Edict on Maximum Prices
The Edict on Maximum Prices was issued in 301 by Roman Emperor Diocletian. The Edict was issued from Antioch or Alexandria and was set up in inscriptions in Greek and Latin, it now exists only in fragments found in the eastern part of the empire, where Diocletian ruled. However, the reconstructed fragments have been sufficient to estimate many prices for goods and services for historical economists; the Edict on Maximum Prices is still the longest surviving piece of legislation from the period of the Tetrarchy. The Edict was criticized by Lactantius, a rhetorician from Nicomedia, who blamed the emperors for the inflation and told of fighting and bloodshed that erupted from price tampering. By the end of Diocletian's reign in 305, the Edict was for all practical purposes ignored; the Roman economy as a whole was not substantively stabilized until Constantine's coinage reforms in the 310s. During the Crisis of the Third Century, Roman coinage had been debased by the numerous emperors and usurpers who minted their own coins, using base metals to reduce the underlying metallic value of coins used to pay soldiers and public officials.
Earlier in his reign, as well as in 301 around the same time as the Edict on Prices, Diocletian issued Currency Decrees, which attempted to reform the system of taxation and to stabilize the coinage. It is difficult to know how the coinage was changed, as the values and the names of coins are unknown or have been lost in the historical record; the Roman Empire was awash with other coins from outside of the Empire – in the Mediterranean. The implied coinage changeover time was at least a decade. Although the decree was nominally successful for a short time after it was imposed, market forces led to more and more of the decree being disregarded and reinterpreted over time; the full mechanics of the decree have been lost. No full decree has been found. However, enough of the decree's text is known for the following to be understood to be true. All coins in the Decrees and the Edict were valued according to the denarius, which Diocletian hoped to replace with a new system based on the silver argenteus and its fractions.
The argenteus seems to have been set at 100 denarii, the silver-washed nummus at 25 denarii, the bronze radiate at 4 or 5 denarii. The copper laureate was raised from 1 denarius to 2 denarii; the gold aureus was revalued at at least 1,200 denarii. During the previous decades the decreasing amount of silver in the billon coins had fuelled inflation; this inflation is understood to be the reason. Issues of economic system feedback were not well understood at the time; the first two-thirds of the Edict doubled the value of the copper and billon coins, set the death penalty for profiteers and speculators, who were blamed for the inflation and who were compared to the barbarian tribes attacking the empire. Merchants were forbidden to take their goods elsewhere and charge a higher price, transport costs could not be used as an excuse to raise prices; the last third of the Edict, divided into 32 sections, imposed a price ceiling – a list of maxima – for well over a thousand products. These products included various food items, freight charges for sea travel, weekly wages.
The highest limit was on one pound of purple-dyed silk, set at 150,000 denarii. The Edict did not solve all of the problems in the economy. Diocletian's mass minting of coins of low metallic value continued to increase inflation, the maximum prices in the Edict were too low. Merchants either sold their goods illegally, or used barter; the Edict tended to disrupt trade and commerce among merchants. It is safe to assume. Sometimes entire towns could no longer afford to produce trade goods; because the Edict set limits on wages, those who had fixed salaries found that their money was worthless as the artificial prices did not reflect actual costs. Corcoran, Simon; the Empire of the Tetrarchs, Imperial Pronouncements and Government AD 284–324. Oxford University Press. Pp. 440 pages. ISBN 0-19-815304-X. Graser, E. R. "A text and translation of the Edict of Diocletian", in T. Frank, An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome Volume V: Rome and Italy of the Empire, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press Diocletianus emperor, William Martin Leake, ed.
