, p. 455.) Among the purely Greek cities of these regions we do not find, until a comparatively late period, any [p. 2.450]standards in use for money except the Euboic and the Attic.

Monetary Standards of Greece at the time of the Peloponnesian War.--If we attempt a general survey of the standards employed by the Greeks for money, say at about the year B.C. 420, we must confine ourselves carefully to generalities. The monetary history of each city is a study, sometimes an intricate one, and we might often fail to find reasons for the adoption of this or that standard in turn. But a more general survey is not impossible. In Sicily, as has already been stated, the Attic standard was universal; the ordinary coin was the tetradrachm; didrachms, hemidrachms, and obols were in use, and decadrachms occasionally struck. [See DAMARETEION] In Italy, that is, the Greek colonies of S. Italy, the Euboic standard, appreciably lower than the Attic, was in general use; but the standard coin was not the tetradrachm, but the didrachm, which is said at Tarentum to have been called νοῦμμος. [See NUMMUS] In Hellas proper, including Epirus and Thessaly, the Aeginetan standard was almost universal. The exceptions were Athens, where the Attic standard prevailed; and Corinth, together with the Corinthian colonies in Acarnania, which minted as was natural on the Corinthian standard. The iron money of Laconia was of Aeginetan standard, the πέλανορ being of the weight of an Aeginetan mina. Crete and the islands near the European coast also used the Aeginetan weights. In Macedonia several standards were in use. The kings of Macedon in the fifth century used the Persian silver standard for their coins; but the cities of Chalcidice mostly used the standard of their Euboean mother-city, somewhat raised, in fact raised nearly to the Attic level; and the rude tribes of Mount Pangaeum, who coined very largely, used a somewhat degraded form of the Persian or Babylonian silver standard, their staters not weighing more than 160 grains.

On the shores of the Black Sea the Persian standard was almost universally in use; Sinope, Amisus, and other cities issuing large numbers of coins of the weight of the Persian siglus,--that is, of about 86 grains. Probably three of these prices went in exchange for an Attic tetradrachm. In other parts of Asia Minor, in some of the Ionian cities, as Colophon, in Lycia and Cyprus, the same Persian standard was in use; but in the southern district the double siglus of 170 grains or thereabouts was more usual than the single one. Some of the great cities of the west coast retained the Phoenician silver standard, which, however, varied somewhat from place to place. At Ephesus the stater sometimes exceeded 230 grains; at Samos it seldom weighed more than 205 grains. The Samian standard ruled in the African colony of Cyrene. The cities of Phoenicia about this time began to strike coins on their original standard. At this time no gold coin except the Persian Darics was anywhere current. But electrum coin was issued in great quantities by the city of Cyzicus. The standard used by that city was the Phocaic of 260-250 grains, and the denominations issued were the stater and the hecte or sixth. [See STATER and HECTE] Lampsacus also issued electrum coin.

History of Coinage in the Levant after B.C. 420.--In 408 B.C. the city of Rhodes was founded. The origin of this city coinciding so nearly with the humiliation of Athens by Lysander, the commerce of Rhodes spread rapidly over all seas. The Rhodians adopted from the first a standard of their own, which seems to have been a variety of the Phoenician. Their tetradrachm weighed at first 240 grains, though in the course of a century it sank to 220 grains. This standard made its way in the fourth century rapidly among Greek states. King Mausolus of Caria adopted it. And even the distant Olynthus, head of the Chalcidian league, struck money on the same standard: thence it was adopted by Philip of Macedon for his silver coin.

The early years of the fourth century saw a copper or rather bronze coinage spring up in most cities of Greece proper and the Greek colonies in Italy and Sicily. Hitherto for small change the Greeks had used minute pieces of silver. Pieces of the weight of two grains troy, representing two chalci or the fourth part of an obol, were commonly used at Athens, and survive to our day. Copper money was at first scouted, as we see from the language of Aristophanes (Aristoph. Eccl. 818), but it gradually made its way by its superior convenience. At about the same time gold was first minted by Greeks. Small pieces first make their appearance in Sicily; but before the middle of the fourth century gold staters struck on the Attic standard were issued in considerable numbers by Olynthus, Panticapaeum, Athens, Lampsacus, Cius, Rhodes, and other cities, eventually driving out of circulation the electrum money of Cyzicus and Lampsacus.

When Philip of Macedon acquired the gold mines of Thrace, he began issuing large quantities of gold coins with his own types. And as in the case of his issues in silver, so in those in gold, he adopted the standard already current in Chalcidice, the wealthiest and most civilised part of his dominions. That is to say, he minted gold didrachms of the Attic standard, those didrachms which soon became notorious all over the world. They opened to Philip the gates of many a Greek city, they constituted the greater part of the wealth of the capitalists in Greece and Italy, and they were copied by the barbarous nations on the northern frontiers of Greece and even by the remote tribes of Gaul and Britain.

