The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

8H

NUMMUS.

(libra, \irpa) was identified, not, as some have supposed, with the mina, but with the half mina of the Aeginetan scale ; and, consequently, that 120 pounds went to the talent, as we are expressly in­formed by the Tauromenian inscription ; and that copper money was coined in conformity with this standard.

Pollux (ix. 80—82) refers to Aristotle's Polity of ike Himeraeans, for an account of several de­nominations of Sicilian coins, and of these he men­tions the ovyKia, as equal in value to one chalcus; the §i£as, equal to two chalci; the rpi^as to three ; the r}f.d\irpov to six ; and the \irpa, ivhich is an obol; the 5eKaAirpoj>, he adds, still quoting Aris­totle, is zvorth ten obols, and is the Corinthian stater. lie then proceeds to state that there were many passages of the Attic, as well as the Dorian, co­medians, in which these coins were alluded to, and he quotes lines from Diphilus, and from Epichar-mus, in which mention is made of the \irpa, the v\jjd\iTpov, the qwtiqv (a diminution of e£as), the Trenrcoy/aoy, and the Se/caAirpos crrarrip, as silver coins. A little before this, he quotes from Aristotle's Polity of the Agriyentines the statement, that the litra was equal in value to an Aeginetan obol. (Compare, to the same effect, Pollux, iv. 1/4,175.)

From these statements, it appears that, in the Sicilian silver money, the Euboic and Aeginetan scales were connected just as we have seen that they already were in one of the systems, from which the Sicilian money was derived, namely, in the Corinthian didrachm or stater of ten Aeginetan

NUMMUS.

obols, which may be regarded as forming the (rrarfjp, or chief coin, of the Sicilian system also: that then, the obol, being identified with the Xirpa, was subdivided, just like the Italian pound, from which its name was derived, into twelve parts or ounces (oyidai, ovyKiat, i. e. unciae), each of which was a chalcus (%aA/coCs : what this chalcus really was, we shall presently endeavour to show).

As to the intermediate parts of the pound or \irpa, it is evident, from the explanation which Pollux gives of b*i£as and rpi^as, that he supposed them to be named from the number of ounces they contained, as was clearly the case with the vrei/-r&yKiov, according to the analogy of which, if the idea of Pollux had been right, 8t£as and rpi^us would have been respectively Si&yKiov and rpicoy-klov (like terunciusj. Bentley has conclusively shown (quoted \yy Bockh, p. 293) that, in this matter, the Greek grammarians fell into a very natural error, through not understanding a system foreign to that of their language, and that, in fact, the parts of the litra were named, as the general rule, not from the number of ounces they contained (except in the case of the irevrooyKiov, like the Latin quincunx, an exception easily accounted for by the difficulty of expressing the fraction 5-12ths by a single word), but from the fractional part of the litra which each of them was equal to, just as in the Latin system. The following table shows the whole scale, with the corresponding Latin names, and with the values of the coins in silver obols of the Aeginetan standard and in the copper coins called chalci; ——

Denominations.

] 0 Airpcu

12 ovyidai 6 5 4

9J

5? 5?

9J

= 3

2

1

ovyita.

/

] 0 asses, decussis afterwards denarius as or libra semis quincunx tricns

quadrans or te-runcius sextans uncia

Values.

1 _ / 10 obols 1 _ J I Aegin. J ~

1 obol =

i

6" I

12 obols or 1 didrachm

Eubo'ic. 12 chalci G

5 »

4 .,

2

1

Just as in the Latin system, so in the Graeco-Sicilian, there seem to have been no coins between the half and whole \irpa. Thus, in the second passage quoted by Pollux from Epicharmus, a sum of money is expressed as consisting of \irpa teal 5e/caAiT/>os ffrarrip, e^dvriov re /cat irevrtibyicioi'. Even as denominations of weight we have (so far as we know) no terms corresponding to the Latin septunx, bes, dodrans, desctans, and deunx. Bbckh supposes that this system was introduced in Sicily about Ol. 40 or 50, b. c. 620 or 580.

The worth of the chief coin in this system, the silver litra, or Aeginetan silver obol, must evidently be assumed to have been, like the Italian libra, the value of a poimd-weight of copper.

The gold money of this scale has already been spoken of under damaretion.

For further details on the whole subject, see Bockh, Metrol. Untersuch. c. xix.

Besides the litra, we find the word nummus (z/ou/x/xos) itself in the Sicilian system as the name of a particular coin. The Greek origin of the word is attested by several of the grammarians.

(Varro, L. L. v. 86. s. 67, ed. Mlillcr ; Pollux, ix. 79 ; Festus, s. v. ; Suid. s. v. vo^os.} Pollux (I.e.) quotes two passages from Epicharmus, in which the word is used in the specific sense, for a parti­cular coin ; and he adds the statement, from Aristotle's Polity of the Tarcntines, that vov^os is the name applied by them to a coin, on which Taras was represented carried on a dolphin. The grammarians gave the value of the Sicilian num­mus as 1^- Attic obols, in connection with a small talent, peculiar to Sicily, or rather two such talents, the older containing 24 nummi and the later 12. From a careful criticism of these statements, and from an examination of the extant coins, Bockh comes to the conclusion, that the nummus was originally the same as the litra, but that, when the Attic standard came into common use, this nummus or litra was diminished by 1-1 Oth, in order to bring it into conformity with that scale ; and by this change it became t°q of the Aeginetan obol, which is equal to 11 Attic obols, or the fourth part of an Attic drachma. Thus we get the simple law by which the Sicilian money was

Pages
About | First | English Index | Classified Index | Latin Index | Greek Index

813

814

815
letter/word  
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.