صور الصفحة
PDF

Denarii with the type of Diana or of Victoria in a biga (bigati) or of Jupiter in a quadriga (quadrigati)

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

CHAPTER XV

THE GOLD COINAGE

164. Gold was used for business transactions by the Romans contemporaneously with the .large series of libral Asses, and therefbre before the introduction of silver.

We know moreover that a great part of the reserve metal in the public treasury was ol gold.

This however was not coined, but was certainly chiefly in bars, a small proportion only being in foreign coin.

Itwas given and received as merchandise by weight varying in its proportionate value to silver from about 1 to 11 to 1 to 9. The practical Romans thus avoided the rock of bimetallism.

165. The first gold coins were, according to Pliny, struck in the year 537 of Rome (217 B.C.), at the period of the reform wrought by the Lex Flaminia. These first gold coins present one single type with three different values : on the Obverse is the head of Mars and the sign of value (LX, XXXX, and XX, that is 60, 40, and 20 sestertii), on the Reverse an eagle on a fulmcn and the legend ROMA.

[graphic]

They were coined bv the generals who fought against the Carthaginians.

[graphic]

Fig. 27. — Thf First Gold Coiks.

These three issues ot gold coins are the only ones in all the Roman series bearing an inscription indicating their value.

The weight of the coin equal to 60 sestertii was grammes 3.40 — 40 — 2.20

— 20 — 1.10

The other gold coins presenting on the Obverse the head of Janus Bifrons, and on the Reverse two warriors swearing an oath over a sacrifice belong to the Campanian series (see the following Chapter).

166. These coins however made only a very brief appearance on the scene of Roman commerce, for the real series of gold coins (aurei) did not appear until near the end of the Republic, when Sulla in 87 B.C., Pompey in 81 B.C., and Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. issued a military gold coinage. These military Commanders, taking advantage of their power, coined the gold in the public treasury at an arbitrary weight varying from to ^,'h of a pound, and thus were enabled to pay their armies.

[graphic][ocr errors]

The regular coining of gold in the city of Rome commenced under Julius Gtsar who authorized the Prefectus Urbanus Munatius Plancus to strike and issue aurei; in fact all the gold coins issued before this date are extremely rare.

168. Relative Value Of The Metals. Gold was relatively rare in comparison with silver at the time of its introduction, and stood in the proportion of i to 17. The discovery of the gold mines in Noricia in the year 150 B.C. lowered the proportion one third bringing it to 1 to 11.91.

It descended again to 1 to 11 and for a time even to 1 to 8.93 under Julius Ca;sar, in consequence of the conquest of Gaul and the importation of gold. The pound of gold which in the year 150 B.C. was worth 4.000 sestertii, was only worth 3.000 under Julius Caesar.

As a general rule however we may consider that gold stood to silver in the proportion of 1 to 11 h. The relative value of silver to bronze was as r to 250.

CHAPTER XVI

CAMPANIAN AND OTHER COINS STRUCK OUTSIDE ROME

r69. Campania. The coins issued in Campania form a special series usually considered as related to the Republican; they exist in gold, electrum, silver, and bronze, and bear types of the purest Greek art with legends which look out ot harmony, the older coins bearing the word ROMANO, ROMANOM, or ROMANON (three archaic forms of the genitive plural ROMANORUM), and the more recent the legend ROMA.

[graphic][merged small]

The striking of these coins has been attributed to the cities ol Apulia, Samnium and Campania, especially Capua the principal city of Campania.

The first issue probably took place when the Romans first established themselves in those provinces, about the year 4120! Rome (542 B.C.), and they ceased to be issued about the year 486 ot Rome (268 B.C.), when the coining ot silver money was introduced in Rome.

Some of the silver coins with different types are commonly called Denarii or double Denarii but they should certainly be called Drachms or Didrachms; the former were coined 96 to the pound of gr. 377 (gr. 3.405), the latter 48 to the pound (gr. 6.81).

The gold coinage consisted of the Aureus worth twelve Didrachms, and the Half Aureus worth twelve Drachms.

The Aureus therefore corresponded to 24 drachms and four Aurei were equivalent to a pound of silver.

The artistic treatment of types of the Romano-Campanian coinage shews clearly its Greek origin and gives reason for the supposition that Greek artists Mere employed in the mint workshops.

[graphic][merged small]

170. On Certain Other Coins Struck Outside Rome. Various cities possessed the right to coin money.

They did not however issue coins but only the fragmentary pieces of metal used as money on the side of which was the name ROMA with the addition of a letter or monogram, sometimes in Greek, indicating the name of the city.

This right of issuing coinage outside Rome was withdrawn about the time of the war with Hannibal.

All the military coinage on which we read the names of the commanders was struck outside of Rome.

These officers sometimes issued money in their own name as dictators, consuls, pr.-etors, proconsuls, or with the generic title of IMFF.RATOR; sometimes the qu.vstor or proqu.nstor caused one issue of coinage to be made for the whole of the territory under their jurisdiction.

All these coins were based upon the Roman system, never on that of the conquered provinces; although the right to continue the issue of their own bronze coinage was often granted, and sometimes silver also, but under the supervision of the Roman governor.

CHAPTER XVII

THE OFFICERS OF THE MINT

171. We know very little positively of the organization of the mint in the early ages during the period in which the Romans used only bronze coinage.

It seems that the money was coined in the name of, and by the decrees of the people, and that the oversight of the mint workshops did not then involve a special career or office, but was for the time entrusted to some magistrates of high rank under the superintendence of the Senate. The issue of coinage was not regular, but was made according to the convenience of the public treasury, or of private commerce; indeed they coined small issues of whatever money was needed according to the decision of the people gathered in their comitia.

172. A State mint was established, at the time of the introduction of silver money (268 B.C.), on the Capitoline hill near to the public treasury, in the precincts of the temple of Juno Moneta.

From this temple the officers presiding over the mint instituted on that occasion or more probably in the year before, took their title; from that time their office became one of the steps in the "Cursus honorum" from which they were able to ascend to the higher offices of the state.

These officers, usually three in number, remained in office two years, and were called Iresviri (or Triumviri) monetales IIIVIRI AAA FF = Triumviri auro, argento, acre flando feriundo (that is the three officers appointed for the casting and striking of gold, silver, and brass coinage).

173. It is known that the public treasury of Rome, even in the days when only bronze was coined, consisted for the greatest part of gold and silver in foreign coinage or in bullion. The coinage of some countries was held in such esteem that it was possible to pass them at their full value, the coinage of other lands on the other hand, not being valued in the same way were accepted loco mercis, ind were passed as equal to their weight of metal.

The mint officers had the direction and superintendence not only of the coining of the money, but also of the melting of the gold and silver bullion, and therefore were responsible for the purity of the metal.

The letters F(lando) F(eriundo) so often seen on coins and inscriptions refer to this duty.

According to the testimony of certain ancient writers and inscrip

« السابقةمتابعة »