But, as in other departments of Greek activity, so in the coinage, the greatest of epochs is furnished by the life of Alexander the Great. Alexander adopted throughout his vast dominions the Attic standard of weight for both silver coins and gold. We must pause for a moment to consider his objects in taking this measure. Hitherto almost all cities which issued both gold and silver, Athens excepted, had used a different standard for the two metals. The ratio of value between gold and silver being, as we have above seen, as 13 1/3 to 1, it was necessary that the standards should be different in order that a round number of silver staters should exchange for one gold stater. In Asia the Euboic standard was in use for gold, and either the Babylonic silver standard or the Phoenician for silver. Gold was seldom minted in Europe; but the states, such as the Olynthian league and Macedon, which did issue gold coin, minted [p. 2.451]it of Attic weight, at the same time that they adopted for their silver one of the Asiatic standards. This procedure was obviously desirable so long as the old relation of value between gold and silver was maintained. But in the time of Philip of Macedon, consequently on the active use made by that king of the rich gold mines of Thrace, the value of gold in proportion to that of silver fell. Alexander seems to have perceived that in consequence it

  No. of drachms or part of a drachm. Phoenician, Rhodian. Babylonic, Persian. Samian. Aeginetan, Cistophoric. Euboic. Attic. Corinthian.
Dodecadrachm 12 690            
Decadrachm 10 575         675  
Octadrachm 8 460            
Tetradrachm 4 230   210   260 270  
Tridrachm 3             135
Didrachm 2 115 172 105 194 130 135  
Trihemidrachm 1 1/2             67.5
Drachm 1 57.5 86 52.5 97 65 67.5 45
Tetrobol 2/8 38.3 57.3 35   43.3 45  
Hemidrachm 1/2 28.7 43 26.2 48.5 32.5 33.7 22.5
Diobol 1/3 19.2 28.6 17.5 32.3 21.6 22.5 15
Trihemiobol 1/4 14.3 21.5 13.1 24.2   16.8 11.2
Obol 1/6 9.6 14.3 8.7 16.1 10.8 11.2 7.5
Tritartemorion 1/8 7.2 10.7   12.1   8.4  
Hemiobol 1/12 4.8 7.1 4.3 8 5.4 5.6 3.7
Tetartemorion 1/24 2.4 3.6   4   2.8 1.8

  Attic Standard.
  Gold. Electrum. Silver.
  £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Talent 3375 0 0 2531 5 0 210 18 9
Mina 56 5 0 42 3 9 3 10 3 3/4
Decadrachm 5 12 6 4 4 4 1/2 0 7 0 1/2
Tetradrachm 2 5 0 1 13 9 0 0 9 3/4
Didrachm 1 2 6 0 16 10 1/2 0 1 5
Drachm 0 11 3 0 8 5 1/4 0 0 8 1/2
Hemidrachm 0 5 7 1/2 0 4 2 1/2 0 0 4 1/4
Obol 0 1 10 1/2 0 1 5 0 0 1 1/4
Hemiohol 0 0 11 1/4 0 0 8 1/2 0 0 0 1/2

  Aeginetan. Phoenician.
  Silver. Electrum. Silver.
  £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Talent 303 2 6 2156 5 0 179 13 9
Mina 5 1 0 1/2 35 18 9 2 19 10 3/4
Decadrachm 0 10 1 1/4 3 11 10 1/2 0 6 0
Tetradrachm 0 0 0 1/2 1 8 9 0 2 4 3/4
Didrachm 0 2 0 1/4 0 14 4 1/2 0 1 2 1/2
Drachm 0 1 0 0 7 2 1/4 0 0 7 1/4
Hemidrachm 0 0 6 0 3 7 0 0 3 1/2
Obol 0 0 2 0 1 2 1/2 0 0 1 1/4
Hemiobol 0 0 1 0 0 7 1/4 0 0 0 1/2

  Persian (silver standard).
  Gold. Electrum. Silver.
  £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Talent 4300 0 0 3225 0 0 268 15 0
Mina 71 13 4 53 15 0 4 9 7
Decadrachm 7 3 4 5 7 6 0 8 11 1/2
Tetradrachm 2 17 4 2 3 0 0 3 7
Didrachm 1 8 8 1 1 6 0 1 9 1/2
Drachm 0 14 4 0 10 9 0 0 10 3/4
Hemidrachm 0 7 2 0 5 4 1/2 0 0 5 1/4
Obol 0 2 4 3/4 0 1 9 1/2 0 0 1 3/4
Hemiobol 0 1 2 1/4 0 0 10 3/4 0 0 0 3/4

was impossible to maintain a double standard and to secure that a certain number of silver staters should always pass for a gold one. He therefore minted both metals on one standard, in order that when the ratio of value of silver to gold was 1:12 a gold didrachm should exchange for six silver tetradrachms, when the ratio was 1:10 a gold didrachm should exchange for 5 tetradrachms, and so forth. It was no doubt stated or else implied in all promises of payment whether gold or silver was to be the metal employed.

