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Number 94
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The three centuries from 1
These facts do not mean, unfortunately, that the history of the gold and silver coinage of the Roman Empire or of its monetary policy is easy to
To make the problem more difficult, the literary and epigraphical evidence is rare and sometimes unreliable. Often the interpretation of the evidence is a matter for lengthy disputes. It hardly needs to be said that there is no ancient account either of the money or of monetary policy. All our evidence, aside from the coins themselves, is composed of more or less casual statements found in documents, both on stone and papyri, or in the literature that has been preserved.
As evidence from other sources is so often contradictory and confusing, the purpose of this paper is to determine the official ratio of gold and silver from an examination of the weights of all imperial
2
It is fortunate that so many Roman coins are still extant. In addition to almost countless thousands of varieties of subsidiary coins, there has survived a surprising number of gold coins. The tables which form part of this work list approximately nine thousand whose weights are available, and there are many more about which that information is lacking.
3
The question whether the gold coinage was sufficient to serve its purpose as a medium of exchange is now impossible of definite answer. It is sometimes said that gold coins were of little monetary importance during the third century. Mickwitz
4
disagrees with this, but believes that earlier coins were generally used in this period and that new coins were struck only in comparatively limited numbers. This hardly seems a fair inference from the numbers now extant. Of more importance than the quantity of gold in circulation is the velocity of its circulation, but on this subject nothing, unfortunately, is known.
Until the time of 4a
These successive changes may be briefly summarized. 5
and, at the close of his reign, of forty-two to the pound. The next great change occurred in A.D. 63 or 64, when 6
Here it stayed, with a few exceptions, until the time of
7
For about half of the third century, statements as to the standards adopted by the various rulers are little more than guesses.
8
Under
While the aureus was the head of the monetary system, the denarius, which was the chief silver coin, was of far greater practical importance. Tariffed at twenty-five to the aureus, it represented in the first century at least, a good day's wage; in fact it was more than the basic army pay fixed by 9
In discussing the denarius, there is not only the matter of weight to be considered, but there is the progressive lowering of the percentage of silver in the coin also.
10
The practical importance of this progressive debasement of the denarius depends upon whether or not the Roman government considered it more or less a token coin, and was both willing and able to exchange it at a fixed rate for the aureus. Ordinary commercial convenience demanded that there be a fixed ratio between the two coins. The moment the general public had reason to believe that this fixed ratio was to be abandoned, there would have been financial chaos.
The Roman pound contained twelve ounces, each of which contained twenty-four scruples or grammata. The theoretical (not the actual) weights for coins struck at the respective numbers to the pound of metal are as follows:
Table A summarizes the facts that indicate the ratios between gold and silver under the various rulers from
Pliny's statement that under 11
Similarly, the theoretical ratio of 1 : 11.72 for
The deviation of the ratios based on the weights of the coins from the ratios found from the figures given by Pliny is approximately the same both for Table A—Part 1 The Ratio of Gold to Silver from the Coin Weights
12
Table A—Part 2 Ratio of Gold to Silver Using Actual Weights of Silver and Estimated Weight of Gold Coins
13
14
In the period from A.D. 193 to 215 the ratio between gold and silver, as shown by the coins, remained somewhat less than it had been earlier in the second century, but it still seems within the range of possibilities for the Neronian ratio of 1 : 11.72.
With the introduction of the antoninianus by 15
After
For the rest of the third century we must depend upon conjecture. Contemporary references indicate no pronounced depreciation in the market value of the denarius until the time of 16
It was under
If one assumes that the relation between gold and silver remained at 1 : 14 for the period from A.D. 260 to the time of 17
That these ratios are at least approximately correct may be inferred from the statement in 18
From a modern analogy, a possibility not elsewhere discussed may be suggested. Our own government maintains in theory at least a mint ratio of 1 : 16 (actually 1 : 15.998) which for many years has been far different from the ratio shown by the market price of the two metals. About the time of the first World War with gold at $20 an ounce and silver at $0.60 an ounce the market ratio was about 1 : 34. Since then gold has risen and silver has fallen, so the present market ratio is about 1 : 90. If this double ratio existed in the Roman Empire, it would help to explain the fall in the value of the subsidiary coinage when people lost faith in the solvency of their government.
There are several minor problems which should be mentioned, even though it is impossible to attempt any definite answers. In view of the very large percentage of alloy in the so-called silver coins during the thirty year period beginning with 19
It would be interesting to know how the Roman
Another point of interest is the degree of control exercised by the central government over the rates of exchange between its own coins, as well as between those coins and the numerous local subsidiary issues. The probability is that very strict control was exercised, but direct evidence is rare. Outside of 20
A few years later, 21
Here, probably for local reasons, he seems to have limited the use of imperial denarii. Still later, 22
Something should be said concerning the tables that form a large part of this paper.
A.) Weights are given in grains troy to permit more easy classification, but in essential places the metric gram equivalent is also given. The tables are shown with gradations of one grain, both to permit more convenient checking of the inferences based on weights that are made here, and also to permit their possible use for other purposes.
B.) As will be readily appreciated, the chief difficulty in such a study as this is the lack of dependable information. Only one volume of Mattingly and Sydenham's "Roman Imperial Coinage" gives any weights; satisfactory catalogues of great museum collections are practically nonexistent; auction catalogues vary in accuracy and for many important collections omit weights entirely. Articles in scientific journals are sometimes no better. Thus in the account of the gold hoard found at Italica, to mention but one example, weights are so inexact that they could not be incorporated in the tables used here.
Much of what is worthwhile in this monograph is due to the help and encouragement of others. In the first place, I am deeply indebted to
After Commodus all gold coins appear in the regular tables
See Hill, Num. Chron., 1924, 76ff., for a concise account of this method.
As bullion it has a market value of about 40 cents. (February, 1941.)
A study of this material by the present author appeared in the American Journal of Philology, Vol. LXII, pp. 289–301. For the sake of comparison, some of the various ratios determined by different scholars for the imperial period are cited:
1 : 13,—Mattingly, Roman Coins, 128. Based on the Neronian reform (A.D. 63/64) of the silver and allowing for the debasement of the denarius.
1 : 7.3,—Heichelheim, Klio, XXV (1932), 124. Based on the Jewish poll tax in A.D. 72/73 (Wilcken, Grundzüge, II. 61).
1 : 10,—Mickwitz, Geld und Wirtschaft, 56. Based on
1 : 8.2,—Kubitschek, Quinquennium, 103. Based on Pseudologistes 30 (Antoninus Pius?).
1 : 5.86,—Kubitschek, Quinquennium, 105. Based on CIG. 5008, 5010 (A.D. 241/4).
1 : 7.82; 1 : 9.76; 1 : 6.50,—Giesecke, Geldwesen, 222. For the three periods into which he divides the coinage of
1 : 8 or 1 : 9,—Heichelheim in comment on P. Giess. Univ. Bibl. 22 and in Klio, XXV (1932), 124 (A.D. 284–305).
1 : 7.8—Giesecke, Geldwesen, 222. Based on
1 : 20.8,—Mickwitz, Geld und Wirtschaft, 69. Based on
1 : 13½,—Heichelheim, Klio, XXIX (1936), 131. Based on P. O. 1653 (A.D. 306).
Information about weights has been gathered from museum catalogues, auction catalogues, articles in various numismatic and archaeological journals, publications of specific hoards, and from the unpublished collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Numismatic Society, Princeton University, and the private collection of the late
Geld und Wirtschaft, 65.
See Ondrouch, Der rӧm. Denarfund von Vyskovce, 9.
See for both H. N. XXXIII. 3, 13.
See Table B.
See Table B.
Ann. I. 17.6: 26.
See chiefly Hammer, Die Feingehalt der griechischen und rӧmischen Münzen (Zeit. für Num. 1908), 97 ff. Other analyses are given by Mickwitz, Geld und Wirtschaft, 40; Ondrouch, loc. cit.; Mattingly, BMC passim.; all later statements here as to fineness of coins are based primarily on Hammer.
Pliny, N. H. XXXIII, 3.13.
The method of figuring the ratio of gold to silver may be illustrated by the coins of
The procedure here is the same as before except that no definite point of concentration can be found for these gold coins and that weights based on the number to the pound are used.
This assumes that an antoninianus was worth two denarii at this time (Edict Dioclet. XXX. 1). This also disregards the difficulty presented by the seemingly different price of gold in line 2 of the same section of the Edict, which might well be a charge for drawing gold rather than a price for bullion.
See Preisigke, SB., 6086.
IGRR, IV, 893.
See the last two columns of Table B Part 2.
Edict Dioclet. XXX 1a.
As in Central
Discourses iii. 3.3.
Dittenberger, OGIS., 484. See Econ. Survey, (ed. Frank), IV. 892 ff.
B.C.Η., XVIII (1896), 523. See op. cit. pp. 896 f.
Coins in this table, as in the others here, have been arranged by weights (in grains). The "point of concentration" is the weight where most coins are found. In the first line the figure under Per Cent –1 to +1 shows the percentage of the 33 coins occurring in this group that weigh between 123 and 125 grains (inclusive); the next column the percentage between 122 and 126 grains. This is an excellent check on the accuracy of minting and also on the accuracy of the frequency table. The ratio of the gram to the grain is 1 : 15.43.
Because no frequency table properly shows the variation in weights from
Note 3 applies here as well as to the gold coins. Under each heading there are shown where possible the number of coins and the average weight. In a few cases indicated by the letters "p.c." the weights have been distributed on a frequency table and the point of concentration rather than the average weight shown. The Egyptian tetradrachm has been purposely omitted as it requires special treatment. Other eastern tetradrachms have been reduced to drachms in order to show more clearly their relationship to the denarius. The weights used for Essai sur le règne de l'empereur Aurélien.
The average weight of the antoninianus includes coins of both emperors. The weights of the Syrian drachma are of each man separately.
Weights used in this paper have been taken from the following sources. Other works are mentioned in the notes.
The aurei of 1
and of the denarius 3.89 grams (3.42 Roman scrupulae). Without making any allowance for the cost of minting, which may or may not have been deducted from the weight of the coins, the ratio of gold to silver was 1 : 11.91, assuming that the aureus was freely exchanged for twenty-five denarii in silver.
2
From the death of Caesar to about 30 B.C. Octavian seems to have retained the Julian standard for his gold and silver issues. Thirty-three aurei from this period are remarkably uniform in weight; of these twenty-six, or 80%, fall within a range of 123 to 125 grains or within 2% of the theoretical standard.
3
From the weights of the aureus and denarius of this period, a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 11.7 is found.
4
If the denarius was unchanged at 84 to the pound, the ratio of gold to silver becomes 1 : 12.5. However, the available evidence does not support the theory that the new aureus was issued at this rate, which would imply a norm of 120.4 grains (7.79 grams). Omitting the issues struck by the tresviri between 19 and 15 B.C. and the Augustan aurei struck after A.D. 11, the weights of 749 aurei which are ascertainable from published descriptions show a definite peak or norm at 121 grains (7.85 grams) with 71% of the entire number falling between 120 and 122 grains and with 88% falling between 119 and 123 grains. Since the theoretical weight of aurei on the basis of 42 to the pound is 120.4 grains, it is difficult to believe that 5
and this would seem more reasonable from the practical standpoint. On this basis the theoretical ratio of gold to silver would be 1 : 12.2. If the actual coins are considered, with the weight of the aureus taken as 121 grains, and the weight of the denarius as 57.9 grains (based on the ascertain-
6
the ratio of gold to silver is found to be 1 : 11.97.
7
The point of concentration at 121 grains found from the table of frequencies may be compared with the average weights given by Mattingly:
8
The average weight of 752 aurei from all mints is given by Bahrfeldt
9
as 7.80 grams or 120.3 grains. It will be noticed that neither of these scholars
Individual types are sometimes found in sufficient numbers to establish an approximate norm.
10
For example, Cohen 136 dated 15/12 B.C. and Cohen 42 dated A.D. 2/11 show the following results:
It will be noticed that there is a tendency toward lighter weights in the later group.
The aurei issued by the tresviri at tresviri, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 12.2, but if the point of concentration in the following table is used, the ratio is 1 : 12.4.
The denarii struck bv the tresviri.
11
After A.D. 11 the Augustan aureus is definitely lighter in weight, and it may be that it was now issued on a basis of 42 to the pound, or at a theoretical weight of 120.4 grains. The point of concentration seems to be 119 grains or about 1% below the theoretical weight. Of coins whose weight is ascertainable, 90% fall within a range of 117 to 121 grains.
Both gold and silver issues of
The history of the mints under
Grenier says that gold and silver issues almost cease after 10 B.C.,
12
while Frank
13
states that the issue of gold and silver from 9 B.C. to A.D. 32 amounted only to 5% of the total amount coined between 30 and 10 B.C. Both statements are based on the number of different types issued at various periods and disregard entirely the fact that one type (as 14
When
Twenty-three tetradrachms from 15
This is equivalent to 3.64 grams for the drachma or about 4% below the average weight of the denarius. Weights of the silver coins issued by contemporary Persian rulers afford an interesting comparison with the eastern Roman issues and with the denarius. The average weight of 141 tetradrachms and of 138 drachms struck by Phraates IV (B.C. 37/2) is 13.21 and 3.61 grams respectively.
16
Under Phraates V (B.C. 2/A.D. 4) 28 tetradrachms and 22 drachms average 11.77 and 3.64 grams respectively while under Vonones I (A.D. 8/12) 11 tetradrachms and 22 drachms average 11.51 and 3.68 grams. Five silver obols struck by
Of the literary references to gold and silver money, one, often quoted, deserves particular mention. Dio lv. 12, supposedly written in A.D. 229, is commonly used as evidence that the aureus was worth twenty-five drachmae or denarii. This section of Dio, which is devoted to the reign of Table F Augustus Aurei
With the Roman pound at 327.45 grams or 5057 grains.
This is the ratio in de Ruggiero, Dizion., ii. 1633.
These decreases from the theoretical weights may represent the cost of minting: see Mickwitz, Systeme des rӧm. Silbergeldes im IV. Jhdt., 57.