An edict... fixing a maximum of prices throughout the Roman empire. Corcoran, Simon. "The Prices Edict at Geraki, Greece". Retrieved 16 December 2009. Erim, K. T.. D.. 1973,'The Aphrodisias Copy of Diocletian's Edict on Maximum Prices,' in JRS at https://www.jstor.org/stable/299169 Kropff, Antony, 2016: New English translation of the Price Edict of Diocletianus, at https://www.academia.edu/23644199/New_English_translation_of_the_Price_Edict_of_Diocletianus Prices given in the price edict as compared with modern prices, at http://www.civilization.org.uk/decline-and-fall/diocletian/the-price-edict
The victoriatus was a silver coin issued during the Roman Republic from about 221 BC to 170 BC. The obverse of the coin featured the bust of Jupiter and the reverse featured Victory placing a wreath upon a trophy with the inscription "ROMA" in exergue; the coin weighed about 3.4 grams, meaning that it was half the value of the quadrigatus, a coin weighing 6 scruples, by this time no longer produced. The victoriatus was made of a more debased silver than the denarius, introduced at about the same time. Hoard evidence indicates that the coin circulated in southern Italy and Gaul, indicating that the coin was intended as a replacement for the drachma or half-nomos instead of as part of the normal Roman coin system; when first issued the victoriatus had a value of about 3/4 of a denarius, however when the quinarius was reintroduced in 101 BC with a similar type, it was valued at 1/2 a denarius. This indicates that victoriati that were still in circulation at this time were worn and considered to be worth only half a denarius.
The reintroduced quinarius was produced for Cisalpine Gaul, where the victoriatus and imitations were popular. The reintroduced quinarius may have continued to be called a victoriatus, although there is no written evidence of this; the name victoriatus is an ancient term, attested by inscriptions. The coin was known as a tropaikon among Greek speakers. Roman currency Michael Crawford Roman Republican coinage John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins, London 1990
The bronze centenionalis coins were the attempts of Constans and Constantius II to reintroduce a large bronze coin between 320 and 340 AD, as the follis had by shrunk dramatically. The type of coin it was is uncertain, but numismatists have categorized large bronze coins of the above date under this denomination; the centenionalis, did not last long. By the end of Theodosius the Great's rule, only smaller varieties of bronze coins were minted. Roman currency Byzantine coinage
The semis meaning half was a small Roman bronze coin, valued at half an as. During the Roman Republic, the semis was distinguished by 6 dots; some of the coins featured a bust of Saturn on the obverse, the prow of a ship on the reverse. A cast coin, like the rest of Roman Republican bronzes, it began to be struck from dies shortly before the Second Punic War 218-201 BC; the coin was issued infrequently during the Roman Empire, ceased to be issued by the time of Hadrian 117-138 AD. Roman currency
The dupondius was a brass coin used during the Roman Empire and Roman Republic valued at 2 asses. The dupondius was introduced during the Roman Republic as a large bronze cast coin, although at introduction it weighed less than 2 pounds; the initial coins featured the bust of Roma on a six-spoked wheel on the reverse. With the coinage reform of Augustus in about 23 BC, the sestertius and dupondius were produced in a golden colored copper-alloy called orichalcum by the Romans and numismatists, Latin brass by us, while lower denominations were produced out of reddish copper. However, some dupondii were made from copper under Augustus, while under Nero some aes were made from both orichalcum and copper, instead of only copper for aes coined until then. Therefore, the latter can only be distinguished from dupondii by their smaller size instead of by the appearance of the metal; the dupondius was further distinguished from the sized as with the addition of a radiate crown to the bust of the emperor in 66 AD during the reign of Nero.
Using a radiate crown to indicate double value was markedly used on the antoninianus introduced by Caracalla and the double sestertius. Since dupondii minted prior to and during the reign of Nero, under rulers, lack the radiate crown, it is hard to distinguish between the as and the dupondius due to heavy patina which obscures the coin's original color. An rare dupondius from the reign of Marcus Aurelius, dated to 154 or 155 and in excellent condition, was discovered in 2007 at the archeological site in Draper's Gardens, London. Roman currency
The argenteus was a silver coin produced by the Roman Empire from the time of Diocletian's coinage reform in AD 294 to ca. AD 310, it was of similar weight and fineness as the denarius of the time of Nero. The coin was produced at a theoretical weight of 1/96th of a Roman pound, as indicated by the Roman numeral XCVI on the coin's reverse. Argenteus, meaning "of silver" in Latin, was first used in Pliny's Natural History in the phrase "argenteus nummus"; the 4th-century historian Ammianus uses the same phrase, however there is no indication that this is the official name for a denomination. The Historia Augusta uses the phrase to refer to several fictitious coins. Edict on Maximum Prices Numismatics Roman currency Solidus
The denarius was the standard Roman silver coin from its introduction in the Second Punic War c. 211 BC to the reign of Gordian III, when it was replaced by the Antoninianus. It continued to be minted in small quantities for ceremonial purposes and through the tetrarchy; the word dēnārius is derived from the Latin dēnī "containing ten", as its value was of 10 assēs. The word for "money" descends from it in Italian, Slovene and Spanish, its name survives in the dinar currency. Its symbol is represented in Unicode as, however it can be represented as X̶. A predecessor of the denarius was first struck in 267 BC, five years before the First Punic War, with an average weight of 6.81 grams, or 1⁄48 of a Roman pound. Contact with the Greeks prompted a need for silver coinage in addition to the bronze currency that the Romans were using at that time; the predecessor of the denarius was a Greek-styled silver coin called the didrachm, struck in Neapolis and other Greek cities in southern Italy. These coins were inscribed for Rome but resemble their Greek counterparts.