Gold continued to be minted in the name and with the types of Alexander in many cities of Asia for many years after his death, and silver for more than a century longer.

The successors of Alexander coined in their various cities immense quantities of money in gold and silver. The Ptolemies of Egypt used the Phoenician standard for both gold and silver, but the Attic standard was the one in general use by the kings of Macedon, Syria, Pergamus, Bithynia, Bactria, and India, as well as by the Parthians. But it would be a mistake to suppose that all issues except regal ones came to an end, either in Asia or Europe. In Asia we find cities like Ephesus, Miletus, Colophon, and Rhodes, continuing their old coinages, with types and even standards unchanged. In European Greece some cities, such as Athens, Corinth, and Elis, continue their issues as of old, altering the style of their coins to suit the taste of the age. But a new feature is presented by the federal coinages of the new political leagues. The cities of the Achaean league issue a uniform series of coins, only bearing at each city a different monogram or mint-mark. Their silver coins are Aeginetan hemidrachms, or, which is the same thing, Corinthian drachms. The Acarnanian and Aetolian leagues follow the Aeginetan standard.

The only great innovation which takes place after this in the coinage of Asia Minor is the introduction of the coins called Cistophori, on account of their type, which is the cista mystica of Dionysiac worship. These coins were first [p. 2.452]struck in the times of the later kings of Pergamus, and were peculiar to the West and Interior of Asia Minor. They follow the Aeginetan standard, with the variety that what was called a didrachm in the case of the Aeginetan coins was usually called a tetradrachm in the case of the Cistophori. The Cistophoric drachm was therefore equivalent to an Aeginetan hemidrachm, or a Corinthian drachm. How this standard originated is not known, but the coins struck on it formed the main part, together with the drachms of Rhodes, of the currency of Asia Minor during the first century B.C., and pieces of the same class were issued even under the earlier Roman emperors. And by this time the drachms of Rhodes had sunk to the weight of the quarter of a Cistophoric tetradrachm.

When the Romans conquered Asia, they introduced a tariff according to which the various coins in circulation exchanged against the denarius.

The first set of the preceding tables gives the approximate weights of the Greek coins in general use; the others give the values of those coins, roughly, in English money; reckoning gold at the value of 2d. a grain Troy, silver at 5s. an ounce Troy, and electrum at 1 1/2 d. a grain: for although as a matter of fact electrum seldom contains 3/4 of gold, yet it is supposed that the ancients valued it on that basis.

In this way we get the metal equivalents of the ancient coins. Their equivalents in purchasing power cannot be determined. We can only say quite roughly that in many respects a silver drachm in Greece would go almost as far as a sovereign with us. The daily pay of a mercenary in later Greece was four Attic obols, equal in weight to a sixpence. The younger Cyrus gave his soldiers a daric (£1 1s. 6d.) a month. Probably these mercenaries were able after a few years' service to retire on a competency. Any attempt at closer comparison between ancient and modern prices can only serve to mislead.

Greek Systems of Weight for Commodities.--The history of the weights used by the various states of Greece can thus be established by induction. From the testimony of a few coins we can easily discover the weight of the talent and mina according to which they were minted. And as a rule the talents and minae used for coins were those used for other goods. But to this rule the exceptions were very numerous. There is no reason to think that peculiar monetary standards, such as those of Rhodes and of Samos, were ever applied to the weighing of merchandise. And there are reasons for supposing that whereas the standard used for coins had at all times a tendency to fall, the standard used for merchandise had often a tendency to rise. So even if originally at any place money and merchandise were governed by the same weights, a process of differentiation would soon set in.

There is indeed, for determining the weights in use in the Greek markets, a mass of material available in the shape of extant Greek weights of lead or bronze. But hitherto this material has not been used in a sufficiently methodical manner. And there are very great difficulties inherent in its use. Firstly, weights of lead, unlike gold and silver coins, lose weight in the course of ages by decay or gain weight by oxidation or accretion, so that the original weight of any extant specimen is very hard to determine. Secondly, very few existing weights have inscriptions sufficiently exact to determine their date, locality, and denomination. And, thirdly, we have reason to believe that the standards which prevailed in any city or district were not carefully adhered to by the shopkeepers, who used considerable licence.

