The Denarius Coinage of the Roman Republic

Bernhard E. Woytek

in The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195305746
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Denarius Coinage of the Roman Republic

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  • Classical Studies
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology
  • Historical Archaeology


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The denarius coinage consisted, in the main, of four silver denominations, which were probably all introduced at the same time. The leading denomination, as well as its typologically identical halves and quarters, not only were produced from very pure silver but also bore a value mark in asses: this was another novelty that set the reformed silver coins apart from the didrachms (and their fractions) Rome had previously produced. The creation of the denarius coinage was one of the most influential monetary reforms ever carried out by the Romans: the denarius remained the standard silver denomination of their empire for about 450 years, and as a unit of account it was in use well into late antiquity. Furthermore, the tetrarchic argenteus, an important precursor of various other Late Roman silver denominations, was modeled on the denarius, and this coin also provided inspiration for the penny coinages of the Middle Ages.

Keywords: denarius coinage; didrachms; Rome; monetary reform; penny coinages

Article.  8836 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Greek and Roman Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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