Based on Pliny, Nat. Hist., xxxiii. 3, 13.
Ondrouch (Der rӧm. Denarfund von Vyskovce, 9) says that from B.C. 9 to A.D. 60 the basis was forty-one to the pound.
BMC., i, lii. Edwards (Yale Collection, 85) gives 3.3 and 3.62 grams; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.30, 3.30, 2.45, 3.0, 3.75; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.78, 3.59; Naville Sale 10 gives 4.0, 3.55, 3.77; Helbing Sale of Mar. 12, 1927, gives 3.9, 3.6, 3.9, 3.6, 3.85, 3.7, 3.55, 3.8, 3.95, 3.6, 3.9, 3.9, 3.6, 3.2, 3.85, 3.4; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.75, 3.6, 3.6, 3.75, 3.85, 3.5, 3.90; Princeton University has of the III Viri: 3.65, 4.08, 3.68, 3.40, 3.10, 3.63; of Spanish mints 3.79, 3.63, 3.54, 3.74, 3.86, 3.83; of Roman mint 3.78, 3.63; of Notizie degli Scavi (1935, 366) gives 4 averaging 3.50; Bull. Soc. Num. Romare (1919, 127) gives 3.80, 3.60, 3.95, 3.90, 3.75, 3.60 for period B.C. 44 to 27; 3.45, 3.70, 3.80 for moneyers; 3.60, 3.75, 3.95, 3.75, 3.70, 3.75, 3.85, 3.75, 3.90, 3.80, 3.70, 3.75 for later; Viestnika Hrv. Arheal. Drustva (1896, 22) gives 3.75, 3.72, 3.70, 3.76, 3.68; Museo Ital. di Antich. Class. (ii, 290) gives 3.50, 3.62.
Using Bahrfeldt's average weight of the aureus, the ratio is almost 1 : 12.2.
BMC. i, li. Hultsch (Griechische und rӧmische Metrologie, 306) gives 7.90 to 7.78 grams.
Die rӧm. Goldmünzenprӓgung wӓhrend der Republik und unter Augustus
, 185.
Frank (An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome, v, 21) assumes without justification that the number of coins in each type was about equal.
Chiefly from BMC. and
Econ. Survey, ed. Frank, iii, 510.
American Journal of Philology, 1935, 336.
Commerce between Roman Empire and India
, 292.
Wruck, Die Syrische Provinzialprӓgung. The high is 15.40 grams, the low 13.55 grams.
Sammlung Petrowicz; BMC.; Naville Sale, 12; Prokesch-Osten, Monnaies des rois parthes; Markoff, Monnaies des rois parthes.
The gold coins of
The results shown by tabulating the weights of Cohen type 15, the most common of the gold coins of
It should be pointed out that this particular coin seems to have been struck over a period of about twenty years.
Mattingly
17
gives the average weight of twenty-nine aurei as 119.69 grains (7.76 grams), while Bahrfeldt
18
gives the average of forty-two as 7.72 grams.
However if 119 grains is considered the point of concentration for all the gold issued by
The weight of 119 grains indicates a decrease of about 3% below the theoretical weight on the basis of 41 to the pound, or about 1% below the theoretical weight of forty-two to the pound. The latter standard, therefore, seems to be the basis for the coinage of
The average weight of thirty-four denarii indicates a decrease of about 6½% below the theoretical weight. Using the weight of 119 grains for the aureus and the average weight of the denarius (56.3 grains, 3.67 grams),
19
the ratio of gold to
20
gives the average weight of a few tetradrachms from Tarsus as 15.05 grams, while Sydenham
21
gives the weights of seven drachmae from Caesarea as 56, 55, 54, 53.4, 53, 51.4 and 48.5 grains or an average of 3.44 grams. The coins from Caesarea are therefore about 10% lighter than those from Tarsus. In Persia 56 tetradrachms and 18 drachms issued by 22
Problems connected with the coinage apparently were as disturbing to 23
and this was kept in operation all through his reign.
24
25
forcing the western provinces, except 26
In the East conditions were different. A mint at Caesarea in Cappadocia began issuing silver, mostly drachmae, on the 27
At 28
It is proposed to discuss this Egyptian coinage in a separate monograph.
Some of the contemporary references to the aureus and denarius are of interest. Germanicus when in the East apparently ordered that the customs dues at Palmyra should be levied in denarii and that when the charge was smaller than a denarius, it should be levied in Roman asses.
29
30
says that there were seven denarii in an ounce, which makes eighty-four to the pound. 31
tells of soldiers asking a wage of one denarius a day, a demand that was refused. Matthew
32
speaks of a jar of nard worth 300 denarii. Suetonius
33
mentions aurei in connection with a story about 34
that both gold and silver were coined in
As a matter of interest, all the references to money that occur in the New Testament are gathered together here:
It will be noticed that the terms used for the silver and copper coinage are a mixture of Greek and Latin words. Seemingly imperial coins circulated freely side by side with the strictly local coinages.
BMC., i, li.
Bahrfeldt, Die rӧm. Goldmünzenpragung, 185; Hultsch (Metrol., 308) says 7.78 to 7.74 grams.
BMC., i, lii for 16 coins averaging 3.76 grams; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.84, 3.26, 3.11, 3.7 grams; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 2.85, 2.95, 3.50, 3.55, 3.60; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.82, 3.80, 3.67; Cardoso (Cat.
Wruck (Die syrische Provinzialprӓgung) calls them
Sydenham, Coinage of Caesarea.
Sammlung Petrowicz; Naville Sale 12; Cahn Sale 71; BMC.; Markoff, op. cit.; Prokesch-Osten, op. cit.
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 112.
Sydenham (Coinage of Nero, 29) believes that
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 195; Momigliano,
Claudius, 40; Jullian
Sutherland, Romano-British Imitations of Brorze Coins of Claudius I
(Numismatic Notes and Monographs No. 65).
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 196.
Amer. Jour. Archaeology, xxxviii, 49. Frank (Econ. Hist., 399) says it contained 25% of silver.
IGRR., iii. 1056.
Celsus, V, 17, 1.
Matt., xiv, 5.
Suet., Claud., 5.
The sixty-eight aurei of this reign show a point of concentration at 119 grains, exactly the same as under
Mattingly gives an average weight for the aurei of Caligula of 119.23 grains (7.72 grams)
35
, while Bahrfeldt gives an average of 7.70 grams.
36
The average weight of the denarius shows a slight increase over that of Table H Caligula Aurei
Wruck gives 14.65 grams as the average weight of the Syrian tetradrachm, while Sydenham gives weights of 59, 55.5, 53.2, 50.9, 50.3, 47.5 grains for
In his handling of the coinage Caligula reversed some of the policies followed by 38
Soon after his accession in A.D. 37 he closed the mint at
BMC., i, li based on 29 coins.
Die rӧm. Goldmünzenprӓgung, 185, based on 29 coins.
BMC. (i, lii) based on 11 coins gives 57.77 grains (3.72 grams). Cardoso (op. cit., 101) gives one at 2.2; Naville Sale 17 gives one at 3.53; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.54; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.68.
Included here with the coins of 39
but the present tables give no clear indication of such a change.
Mattingly gives the average weight of 104 aurei as 117.82 grains (7.63 grams), while Bahrfeldt gives an average of 7.71 grams for eighty-six coins issued between A.D. 41 and 45, and of 7.67 grams for fifty-six coins issued between A.D. 46 and 54.
40
However, a difference so small, less than 1%, is inconclusive, for it is less than a normal variation in striking to the same standard.
According to Mattingly twenty-nine denarii average 57.77 grains (3.75 grams),
41
but weights from other sources slightly increase this average. Elmer believes that about A.D. 51,
42
there was a decrease in the theoretical weight of the denarius from the Augustan standard of one eighty-fourth of a pound to one-ninetieth of a pound but the evidence for this is not convincing. Wruck gives 13.65 grams as the average weight of the Syrian tetradrachm, while Sydenham gives the weights of ten didrachmae of
In 43
71 tetradrachms and 52 drachmae struck by
On the basis of 118 grains for the aureus and 58.3 grains for the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 12.33.
It has been said
44
that four-fifths of the coins issued by 46
says there were eighty-four denarii in the pound.
In parts of the west, at least, a shortage of subsidiary coins led to the appearance of large numbers of local imitations. In Britain the condition lasted, it is said, until the time of 47
and so great is the number of these local imitations that it seems their manufacture must have been tolerated, if not encouraged, by the central government. Apparently the same condition was true in 48
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 113; Burns, Money and Monetary Policy, 101.
Bahrfeldt, op. cit., 185.
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) says 7.70 to 7.68 grams.
Berl. Mürzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.55, 3.75; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.65, 3.47; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.76.
Elmer, Verzeichnis.
Sammlung Petrowicz; Naville Sale 12: BMC.; Prokech-Osten, op. cit.
Burns, op. cit., 167.
Scribonius Largus, p. 6, 16 (ed. Helmreich).
Econ. Survey, iii, 62; Sutherland, Romano-British Imitations.
Sutherland, op. cit., p. 3.
From a monetary point of view, the reign of
First Period. The point of concentration of the 108 aurei from this period seems to be at 117 grains, indicating a slight decrease from the coins of 49
Nineteen denarii are said to average 54.6 grains (3.54 grams).
50
Wruck gives 14.53 grams as the average of sixty-six Syrian tetradrachms
51
with a high of 15.54 and a low of 12.41 grams. Sydenham gives five tetradrachms of 52
The Syrian drachma averaged, therefore, 3.64 grams, the
In Persia 73 tetradrachms and 27 drachmae
53
Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, we find a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 11.66.
It has been suggested
54
that all gold and silver minted between A.D. 54 and 63 was issued by the senate, but this idea has not found acceptance.
55
Second Period, A.D. 64 to 68. Apparently early in A.D. 64 56
The new gold aureus was issued on the basis of forty-five to the pound, equivalent to 112.4 grains, or 7.28 grams, or 6.4 Roman scrupulae,
57
while the denarius was issued on the basis of 96 to the pound, equivalent to 52.7 grains, or 3.41 grams, or 3 Roman scrupulae. Apparently the percentage of alloy was somewhat increased,
58
if indeed this is
The point of concentration in the weights of 268 aurei belonging to this period is 112 grains (7.27 grams), a decrease of 4½% from the pre-reformation. The quality of the coinage shows an even greater decrease, for only 67½% of the total coins fall within a range of 110 to 114 grains. The secondary peak found at 108 grains indicates either a sudden carelessness in minting, which is difficult to accept, or the mingling of two standards. There is no other evidence for a second standard in these four years; and it is unfortunate that a more exact dating of the numerous coins of this period cannot be made so that any pronounced change would become evident.
Mattingly gives the average weight of 37 coins as 112.8 grains (7.31 grams), while 59
while Mickwitz
60
gives the average weight of 278 denarii as 3.273 grams. Wruck gives the average weight of sixteen Syrian tetradrachms as 14.40 grams, 1% less than the tetradrachm of the pre-reform period. Sydenham gives one 61
Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver appears as 1 : 11.26
62
which is to be compared with the theoretical ratio of 1 : 11.72.
The reason for this reform has been the object of much discussion.
63
According to some
64
it was actuated not by financial stress, but as part of a carefully-thought-out plan to unify the standards of coinage throughout the Empire, the new gold and silver weights being closely connected with the Eastern coinages (Cf. Table D). Others
65
emphasize the effort to adjust the coinage to changed market values of gold and silver, or as an attempt
66
to improve trade relations between the Empire and the Far East by reducing the bullion content of the coins chiefly used for that purpose. All of these ideas have been subjected to serious criticism, and as a matter of fact there seem to be at least two simpler reasons. Perhaps the alleged debasement of the silver was an effort to prevent its export out of the Empire by reducing its value as metal, and in this way to help insure an adequate supply of coinage at home.
67
Perhaps it was only an attempt
68
Mickwitz calls attention to the fact that finds in
Perhaps the Germans simply refused the new coins. If this is so it would indicate that in the Empire both the old and the new denarii were expected to circulate on a parity and by count, not by weight. Mattingly
69
suggests that
In view of 70
about rising prices, which he ascribes to a drought.
Some of the contemporary references to the gold and silver coins may be mentioned. Corbulo
71
seems to have re-enacted the older provision that the customs dues at Palmyra should be payable in denarii. Petronius speaks of a slave costing 300 denarii,
72
and in various places speaks of aurei.
73
74
says that a man is in debt if he owes aurei, indicating payment by tale perhaps rather than by weight. Although the business records of Iucundus at Pompeii are in sesterces, there are numerous
Table K Nero Aurei
A wax tablet from 75
,
It is unfortunate that the coins from Italica in Num. Zeit., 1902 cannot be used in the present tabulation, for the weights given are only approximations.
Montelhet (Musée Crozatier, ii, 48) gives one dated A.D. 51 at 3.18; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.54, 3.50, 3.37, 3.26; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.56.
Num. Chron. (1931, 160) gives 216.6, 225.4, 222.4 grains.
In addition, Naville Sale 17 gives 7.22 grams.
Sammlung Petrowicz; Naville Sale 12; BMC.; Prokesch-Osten op. cit.; Markoff op. cit.
Num. Chron., 1919, 121.
Jour. Roman Studies, vii, 59ff.
Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxiii, 3, 13. Pliny says the weights had been gradually reduced since the time of Caesar. Frank (Econ. Survey, v, 35) has confused the aureus and the denarius and so has made utter confusion of this reform.
BMC., i, xliv, apparently has an error in weights.
Hammer (Die Feinheit, 97) gives two coins with 94.3 of silver and one with 91%. Mattingly (Roman Coins, 124) says the alloy was about 10%. Mickwitz (Geld, 20) emphasizes the cutting of weight as against the cutting of quality, the latter being the distinguishing characteristic of (Vyskovce, 11), gives a coin with 86.7 of silver and another with 91.6% but no dates. One Alexandrian tetradrachm is given with 15.5% of silver by Hammer.
Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.03, 3.19, 3.31; Berl. Münzbl., (1914, 120) gives one at 3.30; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives one at 3.08; Cardoso (op. cit., 107) gives one at 3.5; Ondrouch (Vyskovce, 12) gives 3.14, 3.14, 3.23, 3.30; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.53, 3.52; Princeton Univ. has 3.52; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.39; Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives two averaging 3.03.
Systeme, 42.
Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 7.62 and 3.13 grams.
Rev. Num., 1898, 663; 1899, 18. Burns (op. cit., 412) gives the ratio as 1 : 10.6 as does Despaux (Les devaluations monetaires dans l'Histoire, 116); Frank, (Econ. Survey, v, 91) repeats Mattingly's statement that the real ratio was 1 : 13.
Mickwitz (Geld, 19) says it is unknown. He does not agree with Mattingly's idea about foreign trade.
Sydenham, Coinage of Nero, 16;
Mattingly, Roman Coins, 124.
Mattingly, loc. cit.; Burns, op. cit., 412.
Comparette, Amer. Jour. Numismatics, xlvii, 131, but Comparette seems wrong in his ratio of 1 : 9.
Roman Coins, 186.
Petronius, 44. The exact date of this seems uncertain.
IGRR., iii, 1056.
Petronius, 68.
Petronius, 30; 76; 137.
de Benef., v, 14, 4.
C.I.L. iv, tab. cer., 154.1.
In no other period of seven months in
This difference in standards is also shown by the average weights of thirty-eight coins given by Mattingly:
According to Mattingly thirty-six denarii from the Roman mint average 50.46 grains (3.27 grams), while twenty-eight from 76
According to Wruck, sixteen Syrian tetradrachms average 14.64 grams, with a high of 15.20 and a low of 13.71 grams.
77
Hammer
78
gives analyses of three coins with 92.1% of silver, while Ondrouch
79
gives one with 94.1%.
In view of the shortness of the reign and of the wide difference in weights between the aurei from the Roman and Spanish mints, it is impossible to show a satisfactory ratio between gold and silver.
The fifty-eight aurei of 80
Thirteen Syrian tetradrachms, according to Wruck, average 14.57 grams with a high of 15.03 and a low of 12.95 grams.
81
Ondrouch
82
gives an analysis of one coin with 98.15% of silver.
The eighty-three aurei of Vitellius indicate a point of concentration at 112 grains, with over 67% of the coins falling within a range of 110 to 114 grains. Vitellius coined gold at three mints and Mattingly gives average weights for each:
The average weight of the denarius shows a wider range:
83
An analysis of two coins shows one with 80.8%,
84
and one with 86.5% of silver.
85
The coins of
BMC., i, lii. There is an error in the statement about the Gallic denarii. Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.20, 3.24; Edwards (Yale Coll., 88) gives 3.18, 3.10; Berl. Münzbl., (1914, 120) gives 3.50, 3.45, 3.50, 3.25, 3.43, Cardoso (op. cit., 112) gives 3.5; Num. Zeit., (1914, 228) gives 3.14, 3.33; Num. Chron., (1939, 216) gives 3.46, 3.45, 3.15, 3.19; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.12, 3.28, 3.29, 3.52, 3.23, 3.28; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1937, gives 3.2, 3.0; Princeton Univ. has 3.42, 3.34; Num. Chron., (1931, 164) gives 48.2 grains; Bonner Jahrb., (111/112, 419) gives 3.57 grams; Museo Ital. de Antich. Class. (ii, 290) gives one at 3.51.
Num. Chron., (1931, 164) gives one at 223.3 grains.
Die Feingehalt 97.
Vyskovce, 11.
Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.03, 3.18, 3.23; Berl. Münzbl., (1914, 120) gives 3.30, 2.45, 3.58; Num. Zeit., (1914, 228) gives 3.36, 3.39; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.46, 3.36; Princeton Univ. has 3.13, 3.39; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.4; Num. Chron., (1931, 164) gives 51.6 grains; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.53. Notizie degli Scavi (1935, 366) gives one at 3.40; Museo Ital. (ii, 290) gives 3.36, 3.53, 3.66.
Num. Chron., (1931, 160) gives 215.8 grains.
Ondrouch, op. cit., 11. Hammer (op. cit., 112) gives one Alexandrian tetradrachm with 16.4% of silver.
Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.09, 3.13, 3.16; Edwards (Yale Coll., 89) gives 2.83, 3.26; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.0, 3.25, 3.60, 3.25, 3.40, 3.45, 3.50, 3.43, 3.35, 3.40, 3.45; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.14, 2.17, 3.34, 3.27, 3.06; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.57, 3.88; Helbing Sale, 10/24/27 gives 3.1, 2.9, 3.15; Princeton Univ. has 3.17, 3.01; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.53; Num. Chron. (1931, 164) gives 48.7, 50.9 grains; Notizie (1935, 366) gives two averaging 3.40; Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives 4.98, 3.24; Mus. Ital. (ii, 290) gives 3.55, 3.60.
Hammer, 97.
Ondrouch, 11.
The aurei of Vespasian
86
indicate either poor minting control or, less likely, a difference in standards at different mints or times. It should be pointed out, however, that the table M seems to indicate a tendency toward heavier coins in the eastern mints. The distribution of the weights of the individual coins, disregarding those under or over the range shown here, is as follows:
If the totals are considered and if the point of concentration is considered to be 112 grains, then 56.3% of the total fall within a range of 111 to 113 grains and 74.2% within a range of 110 to 114 grains. These results are not appreciably changed if one takes 111 grains as the point of concentration in the earlier group and 112 grains in the later group.
Mattingly
87
gives the following average weights:
The average weight of 304 denarii from various mints is 47.99 grains (3.11 grams), but no definite peak is shown.
88
Sydenham gives weights of twenty-four didrachmae of 89
According to 90
Hammer
91
gives analyses of six coins, one each with 88.6, 88.1, 87.8, 80.1, 80.0, and 79.8% of silver, while Ondrouch
92
gives one each with 89.4 and 85.1% of silver.
Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, the ratio between gold and silver is 1 : 10.71.
In the struggle for control of the Empire,
Until the time of 93
From a papyrus of A.D. 72/3
95
which indicates that the Jewish poll tax of two denarii was paid with 8 drachmae, 2 obols, an effort has been made to show
96
This ratio is so different from that shown by the relation of the aureus and denarius that it is patently wrong. It also disregards the fact that the Egyptian tetradrachm was a fiat coin.
An inscription from Cibyra
97
mentions both Rhodian drachmae and Roman denarii and states that the Rhodian drachma, very small and of low weight, was worth 10 asses, while the denarius was worth sixteen. This low valuation of the Rhodian drachma may indicate an effort to force these old silver coins out of circulation, but it should be pointed out that the donation recorded here was made in Rhodian drachmae. Suetonius has an interesting statement to the effect that 98
As it stands the figure is so great as to be meaningless.
Pliny
99
says that the denarius was coined at eighty-four to the pound and the aureus at forty-five. Throughout the Natural History there are numerous prices given in asses, sesterces, and denarii, but none apparently in aurei. The Periplus, written no later than this time, speaks of both aurei and denarii.
100
In a Palmyrene inscription
101
of A.D. 70/71 fifteen gold censers are valued at 150 denarii.
With a peak at 112.5 grains.
Kubitschek (Rundschau über ein Quinquennium), says that under the Flavian dynasty an aureus of about 7.4 grams was exchanged with 25 denarii of 3.41 grams and of about 90% purity.
BMC., ii, xiv; Hultsch, (Metrol., 306) gives the average as 7.30 grams.
Ondrouch (Vyskovce) gives 2.95, 3.12, 3.16, 3.16, 3.30, 3.30, 3.30; Edwards (Yale Coll., 89) gives 2.5, 3.11, 2.99, 3.56, 3.36, 3.17, 2.85, 2.83, 3.32, 3.46; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.17, 3.15, 2.69, 2.75, 3.42; Berl. Münzbl. (1914, 120) gives 3.35; Cardoso (op. cit., 116) gives 2.7, 3.2, 3.5, 3.0, 3.0, 3.2, 3.3; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.10 from Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives sixteen that average 2.992 and one of Titus at 2.9; Notizie (1935, 366) gives seven of Museo Ital. (ii, 290) gives 3.44, 3.94, 3.56, 3.50, 3.48, 3.54, 3.54, 3.56, 3.34, 3.55, 3.56, 3.40, 3.59, 3.58, 3.48, 3.58; for Num. Chron, (1931, 164) gives 50.4, 50.3, 50.5, 49.7, 43.4 grains.
Num. Chron. (1931, 160) gives 217.1, 213.7, 207.5 grains.
Hammer. 97.
Vyskovce, 11; Hammer (op. cit. 112) gives a tetradrachm of
Chapot, La Province romaine proconsulate d'Asie, 342.
Wilcken, Grundzüge, ii, 61. This tax lasted at least until the time of
Amer. Jour. Archaelogy, xxxviii, 50; Klio, 1932, 124.
CIG., 4380; IGRR., iv, 915, dated in A.D. 74; Laum (Stiftungen in der griechischen und rӧmischen Antike, ii, 162) gives the date as 73 A.D.
Econ. Survey, v. 45 and 37. Tenney Frank accepts Suetonius at face value.
The aurei of Titus show a point of concentration at 111 grains (7.19 grams). Of the coins shown in the table, 77.3% fall within a range of 109 to 113 grains. Mattingly
102
gives the average weight of 25 coins as 111.64 grains (7.23 grams) with no point of concentration evident. The average weight of 129 denarii
103
is 49.68 grains (3.22 grams). In 102 denarii weighed by Mattingly there was a well defined peak at 50 grains (3.24 grams).
Using the actual weights of the aureus and the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.19.
Wruck gives the average weight of five Syrian tetradrachms as 14.33 grams with a high at 14.48 and a low at 14.25 grams. Ondrouch gives analyses of three coins, one each with 84.5, 83.4, and 76% of silver.
104
Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxiii, 9, 46; cf. xii, 14, 62.
Periplus marts Erithr., viii, 49. On the date of the Periplus see Camb. Anc. Hist., x, 881. Dio Cassius (lxvi, 14, 5) mentions aurei in connection with
Prentice, Gk. and Latin Inscr., 352; Corp. Inscrip. Semit., 3923.
BMC., ii, xiv; Hultsch (Metrol., 306) gives an average of 7.29 grams.
Ondrouch (Vyskovce, 12) gives four weights: 3.20, 3.25, 3.28, 3.29; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.14, 3.4, 3.39, 3.24; Cardoso (op. cit.) gives 3.2, 3.0: Num. Chron. (1914, 228) gives 3.01, 3.34, 3.17, 2.93; Princeton Univ. has 2.90, 3.21, 2.91, 3.29, 2.83, 2.82, 3.12, 3.11, 3.49, 3.53; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.19, 3.41, 3.18; Num. Chron. (1931, 164) gives 54.9, 50.1, 49.4, 50.4, 49.2 grains. Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives one at 3.35 grams, while Notizie (1935, 366) gives 2 that average 3.45.
Mattingly
105
gives the average weight of three aurei dated in A.D. 81/82 as 111.9 grains (7.25 grams), and of forty minted between A.D. 82 and 96 as 117 grains (7.58 grams). Of course it is unsafe to draw inferences from the weights of three coins, though their average weight is in close agreement with the weight of the aurei of Titus. The twelve coins dated in A.D. 81 that appear in Table O average about 113 grains.
Mattingly gives the average weight of 29 denarii dated in A.D. 81/82 as 49.1 grains (3.18 grams), and of 144 denarii issued between A.D. 83 and 96 as 51.2 grains (3.32 grams) with a peak at 53 grains (3.43 grams). Mickwitz
106
gives the average of sixty denarii as 3.21 grams.
The distribution by weight of available denarii is as follows:
107
The third group does not seem to bear out the statement of Mattingly that the point of concentration is at 53 grains. Nearly 71% of the coins in the present table fall within a range of 49 to 53 grains with a point of concentration at 51 grains.
According to Wruck, twenty-three Syrian tetradrachms average 14.43 grams with a high of 15.34 and a low of 12.21 grams. Sydenham gives the weights of seventeen didrachmae from Caesarea which average 104.5 grains and of two drachmae which average 53.75 grains.
108
The Syrian drachma averaged, therefore, 3.61 grams while the Caesarea drachma averaged 3.44 grams.
In Persia 52 tetradrachms and 24 drachmae
109
Using the actual weights of the aureus and denarius, the two periods, that of A.D. 81/82 and that of 83/96, both show approximately the same ratio between gold and silver, namely 1 : 10.94 and 1 : 11.
The reasons for 110
says of
Hammer
111
gives an analysis of seven coins, one with 92.5, five with 91.4, and one with 86% of silver. Ondrouch
112
gives two analyses, one with 93.3, the other with 91.95% of silver. Martial
113
speaks of a price of one denarius for his book. An edict of A D. 93 issued at Pisidian 114
orders that the price of wheat is not to exceed one denarius per modius, while in Revelation
115
the
Ondrouch, 11.
BMC., ii, xiv. Frank (Econ. Survey, v, 91) says the coins of
Arctos, iii, 3 quoting Weber.
Ondrouch gives 3.24, 3.30, 3.35, 3.36, 3.36; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.11, 2.98, 3.35, 3.33, 3.22, 2.96, 3.16, 3.32, 3.26, 3.35; Cardoso (op. cit., 126) gives 3.0, 3.2 as Caesar and 3.2, 3.2, 3.3, 3.0 as Emperor. The Table includes weights given by Montelhet, Musée Crozatier, ii, 79; Naville Sale 2; Helbing Sales of Mar. 4, 1927 and Oct. 24, 1927; Weber, An Egyptian Hoard; Naville Sale 17; Princeton Univ.; American Num. Soc.; Num Chron., 1931, 164. Notizie (1935, 366) gives 9 dated after 81 that average 3.47 and Fundber. Schwaben. (1913, 86) gives 3 that average 3.25.
In addition,
BMC.; Naville Sale 12; Prokesch-Osten op. cit., Markoff op. cit.