They were most used for trade purposes and were used in Rome. The first distinctively Roman silver coin appeared around 226 BC. Classic historians sometimes called these coins denarii, but they are classified by modern numismatists as quadrigati, derived from the quadriga, or four-horse chariot, on the reverse, which with a two-horse chariot or biga was the prototype for the most common designs used on Roman silver coins for the next 150 years. Rome overhauled its coinage around 211 BC and introduced the denarius alongside a short-lived denomination called the victoriatus; this denarius contained 1⁄72 of a Roman pound, of silver. It formed the backbone of Roman currency throughout the Roman republic; the denarius began to undergo slow debasement toward the end of the republican period. Under the rule of Augustus its silver content fell to 3.9 grams. It remained at nearly this weight until the time of Nero, when it was reduced to 1⁄96 of a pound, or 3.4 grams. Debasement of the coin's silver content continued after Nero.
Roman emperors reduced its content to 3 grams around the late 3rd century. The value at its introduction was 10 asses, giving the denarius its name, which translates as "containing ten". In about 141 BC, it was re-tariffed at 16 asses; the denarius continued to be the main coin of the Roman Empire until it was replaced by the antoninianus in the middle of the 3rd century. The coin was last issued, in bronze, under Aurelian between AD 270 and 275, in the first years of the reign of Diocletian.. It is difficult to give rough comparative values for money from before the 20th century, as the range of products and services available for purchase was so different. Classical historians say that in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire the daily wage for an unskilled laborer and common soldier was 1 denarius or about US$2.80 in bread. During the republic, legionary pay was 112.5 denarii per year doubled by Julius Caesar to 225 denarii, with soldiers having to pay for their own food and arms.
Centurions received higher pay: under Augustus, the lowest rank of centurion was paid 3,750 denarii per year, the highest rank, 15,000 denarii. The silver content of the denarius under the Roman Empire was about 50 grains, 3.24 grams, or 1⁄10 troy ounce. On June 6, 2011, this was about US$3.62 in value. The fineness of the silver content varied with economic circumstances. From a purity of greater than 90% silver in the 1st century AD, the denarius fell to under 60% purity by the year 200, plummeted to 5% purity by the year 300. By the reign of Gallienus, the antoninianus was a copper coin with a thin silver wash. By comparison, a laborer earning the minimum wage in the United States in January 2014 made US$58 for an 8-hour day, before taxes and an employee earning the minimum wage in the United Kingdom in 2014 made £52 for an 8-hour day, before taxes. In the final years of the 1st century BC Tincomarus, a local ruler in southern Britain, started issuing coins that appear to have been made from melted down denarii.
The coins of Eppillus, issued around Calleva Atrebatum around the same time, appear to have derived design elements from various denarii such as those of Augustus and M. Volteius. After the denarius was no longer issued, it continued to be used as a unit of account, the name was applied to Roman coins in a way, not understood; the Arabs who conquered large parts of the land that once belonged to the Eastern Roman Empire issued their own gold dinar. The lasting legacy of the denarius can be seen in the use of "d" as the abbreviation for the British penny until 1971, it survived in France as the name of a coin, the denier. The denarius survives in the common Arabic name for a currency unit, the dinar used from pre-Islamic times, still used in several modern Arab nations; the major currency unit in former Principality of Serbia, Kingdom of Serbia and former Yugoslavia was dinar, it is still used in present-day Serbia. The Macedonian currency denar is derived from the Roman denarius; the Italian word