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retrogression and the Asses of the reduced series certainly do not show the same strong and firm treatment which we admire in the coinage of the libral and quadrilateral series. One may therefore attribute the first issue of the nes grave to the less ancient period of the Decemviri rather than to that of Servius Tullius.
According to historical testimony it is precisely at the epoch of the Decemviri (304 AVC. 450 B.C.) that a true monetary system was adopted and coinage issued as true moner, furnished not only with an impression of some sort indicating the weight, but with a legal and sacred emblem shewing the authority of the State, and also with a sign representing the value.
The form or shape adopted was what is called lenticular (see no 92); on the Obverse a sacred emblem of divinity is always the
principal type, since it was that which gave the money itself its legal value, and the emblem varies as we shall see according to the different subdivisions of the money.
The Reverse is always filled with the prow of a galley, a symbol which appears to have been adopted either to indicate the maritime power of Rome, to which the Decemviri had given so great an impulse, or to call to mind the arrival of Jove in Italy, and the worship of the Dioscuri, the protectors of navigation. The sign shewing the value is always repeated on both sides.
126. The as bears on the Obverse the head of Janus bifrons and the indication of value I. (1 As).
127. The SEMIS (or half As) the head of Jupiter and the letter S. (semis).
128. The TRIENS (the third of an As) the head of Minerva (or of Roma) and tour bosses (4 ounces).
129. The QUADRANS (the quarter of an As) the head of Hercules and three bosses (3 ounces).
130. The SEXTANS (the sixthị of an As) the head of Mercury and two bosses (2 ounces).
131. The Uncia (the twelfth of an As) the head of Mars and one boss.
132. The learned are not agreed concerning the weight of the primitive As and their discussions are being continued at the present time.
The Roman pound (derived from Greece) weighed 327.40 grammes, but the ancient Latin pound weighed 272 grammes.
Which of these two weights was that of the Roman As? The answer to this might seem to be very simple. Many of these Asses exist, so there ought to be nothing for us to do but to weigh them in order to know to which of these two pounds the Roman primitive As corresponded.
The fact is, these Asses differ so much from one another and their weighit is so irregular that they afford us no means of determining the question ; it will sutlice to say that the six hundred and seventyfive Asse's weighed by the Baron D'Ailly vary from a maximum of 312.30 grammus to a minimum of 207.10.
133. Notwithstanding that no known example reaches the weight of a Roman pound, and notwithstanding that the average of the weights is less by that of about 25 per cent, the Roman pound of 327 grammes is now generally reckoned as the legal weight of the primitive As.
On the other hand to-day it would appear to be more reasonable to reckon as such the ancient Latin pound of 272 grammes as much nearer the real average weight of the Libral Asses.
134. Another argument too which corroborates this opinion is that the so-called Roman Pound of 3 27 grammes is a Greek importation and that this importation is not to be considered as ancient as the primitive Asses.
135. THE FIRST REDUCTION OF THE As. The primitive Libral As which, we are taught by the fact just noticed, agrees readily with the weight of the Latin Pound was after some time reduced, and the reduction took place not by degrees but at a given time.
But even on this point agreement among students is not yet well established, for there are some who would take as the extent of the reduction the triental As (of the weight, that is, of a Triens) while others would prefer to take that of the semi-libral As (of the weight of a semis).
Both however in regard to this point, if we estimate the Roman pound at 3 27 grammes, according to the former, the reduced As would weigh 109 grammes ( of 327 gr.) according to the latter, and theirs is the prevailing opinion — the reduced As would weigh 163.50 grammes (of 327 gr.).
The weights of extant examples which are rather more scarce than those of the first emission give us very little help since the disparity of weight is so great among them.
136. SUCCESSIVE REDUCTIONS. Whatever that weight may have been at the first reduction the Asses gradually continued in their descending course until at the time when silver was introduced in the year 268 B.C. we find that they were equivalent to a sextans (54.50 grammes) from which they were called sextantal Asses, though all the while they retained their legal value unchanged.
The diminution in the weight of the As did not stop at that point but continued progressively until the Flaminian Law instituted the Uncial As in the year 217 B.C. and the Papirian Law brought in the Semi-uncial As in the year 89 B.C.
To sum up briefly we may say that the primitive Roman As, based on the Latin Pound of 272 grammes, was suddenly greatly reduced and became semilibral, being made equivalent to half the Greek pound (163.50 grammes).
It was gradually still further diminished until in the year 268 B.C. it weighed 54.50 grammes (now called the sextantal As); then partly by law, partly by dishonesty, the weight was further diminished during the whole Republican period until it was reduced to half an ounce.
138. It is much too difficult a task to determine what may have been the reasons for these very great reductions in weight, what proportion was owing to the action of law, what on the other hand to unintentional decrease, what to successive abuses, and certainly one cannot attack such difficult questions in an elementary treatise for they would require long and thorough discussion before one could arrive at a reasonably adequate hypothesis.
139. Without here entering into particulars and merely treating the question in general terms, I would exclude the opinion of those who would consider the first reduction as a kind of State bankruptcy, as it seems much more natural that it should have happened from a simple change in the general monetary system brought about by the new Greek libral system then just introduced. Hence also the second reduction to the sextantal basis was cer