Jour. Roman Studies., 1930, 70.
Hammer, 97.
Vyskovce, 11.
Martial, i, 117; denarii also in ix, 32; ix, 100.
Amer. Phil. Assoc. Trans., lv, 5.
Revel., vi, 6.
The sixty-four aurei listed here show a poor point of concentration at 116 grains (7.52 grams), with 75% of the coins falling within a range of 114 to 118 grains. Nerva therefore was maintaining the heavy standard of
Mattingly gives the average weight of thirteen aurei as 116.64 grains (7.56 grams) with a peak at
116
The average weight of 113 denarii whose weights are ascertainable is 50.18 grains (3.25 grams). This compares with the average weight of 50.78 grains (3.29 grams) for fifty-three denarii given by Mattingly and with an average of 3.24 grams for twenty-four coins given by Weber.
117
According to Wruck, thirteen Syrian tetradrachms
118
average 14.83 grams with a high of
Table P Nerva Aurei
Mattingly gives the analysis of one coin with 89.1% of silver,
120
while Hammer
121
gives one with 91.7%, and Ondrouch
122
gives one with 91.2% of silver.
Based on the actual weights of the aureus and denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 10.81.
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) gives 7.45 grams.
Ondrouch (op. cit., 12) gives 3.20, 3.35, 3.64; Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 3.33, 3.26, 3.21; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.40, 3.25; Cardoso (op. cit.) gives 3.0, 3.0; Montelhet (Musée Crozatier, ii, 90) gives 2.86, 3.17, 3.08, 3.13, 3.06, 2.90, 3.38, 3.16, 3.40; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.08, 3.34, 3.08, 3.15, 3.47, 3.14, 3.10, 3.32, 3.59; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.1; Princeton Univ. has 3.01, 3.32, 3.26, 3.32, 3.22, 3.42; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.20.
In addition Naville Sale 15 gives 6.92; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 7.0, 7,0. 6.77.
It seems probable that early in his reign
Mattingly gives the average weight of four aurei issued in A.D. 98/99 as 117.25 grains (7.59 grams); of eleven restoration aurei of A.D. 107 as 111.9 grains (7.25 grams), and of 123 other aurei issued in A.D. 100 and later as 111.4 grains (7.22 grams).
123
This last group has a definite peak at 111 grains (7.19 grams).
According to Mattingly twenty-three denarii of the restoration series show an average weight of 47.48 grains (3.08 grams) and 464 other denarii an
124
The denarii whose weights are given in various sources may be classified as follows:
Mattingly gives an analysis of three coins with 90.73, 79.6, and 78.1% of silver;
125
Hammer gives one coin issued in A.D. 98/99 with 92.8% of silver and for coins issued after that date one each with 88.4, 86.2, 85.5, 83.8, 79.2, and 78.5% of silver; Ondrouch
126
gives one each with 87.3 and 85.1% of silver.
The coins of 98/99 indicate a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 10.97, while the coins issued in A.D. 100 and later indicate a ratio of 1 : 11.04.
127
Obviously no change in ratio can be assumed from differences that are so small.
Wruck gives the average weight of thirteen Syrian tetradrachms dated in A.D. 98/99 as 14.56 grams with a high of 15.44 and a low of 14.21 grams. The average weight of 166 tetradrachms dated in A.D. 100 and later is 14.06 grams with a high of 15.25 and a low of 12.28 grams.
128
For the period A.D. 98/99 Sydenham gives the weights of sixteen didrachmae and of nine drachmae of 129
The combined groups show an average of 51.8 grains for the drachma.
For the period of A.D. 100 and later Sydenham
130
gives the weights of twenty-five tridrachmae that average 162.4 grains; of thirty-five didrachmae that average 102 grains, and of twenty-two drachmae that average 50.4 grains. The combined groups show an average for the drachma of 52.3 grains.
These changes are not what would be expected. Comparing the years A.D. 98/99 with the rest of the reign, the denarius shows a drop of about 8%, the Syrian drachma a drop of about 4%, while the 131
The reasons that led
In A.D. 107, after the Dacian wars, 132
This is all of what Dio may have said on this subject that is preserved in the late epitome made by 133
Coins issued by
Unfortunately too few of the hoards of gold coins are recorded with sufficient accuracy to construct a table. The inference, however, from twenty-seven
Table Q
There are at least two important objections to the idea
134
that
The idea of profit for the government as the motivating cause
135
in such a remelting of old coins seems unsatisfactory, for the number of the old coins in circulation must have been comparatively small and the degree of debasement was not large. Then, again, nothing appears to have been done about the heavy denarii of
Mickwitz
136
considers that
This re-adjustment of the currency, both as to weight and to fineness, is one of the important events, economically speaking, of 137
if true, seems to have been based in part at least on the booty from Dacia. Currency depreciation is, it seems, always the result of something that has already happened. The cause in this instance is difficult to find.
In Britain official coins seem to have been so plentiful that local imitations are rare, a condition
138
This condition could have been brought about by a decline in the activity of local business, as well as by an increase in the supply of imperial coins. Unfortunately we do not know which was the case here. In Scotland
139
ten coins of pure tin have been found, eight of
The documents recording the gifts of 140
in A.D. 103/4 present some interesting problems. The short Latin inscriptions record the capital sums in sesterces which the accompanying Greek text gives in denarii at the rate of four sesterces to the denarius. Thus 17000 sesterces in one Latin text appears as 4250 denarii in the Greek;
141
in another the Latin mentions 33333½ sesterces
142
which the Greek gives as 8333 denarii, 6 asses. This shows that 3/8 of a denarius is equal to 6 asses (33333½ ÷ 4 = 8333⅜) and that the denarius therefore was equal to 16 asses. This is not in agreement with the long Greek text given in BM *481. Lines 245ff. show that 750 denarii are to be divided among 1500 persons with the gift to each stated as 9 asses. This indicates
Salutaris made two capital gifts, one of 20000 denarii, another of 1500 denarii.
143
The interest is given as 1800 and 135 denarii, respectively, which proves a rate of nine percent. The text uses three ways of showing this rate of interest: (a) τόκος ἀσσαρίων δεκάδυο ἀργυρῶν, (b) τόκος δραχμιαῖος and the curious (c) τόκος δραχμιαῖος ἀσσαριαῖος. The rates express the interest per month on each 100 denarii of principal and being legalistic terms naturally should refer to the traditional ratio between the coins concerned. It is not clear why the word "drachma" should be used at all in this connection.
144
The inscription also contains a statement to the effect that if the rate of exchange should go up, more is to be distributed each year. This exchange can refer only to the relative values of the imperial denarius and of the local as. It assumes a greater confidence in
A contemporary inscription from 145
mentions "silver denarii," as does a papyrus
146
of the year 117. A Spanish inscription
147
gives the cost of a statuette as 62 denarii, while another
148
mentions a capital gift of 100,000 sesterces which was to be loaned at five percent interest, and which provided that part, at least, of the income was to be distributed in denarii. An African inscription shows cattle taxed four denarii each,
149
and an Italian document
150
shows wheat at one denarius a modius.
151
Both Martial
152
and Juvenal
153
speak of aurei.
Epictetus
154
has a very interesting statement: "for just as neither the banker nor the greengrocer may legally refuse the coinage of Caesar, but if you
BMC., iii, xxi.
Hammer, 97.
Vyskovce, 11.
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) says 7.21 grams.
In the table appear coins from Ondrouch, Vyskovce; Edwards, Yale Coll.; Montelhet, Mus. Crozatier, ii, 94; Univ. of Colo. Studies, xxv, 237; Cardoso,
Buenos Aires, 136; Naville Sales 10, 17; Princeton Univ.; Amer. Numis. Soc.;
Klio (xxvi, 97) says 12 to 20% depreciation. Mattingly (Roman Coins, 125) says about 15% debasement.
Hammer (op. cit., 112) gives one tetraarachm from
Mickwitz (Geld, 56) believes in a ratio of 1 : 10 for Aegypius, 1933, 102 for that ratio during the second century; Heichelheim (Klio, xxv, 124) agrees.
Num. Chron. (1931, 160) gives 221.2, 228.7, 214.7, 209.9, 209.6, 209.3 grains.
In addition Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 10.17, 7.21, both of A.D. 98/99.
Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 7.44, 6.14, 6.88, 6.72, 6.54; Ciani Sale of Apr. 18, 1925 gives 14.30, 6.55, 3.05, 10.20, 3.20, 3.30, 6.45; Windisch-Graetz gives 6.20;
The weights of the Alexandrian tetradrachms as given by Milne (Catalogue of Alexandrian Coins in the Ashmolean Museum) indicate no change after 98/99 A.D.
Dio Cassius, lxviii, 15; Mattingly (BMC., iii, lxxxviii) says "we must suppose that the whole of the coinage down to the reduction of weights by
Because of uncertainties the so-called hoard of Kirkham in Num. Chron., 1936, 316 is not included.
The hoards used to form Table Q are as follows:
Segre, Metrol., 360.
Burns, Money, 419; Despaux, Les Devaluations, 117.
Geld, 32; see also Klio, 1932, 124; Econ. Hist., 1935, 6.
Camb. Anc. Hist., xi, 215.
Econ. Survey, iii, 62.
Num. Chron., 1905, 10.
Anc. Gk. Inscrip, in B. M., iii, p. 130; revised text in op. cit., iv, *481. CIL., iii, 14195, 4, 5, 6, 7; Dessau, 7193, 7194. Date A.D. 103/4.
This seems to be the sum the long Greek text (BM*481) gives as 4450 denarii.
Which the editor reads twice as 33,323½.
The inscription gives the total as 11500 denarii due probably to a stone-cutter's error.
The statement in Econ. Survey, iv, 900 that the drachma refers to the Rhodian drachma which equalled three quarters of a denarius does not necessarily seem to be implied in this inscription.
IGRR., iv, 494; ibid., 1660 from Tira mentions 5 denarii.
PSI., 1063 (A.D. 117).
CIL., ii, 1163.
CIL., ii, 4511 from Barcino (A.D. 107); CIL., vi, 10229 (A.D. 108) mentions denarii.
Bruns, Fontes, 114; Van Nostrand, Imperial Domains, 26.
CIL., xi, 6117.
Germ., 5, 15; Pliny, ad Traian., x, 116 mentions denarii.
Martial, xii, 65.
Juvenal, v, 122.
Disc., iii, 3, 3.
The 578 aurei of
Mattingly gives the average weight of 179 aurei as 111.91 grains (7.25 grams)
155
with a peak at 110.5 grains (7.16 grams). He also gives the average weight of 733 denarii as 49.64 grains (3.21 grams) with a peak at 49 grains (3.17 grams).
Weights of the denarius may be shown in tabular form as follows:
156
As will be noticed, there is no well-defined point of concentration, though the table indicates 50 or 51 grains as a possibility.
Two Syrian tetradrachms are said by the B. M. Catalogue to weigh 224.4 and 215.2 grains.
157
Sydenham gives the weights of nine drachmae, of thirty-three didrachmae, and of one tridrachma from 158
In 159
The silver coins issued at Amisus by 160
The
161
As was the case with the denarii, this table shows no well-defined point of concentration. It will be noticed that the coins are considerably lighter than the weight of the contemporary denarii.
The weights of the aureus and denarius indicate a ratio between gold and silver of 1 : 11.26.
An analysis of three denarii given by Mattingly shows 85.7, 80.57, and 75.1% of silver. 162
163
gives one each with 84.9 and 84.7% of silver and one coin of Sabina with 92% of silver.
The inscription from 164
to which reference has just been made, illustrates the difficulties faced by merchants and bankers due to the different monies that were current: "… I commanded them to appear in order that they might have opportunity to say what they wished. Their manner of exchange was illegal, and they permitted themselves to act unjustly and against their agreement. For although they should have accepted eighteen asses per denarius from the merchants, small dealers, and food dealers, who are accustomed to trade for small bronze coins, and should have paid seventeen asses to those who wished to exchange denarii, they were not satisfied with the exchanging of asses, but even in cases where a man bought food for silver denarii, exacted an as for each denarius. I have therefore decided that it would be well for me to correct this for the future so that they may not make collections from purchasers which they have no permission to receive. In the case, however, of food sold by weight, the price of which is set by the market-masters, I think it right that even those who purchase several mina's worth should pay the
This inscription re-affirms the exchange rate of the imperial denarius by the local bank : purchase at 17 asses, sale at 18 asses, thus giving a profit of about 6% on each denarius handled.
It is interesting to note that a contemporary section of the Digest
165
provides that law suits brought by bankers, or brought against them, were to be tried by the prefect. Perhaps there were other cases similar to that at
A contemporary inscription
166
speaks of a gift of one denarius to each citizen of Beneventum, while one from 167
provides gifts of three to five denarii to guild members. Another Pergamene inscription mentions denarii
168
in amounts from one
169
mentions a gift of 1500 "silver denarii." An endowment from Aphrodisias
170
had a capital of 264,179 denarii. A fragmentary inscription from 171
which may or may not belong to this period and which bears some resemblance to the alimentary grants of the previous reign, is believed by Mommsen and subsequent commentators to show that one denarius was equal to six drachmae. This is hardly probable, much less certain, and unfortunately the date is far from definite.
The Palmyrene customs dues were payable in denarii.
172
The well-known inscription from Rhodiapolis
173
shows that in A.D. 131 Opramoas gave 15000 denarii to pay the cost of exchanging money at a festival, while under
A document from Dura dated A.D. 134
174
speaks of "100 drachmae of good silver of the Tyrian standard," while one from Jebel Halakah
175
dated A.D. 120 mentions 1500 denarii as the cost of a wall.
The mining regulations of Vipascum
176
mention denarii as the monetary unit. A wax tablet from Dacia
177
mentions twenty denarii, while a similar document from Ravenna
178
preserves a contract for the sale of an imported slave for 625 denarii. Aurei are mentioned
179
in a section of the Justinian Code.
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) gives 7.21 grams.