The statements of ancient writers on metrology are useful to us in the case of two cities, Athens and Alexandria. But they are of little authority unless we can verify them by an appeal to extant monuments, since the authority of these writers is small, and numbers are notoriously liable to alteration and corruption in the MSS,

Under these circumstances we shall venture to do little beyond giving a sketch of the metrological systems of Athens and Alexandria. Lists of extant weights will be found in the papers of Schillbach (Annali dell' Instituto, 1865), Murray (Numismatic Chronicle, 1868), Longpérier (Annali dell' Inst., 1847), R. S. Poole (Dict. of the Bible, art. “Weights” ), and elsewhere.

Athens.--In the case of this city we know from existing inscriptions and extant weights what standards were used for weighing various articles.

First, there was the usual Attic or Solonic standard, corresponding in use to our Troy weight. This is the standard on which all the coins of Athens from first to last were struck. It was also used for weighing all precious articles of gold and silver. This we know from the lists of the treasure stored in the Parthenon, which ale still preserved. The same standard was used for their drugs, not only by the physicians of Attica, but by those of Alexandria and other cities. In the writings of Galen, for example, the weights are given according to the Solonic standard. Of the extant leaden weights of Athens, many conform to this standard.

Others among the existing weights of Athens are regulated according to a standard just double the weight of the Solonic. One of them marked ΤΡΙΤΗ weighs 4,440 grains, one marked ΤΕΤΑΡΤ 3,218 grains, and one marked H M ΗΜΙΤΕΤΑΡΤ 1770 grains. These are clearly fractions of a weight equal to two minae of Attic standard, but used as a unit for certain purposes (12,800 to 14,200 grains). The excess in case of the heavier specimens need not trouble us; it is extremely common to find Greek weights somewhat above the standard; and an inscription quoted below may partially explain the fact. What is important at present is the use at Athens of a standard of double weight. Probably it was used for certain specified kinds of goods only. It is not mentioned by writers or in inscriptions.

The third standard in use at Athens was the Commercial or Emporic. This also is followed in many extant weights. It was identical with the Aeginetan standard for coins of which we have already spoken, with a mina of about 9,700 grains (628.5 grammes). It corresponded in use to our weight avoirdupois, being the ordinary weight in use in the market. There is a very important Athenian inscription (C. I. G. 123) which throws much light on the use of the Solonic and the Emporic standards at Athens, as well as on other matters connected with [p. 2.453]weights. It runs thus:--“The Emporic mina (μνᾶ ἐμπορικὴ) shall weigh 132 drachms of the Stephanephoros, according to the weights preserved at the mint, and there shall be added (thrown in) twelve drachms of the Stephanephoros; and all bargains shall be regulated by this mina, except in cases where silver-weight is specially mentioned, the scales being balanced so that the rod is level, against a weight of 150 drachms of the Stephanephoros.” The inscription goes on to say that in every Emporic πεντάμνουν (5 minae) one Emporic mina shall be thrown in, and in every Emporic talent five minae.

From this inscription, the date of which is somewhat doubtful, but must be as late as the third century B.C., and is probably not later than the first, we learn (1) that the Solonic mina and drachm were called τοῦ Στεφανηφόρου. The Stephanephoros was an Attic hero or daemon in whose temple the mint was in early times placed; thus the drachms called after him were drachms of money: on the weights the Solonic mina is called μνᾶ δημοσία: (2) that the proportion between the Aeginetan or Attic commercial mina and that of the mint remained at 138:100 (just as it had been fixed by Solon) throughout Athenian history: but (3) that Greek weights were sometimes arbitrarily raised by authority, at least in democracies. In this case it is acknowledged that the commercial mina does not exceed 138 drachms; yet all sellers are ordered to act as if it weighed 150 drachms. This will account in part for the curious fact that ancient weights so often exceed their nominal standard. The ῥοπή, or weight thrown in, is less in proportion in the higher denominations. In the case of the πεντάμνουν 20 per cent. is to be added; in the case of the talent, only 8 per cent. The democratic origin and intention of this distinction are obvious.

That the Emporic mina was also called the mina of the Agoranomi is shown from the inscription of a weight found at Athens which weighs 335 grammes, ΗΜΙ ΑΓΟΡΑΝΟ (Ann. dell' Inst., 1865, p. 199).

