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With the change to the Empire, reform in all directions was begun, and the coinage was set on a new basis. Gold was introduced to meet the needs of the metropolis of the world, and two new coins, the Aureus and its half, were struck in this metal. They were modelled on the silver pieces. The standard silver coin was still the denarius, and the only change which it experienced was in type. The head of the emperor took the place of those of deities, with a new form of inscription, which was the forerunner of modern coin-legends. It consisted of the name and titles of the emperor, often with the date of striking, arranged in a circle round the edge of the coin. The minting of gold and silver was assumed by the emperor, but the copper money was left to the senate, whose authority is expressed on each piece by the letters S. c (Senatus Consulto, “ by decree of the Senate ”). The copper series consisted of the Sestertius, the equivalent of the smallest silver coin, now valued at 4 asses instead of the original 2 ; the Dupondius, of 2 asses; the As, and fractions of the as, Semis and Quadrans, which are of less frequent occurrence. These coins sometimes differed as to the metal used, the as and semis being of copper, and the dupondius and sestertius of brass; or in the style of the emperor's head; or, as in the case of the coins exhibited, the as is marked i and the dupondius 11 (fig. 109, 2). Usually, however, the two pieces are confused, and are loosely termed by collectors “ second brass,” the sesterce being “first brass," and all denominations lower than the as “third brass.” The reverse types were very numerous, and, with the exception of the mark s: con the copper, none of them was peculiar to any denomination. The series which is selected here to illustrate the Imperial coinage is of the reign of Nero (54-68 A.D.); all the pieces, therefore, bear the image and superscription of that Caesar, and their reverses have complimentary references to the emperor and his family, or topical allusions to current events (No. 36 ; fig. 104-1).
Nero was the first emperor to reduce the weight of the denarius, and from his time the degeneration was rapid. A series of seven pieces, from Tiberius to Probus (14–281 A.D.), illustrates the debasement of metal, which is apparent to the eye (No. 37). By the time of Gordianus Pius (238–244 A.D.) no trace of silver is visible, and the coin of Probus here exhibited is plainly copper. Yet these pieces represent the only silver money which was then coined. The currency was supplied by earlier pieces of better quality, which would pass as bullion by the side of the later
issues, and in the absence of a genuine state currency, commercial transactions were effected by means of scales.
It is doubtless due to the fact that a good coin has a full commercial value, whatever its age or nationality may be, that so many pieces have come down from antiquity to modern times. Many of them may have been in use, either as currency or treasure, during the interval; and the inherent utility of the money has been the means of preserving the types and legends which give to coins their eminent value as documents of history and art. Great quantities, too, have been preserved by the care or avarice of their former owners, who hid their wealth for security and were unable to recover it. Portions of two such hoards are shown at the end of the case. One consists of Athenian staters of the late fifth century B.C. (No. 38), which were found in the Egyptian settlement of Naukratis, and the other is a large collection of late Roman coins of the fifth century A.D. (No. 39). These were buried in another Egyptian town, Hawara, in the egg-shaped jug which is shown with them. At Pompeii, a city which was overwhelmed by the volcano in the midst of its daily life, money, like all other things, has been found ready to hand and actually in use. There is in this Case all that the fire has left of a Pompeian money-box, and among the coins which it contains is a copper sesterce of Nero, whose reign ended eleven years before the catastrophe. Shreds of a net purse are also visible in the box (No. 40).
A curious coin, struck for a special religious purpose, is the copper piece of Nemausus (Nîmes, in the South of France), which is made in the shape of a ham for dedication to the deity of the local fountain (No. 41). The offering was probably originally paid in kind. Another votive coin is the silver stater of Sikyon (No. 41*), which is marked by an inscription punctured by the dedicator – To Artemis in Lakedaemon. A religious character attaches also to the bronze coin of Laodikeia in Phrygia, which is pierced and suspended from a wire loop for wearing as a charm against sickness, by virtue of the figures which it bears of Asklepios and Hygieia, the deities of health (No. 41**).