Includes also weights from Ondrouch, Vyskovce, 12; Montelhet, Musée Crozatier, ii; Edwards, Yale Coll.; Cardoso,
Buenos Aires; Naville, Sales 2, 17; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927; Amer. Numis. Soc.;
Hunter Coll. gives 194.9 grains;
In addition Ratto Sale of Mar. 4, 1927 gives 10.61, 6.29, 3.29.
BMC.; Naville Sale 12; Sammlung Petrowicz; Prokesch-Osten, op. cit.
The weights are from Fitzwilliam; Hunter; Weber; BM Cat.; Rec. Gen. As. Min. (Waddington); Jameson; Cahn, Sales 65, 71, 75; Grabow; Schlessinger Sale 11; Hirsch Sale 25; Ciani Sale of Apr. 28, 1925; Dieudonne;
These weights are:
Hammer, 98.
Vyskovce, 11; Hammer (op. cit., 112) gives a tetradrachm of
Athen. Mitth., 1902, 78; Dittenberger, OGIS., ii, 484; the translation given here is that in Econ. Survey iv, 893 with certain changes.
Digest, i, 12, 14, 2.
CIL., ix, 1619 from Beneventum.
CIL., vi, 33885. Also CIL., xiv, 4743 (A.D. 129) from Ostia.
IGRR., iv, 353.
IGRR., iv, 1281 probably of
Laum, Stiftungen, no. 102. Another from Magnesia is mentioned in no. 125.
Inscript. Graecae, 2nd Ed., ii, 2776; Hermes, 1871. 129.
IGRR., iii, 1056.
IGRR., iii, 739. Econ. Survey, iv, 887 seems to miss the point when it says: "Opramoas made a gift of 500 dr. to change the federal coinage of Lycia, though in what way remains a question as the coinage was not changed."
Dura, vi, 425.
Prentice, Gk. and Latin Inscr., 104; Hermes, 1902, 91, no. 5.
CIL., ii, 5181.
CIL., iii, p. 954 (A.D. 131).
Zeitsch. Savigny Stiftung, xlii, 452 (
vii, 4, 2. Vita Hadr., 7, 3 also mentions aurei. A Latin papyrus of A.D. 128 (Winter, Misc. Papyri, 166) mentions 375 sesterces.
While the 758 aurei of 180
The average weight of 111 denarii found in various catalogues is 49.14 grains (3.19 grams).
181
On this basis the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.49. Sydenham gives the weights of ten didrachmae and of four drachmae from 182
Analyses of denarii show the following results: Hammer
183
gives one coin each with the following
184
gives one each with 81.4, 78.1, and 77.8% of silver.
An analysis of the weights of denarii given in the B. M. Catalogue and other sources shows the following results:
If there is a point of concentration here, it is somewhere between 53 and 49 grains. There seems to be no indication of two standards here but rather an al marco coinage at about 100 pieces to the pound.
A section of the Gnomon of the Idios Logos
185
prohibits the exchange of a gold or silver coin for more subsidiary copper coins than its legal value. While our copy of this document is dated A.D. 149, this particular section may be older. At any rate it presupposes a fixed ratio between the coins.
Various inscriptions speak of money. One of A.D. 141
186
mentions a gift of one denarius to each citizen; another, from Auximun,
187
of a gift of three denarii to each of the decuriones and of two denarii to each of the augustales. An inscription from Strongoli
188
mentions a capital gift of 100,000 sesterces, the income from which was to be distributed as denarii. Another
189
speaks of gifts of one to six denarii on various occasions. A papyrus of A.D. 151 mentions 350 denarii.
190
A Spanish inscription
191
of A.D. 147 speaks of gifts of one denarius each to the inhabitants of Sal pensa. One from Thyatira
192
mentions 1500 denarii.
Two of the Dacian wax tablets seem to give a relationship between gold and the denarius. One, dated May 6, 142,
193
seems to equate two ounces with 600 denarii; the other, dated October 4, 160,
194
seems to equate two ounces with 420 denarii. It does not seem possible, however, to assume that the expression "pro uncis duabus" that is found on both tablets actually refers to gold.
195
Unfortunately this expression is not used similarly in any other place, but in spite of this lack, it seems much more likely that it refers to some import tax on slaves, and that it has no connection at all with the denarii that are mentioned immediately after.
There are two other contemporary tablets which are not in reasonable accord with any extremely low valuation of the denarius at this time; one records
196
the sale of one-half of a house for 300 denarii, the other
197
records a list of expenditures where fractions of a denarius are mentioned. Lucian
198
tells a story of a trusting buyer who paid thirty gold pieces for a forged rare book priced at 750 drachmae. Basing his
Table T Antoninus Pius Aurei
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) says 7.27 to 7.21 grams.
Edwards (Yale Coll., 96) gives 3.17, 2.99, 3.48, 3.07, 3.7, 2.98, 3.27, 2.91, 3.2, 3.0, 3.03, 2.98, 2.9, 3.46, 2.92, 3.26, 3.35, 3.25, 3.24, 3.15, 2.82, 3.11 and for Faustina senior: 3.01, 3.09, 3.07, 2.81, 3.08, 3.22, 2.85, 3.15, 3.47; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.57, 3.24 and for Faustina: 3.31, 3.32; Cardoso gives 3.5, 3.5, 3.2, 3.2, 3.0, 3.0, 3.0, and for Faustina: 3.5, 2.7, 3.2, 3.0; Montelhet (Musée Crozatier, ii, 133) gives 3.45, 3.21, 3.02, 2.99, 2.92, 3.18, 3.48, 2.83, 2.39, 3.06, 3.27, 3.16, 3.33, 3.87, 3.28, 3.46, 3.38, 2.83, 3.02, 3.11, 3.15, 3.15, 2.95, 3.20, 3.25, 3.24, 2.73, 3.13, 3.21, 3.47, 2.87, 2.85, 3.43; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.3; ibid. Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 3.5, 3.8, 3.3; Princeton Univ. has 2.90, 3.39, 3.30, 3.05, 2.64, 3.26, 3.47, 3.27, 2.91, and for Faustina: 3.12, 2.99, 3.67, 3.60, 3.3, 3.01, 3.06; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.17, 3.54, 3.42, 3.05, 3.21, 3.55, 3.25, 3.42 and for Faustina: 3.40, 3.56, 3.34, 3.35; Num. Chron. (1931, 164) gives 53, 46.9, 54, 51.2, 51.6 grains. Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives 19 that average 3.146. BMC. (iv, xiv) gives 783 that average 3.23.
In addition
Hammer, 99.
Vyskovce, 11.
Section 106. The word nomisma which is used means silver certainly and gold probably.
CIL., xiv. 8 of Ostia.
CIL., ix, 5823 (A.D. 159); also xiv, 4554 (A.D. 166).
Dessau, 6468. CIL., xiv, 353 is similar in its use of sesterces for the capital and denarii for the interest though here part of the money is given to guilds and not to individuals. See also xiv, 4642.
CIL., vi, 10234 (A.D. 153).
BGU., 887 as the price of a slave.
CIL., ii, 1282.
IGRR., iv, 1291. Denarii are also mentioned, ibid., iii, 1010 from Kara.
CIL., iii, p. 940.
CIL., iii, p. 959.
Appleton in Studi in onore do V. Scialoja (not accessible to me) says that the two ounces do not refer to gold but equals one sestertium or four asses. The editors of the CIL say that the two ounces on p. 959 equal 166 ⅔ denarii which is a mathematical error. There is another contract for the sale of a slave on p. 936, dated March 17, 139 which makes no mention of this phrase: "pro uncis duabus."
CIL., iii, p. 944 dated A.D. 159.
CIL., iii, p. 953. Documents on pp. 948, 950 (A.D. 163, 164 and 167) also speak of denarii and one speaks of 5 sesterces as a daily wage.
Pseudologistes, 30.
The 578 aurei of 200
The average weight of 100 denarii that appeared in catalogues and elsewhere before the publication of Vol. 4 of the British Museum Catalogue is 49.38 grains (3.20 grams).
201
Using these figures as a basis, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.12.
Using the weights given in the B. M. Catalogue and other sources a frequency table shows the results in table on p. 103. In the column headed
This also looks like al marco coinage at about 100 to the pound. Using 51 grains as the point of concentration, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.49.
The British Museum Catalogue gives the weight of one Syrian tetradrachm as 197.8 grains, while Sydenham gives the weights of thirty-two didrachmae and of one tridrachma from 202
In 203
Hammer
204
gives an analysis of ten coins of
The analysis of silver hoards buried up to the time of 205
Whether this idea is right or not depends upon the answer to an apparently unanswerable question—whether the government was still willing to exchange twenty-five denarii for an aureus. If it still did so, then the government saved in its cost of minting silver and no one was hurt financially at the time by the move. If the government was unwilling to make that exchange, then the added amount of debasement was equivalent to a capital levy.
It has been said
206
that after
There are numerous contemporary references to the denarius. At Bovillae
207
a gift was made to the adlecti scaenicorum of twenty-five denarii, to the decuriones of five denarii, to the augustales of three denarii, and to the citizens generally of one denarius.
208
a principal sum of 10,000 denarii was given, the interest from which was to provide an annual banquet. Among the Dacian wax tablets
209
is one recording a loan of 60 denarii. In a decree
210
for reducing the cost of gladiatorial shows there is mention of aurei and of sesterces but no relation between them is shown.
An inscription from Tira
211
mentions 250 "silver denarii," while at Amasia
212
10,000 denarii are specified as a fine for violation of a grave. A military account from 213
In a second Spanish inscription
214
a gift of 7500 denarii is mentioned; this was to be loaned at six percent, and the income was to provide 250 denarii for a spectacle and 200 denarii for oil. An inscription from Volcii
215
records a gift of three denarii to the decuriones, two to the augustales, and one to the general populace. A large endowment from El Kef
216
mentions a capital sum of 1,300,000 sesterces, whose income, amounting to 16,250 denarii (a rate of 5%), was to be used in the education of boys and girls.
A papyrus of A.D. 166 mentions the sale of a slave for 200 denarii.
217
Three of the Dacian wax tablets
218
mention denarii, while one mentions a daily wage of five sesterces. In an inscription from Stobi,
219
twenty-five myriads of denarii are mentioned, an amazing figure if the inscription is correctly dated.
A document from Dura
220
dated A.D. 180 mentions 500 silver drachmae of the Tyrian standard. An inscription from Iobacchi
221
mentions sums of 25 and 50 denarii, while one from Eumeneia mentions
222
3712 drachmae. A section of the Digest
223
gives the hypothetical value of a slave as ten aurei, which is two aurei higher than the actual price given above. The well-known letter written by the Tyrians in Puteoli in A.D. 174 mentions 250 denarii.
224
Aurei are mentioned by Dio Cassius.
225
Quinquennium, 103.
Hultsch (Metrol., 306) says 7.25 grams from Aurelius to Septimiue. The figure of 95% is due largely to the fine condition of coins in the particular hoards that furnish the bulk of our information.
Edwards (Yale Coll., 99) gives 3.67, 3.3, 2.98, 2.75, 3.48, 3.38, 3.07, 3.18, 2.81, 3.05, 2.68, 3.71, 3.45, 2.83, and for Faustina junior: 3.2, 3.28, 3.44, 3.35, 3.33, 2.8, 3.01, and for L. Verus: 2.88, 3.38, for Lucilla: 2.99, 3.17, 3.07, 2.74, 3.41; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.20, 2.83, 3.20 for Faustina; 2.85, 2.63 for Verus; and 3.44, 3.24 for ( Buenos Aires
, 183) gives 3.0 for
In addition
BMC.; Naville Sale 12; Prokesch-Osten, op. cit.; Markoff, op. cit.; Rev. Num., 1898.
Hammer, 99. Klio, xxvi, 97; Mickwitz, Geld, 33; and Mattingly, Roman Coins, 125, all assume a 25% debasement. There is a sudden large debasement about the middle of the reign in the Alexandrian coinage, but this was not continued throughout the reign or in the succeeding reigns.
Mickwitz, Geld, 33.
Num. Chron., 1916, 43.
CIL., xiv, 2408 (A.D. 169).
CIL., xiv, 2795 (A.D. 168).
CIL., iii, p. 934 (Oct. 20, 162).
CIL., ii, 6278 from Italica.
IGRR., iv, 1662 (A.D. 175). An endowment at Gythium is given in denarii: Laum, op. cit., no. 9.
IG., iii, 104. In ibid., iv, 803 from Apamea 500 denarii are mentioned as the penalty.
Fayum Towns, 105.
CIL., ii, 4514 from Barcino.
CIL., X, 416 probably of this period.
CIL., viii, 1641.
The comparatively few aurei that may be dated to the sole reign of
The average weight of 325 denarii is 44.89 grains
The badly defined point of concentration here is at 45 grains, but as before, one can perhaps assume al marco coinage at about 100 to the pound.
The British Museum Catalogue gives the weights of two Syrian tetradrachms as 136.6 and 192 grains,
227
while Sydenham gives the weights of thirteen didrachms and two tridrachms of 228
Hammer gives an analysis of ten coins: five with 72, four with 71 and one with 67.1% of silver. These figures indicate a further depreciation from the time of
The increase in the weight of the aureus and the pronounced and apparently temporary decrease in the weight of the denarius (provided it is not due to the small number of coins for which weights could be found) indicates either a change in the ratio of gold to silver, or a revaluation of the denarius in terms of the aureus. If one assumes that
Apuleius
229
whose writings may perhaps be dated to this period, mentions sesterces, denarii and aurei, in one place pricing donkeys at 11 and 17 denarii, low prices for average animals. He also uses two curious expressions "aureos solidos" and "aureos folies" which elsewhere are not known before the fourth century. Are these interpolations in the text? If so, they seem to have been unnoted by the commentators.
Among other contemporary references to money may be mentioned an inscription from Ostia
230
recording not only a capital gift which is stated in sesterces but also a sportula of five denarii each to the decuriones and to the augustales. There are two inscriptions
231
from Anagnia reporting separate identical gifts of five denarii to the decuriones, two to the sevirs and one to the citizens generally, at the dedication of the baths.