A fourth talent of quite a different character was in use at Athens in later times. It is mentioned by the poet Philemon, who writes (Etym. M. s. v. τάλαντον), Δύ᾽ εἰ λάβοι τάλαντα, χρυσοῦς ἓξ ἔχων ἀποίσεται. From which it appears that this talent was made up of three Attic gold staters or didrachms. Six drachms of gold may very well have been equivalent to a talent of copper of 6,000 drachms.

In Greece proper it is very probable that the Attic and Aeginetan standards were in general use from early times to late. Indeed the Aeginetan was for most classes of goods probably almost universal. But as we have few or no weights bearing marks of value which we can with certainty attribute to cities of Hellas, we are unable to establish this by the satisfactory method of induction.

Alexandria.--The only city of the Levant besides Athens in which we can fully trace the systems of weight in use is Alexandria. In this case our guides are less existing weights than the statements of late writers. As these generally use for their standard the weight of the Roman denarius, which is certain, their meaning can usually be fixed with. accuracy. By comparing the table which bears the name of Cleopatra, but really belongs to a later date (Hultsch, Metrolog. Script. Reliqq. p. 109), with that of Galen, the eminent physician (Hultsch, p. 79), and with others, we reach the following results:--(1) The standard in most general use at Alexandria seems to have been based on the Attic mina. In the prescriptions of doctors this was universal until a late time. The table of Cleopatra calls it ψ̔ μνᾶ par excellence. Its weight was 16 Roman ounces or 6,800 grains. (2) For money and perhaps other things the standard usually employed was the Ptolemaic. The Ptolemaic mina contained the weight of 100 Ptolemaic drachms, which, as we have seen, were struck on Phoenician weight. After the time of Nero this mina was sometimes called the Attic, because it contained 100 of the denarii of Nero, which were commonly considered as Attic drachms. Its weight was that of 12 1/2 Roman ounces or 5,500 grains. Besides these two minae and the Roman libra, three other systems of weight were in use. (3) That also called Ptolemaic, which was, as Hultsch points out, an Egyptian weight of great antiquity. Its mina contained 18 Roman ounces, 7,650 grains, and it is apparently nothing but the old native Egyptian standard. (4) That called Alexandrian. Its mina contained 20 ounces (8,500 grains), and it is identical with the [Babylonian or] Persian silver standard. (5) Τάλαντον ξυλικόν, used for wood only, and said to be 1/2 heavier than the Ptolemaic standard. It was a local weight, τάλαντον ἐπιχώπιον. It was very nearly equivalent to the Attic weight.

The following table gives the values of the weights thus in ordinary use in Greece and in Egypt during the age of their autonomy:--

  Part of Mina. Attic--Solonian. Attic--Double. Aeginetan, Attic commercial. Ptolemaic, Late Attic.
    Grammes Grains Grammes Grains Grammes Grains Grammes Grains
Talent 60 26,436 408,000 52,872 816,000 37,700 582,000 21,384 330,000
Pentamnoun 5 2,203 34,000 4,406 68,000 3142.5 48,500 1,782 27,500
Dimna 2 881.2 13,600 1762.4 27,200 1257 19,400 712.8 11,000
Mina 1 440.6 6,800 881.2 13,600 628.5 9,700 356.4 5,500
Hemimnaion 1/2 220.3 3,400 440.6 6,800 314.2 4,850 178.2 2,750
Tritemorion 1/3 146.9 2,266 293.8 4,532 209.5 3,233 118.8 1,833
Tetartemorion 1/4 110.2 1,700 220.4 3,400 157.1 2,425 89.1 1,375
Pemptemorion 1/5 88.1 1,360 176.2 2,720 125.7 1,940 71.2 1,100
Hemitetartemorion 1/8 55.1 850 11.2 1,700 77.6 1,212 44.5 687
Tetradrachm 1/25 17.6 272 35.2 544 25.1 388 14.2 220
Drachm 1/100 4.4 68 8.8 136 6.2 97 3.5 55
Hemidrachm 1/200 2.2 34 4.4 68 3.1 48 1.7 27
Obol 1/600 .7 12 1.4 23 1.0 16 .6 9

[p. 2.454]

When we pass from Athens and Alexandria to Asia Minor, Syria, and other parts of the Levant, we find insurmountable difficulties in the way of ascertaining the standards of weight in general use. The number of published weights coming from those regions and bearing inscriptions, sufficiently clear and satisfactory to enable them to be used as the basis of induction, is very small. And even of these it is very difficult to determine how far the actual weight has been diminished or increased by burial in the ground and consequent chemical action. It is probable that in obscure collections and museums in Europe and the Levant there may be many unpublished weights which would help us to reach a securer standing ground. But this is of course mere matter of conjecture. At present we can quote little more than the weights mentioned by M. de Longpérier (Ann. dell' Inst. for 1847), by Brandis (pp. 154-6), and by Schillbach (Beiträge zur Gewichtskunde). All of these appear to belong to the period subsequent to the expedition of Alexander. We add a table of the most important specimens.