With the exception of the Italian heavy copper, which was cast, nearly all ancient coins were struck in dies, and most of the false pieces which have survived are defective in the quality of the metal, while the fabric is good. Among the Greeks bad money was occasionally issued officially, as Dionysios of Syracuse is said to have paid his debts in staters made of tin. Nothing has come down to us which confirms this statement, but there are in existence plated pieces from his mint, like the false Athenian coin already mentioned (No. 28, p. 17, above). In the later Roman Empire, when all the standard money was of base metal, the surface was so bad that the coins could easily be counterfeited by casting, and great numbers of the clay moulds used by forgers or by the monetary authorities date from this period. Among the large collection here exhibited (No. 42) there are some unbroken moulds, and some with the run metal still adhering. Base metal was detected by the use of the touchstone, and pieces of doubtful weight were tested by the balance. An ivory folding balance is shown (No. 43). The long arm is made just too light to counterpoise a good denarius—the test being that if the coin were heavy enough it would fall off the plate at the end.
For Greek and Roman coins in general, see Hill, Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins, with the Bibliography there given.
Greek Marriage.—Though neither Greek nor Roman marriage was definitely associated with the religion of the state, it was, however, among both peoples closely associated with religious rites of a domestic character. Plato in his Laws makes it the distinguishing mark of the legally wedded wife that “she had come into the house with gods and sacred marriage rites.” These rites are often represented upon Greek vases, as may be seen from the objects and illustrations placed in these cases. The ceremonies may be conveniently divided into those concerning (a) the preparation of the bride ; (b) the removal of the bride from the house of her father to that of her husband; (c) the reception at that house; and (d) the presents given on the day following marriage (énaúdia).
(a) On the day before her wedding the bride not infrequently made an offering of the playthings of her childhood to some deity, presenting her toys to Artemis in particular (see below, p. 192). On the day before marriage, too, water for the bridal bath was brought in procession in the special form of tall vase called a Lovtpopópos, a vase which is seen standing on the chest in the room of the bride here depieted (No. 44 ; fig. 11). The scene is taken from the design on a toilet-box of the fifth century B.C. (E 774), which shows the bride being adorned for her marriage. Besides the tall amphora already mentioned, two vases called “marriage bowls” (aéßntes yamekot) are seen standing on tall stems before the door, on the further side of which one of the bride's friends is turning the magic wheel intended to inspire the bridegroom with a greater longing of love. So Theocritus sings :
“Draw to my home, ( mystic wheel, the man that I long for.” 1
(6) The arrival of the husband, who comes to fetch the bride to his home, may probably be recognised in the design on the fifth-century vase No. 45. It is, however, a special and sacred occasion which is here represented. The bride, who is seated and holds a sceptre, is probably the Basilinna, wife of the Basileus, the magistrate at Athens who was charged with the supervision of the statereligion. She turns back to look at the bridegroom, who is none other than the wine-god Dionysos, holding his thyrsos or staff crowned with the pine-cone. Two love-gods fly towards the pair with wedding gifts, while on the right approaches a Victory holding lighted torches, which served to light the night-procession to the bride
groom's house. The subject is explained by a ceremony which took place at the Attic wine-festival of the Anthesteria, celebrated annually in February and March. On the second day of the festival there was a mystic marriage between the wine-god Dionysos and the wife of the Basileus, and it can hardly be doubted that the present design refers to this.
The actual progress of the bride to her husband's home is depicted on the black-figured vase No. 46, of sixth-century date. The departure took place at nightfall by torch-light, and the bride and bridegroom usually (as in the present instance) made the journey in a mule-car, attended by a friend called the parochos.
On the vase (fig. 12) the bride and bridegroom are seen in front of the mule-car, and the parochos is seated behind. When the pair reached their home, they were welcomed by the father and mother of the bridegroom, and a procession was formed to the hearth-altar. This is the scene depicted on No. 47, a reproduction of a painting on a toilet-box in the Third Vase Room (D 11, on Case F). The bridegroom leads the bride by the hand towards the hearth-altar, by the side of which stands the hearth-goddess Hestia, holding a sceptre and what is probably a fig, an allusion to the figs, dates and other fruits (katayúo para) showered over the