An inscription from Sagalassus
232
records a gift of 13,000 denarii, while at Oenoanda 10,000 denarii
233
An African inscription
234
estimates the value of a slave as 500 denarii. A contemporary papyrus mentions denarii,
235
while another speaks of two denarii, eight obols.
236
The mention of such sums as 1, 2 and 5 denarii seems conclusive evidence that marketwise this coin still had real purchasing power.
PBM., 229; Meyer, Jur. Pap., 37. In addition to the 200 denarii there was a "capitularlo portitorio" to be paid. Perhaps this is to be considered the same as the "pro uncis duabus" found on Dacian wax tablets under Pius. Grenfell, New Class. Frag., ii, 108 (a Latin document) mentions denarii.
CIL., iii, pp. 948, 950 (A.D. 163,164 and 167).
Frey, Corp. Inscr. Judaicarum, 694 and said to be dated in A.D. 165.
Dura, vi, 429.
Dittenberger, IGS., 1109 (before A.D. 178).
Mon. As. Min. Antiq., iv, 333 (A.D. 173).
xxi, 2, 21. Vita Marci, ii, 4 also mentions aurei.
IG., xiv, 830.
Dio, lxxi, 32, 1.
Edwards (Yale Coll., 102) gives 3.33, 2.45, 2.34, 2.64 and for Crispina 3.01; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 2.29 and for Crispina 2.83; Montelhet (Musée Crozatier, ii, 192) gives 2.80, 2.90, 2.59, 2.72, 3.35, 2.78, 2.72, 2.32, 3.13, 2.55, 2.45; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 3.2; Princeton Univ. has 2.92, 2.97, 2.64, 2.10, 2.43, 2.86, 3.29, 2.73 and for Crispina 3.28, 2.87; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.23 and for Crispina 3.50, 3.38. Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives 13 that average 2.663; BMC (iv, xiv) gives 290 that average 45.22 grains (2.93 grams); Viestvika Hrv. Arheol. Drustva (1900, 10) gives one at 2.83.
Hunter Coll. gives 173.4.
In addition
Metam., ii, 13; iv, 9; ix, 18; A pol., 42, 97.
CIL., xiv, 367 (A.D. 182). CIL., viii, 6948 from Cirta also mentions capital in sesterces and income in denarii.
CIL., X, 5917, 5918.
IGRR, iii, 351. An endowment at Aphrodisias had a capital of 12600 denarii: Laum, op. cit., no. 101.
The forty-three aurei of 237
Hammer
238
gives an analysis of two silver coins, one each with 90 and 62% of silver.
IGRR., iii, 500.
CIL., viii, 23958, 14.
Gk. Ost., 1265 (A.D. 187).
The seventeen coins of this reign show a decided drop in weights. The point of concentration is found at 103 grains (6.67 grams), with 82% of the coins falling within a range of 101 to 105 grains.
Judging from very few examples the average weight of the denarius
239
is 44.18 grains (2.86 grams). Hammer gives the analysis of one denarius with 81% of silver.
Judging from the coins, and assuming that an aureus was worth 25 denarii, the ratio between gold and silver is practically the same for the two reigns. Under
Edwards (Yale Coll., 103) gives 3.19, 3.08; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.36, 3.07, 3.17, 3.40, 2.61, 3.02; Helbing Sale of Oct. 24, 1927, gives 2.75, 3.05, 2.6; Princeton Univ. has 3.64; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.60.
Hammer, 100.
The 523 aurei issued by 240
The average weight of the denarius, to judge from 257 coins, is 48.39 grains (3.14 grams).
241
The average weight of fifty-four denarii of 242
is given as 3.2 grams, of thirty denarii of Julia Domna as 3.38 grams, and of fourteen denarii of Geta as 3.6 grams. Weights of the denarii of
A very unsatisfactory point of concentration is indicated at 51 grains.
Hammer
243
gives analyses of twelve denarii, two with 75.5, one each with 73.1, 56.9, 56.9, 56.8, three with 55.7, and one each with 54.9, 48.7, 47.4, 43.1% of silver. One coin of Julia Domna shows 45.5% of silver. The average silver content of 57.3% is somewhat better than the 50% of alloy which 244
The British Museum Catalogue gives the weights of seven Syrian tetradrachms of 245
Twenty-one tetradrachms of 246
Sydenham
247
gives the weights of forty-seven drachmae and of six tridrachmae of
In Persia the average weight of 42 tetradrachms and 14 drachmae struck by 248
Using the actual weights of the aureus and of the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 10.90. As before, this figure is obtained by assuming that an aureus was still worth 25 denarii.
After the time of 249
were difficult to obtain, the free Germans who had been heavy users of Roman silver turned to gold and the increase in the number of gold coins in German hoards of the third century is very noticeable.
After the revolutions that marked his accession,
About A.D. 210 250
proclaiming serious penalties for illicit exchange at
Another document that is sometimes quoted to indicate contemporary distrust of the denarius is one from Palmyra dated A.D. 193
251
which mentions "old Roman aurei." These coins were carried by a caravan to be used in meeting travelling expenses. Under such conditions gold would be vastly more convenient, due to its smaller bulk and weight. In view of this it seems unlikely that any distrust of the subsidiary coinage can properly be inferred from this document.
On the other hand, there are numerous indications that the denarius was still a coin of real value. An inscription from Perusia
252
records a gift of two denarii to the decuriones and of one to the plebs; another from 253
a gift of two denarii each to fellow members of the donor's guild; another, from Verulae,
254
speaks of gifts of four and three denarii
255
mentions a monthly wage of 150 denarii. An endowment at Bitburg is said to have had a capital of 50 denarii, possibly a stone cutter's error for 50,000.
A papyrus of A.D. 194 shows that an initiation fee of 100 denarii was paid on joining a well-known athletic association.
256
An inscription from Ormela
257
mentions both Attic drachmae and the denarius but gives no relationship between them. The Tariff of Zrai,
258
dated A.D. 202, gives rates in either asses, sesterces or denarii, and in these rates there is no indication of any depreciation of value for any of these coins. A papyrus of A.D. 197 shows that a fine levied as 250 denarii was paid with 1000 drachmae.
259
The papyrus, however, does not show any relationship between gold and silver. An ostraca dated A.D. 205
260
mentions seven denarii. Both the Scriptores Historiae Augustae and Dio Cassius
261
mention aurei.
Naville Sale 2 has 2.56, 2.84, 2.75, 3.19; Amer. Num. Soc. has 3.02, 2.82.
See Num. Zeit., 1933, 17 for coinages of Les devaluations monétaires says
The table includes coins from Edwards, Yale Coll., 104; Num. Zeit., 1914, 228; Viest. Hrv. Arheol. Drustva, 1900, 6f; Naville, Sale 17; Helbing, Sale of Oct. 24, 1927; Princeton Univ.; Amer. Num. Soc.; Num. Chron., 1931, 164, 1939, 42; BJ., 111/112, 419. Fundber. Schwaben (1913, 86) gives 107 that average 3.01 and 10 of Geta that average 2.90.
Bull. Soc. pour conserv. Mon. Histor. d'Alsace, 1926, 129.
Hammer, 102.
Camb. Anc. Hist., xii, 27, 221. These figures seem to be taken to indicate a general debasement of about 50% as in Klio, xxvi, 97, Mickwitz, Geld, 33, though Mattingly, Roman Coins, 125, says about 40% debasement.
Hunter Coll. gives 219.7 and for Geta 201.8, 225.5 grains; Naville Sale 17 gives 13.26; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 14.12, 9.71; Ciani Sale 1925 gives 12.05, 13.95 grams; Num. Chron. (1931, 160) gives 215.2, 204.9, 189, 196.8, 230.3, 215.1, 202.7, 224.8, 221.1, 209.4, 183.6, 218, 221, 216.3, 204.9 grains.
These weights are not repeated.
In addition
BMC.; Naville Sale 12; Prokech-Osten.
Bull. Correspond. Hell., 1896, 523 says the denarius now was only a fiduciary coin.
Ibid.
IGRR., iii, 1050; Corp. Inscr. Semit., 3948. Vita Severi, 6.4 also mentions aurei.
CIL., xi, 1926 (A.D. 205).
CIL., vi. 85 (A.D. 198).
CIL., X, 5796 (A.D. 197). CIL., x, 5064 from Atina (A.D. 208) mentions gifts of 12 sesterces to the decuriones and six to the citizens. CIL., xi, 6014 from Sestinum mentions gifts of three denarii to the decuriones and two denarii to the seviri and people generally. See also xiv, 325 add.
Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., v, 28, 10.
PBM., 1178.
IGRR., iv, 887. Ibid., 1282 from Thyatira mentions 2500 denarii, while ibid., iii, 1480 from Iconium mentions 1000 denarii as does ibid., iv, 629 from Traianopolis. Ibid., iv, 758 from Dionysopolis (A.D. 208/9) mentions 2500 denarii.
CIL., viii, 4508.
Wilcken, Gk. Ost., 1128.
Vita Severi, 6, 1; Dio, lxxvi, 1.
The monetary questions connected with this reign are made more difficult of solution because of the small number of coins that may be assigned to the period after the death of
This pronounced change in weights seems successfully to contradict the idea
262
that
The great innovation of 263
It has been suggested that the antoninianus was rated as one and one-quarter, one and one-half, and two times the denarius,
264
though its weight seems to have been fixed at one and one-half times the weight of the denarius. This gives a theoretical weight for the antoninianus of 5.11 grams (79 grains). The actual weights of thirty-
265
or 50%
266
. Outside of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae there is no mention of this coin in literature, in papyri or in inscriptions. In view of the fact that the coin was struck in vast numbers over a long period of time, this is a very curious fact.
Hammer gives analyses of seven coins struck by 267
The three antoniniani therefore average 58.9% of silver, while the four denarii average 60.2%. This difference is too small to have any significance.
The average weight of nineteen denarii dated between A.D. 211 and 215 is 49.4 grains (3.20 grams), and of thirteen denarii dated after A.D. 215 is 48.9 grains (3.17 grams),
268
a difference that again is too
269
gives the weights of four drachmae and of four didrachmae of 270
The relation of the aureus to the subsidiary coins after A.D. 215 has been the subject of much dispute. Various suggestions have been made, among them:
In view of the fact that there seems to be no appreciable difference in silver content between the two coins, it would seem that the relative weights of the antoninianus and of the denarius would have determined the relative monetary value of the two
It is interesting to note that in A.D. 215 the temple at Arsinoe
273
was making mortgage loans carrying six percent interest and with the provision that interest payments were to be made in silver. Dio Cassius
274
mentions aurei and a contemporary section of the Digest
275
gives five aurei as the hypothetical value of a slave. An endowment at Rhodes
276
had a capital of 20,000 denarii.
On an inscription from Ambryssus
277
sums of 7, 12 and 15 denarii are mentioned, evidence, surely, that this coin still had real values.
It is sometimes said
278
that by the time of 279
the greater part of the gold coins in circulation consisted of aurei minted under
Num. Chron., 1916, 41.
Mickwitz, Geld, 33.
Bernhart, Handbuch, 21.
Num. Chron., 1919, 134.
Giesecke, Antikes Geldwesen, 170.
Hammer, 102.
Edwards (Yale Coll.) gives 2.52, 3.99, 3.15, 2.86, 2.99, 4.12, 2.87, 3.13, 4.83, 3.09, 3.0, 3.43, 2.65, and for Plautilla: 2.95, 3.24; Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.01, 2.95, 3.09, 2.75, 2.88 and for Plautilla: 2.40, 3.09; Num. Chron., (1939, 42) gives 49.6 grains; Naville Sale 2 gives 2.91, 3.55, 3.35, 2.63, 3.01 for before A.D. 215 and 3.55 after A.D. 215. Naville Sale 17 gives for the period after 215: 2.55, 2.90, and for Plautilla 3.54, 3.13, 3.22, 3.44, 3.88; Princeton Univ. has 3.74, 2.57, 3.11 and for antoniniani: 5.06, 5.23; for Plautilla; 3.51, 3.86, 3.20; Amer. Num. Soc. has for antoniniani: 5.17, 5.18, 5.17, 4.70, 5.26, 5.15, 5.08; Bull. soc. pour Cons. mon. hist. d'Alsace (1926, 129) gives the average of 31 undated coins as 3.07 grams.
In addition Windisch-Graetz gives 2.85; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 2.96.
Mattingly-Sydenham, RIC., v, i, 6; Mickwitz, Geld, 33.
Giesecke op. cit., 170. There seems insufficient evidence to equate the minutulus and the denarius. The former seems to be first mentioned in connection with
BGU., 362.
Dio, lxxvii, 10, 2.
Digest, XV, 1, 11, 4.
Laum op. cit., no. 41.
Dittenberger, IGS., 1063 (after A.D. 212).
Num. Chron., 1916, 42.
Mickwitz, Geld, 35.
The eighty-three aurei of 280
The average weight of thirty-six denarii is 49.17 grains (3.19 grams).
281
The weight of one antoninianus is given as 5.14 grams.
282
Sydenham gives the weights of two tridrachmae of Table Z
Macrinus Aurei
Using the weight of the denarius, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 11.07; using the antoninianus, the ratio is 1 : 10.71. From the two it would seem that a ratio of about 1 : 11 was indicated.
Num. Chron. (1916, 41) says that all the aurei of
Edwards (Yale Coll. 109) gives 3.36, 2.29; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.47, 3.41, 2.54, 3.51, 3.71, 3.36, 3.18, 3.03, 3.19, 3.30, 2.88, 3.20, 3.14, 3.60, 3.10, 3.72, 3.27, 2.97, 2.88, 3.40, 3.24, 3.75, 3.0, 3.09, 3.07; Naville Sale 17 gives 3.62, 3.05, 3.53, 3.69; Princeton Univ. gives 2.38, 3.09, 3.72, 2.79, 3.05.
Naville Sale 2 gives 5.14.