Place. Date B.C. Inscriptions. Weight. Grammes. Mina.
Grammes. Grains.
1. Antioch in Syria 194 ΜΝΑ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΕΙΑ 498.6 498 7,700
2. Antioch in Syria 175-164 ΜΝΑ 516 516 7,960
3. Antioch in Syria 57 ΜΝΑ ΔΗΜΟΣΙΑ 1068.2 1,068 16,490
4. Antioch in Syria 62-29 ΗΜΙΜΝΑΙΟΝ ΔΗΜΟΣΙΟΝ 535.1 1,070 16,520
5. Seleucia   ΤΕΤΑΡΤΟΝ 109.4 437 6,740
6. Antioch in Caria   ΤΕΤΑΡΤΟΝ 122 488 7,530
7. Chios   ΔΥΟ ΜΝΑΙ 1124.1 562 8,680
8. Chios   ΜΝΑ 547 547 8,450
9. Lampsacus   Η[ΜΙ] 270 540 8,340
10. Cyzicus   ΚΥ<*>Ι ΜΝΑ 466.5 466 7,200
11. Smyrna   ΤΕ]ΤΑΡ[ΤΟΝ 180 720 11,110
12. Alexandria Troas   ΑΛΕ Τ[ΕΤΑΡΤΟΝ 99.8 400 6,200
13. Bisanthe   ΒΙΣΑΝ ΜΝΑ 556 556 8,590

It will be at once seen that these weights fall into different categories and belong to various systems. Nos. 3 and 4 give very clear and decisive evidence as to the market weights in use at the Syrian Antioch at the period when they were cast. They give a μνᾶ δημοσία of about 1070 grammes, or 16,520 English grains. All the other weights, except No. 11, coming from several parts of Asia Minor and Syria, appear to belong to the same system. The mina of this system would appear to have weighed some 540-560 grammes, and therefore to have been as nearly as may be half as heavy as that according to which 3 and 4 were regulated. On referring to the table of Babylonian weights (p. 446), we shall see that in the Babylonian system for weighing silver the two minas, according to heavy and light standard, respectively are 1122 and 561 grammes. These two weights are certainly strikingly like those which we have just reached. Induced by this correspondence, brandis (p. 155) suggests that the mina of our weights is that of the Babylonian silver standard. This standard was adopted by the Persian kings for their silver money, as has already been mentioned. After the conquest of Persia by Alexander it ceased, except in some outlying parts of the Empire, such as the Euxine Sea and India, to be used for money, but Brandis supposes that it still persisted as a weight for goods. As in many parts of the Persian Empire it was somewhat lowered, a mina of 1070 grammes might very well belong to this standard. But in this case the term Δημόσιος would still remain to be explained; as things changed very slowly in the East, it is scarcely likely that the Persian silver standard which belonged in an especial degree to silver coin or bars should so have superseded the original Babylonian weights which were used for the weighing of goods other than silver in Mesopotamia and Syria, as to become the usual or normal standard.

Referring again to our table (p. 446), we shall see that of this ordinary Babylonian system for general weighing the minas weighed respectively 1010 and 505 grammes. It is à priori far more probable that a mina called δημοσία should belong to this standard than to another. And further it is to be observed that although weights used for coin have a strong tendency to fall, yet weights used for other purposes do not experience this tendency in anything like the same force. Indeed, the instance above quoted from the laws of Athens shows that the interest of the purchaser tended sometimes successfully to raise weights in market use. And further, weights of lead which have been long buried vary decidedly from their normal strength. It is then best, on the whole, to leave it undecided whether the public mina of Antioch was derived from the Babylonian system for weighing silver or that used for other articles.

Weight No. 11 in the Museum of Smyrna was probably in use not far from that city, and appears to follow the Phoenician standard.

We learn from an anonymous Alexandrian writer (Hultsch, Metrologici, i. p. 301) that wood was at Antioch weighed on a system of its own, by a ξυλικὸν τάλαντον, which appears from its equivalent of 375 Roman librae to have been considerably heavier than any of the [p. 2.455]talents above mentioned. Hultsch reckons it at 128,400 grammes (Metrologie, p. 591). The existence of this weight is interesting, as showing that in ancient times bulky articles were sometimes weighed on a different scale from lighter goods: and in fact this custom has held in most countries.

