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140

AS.

were accompanied by a real and corresponding dimi­nution in the value of the as. (Metrologisdie Un-tersuchungen, § 28.) It is impossible to give here even a summary of the arguments on both sides: the remarks of Niebuhr and Bb'ckh must them­selves be studied. It is by no means improbable that there was some increase in the value of copper during the period before the first Punic war, and also that the fixing of the sextantal standard arose partly out of the relation of value between copper and the silver coinage which had been very lately introduced. On the other hand, it is impossible entirely to reject Pliny's statement that the im­mediate object of the reductions he mentions was the public gain. Mr. Grote, who sides with Bockh, remarks, that " such a proceeding has been so nearly universal with governments, both ancient .and modern, that the contrary may be looked upon .as a remarkable exception." (Classical Museum, vol. i. p. 32.)

These variations make it impossible to fix any value for the as, except with reference to some more specific standard ; and this we find in the denarius. Taking the value of this coin at about tl^ pence [denarius], the as, at the time of the first coinage of the denarius (b..c. 269), was one-tenth of this value, that is,, about *85 of a penny or 3'4 farthings ; and in the time of the second Punic war, when 16 ases went to the denarius, the as was worth about 2g farthings. When the silver coinage got thoroughly established, the reckoning was no longer by ases, but by sestertii. [sestertius.] Also, during the period or periods of reduction, the term aes grave, which originally signified the old heavy co-ins, as opposed to the reduced ases, came to mean any quantity of copper coins, of whatever weight or coinage, reckoned not by tale, but. by the old standard of a pound weight to the as ; and this standard was actually maintained in certain payments, such as military pay, fines, &c. (Liv. iv. 41, 60, v. 2, xxxii. 26 ; Plin. /. c. ; Sen. ad Helv. 12 ; Niebuhr, Hist, of Rome, vol. i. pp. 466, 467). This mode of reckoning also supplied a common measure for the money of Rome, and the other states of Italy, which had ases of very various weights, most of them heavier than the Roman. The name of aes grave was also applied to the uncoined metal. (Servius, ad Virg. Aen. vi. 862 ; Massa, aes rude, metallum infectum, Isidor. xvi. 18. 13,)

The oldest form of the as is that which bears the figure of an animal (a bull, ram, boar, or sow) ; whence the ancient writers derived the word for money,pecunia* from pecus^an etymology on which no opinion need be pronounced; but whether this impress was intended to represent property by that form of it which was then most common, or had some mythological meaning, is doubtful. Niebuhr denies the antiquity of this type, but his sole ob­jection is satisfactorily answered by Bockh. The type seems however to have been much less used in the Roman than in some other old Italian coin­ages ; and most of the pieces which bear it are of a rude oblong shape. The next form, and the common one in the oldest Roman ases, is round, and is that described by Pliny (H. N. xxxiii. 3. s. 13), as having the two-faced head of Janus on one side, and the prow of a ship on the other (whence the expression used by Roman boys in tossing up, capita aut navim, Macrob. Sat. i. 7). The annexed specimen, from the British Museum,

AS.

•weighs 4000 grains : the length of the diameter in this and the two following cuts is half that of the original coins-.

The as was divided into parts, which were named according to the number of ounces they contained. They were the deunoe, dextans, dodrans, bes, septunoc, semis, quincunx, triens, quadrans or teruncius, sextans, sescunos or sescunda, and uncia, consisting respectively of 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, l^r and 1 ounces. Of these divisions the following were represented by coins ; namely, the semis, quincunx, triens, quadrans, sextans, and uncia. There is a solitary instance of the existence of the dodrans, in a coin of the Cassian family, bearing an S and. three balls. We have no precise inform­ation as to the time when these divisions were first introduced, but it was probably nearly as early as the first coinage of copper money.

thunderbolt on one side, and a dolphin with a strigil above it on the other.

Its weight is 1571 grafn'&

The semis, semissis, or semi-as, half the as, or six ounces, is always marked with an S to represent its value, and very commonly with heads of Jupi­ter, Juno, and Pallas, accompanied by strigils. The quincunx, or piece of five ounces, is very rare. There is no specimen of it in the British Museum. It is distinguished by five small balls to represent its value. The triens, the third part of the as, or piece of four ounces, is marked with four balls. In the annexed specimen, from the British Mu­seum, the balls appear oai both sides, with a

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