It is said that 285
at the beginning of his reign kept the heavy weights of
The coins of 286
Neither group shows a clear point of concentration, though the
Seventeen denarii struck at 287
Forty-two antoniniani
288
struck at
From coins struck at China and the Roman Orient say applied to
The British Museum Catalogue and other sources give the weights of seventeen Syrian tetradrachms that average 201.2 grains.
289
In Persia 37 tetradrachms and 22 drachmae issued
290
Hammer
291
gives analyses of eight silver coins, one each with 75, 44, 43.4 and five (including three antoniniani) with 42.8% of silver.
Elagabalus seems to have stopped coinage of the antoninianus sometime in his reign. In the East there is a great abundance of local coinage, indicating that economic activity there was at an extremely high point.
292
Hunter Coll. has 174.2 grains. See last sentence in Note 228.
In addition Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 13.14, 14.69, 13.98.
Festsch. Otto Hirschfeld, 298.
Edwards (Yale Coll., 109) gives 2.77, 3.47, 2.56, 3.04, 2.52, 2.92, 2.55, Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 2.85, 2.84, 2.64; Num. Chron. (1939, 42) gives 45.3, 50.3 grains; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.09 grams; ibid., (Sale 17) gives 3.27, 2.90, 3.10; Princeton Univ. has 2.84, 3.12, 3.07, 2.86, 2.98; Bull. soc. mon. d'Alsace (1926, 129) gives the average of 32 denarii as 3.17 grams; Fundbericht Schwaben (1913, 86) gives 3 that average 2.91; Viestn. Hrv. Arh. (1900, 10) gives 2.90; 3.04.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40; Princeton Univ. has 4.82.
Also from Hunter Coll.
Although the aurei of 293
Of these five exceptions, one is an irregular coin.
294
The abandonment of the antoninianus seems to imply an effort to maintain gold and silver at the old ratio of 25 denarii to the aureus rather than at some supposedly different figure introduced by 295
suggests that the aureus was now worth 50 denarii, but this is open to serious doubt. If it is assumed that this was the government rate of exchange between the coins, it implies a ratio between gold and silver of about 1 : 24. This ratio makes silver so much cheaper than it was in the fourth century, that it needs definite confirmation before it can be accepted.
The abandonment of the antoninianus may perhaps be considered a concession to conservatism in finance, but 296
at the worst a reduction of about 40%
The average weight of the aurei issued by 297
No single point of concentration is to be found. Ninety-one denarii have an average weight of 47.60 grains (3.08 grams).
298
If it is assumed that an aureus was worth 25 denarii, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 12.15.
In 299
while 13 issued by Artavasdes (A.D. 227/8) average 3.56 grams.
300
One tetradrachm issued by 301
while 44 drachmae, 9 halfdrachmae and 14 silver obols average 3.81, 1.94, and 0.67 grams respectively. Five gold pieces weigh 221, 131, 114.2, 22.4, 21.5 grains, indicating, so it seems, four different denominations. These differences may explain the various denominations in the
It is said that 302
In view of the fact that the copper currency was entirely a token coinage, this seems unlikely. Until the silver currency had utterly collapsed, the quality of the copper was a matter of no practical importance.
An inscription from 303
mentions ten aurei as a congiarium, while an inscription scratched on the handle of a small silver dish
304
indicates that it was sold or pledged for twelve and one-half denarii.
A document from Dura
305
dated A.D. 232 gives a dowry list in denarii; another of A.D. 227 mentions 175 "silver" denarii.
306
A section of the Justinian Code
307
dated in A.D. 229 refers to the semis and triens, but these may be later interpolations in the text.
Comparison of a section of the Digest,
308
presumably written in the time of 309
written at least fifty years earlier, is sometimes taken to indicate a change in
Table AB Alexander Severus Aurei
BMC.; Naville Sale 12; Rev. Num., 1898; Markoff, op. cit.; Prokesch-Osten. op. cit.
Hammer, 102; Num. Chron., 1919, 134 does not repeat this quite correctly.
Rev. Num., 1899, 274.
There seems nothing in this list to confirm the statement that Num. Chron., 1919, 134; nor to about 3 grams as stated by Despaux, Les devaluations monétaires, 118.
Although the "moneta restituta" of the coins probably refers to the rebuilding of the mint rather than to a revision or restoration of the coinage: see Num. Zeit., 1909, 87.
Camb. Anc. Hist., xii, 725.
Hammer (p. 103) gives four with 50, two with 47.6, one each with 45, 40.7, 35.8, 35, and 33.8% of silver.
The statement in Vita, 39 that
Edwards (Yale Coll., 111) gives 2.58, 3.0, 2.17, 2.83, 2.6, 3.21, 3.13; Num. Zeit. (1908, 45) gives a heavy one as 4.35; Helbing Sale of Apr. 12, 1927, gives 3.5, 3.8; Naville Sale 2 gives 3.28; Num. Chron. (1939, 42) gives 51, 48.8, 37.5, 49.1, 49, 51.3, 53.7, 48.7, 50.3 grains; Princeton Univ. has 2.24, 2.86, 3.43, 2.98, 3.22, 2.55; Bull. soc. mon. d'Alsace (1926, 129) gives the average of 64 coins as 3.09 grams; Fundber, Schwaben (1913, 86) gives one at 3.13; Viestn. Hrv. Arh. (1900, 10) gives 3.36, 2.73.
BMC.; Prokesch-Osten op. cit.; Markoff, op. cit.
BMC.; Prokesch-Osten, op. cit.; Markoff, op. cit.; Naville Sale 12. Zeit. deutsch. morgenlӓnd. Gesellsch, 1880.
Cahn Sale 71; Traité iii; Paruck, Sasanian Coins; ZDMG., 1880.
Camb. Anc. Hist., xii, 65 based on Pink, Num. Zeit., 1935, 13ff.
CIL., vi, 2998 (A.D. 229).
CIL., V, 8122, 1 (A.D. 234).
Dura, vi, 434.
Dura, vii/viii, 434.
Cod. Justin., III, 28, 12. In spite of Frank, Econ. Hist., 489 there is apparently no section of the Digest that may safely be used to illustrate the fall of the denarius.
Digest, ii, 4, 24.
Gaius, iv, 46.
The eleven coins of this reign are too few in number to permit deductions of any value. The ten aurei average 89.8 grains (5.80 grams), showing a serious decline from the preceding reign. It has been said that
Forty-one denarii show an average weight of 48.38 grains (3.14 grams).
310
Hammer
311
gives an analysis of two coins with 45.5% of silver. From this insufficient evidence the ratio of gold to silver appears to be 1 : 12.10.
An interesting shop account from Dura,
312
dated between A.D. 235 and 240, gives prices in denarii. The accounts illustrate not only the small size of the transactions recorded, but also the fact that there was as yet no indication of any depreciation in the market valuation of the denarius. An inscription from 313
dated in A.D. 237 mentions an endowment of " 2500 Attic (drachmae) of silver of account." The editor of the inscription intimates that this represents an effort to define the size of the gift more accurately than if the word "denarius" had been used. The explanation, as a
Num. Zeit. (1914, 228) gives 3.76, 3.40; Edwards (Yale Coll., 112) gives 3.57, 2.53, 2.28, 2.88, 3.08; Princeton Univ. has 3.01, 3.59; Bull. soc. mon. d'Alsace (1926, 129) gives the average of 32 denarii as 3.14 grams.
Hammer, 103.
Dura, Fourth Season, 128, 141.
Jour. Hellenic Studies, 1937, 1. Pap. Oxyrh., 705 (A.D. 202) does not show that the Attic drachma was then worth four Egyptian drachmae.
Only two aurei of this period are listed here.
314
Their average weight is 85½ grains (5.54 grams) which is almost exactly on the basis of 60 to the pound.
For some reason these rulers restored the antoninianus to the coinage system. According to a recent authority
315
older denarii were simply overstruck as antoniniani and re-issued on that basis. One silver coin is said to weigh 49.2 grains (3.19 grams),
316
while an analysis of one coin issued by 317
These coins, like others found in the Dorchester hoard, show no wear. Mattingly points out that there is no difference in denomination between the high and low weights, which indicates that the coins were struck al marco and not according to weight. The average weight of these anto-tininiani shows a decrease of about 10% below the weight prevailing from A.D. 215 to 222.
With the appearance of the antoninianus as the common silver coin, one is forced to question the
Dura, Fourth Season, 128, 141.
Num. Chron., 1939, 44. Perhaps this is to be dated soon after the reign of
Edwards, Yale Coll., 113; Viestnika (op. cit.) gives one at 2.79.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40; Naville Sale 17 gives 5.66 and 4.83.
The ninety-five coins of this ruler may include two quinarii and one 1½ aureus piece or perhaps these coins represent two double trientes and one 1⅓ aureus piece. Ninety-two coins are apparently aurei. Their average weight is approximately 75 grains (4.86 grams), though the point of greatest concentration in the distribution of weights is 78 grains.
318
This is about half way between a basis
Following the example of 319
The average weight of 345 coins from a hoard at Plevna is 68.8 grains (4.46 grams).
320
The average weight of 675 coins from Baalan
321
is slightly higher, being 69.22 grains (4.486 grams). The average weight of all these coins shows a decrease of about 5% from the preceding reign and of about 14% from the time of
Twenty-two coins have an average silver content of 41.7%, the best coin having 58.9%.
322
The weights of a few denarii are known.
323
These average 51.2 grains (3.32 grams), and are therefore heavier than any group since the first century. However, the number is too small to permit any valid deductions.
The British Museum Catalogue gives the weights of ten Syrian tetradrachms
324
that average 189.4 grains. One tetradrachm from 325
The low weights of the aureus that characterize the period from A.D. 238 to 268 may perhaps be explained as an effort on the part of the government to have that coin reflect a lowered market, and perhaps legal, valuation of the antoninianus. From the weights given here it appears that the ratio of gold to silver was 1 : 12.15.
Although a few gold coins of Geldwesen, 172, that Gordian struck on the basis of 64 to the pound, equivalent to 5.11 grams to the aureus. The statement in Num. Chron., 1916, 45 that for a few years preceding A.D. 242 the "striking of aurei had ceased altogether " save on a limited scale for ceremonial purposes does not seem warranted.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40; Princeton Univ. has 4.44, 5.01, 5.18, 3.97, 4.56, 3.41, 3.97, 3.87, 3.43, 3.83, 4.17.
Num. Chron., 1924, 237; Num. Zeit., (1914, 228) gives 4.65, 3.03, 2.94, 3.35; Num. Zeit., (1908, 45) gives certain heavy ones as 5.58, 5.58, 5.63, 5.7, 5.88, 6.56; Elmer (Verzeichnis) gives the theoretical weights of the denarius and antoninianus as 3.03 and 4.54 grams respectively.
Bull, archeol., 1932/33. Seven from Müttersholz are said to average 4.20 grams; Bull. Soc. Mon. d'Alsace, 1926, 129. Twenty-nine coins in Bull. hist. et scientif. Auvergne, 1939, 56 have an average weight of 4.14 grams with a low of 2.6 and a high of 5.3 grams. Viestnika (op. cit.) gives 15 that average 4.10.
Hammer (103) gives one with 58.9, five with 49, two with 44, five with 36.1 and one with 28.2% of silver; Num. Chron. (1924, 238) gives one each with 25.88 and 45.42%; Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) gives one with 27%.
Naville Sale 17 gives 3.55; Num. Chron. (1939, 42) gives 57.5 grains; Princeton Univ. has 1.99.
In addition the Hunter Coll. has 187.7, 166.8, 178.2, 220.7 grains; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927 gives 13.12, 12.19, 13.08, 12.36, 13.50.
Windisch-Graetz Coll.
The coins of this reign include not only those of
The Dorchester hoard contained 711 antoniniani of this reign with an average weight
326
of 62.9 grains (4.11 grams). These coins had a high of 99.8 and a low of 33.2 grains. The hoard of Baalan
327
contained 488 coins with an average weight of 4.27 grams. These weights make extremely questionable the suggestion
328
that in A.D. 247 the theoretical
Analyses of fourteen coins
329
show a silver content varying from 50 to 32%, with an average of 43.7%.
The British Museum Catalogue gives the weights of forty Syrian tetradrachms that average 187.5 grains.
330
From the weights given here it appears that the ratio of gold to silver was 1 : 13.4, a very decided change from the preceding reign but a ratio in reasonable accord with that of the next two reigns.
It has been suggested
331
that in the time of 332
This is based on the well-known inscriptions from Kerdassi in Nubia,
333
which read as follows:
5008: "… I spent 6500 (?) drachmae in the second year for the god Pursepmonis."
5010: "… obeisance of Psentuaxis … priest of the guild for the second time… For the first time 20 gold pieces were spent and for the second 30 gold pieces."
As first read, these two inscriptions were used to
It is unfortunate that the figures representing the number of drachmae are a matter of uncertainty; but, in view of that uncertainty, any inferences from these inscriptions should be made as possibilities rather than as facts. To say that these inscriptions show a value of the drachma 31% lower than in the
334
or a 170% decrease from the time of 335
is, it seems, going beyond the evidence. The inscription has also been used to support the theory that the relation of gold to silver was 1 : 5.86,
336
but of course nothing in the inscription proves this, even if one accepts the second reading as correct.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40; Num. Zeit. (1908, 45) gives a heavy one as 5.73; Princeton Univ. has 4.01, 3.77, 4.06, 4.05, 3.39, 5.06, 4.10, 4.21, 4.19, 4.34, 3.38, 3.42, 3.89, 3.66; Atti e Memorie (1919, 36) gives one at 4.60; Viestnika (op. cit.) gives 8 that average 4.0 and 3 of Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) gives 10 that average 4.14 and 10 each of
Bull. archeol., 1932/33.
Elmer, Verzeichnis.
Hammer, 103 gives three with 50 and one each with 47.5, 47.4, 45, 44.3, 43.5, 39.8, 32% of silver; Num. Chron. (1924, 238) gives one each with 36.05 and 44.90% of silver.
In addition the Hunter coll. gives 175.1, 169.2, 198.2, 186.2, 174.6, 190.8, 222.9, 195, 192.8, 171.2, 207, 163, 190.4, 187, 187.3 grains; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927, gives 8.82, 13.77, 13.04, 12.24, 11.92, 12.57, 11.88, 12.73, 13.83, 10.50, 11.71, 12.21.