In late Imperial times most of the weights in use in the Levant gave way to the Roman libra, inscribed specimens of which are found in Asia Minor and Syria.

It is thus clear that the cities of Syria, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia did not, in adopting the Attic system for their coinage, as they did mostly in or soon after the time of Alexander, adopt the same system for weighing goods, but adhered to their ancient standards. For a general review of the systems of weighing actually in use, materials entirely fail.

Italian Systems of Weight.--The Roman libra or pound was from the earliest times used alike for money and for other commodities. It remained unchanged in standard to a very late period. At first pieces of copper were cast in all Roman parts of Italy of the weight of a pound, and of the various fractions of a pound. Soon, as we have seen (under As), the standard of the coins fell rapidly. But the weight continued unchanged. When, at a far later period, the coinages of silver and gold were introduced at Rome, the gold and silver pieces were struck so many to the pound. Even to the time of Diocletian and Constantine the Roman libra as a weight remained undiminished; and the late metrologists of Alexandria appeal to it as an unchangeable standard, testing by reference to it the weight of the various Greek talents and minas.

The dominion then of the libra as a weight is as durable and extensive as the dominion of Rome herself. Of the libra of money we have spoken under As. The weight of the Roman libra has been investigated by Boeckh, Mommsen, and Hultsch. The materials for ascertaining it are threefold: (1) existing weights, (2) copper coinage, (3) gold and silver coinage. It is the latter alone which gives consistent and satisfactory results; for the weights vary unaccountably, and the copper coinage very soon sank in weight to a lower level. Letronne made a calculation of weight on the basis of gold coin; and his results with slight modification are accepted by the three metrologists above named. We may safely accept their results. They fix on 327.453 grammes, about 5050 grains, as the true or normal standard. The weights of the fractions of the as, with their signs in Roman notation, are as follows:--

Denomination. Part of libra. Part of uncia. Weight. Grammes. Weight. Grains. Sign in notation.
Libra or As 1 12 327.45 5,050 |
Deunx 11/12 11 300.16 4,629 S = =--
Dextans 5/6 10 272.88 4,208 S = =
Dodrans 3/4 9 245.59 3,787 S =--
Bes 2/3 8 218.30 3,366 S =
Septunx 7/12 7 191.02 2,946 S--
Semis 1/2 6 163.73 2,525 S
Quincunx 5/12 5 136.44 2,104.1 = =--
Triens 1/3 4 109.15 1,683.3 = =
Quadrans 1/4 3 81.86 1,262.5 =--
Sextans 1/6 2 54.58 841.6 =
Sescuncia 1/8 1 1/2 40.93 631.2
Uncia 1/12 1 27.28 420.8 -
Semuncia 1/24 1/2 13.64 210.4 £, Σ
Sicilicus 1/48 1/4 6.82 105.2 [CC]
Sextula 1/72 1/6 4.54 70.1 I, ~
Scripulum 1/288 1/24 1.13 17.5 [CF], [CI][CI]

The only modification which ever took place in this system occurred in connexion with the weighing of drugs in Imperial times. As we have seen, at Alexandria and in the Levant generally, drugs were regulated by Attic weight. But under Roman influence the denarius was regarded as the equivalent in weight of the Attic drachm. The denarius, as we have shown under As, weighed 1/84 of a pound from the time of the Punic wars to those of Nero, and 1/96 of a pound after that. The Greek divisions of the drachm were applied to the denarius as a weight. We thus obtain two systems of weight for drugs.

Part of uncia. Weight. Grammes. Weight. Grains. Part of uncia. Weight. Grammes. Weight. Grains.
Uncia 1 27.28 420.8 1 27.28 420.8
Sicilicus 1/4 6.82 105.2 1/4 6.82 105.2
Drachma 1/7 3.90 60.1 1/8 3.41 52.6
Scripulum       1/24 1.14 17.5
Obolus 1/42 .65 10 1/48 .57 8.7
Siliqua       1/244 .19 2.9
Chalcus 1/356 .08 1.25 1/384 .07 1.1

[p. 2.456]

It is a remarkable fact that, although at Rome the as was probably never minted of the full weight of a pound of twelve ounces, yet in some of the Roman colonies, such as Ariminum and Hatria, it was issued of the weight of 14 ounces (5,900 grains). It is doubtful how this change may be accounted for. But it is noteworthy that this heavier weight comes near the standard (5,750 grains; see above, p. 446) of the silver talent of Phoenicia. We are inclined to think, then, that the Roman pound, which, as Hultsch has shown, was not in its origin in any way connected with the Roman measures of length, was derived from the Phoenician mina, as was probably the national or Aeginetan standard in Greece. In both cases a considerable reduction took place, before the weight was fixed for all future time in Greece by Pheidon of Argos, and at Rome by the Decemviri.

