« السابقةمتابعة »
Now since, as we have seen, the libral lenticular As was introduced by the Decemvirs in the year 450 B.C. the quadrilateral pieces, with the elephant as type in allusion to the battle of Asculumn, cannot have been cast before the year 279 B.C. as that animal was unknown to the Romans before that date.
Hence it follows as a natural consequence that the names assigned to them on the basis of the libral As of quadrusses and quincusses are no longer suitable and they would have to be modified in any case on the basis of the weight of the As at the time of their issue which it is as yet impossible to determine.
These pieces are sometimes whole and sometimes broken into about two halves. They were certainly not thus broken by blows after the casting since we never find on them any traces of the blows which would have been necessary in thus breaking them, but they were originally thus produced by placing a mixture of dung and earth in the mould after having poured in a certain quantity of the metal.
Examination of the edges and of the metal of these pieces induces us to give this as the only explanation of these fragmentary pieces which were thus prepared as convenient for common use.
149. If indeed we enquire why they should have coined these quadrilateral pieces when they had in circulation the round coins, we shall not find it easy to obtain an answer, at any rate up to the present time no one has given one.
The most acceptable hypothesis seems to be that of regarding them as commemorative pieces symbolic or religious, prepared privately, this hypothesis rests principally on two most significant facts. On them are found the various symbolic emblems which we have noted above, but we never find any trace of a distinctive sign of sacred authority without which the Roman State had never at that time issued a coin, neither do we ever find the sign of value with which all contemporaneous coins are furnished.
These two facts seem to me sufficient to take away from the quadrilateral pieces the character of official coinage and to cause us to regard them as a continuation of a private coinage already at that time represented by the des signatum.
150. It appears that one of the objects for which such pieces were destined may have been to supply a demand for ex voto offerings to the gods, and principally to those of the fields and rural districts whose sanctuaries were usually found near a spring of water. The most celebrated among the deposits of such bronze pieces, such as those of Vulci and Vicarello, would seem to have been examples of exactly such sacred hoards.
Such a private nature would not prevent us from recognizing that the quadrilateral pieces were still in circulation together with
the pieces of dis rude and des signatun and were contemporaneous with the coins of bronze and silver.
They were received in business contracts with no other difference than the fact that they were taken as metal by weight, though this trouble of weighing was not l'equired for the money of the decemviri.
It will be well to remember that the system of Roman coinage was based essentially upon weight (per acs et libram), and moreover the force of inveterate habit is always so strong that a new system, however it may be recognized as better, can never abolish at once the old one which preceded it. Different systems, especially in the early stages of civilization, succeeded one another, and were joined one to another, and so confounded that the point of time at which one ceased and another took its place cannot possibly be fixed.
151. Pieces of ais rude are common enough as are also the Asses and the relative subdivisions of the libral system and of those reduced therefrom but we must except the multiples, dupondii, tripondii, and especially the decussi which are extremely rare.
Pieces of des signatu are very rare but still more rare are the quadrilateral picces, only a few examples of which are found in the most famous collections.
152. Silver money was introduced in Rome at the time that the As was reduced to two ounces (1. 10. 136), vine in the year 486 A.V.C. or 268 B.C. The first silver money struck in Rome was the Denarius with its divisions, the Quinarius and the Sestertius.
153. THE DENARIUS (nummus denarius) at first bore on the
Fig. 20. - DENARIUS
Obverse the head of Minerva (or Roma) with a winged helmet and the sign of value X (ten Asses); on the Reverse the Dioscuri on