Camb. Anc. Hist., xii, 725; Wilcken in Z. f. N., 1887, p. 325; Kubitschek in Quinq., p. 105; Mickwitz, Geld, p. 51; Heichelheim in Klio, XXVI (1933), p. 103.
Num. Chron., XIX (1939), p. 44. Kubitschek, Quinq., p. 105 says possibly 6 drachmae to 1 denarius.
C.I.G., 5008, 5010 (241/244 A.D.).
The average weight of 1364 antoniniani found at Plevna is 63.67 grains (4.12 grams);
337
the average of 594 coins from Dorchester is 58.1 grains (3.76
338
The British Museum Catalogue gives the weights of thirty-nine Syrian tetradrachms that average 190.6 grains.
339
It was in this reign that the practice of overstriking old denarii as antoniniani became common
340
if one may judge from the Dorchester hoard. Thirteen coins
341
show a silver content varying from 75 to 40.6%, with an average of 41.9%.
From the weights given here, the ratio of gold to silver is 1 : 13.
An inscription from Ostia
342
mentions a sportula of three denarii given to the decuriones, while one from Tenos
343
mentions sportulae of one and two denarii. Both these cases seem contemporary gifts rather than the distribution of endowment income. Both indicate that there was still market value in the coin designated as a denarius.
Mickwitz, Geld, p. 51.
Klio, XXVI (1933), p. 103. Arithmetically this is an impossible decrease.
Kubitschek, Quinq., p. 105.
Viestnika (op. cit.) gives 3.73, 3.92, 2.89 for Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) gives 10 of Num. Chron., 1924, 237; Atti e Memorie (1919, 36) gives one at
Num. Chron., 1939, 40.
The coins of
Blanchet
344
in an interesting study has divided the coins of these two rulers into aurei and double
Grouped by variations of 5 grains (about 3/10th grams) the coins of
Two points of concentration are evident in this tabulation. The heavier shows thirty-nine coins weighing from 86 to 95 grains, the lighter thirty-four coins weighing from 51 to 65 grains. It will be noticed at once that the lighter group indicates weights about two-thirds those of the heavier group.
All the coins appearing in the tabulation can be accounted for by assuming there are four trientes,
forty-two double trientes, fifty-six aurei and one 1⅓ aureus piece or, to keep the standard in better agreement with that of
The average weight of 550 antoniniani mostly from the Dorchester hoard
345
is 54.11 grains (3.51
346
In the former the average silver content is 34.9%, while in the latter it is 60.9%.
The British Museum Catalogue
347
gives the weights of twenty-three Syrian tetradrachms of 348
which average 182.8 grains.
Since only four aurei of 349
From the weights given here a ratio of 1 : 13 is indicated for the three rulers.
In view of the financial debacle that occurred under 350
Cohen numbers:
In addition the Hunter Coll. has 183.3, 209.6, 205.5, 207.4, 183.6, 195.9, 176.2, 165, 183.9, 200.4, 193.6, 169.6, 170.7, 172.3, 166.7; Ratto Sale of Apr. 4, 1927 gives 11.76, 10.78, 12.44, 12.44.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40.
Hammer, 103 gives one with 75, one with 44 and two with 40.6% of silver; Num. Chron. (1924, 238) gives one each with 43.89, 42.76, 42.6, 42.47, 34.85, and 20.29% of silver.
CIL., xiv, 352.
Dittenberger, IGS., 890.
Études de Numismatique, ii, 105ff.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40; Bull. hist. et scientif. Auvergne (1939, 56) gives 35 coins of the two rulers that average 3.47 grams with a low of 2.7 and a high of 4.9 grams; Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) gives 10 of Viesinika (op. cit.) gives 17 of Atti e Memorie (1919, 36) gives one of Volusianus at 3.25.
For Gallus, Hammer, 104 gives one each with 44, 37, 30, 29.7% of silver and for Volusianus two with 80.6 and one each with 72.4, 38, 33.2% of silver.
See also coins in the Hunter Coll.
See also coins in the Hunter Coll.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40. Viestnika (op. cit.) gives one at 3.13; Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) gives 10 that average 3.60.
CIL., X, 6012 (dated under
The gold coins of this period, covering the fifteen years from A.D. 253 to 268, and numbering nearly 500, present a peculiarly difficult problem.
351
Two hundred and five of these coins may be assigned to the period before the capture of 352
353
Apparently all the coins of Salonina and of
Of the coins dated to the joint reign only twenty-seven out of 205 weigh over sixty grains, while in the sole reign 138 out of 280 weigh over sixty grains. This fact in itself is evidence for some change in the system of coinage. However, any attempt to suggest a system of coinage for this period must be advanced with caution. Lack of technical skill in the mint hardly seems a satisfactory explanation for any of the difficulties.
An interesting comparison with the coinage of the sole reign of 354
The distribution of weights seems to indicate coinage on the basis of 50 to the pound, but with careless adherence to that standard.
The difference between the coinage of Postumus and that of
Under 355
This state-
On the basis of the dating suggested by Mattingly-Sydenham the coins of 356
A.D. 253:
A.D. 253/254:
A.D. 254/255:
A.D. 255/256:
A.D. 256/257:
A.D. 257/258:
A.D. 258/259:
The legend imp c p lic valerianus p f aug appears to have been used during the years A.D. 255 to 257. Weights are as follows: 1.55, 1.90, 2.03, 2.08, 2.09, 2.10, 2.10, 2.15, 2.22, 2.31, 2.32, 2.33, 2.36, 2.40, 2.47, 2.49, 2.50, 2.56, 2.57, 2.60, 2.60, 2.62, 2.66, 2.67, 2.79, 2.85, 2.89, 3.00, 3.09, 3.28, 3.30, 3.40, 3.53, 3.75, 4.11, 5.00, 5.30, 5.60 grams. On the assumption that these coins represent three 1⅓ aureus pieces, thirteen aurei, twenty-four double trientes, and one triens, the average weight of the aureus is 3.4 grams, or the basis of 90 to the pound.
There are sixteen legends on the reverse of the coins that are common both to
Legends 5, and 6 were used by
Of the coins struck by vbique pax indicate a basis of 80 to the pound; those with votis x et xx, which are dated in A.D. 263 indicate a basis of 90 to the pound. If all the other coins of the sole reign are grouped together the result is as follows:
58 trientes averaging 62 grains to the aureus.
55 double trientes averaging 63.2 grains to the aureus.
99 aurei averaging 62 grains to the aureus.
14 heavier pieces averaging 63 grains to the aureus, if they are considered as 1⅓ aureus pieces. These results indicate a basis of 80 to the pound.
The preceding analyses may with some probability of correctness be summarized as follows:
A.D. 253/254: coinage at 70 to the pound.
A.D. 255/263: coinage at 90 to the pound.
A.D. 264/268: coinage at 80 to the pound. In view, however, of the inability to arrange chronologically coins issued after A.D. 260 there may well be, in this later period, coins issued at 70 to the pound.
That there was a definite scheme of coinage during these sixteen years seems more reasonable than that there was no standard. The latter view implies the granting of full freedom of action to the officials in charge of the mints. To say that the gold coins of this period represented bars of gold with pictures
357
In one case 300 trientes are mentioned. On the basis of 90 aurei to the pound, these amount to over a pound of gold.
358
It is tempting to infer that a pound of gold was intended, which would imply aurei on the basis of 100 to the pound, but in that event it is strange to find a writer mentioning the number of pieces, at
In Britain at this time, local copies of imperial coins appear in a flood, due, perhaps, to the depreciation of the official coins.
As was the case in 359
Where the German operator made use of foreign exchange as the basis of his trading, his Roman counterpart could make use of his government's gold coins.
It has been suggested
360
that in A.D. 264 there was a reduction in the theoretical weight of the antoninianus to 3.41 grams, or one ninety-sixth, and of the denarius to 2.27 grams, or 1/144th, of a pound. But here again there is no real evidence for this statement. Al marco coins do not readily show changes in standards. The average weight of 409 antoniniani from the Dorchester hoard is 49.3 grains (3.20 grams).
361
The average of 237 coins of 362
is 3.59 and 3.60 grams respectively. The
363
is 3.23 grams with a low of 1.9 and a high of 4.9 grams.
Sapor I, who ruled in Persia from A.D. 241 to 272, issued both gold and silver.
364
His gold varied greatly in weight as may be seen from the following table:
It is evident that these weights are more in keeping with the Roman gold of the first century than of the period of
If one assumes that the gold unit was worth 25 drachmae, and that 113 or 114 grains was the weight
Table AJ Aurei
Table AJ—Continued
Table AJ—Continued
A papyrus of the year A.D. 260
365
gives what is probably the earliest definite evidence for popular distrust of the subsidiary coinage: "Since the officials have assembled and accused the bankers of the Banks of Exchange of having closed them on account of their unwillingness to accept the divine coin of the emperors, it has become necessary that an injunction should be issued to all the owners of the banks to open them, and to accept and exchange all coin except the absolutely spurious and counterfeit, and not to them only, but to all who engage in business transactions of any kind whatever …" This document, however, cannot be safely used to denote distrust of the imperial denarius or antoninianus. It would seem to apply only to the coins minted at
For different ideas as to the family of Handbuch zur Münzkunde. Bernhart, op. cit., 19, indicates that the custom of weighing gold began about the middle of the third century.
For the dating of Num. Chron., 1929, 218 and Berylus, 1938, 47.
Chron. an., 354 speaks of a two aureus piece in connection with
Found in BMC.; Hirsch Sale 24; Naville Sales 16,17; Bachofen Coll.; Basel Munzhand., Sales 6, 8;
Bernhart, Handbuch, 21, suggests that until A.D. 256 the antoninianus had averaged 50% of silver. Hammer, 104 gives two coins of
Mommsen, Rom. Münzwesen, 776 n. 116 says, the first sure one-third aureus piece is found at this time.
Vila Claud., 14, 17.
There seems no evidence that higher officials were paid in gold rather than in subsidiary coins, in spite of Giesecke, Geldwesen, 173. Certainly until well into the reign of
Mickwitz, Geld, 59.
Elmer, Verzeichnis.
Num. Chron., 1939, 40. Atti e Memorie (1919, 36) gives 13 of Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) gives 10 of Viestnika (op. cit.) gives 78 of Wiltshire Arch, and Nat. Hist. Magazine 1937/38 gives one of
Bull. Archeol., 1932/33.
Bull. hist. et scientif. Auvergne, 1939, 56.
Traité iii; Paruck; Zeit. deutsch. morgenlӓnd Gesellsch., 1880. The coin suggested by Paruck as 1/8 drachma has been figured here as an obol.
Whatever the system used by 366
Their average weight is 80 grains, indicating a basis of 60 to the pound, if indeed the number of coins is great enough to permit an opinion. The change from the apparent lack of
367
It is a curious fact that a few more weights can be found for aurei issued by 368
These coins cover a slightly wider range than the aurei of
Homo
369
says that the antoniniani struck by 370
However, similar differences in the gold coins of
Perhaps a forgery.
P. Oxyrh., 1411.
Disregarding one whose authenticity is questioned.
Mickwitz, Geld, 58, applies the words "grosse Unordnung" to the coinage of
Weights from BMC.; Bachofen Coll.; and Rev. Num., 1889, 514. There seems to be a difference between the two mints operated by Victorinus.
Aurelian, 156;
Because 371
It is unfortunate that it has not
Three coins from the Roman mint marked tr p vii cos II, and therefore definitely assigned to the post-reform period, weigh 6.31, 6.52, and 6.63 grams, probably normal variations for a basis of 50 to the pound. The thirteen coins from the Milan mint, which seem to include two quinarii (or double trientes), apparently fall into two groups, one at 70 to the pound, the other at 60. The coins of
The aurei of Tetricus, who ruled in Gaul from A.D. 270 to 275, have weights as follows:
372
About 40% of these coins are found within a range of 56 to 65 grains and only one weighs over 80 grains. Their average weight, therefore, is much lower than is the case with the coins of
Giesecke
373
divides the gold coinage of
The weight of the aureus at these respective periods does not seem supported by the weights
Elmer
374
suggests that at the time of
The revolt of the mint employees at 375
is not discussed here because it has not yet been proved that it was due primarily to dishonest practices in the mint. Whether 376
seems doubtful in view of the continued presence of those coins in late third century hoards.
The weights and analyses of 376a
While the average silver content is approximately ½% higher in Period III than in Period II, the range of single coins varies from 4.40% to 2.80% in Period II and from 4.90 to 2.575% in Period III. Dattari gives the analysis of two undated coins as 3% silver, while Hammer gives nine analyses that vary from 5.8 to 0.98%.
The gold and silver coins issued in Persia
377
may be classified as follows:
Gold struck by Varahran I (A.D. 272/276)
The silver occurs in three denominations:
Rohde, T. Die Münzen des Kaisers Aurelianus, 305 ff.
Hammer, 104 gives one with 7.93, 4.22, two with 2.1, and one with 1.86% of silver. A tetradrachm from Num. Zeit. (1893, 431) shows variations from 3 to 13.1%.
How much effect the gold captured in Palmyra had in bringing about the reform of the coinage system is unknown but it would seem to be of comparatively little importance.
Weights from BMC.; Naville Sale 17; Bachofen Coll.; Rev. Num., 1889, 514.
Geldwesen, 185.
Verzeichnis.
Econ. Survey, iv, 223 and Malalas, xii, 301 seem wrong in locating this revolt at (Amer. Jour. Archaeology, 1924, 75) suggests a reading of "5 holokottinoi" in a document he dates about A.D. 270 but this seems unlikely.
Coinage and Currency in Roman Britain, 69.
Considering the shortness of his reign, there is a surprising number of coins extant bearing the name of 378
mints, eight from the Roman mint, and thirty-eight from the mint at
The coins of Florianus seem to fall into two groups; those from the mint at Ticinum on the
Table AM Tacitus Aurei