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ANCIENT WEIGHTS AND MONEY,
ROMAN AND GREEK LIQUID MEASURES,
ROMAN AND GREEK FOOT.
THE REV. ROBERT HUSSEY, M. A.
STUDENT OF CHRIST CHURCH.
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PRINTED BY S. COLLINGWOOD, PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY,
SOLD BY J. H. PARKER,
IT has long been complained, that there is no convenient work containing a good account of the ancient money. And most persons who have had experience in teaching must have seen the effect of this want upon those who learn, in the prevailing ignorance of the subject. It is a very common thing, to find even those who are well informed on many points of scholarship and ancient history at a loss, whenever terms of money and weight occur. If these convey any ideas at all, they are often strangely inaccurate : drachmæ and minæ, or sestertii and sestertia, pass, all alike, for signs of value of precisely the same kind ; or, talents of money and talents of weight are mistaken one for the other; and thus coins, money of account, and weights, are mingled in the thoughts of the student in hopeless confusion. The authorities, to which recourse is usually had for information, will not readily correct this : for they have mistakes of their own a ; and neither the method
a One specimen may be quoted, which perhaps surpasses all in the skill with which it crowds many blunders in a small compass, if, at least, the English translation of the work may be trusted. Beausobre's Introduction, in the chapter on the Hebrew money, says, that the drachma was a silver coin rather less than the denarius, and weighing 8 oz. ; that the denarius weighed 10 oz.; that
of reckoning, nor the arrangement used in them, is well fitted to give knowledge in a clear and easy way. What, for example, can be worse chosen, than reckoning the weight of the talents in pounds of troy weight? To which standard some readers would attach no definite idea of value, because they are not used to it; some, through inadvertency, would confound it with the common avoirdupois standard, and thus overrate the result by nearly one fourth b. And the meagre tables, which commonly are the only things used, are often scarcely understood, and soon forgotten.
Yet it cannot be said that there is a want of books full of information on this subject. Perhaps no one of the lesser branches of history and philology has had more written about it, than the ancient money. So early as 1675 Labbe, in his Bibliotheca Nummaria, made up a list of nearly 200 writers on the weights and money, beside a not much smaller number of authors on coins : and many works have been added since this was published. Few of these, however, are in form and design fitted for general use, as books of reference; and the few which are so are not now easy to get. It was to supply this want, therefore, that the present work was undertaken : and the object which has been kept in view throughout is, to furnish students with a manual, containing in a commodious shape all the information concerning weights and money, necessary for reading the classical authors of the best ages. For the subject of the weights is inseparable from that of the money; not only, because they were originally the same, but also, because, afterwards, terms common to both meant things quite distinct, which, as has been already said, are often confounded.
the sestertius was worth 2 d., the denarius 7d.; and that there were minæ of gold weighing 100 shekels, which, according to his own calculation, would amount to 3200 oz.
In Arbuthnot's tables, however, one mistake compensates for another, and in practice corrects it. He rates the Attic talent of weight at 56 lb. Il oz. in troy weight, which is about one fourth too light; but when it is taken, as it usually is, for common or avoirdupois weight, it is nearly the true weight.
In a field already so well trodden, it would be absurd to make any pretensions to originality. The labours of former writers have been used without scruple: and the only novelty consists in condensing and arranging what others have said before. The aid of the coins, however, has been called in, wherever it could be done, to verify or correct the statements of authors : and a pretty large examination of them has enabled me, as I believe, to set right some few mistakes of long standing. But the work was not taken in hand for the sake of these. If any readers wish to go deeper into the subject, than a book for general use can lead them, the way will be shewn them, partly by the short account of writers on the ancient money given in the introductory chapter, which was placed there for this purpose, and partly by the references in the margin of the book to the sources from which any information is drawn : although the multiplying these references unnecessarily has been avoided, and many names left out of writers, who have followed each other in repeating some well-known fact or opinion.