A LIST OF DENOMINATIONS AND UNITS OF MONEY OF ACCOUNT OF THE ANCIENT ROMANS.


Aes
, the Latin for "bronze" and the name for the earliest Roman money; the original coins were very rough cast pieces (aes rude); designs later appeared (aes signatum); aes grave, or "heavy bronze" coinage was first circulated in the later fourth century B.C.

Antoninianus
, named after Caracalla (Mar. Aur. Antoninus), who introduced it in A.D. 215; replaced the denarius; had a value as a double denarius.

Argenteus, silver coin equal to denarius, struck until the time of Julian (A.D. 361-3); name = Latin for "of silver", "made of silver".

As (or Aes, plural: asses), Latin for "unit"; originally the name for a unit of weight (as with the English pound); originally divided into 12 ounces or unciae, and the weight of it judged by what could be reasonably supported in the hand of an outstretched arm; by the time of Augustus the as weighed 11 to 12 grams; the Roman monetary system was based on it.

Aureus, the standard gold coin of Rome, valued at 25 denarii or 100 sestertii. The name means "golden". Replaced by the solidus during the time of Constantine the Great (A.D. 306-37).

Bigatus, colloquial name for a denarius of the Roman Republic depicting a biga (two-horse chariot) on the reverse of the coin.

Denarius, the main coin issue of Republican and Imperial Rome, its name means "containing ten" (asses). The so-called penny of the Bible (New Testament). It was the prototype for the denominations of the later civilizations, such as the denier, denaro and dinar, as well as the English penny, as in "£.s.d." = pound(s), shilling(s), penny (pennies).

Dupondius, the two-as bronze coin of ancient Rome, originating before the Empire in South Italy (Magna Graecia); its name means "two weights" or "double weight".

Follis, "money bag", originally the name for a military pursor's leather purse, and later the term for money of account; later the name established for a coin designed to represent a double denarius during the time of Diocletian's coinage reform in A.D. 296.

Libra
, the Roman weight for a pound (of 327.45 grams), originally equated with the as, and divided into 12 ounces. (In later, i.e. Medieval, times it was simply a term for money of account with a value of 240 deniers, laying the ground-work for the English (pre-decimal) system of the pound divided into 240 pence. The English pound sign, £, represents the letter "L" - for "libra" - with a stroke through it to represent a written contraction. The Italian Lira is also derived from this word, originally representing a money of account.

Miliarensis. (See below under Byzantine Denominations.)

Quadrans, the smallest bronze Imperial issue, equal in value to a quarter of an as, as the name implied.

Quadrigatus, another name for the Roman didrachm, in use until the end of the Second Punic War (202 B.C.); named for the quadriga (four-horse drawn chariot) of Jupiter depicted on the reverse of the coin.

Quinarius ("containing five"). A small silver coin of the Republican and Imperial periods having a value of 5 asses, or a half a denarius.

Semis. ("Semi-as"), a bronze coin worth half an as.

Semuncia ("Semi-uncia"), an early bronze coin worth half an uncia.

Sestertium, or (plural: milia sestertium), a money of account equal to 1,000 sestertii (see below).

Sestertius (or sesterce, from the Latin semis tertius: "third half" = "two (units) and a half of the third (unit)" = "two and a half"; plural: sestertii), a small silver coin of the Republic, and later the large or "grand" bronze of the Imperial period, with a value of two and one-half asses, or a quarter of a denarius.

Sextans (Latin for "sixth part"), a bronze coin worth one-sixth of an as.

Siliqua (Latin: "pod", "husk"; plural: siliquae), originally the smallest unit of Roman weight, equal to one-sixth of a scruple; after ca. A.D. 324 under Constantine the Great it became the name of a silver denomination, with a value of 1/24th of a solidus.

Solidus (Latin: "solid"; plural: solidi), the standard Roman Imperial gold coin introduced by Constantine the Great in the early 4th Century in place of the aureus. The solidus had a value of 1/72nd of a Roman pound (libra), or 1/6th of an uncia.

Tremissis (derived from triens : "third"; plural: tremisses), a late Roman gold coin worth a third of a solidus.

Triens
("Third"), an early bronze coin equal in value to a third of an as.

Uncia (plural: unciae), originally equal in weight to 1/12th of a pound (libra), and subsequently a bronze coin being the same fraction of an as.

Victoriatus (or Victoriate), a silver coin, first struck in the Second Punic War (3rd Century B.C.) with a value of three-quarters of a denarius (later half a denarius), or that of a drachm. Its name is derived from the depiction of Victoria, the goddess of Victory, crowning a trophy, on the reverse.


A LIST OF DENOMINATIONS AND UNITS OF MONEY OF ACCOUNT OF BYZANTIUM.


Follis
, "money bag", worth 40 nummi.

Hexagram, a silver coin introduced in the 7th Century by the emperor Heraclius, its name referred to its weight, now comparable to >6, <7 grams.

Miliarensis, Latin for "containing a thousand(th)", a silver coin originally introduced by Constantine the Great, with a value of 1/1,000th of a pound of gold. (The gold solidus, originally containing 14 of these, later contained 12).

Nomisma, same derivation as nomos (see Greek section above), used in Byzantine times to designate the scyphate (cup-shaped) gold coins, in particular the gold solidus.

Nummium (derived from the Latin nummus, "coin"; plural: nummia, or nummi), a unit of coinage equal to 1/40th of a follis. Issued in multiple-unit denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 40.

Tremissis (derived from triens : "third"; plural: tremisses), gold coin worth a third of a solidus.

 


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