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Troy Weight. French Grammes. "Obolos (obol, one sixth of a drachma), 10.50 gr. 0.6802 Tputy pólov (three fourths of an obol), 7.27
0.4711 'Hulogólov (half-obol),
0.2250 Tetaponpoplov (quarter-obol),
0.0984 “ The weight of the Attic drachma, as deduced from the relations of the Attic silver weights, and from numerous comparisons of existing specimens, has been estimated by Hussey at 66.5 grains; by Boeckh, at 67.4. If we assume 67, which is nearly the average of the two, the weight of the tetradrachmon, usually estimated at 266 gr., will be 268. The tetradrachmon now exhibited has lost, taking the larger estimate, 12.01 gr.; taking the smaller, 10.01 gr., or a little less than five per cent. The drachma has lost 3.80 gr., or about six per cent. The triobolon has lost 2.80 gr., or nearly nine per cent, and so on ; the smaller the coin, the greater generally being the loss. But in all cases the loss is surprisingly small, the difference between this tetradrachmon and the standard weight being a less percentage than that between some American dollars of different dates. Cardwell states that, of twelve drachmas described in the Hunterian Catalogue, the heaviest weighs 664 gr., and only one weighs less than 60. Of the tetradrachma, of which the Catalogue enumerates one hundred and two, seventy range over a difference from the standard weight of not more than 10 gr., assuming the standard weight to be 266 gr., or 12, assuming it to be 268 gr. Of fourteen tetradrachma in the British Museum, the heaviest weighs 264 gr.
“ The drachma now exhibited is evidently very old, — probably belonging to the sixth or the early part of the fifth century B. C. On the obverse is the head of Athena (Minerva), in the Æginetan style ; on the reverse, the owl, with the olive-branch at the left and the legend A on the right. The following is an exact copy.
“ The figures on the smaller coins are traceable, though some of them are much worn.
“ The tetradrachmon has on the obverse the head of Athena helmeted and crested. On the reverse, the owl standing upon a diota, on which is the letter H, and under it another H. The legend is
A O E, the first letter being on the left of the head of the owl, and the other two on the right. Below are names of three persons, probably magistrates. The first is A II E A AIKQN, occupying two lines, partly on one side and partly on the other of the owl. The next, inscribed on the left of the owl, is roPTIAE, in three lines. And the third, which could be made out only by a careful examination, under different lights, is A EIN IA , the first two syllables being on the left in two lines, and the third on the right of the owl. On the right of the owl, in the space between the syllables K 2 N and A 2, there is a winged Pegasus, leaping. The three names are, then, Apellicon, Gorgias, and Deinias. The following figure represents the coin very faithfully.
“Eckhel (II. 219, 220) describes two coins of the time of Mithri. dates VI., the first of which has the names of Mithridates and Aris. tion, the second has Aristion and Philon, with three letters of a third, HTI; to these he subjoins a third, with the names Apellicon, Gorgias, and part of a third name, Diosio. Of the date of the first two there can be no doubt; whether the third is synchronous with them depends upon the identity of the Apellicon with the person bearing that name in the second. It seems highly probable that the tetradrachmon now exhibited belongs to the same period as the last of those described by Eckhel, in the passage referred to, since two of the names are the same on both.
“ The winged horse is common on the coins of Mithridates, and the political connection between that monarch and the tyrant Aristion explains the introduction of the name of Aristion on a coin of the King of Pontus, and of his symbol on an Athenian coin struck by Aristion. Aristion was a Peripatetic philosopher, who, having taught in various places, was sent on a mission to Mithridates, and afterwards became tyrant of Athens. Sulla laid siege to Athens in B. C. 87. Aristion set fire to the Odeion and fled for refuge to the Acropolis ; but the Acropolis having been taken, Aristion was dragged from the altar of VOL. III.
Athena and put to death. Apellicon was also a teacher of philosophy and a book collector, and, like some modern collectors, could not resist the temptation of stealing books, when he was unable to come honestly by them. He was obliged to flee from Athens, but returned during the tyranny of Aristion. He died just before the siege of Athens by Sulla, and his library was seized by the right of conquest (another form of stealing), and carried by the conqueror to Rome. He is noted in literary history for the possession of an autograph copy of Aristotle's works, which he procured in Asia Minor, and afterwards edited. Apellicon may be placed about 80 B. C.
“There was an Athenian Gorgias, one of the teachers of Cicero the Younger, and mentioned by him in a letter to the accomplished freedman Tiro. Cicero père had ordered the young man to dismiss Gorgias, on account of his questionable morals. Whether the Gorgias of the tetradrachmon is the same person, cannot be determined. He may have been of the same family, since young Cicero was in Athens about 44 B. C. He (Cicero the Younger) writes thus, after giving an account of his studious occupations : "De Gorgia autem, quod mihi scribis, erat quidem ille in quotidiana declamatione utilis; sed omnia postposui, dummodo preceptis patris parerem. Acappņomu enim scripserat, ut eum dimitterem statim.' (Ad. Div. Lib. XVI. 21.)
