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Roman pound originally existed. And this contradictory evidence, positive as well as negative, of which M. Boeckh takes little notice, appears to me to outweigh the unsupported testimony of the Benedictine Metrologus.
Wurm in his treatise (De Ponderum, Nummorum, fyc. Rationibus ap. Romanos et Gracos, Stuttgard 1821) adopts the same view as M. Boeckh in regard to the treaty between the Romans and Antiochus: he considers it certain that exact Attic talents and nothing else, must be meant: and he says, " Sequitur in his presse Livius Polybium:" which is not correct, since in the very cardinal point of the question, in the specification of "Attica talenta," Livy departs from Polybius. Wurm also agrees with M. Boeckh in setting aside the dissentient testimonies of the later metrological writers. But the general scope of Wurm's book is not the same with that of M. Boeckh: the former professes only to exhibit the actual relative weight, as nearly as it can be found, of Attic talents, and Roman pounds: and for this purpose we have evidence enough in the coins, without any appeal to the treaty above mentioned. The number of Attic coins still remaining is quite sufficient to enable us to determine approximatively, with sufficient accuracy for practical purposes, the standard weight of the Solonian drachma: the result of very numerous particular trials brings it to 67.37 grains Troy, according to M. Boeckh: to 66.6, according to Mr. Hussey. One Attic talent, or 6000 of these drachmae, is nearly equal in weight to 80 Roman pounds: and therefore the ratio of 3 : 4 between the Roman pound and the Attic mina, if stated simply as a tolerably near approach to the truth, is one which I am by no means disposed to question.
But this is not sufficient for M. Boeckh's argument, which
requires a rigid distinction between precise ratios and approximative
ratios. For the latter, as he himself justly lays it down, are to be
regarded as merely accidental and undesigned: while the former
carry with them evidence of systematic and intentional harmony
between the two scales compared—of original relationship either
in the way of filiation or in that of fraternity. M. Boeckh is
thus compelled to maintain a position much more difficult than
that of Wurm: he undertakes to demonstrate that the ratio of
3 • 4 between the Roman pound and the Attic mina is mathematically exact, being involved in the normal schemes of the two systems—and he dwells upon it as a capital point of original and intentional contact between them. It is in this light that he considers it, in very many passages of his book, when he treats it as a matter proved, and appeals to it confidently as a ground for farther inferences: it is in this light that I consider it also, when I maintain that he has produced no sufficient evidence to entitle him to do so.
To point out an instance of his employment of this very problematical ratio as an ascertained premise in ulterior reasoning, we need only pass to the 17th chapter, in which he proposes to establish "the deduction of the Roman cubic foot and foot of length, from the ^Eginaean weight and the Grecian cubic measure—and the intentional ratio of the Roman foot to the Grecian foot, as the cube root of 9 to the cube root of 10; ^'9 : £/10." (p. 284). He first seeks to prove that "the Grecian (or more properly speaking, the yEginaean) pound is to the Roman pound as 10 : 9:" next, that the Grecian cubic foot is to the Roman cubic foot in the same ratio—10 : 9; and his argument proceeds as follows (p. 285):
"It is a matter of fact that the Roman pound is to the half of the iEgina?an mina as 9 : 10; for it (viz. the Roman pound) is to the Attic mina as 3:4; and the Attic mina is to the Mginsean mina as 3 : 5, consequently the Roman pound is to the iEginaean mina as 9 : 20, or to the half of the jEginaean mina as 9 : 10. But this half iEgina^an mina was a pound, as will be shewn hereafter: it is therefore demonstrated, that the iEginsean and the Roman pound were in the ratio of 10 : 9. It remains still to demonstrate, that the Olympic cubic foot, and the Roman quadrantal, stood in the same relation; but this cannot be done with equal strictness." Unable to offer a strict proof of this ratio of 10 : 9 between the Grecian cubic foot and the Roman quadrantal, M. Boeckh gives some general considerations in the way of indirect evidence, and he here again puts in the front rank the precise ratio between the Grecian and Roman pound which he supposes himself to have just before demonstrated. "We acknowledge a complete coincidence of the Grecian and Roman pound in the ratio of 10 : 9, which implies that the latter was originally adapted to the standard of the former," (p. 286). Here we see that he is dealing not with simple approximations, leaving a certain amount of practical error, but with exact coincidences, involved in the normal schemes of the two systems, and shewing that the fraiuers of the one have adjusted their arrangements with a view to the other. And the whole of his proof of systematic analogy between the Roman and Grecian scales of weight, rests upon the admission of an exact ratio of 3 : 4 between the Roman pound and the Solonian mina; which I have already shewn to be uncertain and unattested.
