Talent (Gr. τάλαντον, Lat. talentum), a term originally applied by the ancient Greeks to a balance for weighing, afterward to the substance weighed, and finally to the weight itself. In the system of weights in use the talent was the highest denomination, and was equivalent to 60 minas, each of which was equal to 100 drachmas, and each of these to 6 oboli. The values of these weights remained constant in relation to each other, while that of the units of the measure varied in different times and in different places. The system of money being based upon the weight of silver, the names of the weights employed came to be used as money values, in the same way as the English pound originally represented a pound weight of silver. No coins however are known to have been made larger than the tetradrach-ma, and the mina and talent were moneys of account only. The determination of the weights of the different talents in terms of our modern standards is a subject involved in great difficulty, and there is a marked disagreement among scholars.
The oldest talent was the Babylonian, which was carried into the Phoenician and Grecian countries, and may with great probability be assumed as identical with the oldest Greek talent, called the AEginetan. The Hebrew talent differed but little if at all from this. The Euboic talent, also probably derived from the East, was in use in Attica previous to the time of Solon, and is often called the old'Attic; it continued in use after the time of Solon, and hence was also called the commercial talent. Solon, in order to relieve the debtor class, reduced the talent so far as money was concerned, and the talent established by him, called the new Attic or Attic silver talent, is the one always meant in the classical authors when the context does not indicate a different one. The ratio of these talents to each other was as follows, in whole numbers : 15 .AEgine-tan talents were equal to 18 Euboic or commercial talents, and to 25 Solonian or Attic silver talents. Their weights compared with our avoirdupois weight were probably as follows: the AEginetan equalled 95 lbs.; the Euboic, 79 lbs. 2 oz. 291. 63 1/3 gr.; the Attic silver talent, 57 lbs.
The value of these talents in pure silver, taking the American trade dollar, containing 378 gr. of pure silver, as the standard, would be as follows: the .AEginetan talent equals $1,759 26; the Euboic, $1,466 05; the Attic silver talent, $1,055 56. The coins in actual use fell below this standard both in weight and in purity, and varied in different ages. For approximate calculation the coin value of the above named talents may be assumed as equal to $1,700, $1,400, and $1,000 respectively. Various other talents are named by the ancient writers, the comparative values of winch have been treated in the works of Bockh and of Hussey. The gold talent of the Greeks, or the Sicilian talent, the one always meant in Homer, contained about -f- oz. and 71 gr. avoirdupois of gold.