“ This incident shows that the name of Gorgias was not unknown at Athens, about the period to which the coin is referred. The teacher of Cicero may have been the son of the colleague of Apellicon. I find no Deinias of this period. He probably had something to do with the mint, and has left no other record of his name.
“ Besides the valuable and interesting coins above described, I have, from the same accomplished scholar, a series of about eighty copper and bronze coins, embracing the common copper coins of Athens, several colonial pieces of Greek cities, with portraits of Roman emperors, seven imperial coins, with very characteristic portraits, belonging to the first three centuries; a series of coins of the Eastern Empire, commencing with Justin I. A. D. 518 - 527, and ending with Isaac II. Angelos, A. D. 1185 – 1195, the last emperor but three before the conquest of Constantinople by the Latins; and a series of six silver coins, among which are one of a Prince of Achaia, one of Manuel of Trebi. zond, 1238 - 1263, and a very rare silver coin of the Duke of Athens. All these are valuable in an historical point of view. During the Middle Ages, the Byzantine empire supplied the currency of Western
Europe, and her gold pieces are known in Western literature as Bezants, or Byzants. Mr. Finlay is the only writer who has set forth the financial, political, and literary history of Byzantium in its true light and its real importance.
"It is proposed here, however, to consider only the Attic copper coins, in addition to the silver pieces. They are, - 1. The Chalcus (Xahkows) and duplicate. 2. Half-Chalcus. 3. Two-Lepta piece. 4. The Lepton, the smallest product of the Attic coinage. Now, as there were seven lepta in a chalcus, and eight chalcoi in an obolos, we can conveniently construct a table of the values of the Attic currency, in our own money, by taking these and the preceding data, comparing the weight of the silver pieces with our own standard dollar, and making an allowance for the difference of alloy, which was much smaller in the ancient mint than in our own.
Assuming the weight of the drachma, as above determined, to be 67
gr., and the per cent of alloy to be the same as in the American dollar, the drachma will be worth 16.26 cents. Adding a small percentage for difference of alloy, and we have, almost exactly, the sixth part of a dollar, or 16.66 cents, for the value of the Attic drachma. As the drachma is the unit to which the rest of the series bear a definite proportion, we may construct the table as follows, beginning with the smallest copper coin : 1 Lepton
$ 0.0004 or 1 of a mill. 7 Lepta = 1 Chalcus 0.0034 or 34 mills. 8 Chalcoi 1 Obolos 0.0277 or 2 cents 77 mills.
6 Oboloi 1 Drachma 0.1666 or 16 cents 67 mills. 100 Drachmai = 1 Mna 16.666 or 16 dollars 16 cents 6% mills. 60 Mnai = 1 Talanton (Talent) = $ 1,000, or one thousand dollars.
“ The tetradrachmon exhibited above is worth, according to the same rule of estimation, 63 cents 61 mills; it has therefore lost a little less than three cents. The drachma is worth 15 cents 7 mills; it has lost 1 cent 9} mills,- a larger rate of loss than that of the tetradrachmon, which would have been, according to this proportion, 7 cents 8 mills. But the problem of settling the comparative value of money in different ages, in reference to daily life, is another, wholly different, and much more difficult question, if indeed it can be settled at all. The comparative value of money changes with every moment of time, and every degree of latitude and longitude. If we take the price of wheat as a standard of comparison, even that is equally
fluctuating; the state of the market being affected by many influences, some permanent and regular, others casual, and all together making the price of wheat, or any other article of daily consumption, or the wages of labor, just as uncertain as the worth of money itself. This subject requires a more careful investigation than it has yet received.”
Four hundred and twenty-second meeting.
January 8, 1856. - MONTHLY MEETING. The PRESIDENT in the chair.
The Corresponding Secretary read letters from Dr. John C. Dalton, Jr., Rev. Dr. M. C. Curtis, and Dr. C. W. Short, accepting their appointment as Associate Fellows.
Dr. A. A. Gould exhibited some engraved stones found in the vicinity of Beyrout, bearing Phænician characters, and purporting to be of great antiquity.
Professor Lovering exhibited a specimen of copal containing lizards, belonging to Captain Bertram, of Salem.
Professor W. B. Rogers, referring to the ozonometer exhibited by him at the last meeting, stated that he had recently been testing it; and had observed, during the great snow-storm of January 6th, that the quantity of ozone in the atmosphere was very great. At the time of the present meeting there was scarcely any.
Professor Rogers also gave an account of an experiment of allowing the water from a Cochituate pipe to flow with full force into a glass globe, having an outlet the axis of which was at right angles to that of the orifice by which it entered. After a short time, the water in the globe took on a rotatory motion about the axis of the outlet, and a column of air was seen to enter from the outlet in the centre of the stream of water, and extend more or less deeply into the globe in proportion to the force with which the water was allowed to enter. When the experiment was tried with a globe with two outlets, at opposite sides, the air column passed quite through it, and the water escaped as a hollow expanding cylinder at each orifice.