Of the Roman librae which have come down to us, many are considerably above standard. One in the Museum of Smyrna, for instance, weighs 374 grammes; others as much as 390 grammes. After what has been above observed as to the tendency of weights to rise in use, this need not surprise us.

It must not be supposed, however, that either in earlier or later times the Roman libra possessed anything like a monopoly in the markets of Italy. There, as in Greece and Asia, local customs largely prevailed. The Greek colonies in South Italy used, until they were absorbed by Rome, the weights which they had brought with them from Greece, the standards of Phocaea, of Athens, and of Corinth. At a later time we find proof of the use of various Italian minae (Hultsch, Metrologie, p. 672):--A mina of 16 Roman ounces, 436.6 grammes, which seems to govern the extant weights of Pompeii and Herculaneum. A mina of 18 Roman ounces, 491.2 grammes, called in an ancient metrological table Ἰταλικὴ μνᾶ. A mina of 20 Roman ounces, 545.8 grains, the existence of which is proved by a Roman inscribed weight found in the Danube. A mina equal to two Roman pounds, mentioned by Vitruvius, 10.21. Compared, however, with the libra, these minae had but little historical importance.

Sicilian Weights.--In Sicily the pound of copper was the unit of value in very early times, and was adopted to some extent by the Greek colonies. These, however, as we have above seen, adopted late in the sixth century B.C. the Attic standard for coinage, and struck silver on it of the denomination of tetradrachm, didrachm, drachm, hemidrachm, and obol. Into this system by a peculiar process they incorporated the litra or pound of copper. The weight of this litra is not known from direct testimony. But we have means of fixing the weight of its equivalent in silver. The silver litra was a coin in use at Syracuse and other Sicilian cities; and its weight was a tenth part of that of the Corinthian stater (135 grs.), which was called δεκάλιτρος στατήρ (Pollux, 4.174), and a fiftieth part of that of the Damareteion (q. v.). Hence it is safe to assume that the weight of the silver litra was 13.5 grains. Multiplying this amount by 250, which represents the proportion in ltaly and Sicily between silver and copper, we reach a sum of 3,387 grains. This is just half the weight of the Attic silver mina. Mommsen (p. 80) concludes on this basis that the weight of the Sicilian litra was 3,387 grains or 217.5 grammes, nearly the weight of 8 Roman ounces. And since he wrote, the researches of Deecke (Etruskische Forschungen, Part II.) have made it probable that the same system of the litra in silver and copper passed in the fifth century from Syracuse into Etruria, and is the base of the whole of the later Etruscan coinage. The Etruscan silver pieces which bear marks of value, are all multiples of a litra of the Sicilian weight (13.5 grains), and the Etruscan aes grave is of the standard of eight Roman ounces, 3,366 grains. This latter fact seems of sufficient importance to finally establish the theory of Mommsen as to the litra. The Athenian origin of the latter is more than probable. It was divided, like the Roman libra, into twelve parts; but the names of the parts were different, a fact which must have caused some confusion in the minds of the Italians. The names of these parts are given by Aristotle as quoted by Pollux, 4.174.

  Grammes Grains Written Corresponds to Roman
Litra 219.5 3,387 λίπρα libra
Hemilitron 109.75 1,693 ἡμίλιτρον semis
Pentuncium 91.5 1,410 πεντώγκιον quincunx
Tetras 73.2 1,128 τετρα_ς triens
Trias 84.9 846 τρια_ς quadrans
Hexas 36.6 564 ἑξα_ς sextans
Uncia 18.3 282 οὐγκία uncia

Thus the tetras corresponds to the Latin triens, and the trias to the Latin quadrans; a most confusing correspondence. The talent, if equal to the Athenian, contained 120 litrae originally. But we are able to trace its rapid degradation. For Aristotle (Pollux, 9.87) speaks of the older Sicilian talent (τὸ μὲν ἀρχαῖον) as equivalent to 24 nummi, and the later as equal to 12. The nummus here stands for the litra. By the time of Aristotle, then, there had been two reductions in the weight of the litra as applied to money, and it had fallen to a tenth of its early value. But analogy bids us suppose that this reduction did not affect the litra except as money.


1 Brandis (p. 103) reckons the Phoenician talent at 43,650 grammes, remarking that the Phoenician standards were somewhat debased from those of Babylon; but as a matter of fact the coins struck on the Phoenician standard often weigh for the shekel 230 grains.

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