Roman Money, Weights, And Measures.
Money. - The Romans, like other ancient nations, at first had no coined money, but either exchanged commodities with one another, or used a certain weight of uncoined brass, or other metal. Hence the names which indicated certain pieces of money, when coin came to be used, were the. same as those which were used to indicate weights.
Brass Coins. - The first brass coin that was used at Rome was called As, made in the reign of Servius Tullius; and being stamped with the heads of oxen, sheep, swine, etc., was called pecunia, from pecus. Hence AEs, brass, is often put for money; Aerarium, for treasury, etc. Sometime afterwards the stamp was changed, and on one side it bore the figure of Janus; on the other the beak of a ship. The As originally weighed a pound, but was gradually reduced, and in the first Punic war, Asses were coined of only two ounces in weight; in the second Punic war, of only one ounce; and in the year of the city 563, of only half an ounce. The other brass coins were the Semissis, the Triens, the Quadrans or Teruncius, and the Sextans.
The As, in value of our money about three farthings.
Semissig .... half an As. Triens .... one-third. Quadrans, or Teruncius . one-fourth. Sextans .... one-sixth.
Silver. - Silver was first coined in the year of the city 484, five years before the first Punic war: the impressions upon which were usually, on one side, carriages drawn by two or four beasts, and on the reverse, the head of Roma, with a helmet. On some were stamped the figure of Victory. The coins of silver were the Sestertius Quinarius, Denarius, and Centussis.
Quinarius, marked V, worth five Asses .........0 8
Denarius, marked X, worth ten Asses.........0 15 1/2
Centussis, worth ten Denarii . . $1 60
Gold. - Gold coin was first struck in the year of the city 546, in the second Punio war, and called Aureus, the stamps upon it were chiefly the images of the Emperors. The Aureus, at first, was equal in value to 25 Denarii, or 100 Sestertii ; or in our money, to $3 98. Soon afterwards it was debased, and under the later Emperors was worth only $3 70.
Accounts were kept in Sestertii and Ses-tertia. The Sestertium was not a coin, but a shorter expression for 1000 Sestertii, or in our money about $40.
We find also mentioned the Libra, containing 12 oz. of silver, worth $15, and the Talentum, worth about $965.
besides the ordinary coins, there were various medals struck to commemorate important events, properly called Medallions; for what we commonly term Roman medals were their current money.