Another point which M. Boeckh includes as established, in the demonstration which I have cited just above, is, that the .ZEginaean mina contained two iEginaean litrae or pounds. When we turn to the chapters in which he assigns his evidence for this, it will appear very inconclusive: (xix. 1. p. 303; xxiv. 2. p. 343). The JEginaean scale of weight, consisted of talents, minae, drachmee, and oboli: it had no pounds nor ounces. When the Greek colonies settled in Sicily, they found a copper currency among the Sikel population, and an independent scale of weight consisting of pounds and ounces, with which their own became blended. The result is highly perplexing, and in many points not intelligible, for want of evidence: but we know, and M. Boeckh has very clearly shewn in opposition to the opinion of Bentley and others, that the Sicilian talent contained 120 litrae in money value, and therefore that one Sicilian mina contained two litrae in money value. We know also from Aristotle that the Sicilian litra was equal in value to an JEginaean obolus of silver, which was therefore in Sicily called a silver litra. But it is nowhere shewn that the Sicilian talent containing 120 litrae in value was of the weight of an iEginaean talent: nor that the weight called a litra in Sicily was ^th part of the weight called a Sicilian talent; much less, of an iEginaean talent. At the time when the identity of meaning between litra and obolus first took its rise, the litra contained a quantity of copper such as could be purchased in the market for an ^Eginaaan obolus: that this quantity of copper was in weight precisely the ith part of an iEginaean talent weight, is certainly not very probable, and not to be admitted without some positive proof. And M. Boeckh himself appears only to contend that the ratio was something originally not very far from the truth (see xxiv. 2. p. 343); so that it is altogether impossible to rely upon it as evidence of original and intrinsic relationship between the Roman and the iEginaean pound, even if we consider the expression JEgincean pound as admissible.
I now come to the ratio which M. Boeckh alleges to have subsisted between the Olympic cubic foot, and the Roman cubic foot or quadrantal: as 10 : 9. Of this he has himself stated (see the passage already cited from p. 285) that he is unable to offer sufficient direct proof: and the general considerations into which he enters (pp. 286, 287) will not be found to compensate for the absence of such proof. Yet he introduces in other places this unproved ratio for the purpose of establishing ulterior conclusions: for example in p. 277, (xv. 2) he says: "The Attic metretes contains 72 Roman sextarii: but the Greek cubic foot is, as will be hereafter shewn, TM of the Roman quadrantal, which contains 48 sextarii: the Greek cubic foot is therefore 53J sextarii, and the Attic metretes |£ of the Greek cubic foot." Here are two new conclusions, the authority of which rests entirely upon the admission of the ratio of 10 : 9 between the Greek cubic foot and the Roman quadrantal—which M. Boeckh believes himself to have proved, but has not proved: and again these two new conclusions—the equality of the Greek cubic foot to 53 J Roman sextarii, and the ratio of the same to the Attic metretes, as 20 : 27—appear in other parts of his volume as if they too were matters ascertained, (see xiii. 7. p. 242; xiv. 3. p. 263; xvi. 2. p. 282). In researches such as these of M. Boeckh, unless the fundamental positions are placed beyond all doubt, the subsequent deductions become illusory, and are but too well calculated to illustrate the impressive warning, which he has himself delivered in his preface, against finespun metrological hypotheses.
The well-known correspondence between the Attic measures of capacity, both liquid and dry, and the Roman measures of capacity,—both as to positive quantities and scale of division—is a fact very striking and remarkable. Now the Roman measures of capacity exhibit an exact proportion with the Roman weights: an amphora or quadrantal weighing precisely 80 Roman pounds, and a congius (the parallel both in quantity and denomination of the Attic Xour) weighing precisely 10 pounds. This correspondence, a fact certain but hitherto unexplained, M. Boeckh wishes to trace to a supposed original correspondence of the scale of weight, transmitted from Babylon first to Greece and then to Rome: the cubical unit being in all the three cases (he asserts) determined by a given weight of rain-water (see pp. 286, 287). I have already said that his deduction of the iEginaean scale of weight from the Babylonian, appears to me sufficiently sustained, and the light which he has thereby thrown upon the statical systems, both of Greece and the East, is new and valuable. But in extending the same deduction to Rome—in tracing the acknowledged correspondence of Roman and Attic cubical measures to a primitive correspondence of Roman and Attic weights,—he has, in my judgment, altogether failed. I am the more anxious to point this out, because his copious erudition may perhaps enable him either to strengthen his proof, or to discover some better mode of explanation: and I am very sure that there is no man in Europe more capable of solving a problem at once so difficult and so interesting to philological enquirers.
I pass over M. Boeckh's remarks on the relation of the Grecian and Roman foot of length: his eleventh chapter contains ample particulars as to the actual length both of one and the other, but his attempt to connect them in theory, as if the Roman foot had been originally adapted to the Grecian in the ratio of 24 : 25, is an hypothesis resting upon unsupported analogies (compare xi. 8. p. 199; and xvii. 2, 3, 4. pp. 288—292). I come to the positions which he lays down, respecting the relation of Grecian weights and measures one with another: wherein I discover much which appears to me erroneous and illusory.
It has been already mentioned that there exists in the Roman system, a precise, determinate connection between the weights and the cubic measures: the amphora or quadrantal weighing by legal standard 80 pounds; and the congius (= Attic xpvs) weighing 10 pounds. Now M. Boeckh thinks that he can establish the like precise and determinate connection between the Grecian weights and Grecian cubic measures.. The Roman amphora contains 48 sextarii, the Attic metretes 72 sextarii: the former weighs 80 Roman pounds, therefore the latter weighs 120 Roman pounds: but the Roman pound is f of Ike Attic mina: therefore the Attic