Ancient Greek Money and Coins / Αρχαία Εληνικά Νομίσματα / αγγλικά / αρχαιότητα / οικονομία

Michael Lahanas

Barbarians are not beauty-lovers; they are money-lovers. Lucian (120-190 AD) The Hall. Who are these Barbarians, are the Romans included with their Pecunia non olet (assumed to be said by the Emperor Vespasian) ?
Oikos a Greek word for “house, habitation” from which the word ecumene is derived “the inhabited world ” and economy (oikonomia) (household management)
Money in form of coins is as strange as sounds one of the main reasons for the scientific revolution that started in the Ionian Greek islands. It abstracted the value of commodities or objects in exchange and helped to initiate a new mode of abstract thinking. It also was important for political changes: from the aristocratic to the system of tyrants (often wealthy persons) and then to the democratic system.
Development of the Athenian Silver Tetradrachma and the Greek 1 Euro version today (Designer: G.Stamatopoulos). Athena and the Owl (Who brings owls to Athens? Aristophanes Birds (an expression for something totally unnecessary )
For a period of 1000 years and considering the small cities states and the colonies we can assume that there exists a rich set of different coins. The drachma (Δραχμή) was a currency that also the new Greek State adopted and that is now replaced by the EURO. This ends the history of the drachma which lasted for more than 1 millennium.
drachma (pl. drachmae) (Δραχμή)
talent (Τάλαντο)
obolos (pl. oboloi) (lat. obolus) (Οβολός), “I shall not have to pay an obolus of all the debts I have contracted on your account. Aristophanes, Clouds (The Germans use to say “seinen Obolus entrichten,…. to pay his obolus”…)”
mina or mna (pl. minae) (Μνα)
Money was divided in :1 talent = 60 minae = 6000 drachmae = 36000 oboloi
Variants didrachma (Δίδραχμο ) or stater (Στατήρας), tetradrachma (Τετράδραχμο) (with Athena and the owl or short “owl”), decadrachma (2, 4 and 10 drachmae respectively), chalkoi (1/8 obolos)
Also other smaller weights:
tetrobol = 4 oboloi
triobol = 3 oboloi
diobol = 2 oboloi
trihemiobol = 1 ½ oboloi
tritartemorion = 3/4 oboloi
hemiobol = 1/2 oboloi
trihemitartemorion = 3/8 oboloi
tetartemorion =1/4 oboloi
hemitartemorion =1/8 oboloi
Moreover, as the foot is the sixth part of a man’s height, they contend, that this number, namely six, the number of feet in height, is perfect: the cubit, also, being six palms, consequently consists of twenty-four digits. Hence the states of Greece appear to have divided the drachma, like the cubit, that is into six parts, which were small equal sized pieces of brass, similar to the asses, which they called oboli; and, in imitation of the twenty-four digits, they divided the obolus into four parts, which some call dichalca, others trichalca. Vitruvius, de Architectura
Charon receives the obolos price from a dead. Right: Hermes psychopompos. Charon is not mentioned by Homer, probably unknown, the obolos was introduced later.
Also different versions exists for example Aegina or Athenian Drachma. The main Greek Coins (including that used by Greeks for example in Minor Asia – Persia) are:

Many Greek coins seems not to have any number showing their value like today coins (it was specified by the weight). The variety is very large and many coins show animals, goats, eagles, horses, owls, the Pegasus or strange creatures like the man-headed bull (River god Gela/ Sicily).

Herodotus , Book VI

“Men of Athens, act which way you choose—give me up the hostages, and be righteous, or keep them, and be the contrary. I wish, however, to tell you what happened once in Sparta about a pledge. The story goes among us that three generations back there lived in Lacedaemon one Glaucus, the son of Epicydes, a man who in every other respect was on a par with the first in the kingdom, and whose character for justice was such as to place him above all the other Spartans. Now to this man at the appointed season the following events happened. A certain Milesian came to Sparta and, having desired to speak with him, said—‘I am of Miletus, and I have come hither, Glaucus, in the hope of profiting by thy honesty. For when I heard much talk thereof in Ionia and through all the rest of Greece, and when I observed that whereas Ionia is always insecure, the Peloponnese stands firm and unshaken, and noted likewise how wealth is continually changing hands in our country, I took counsel with myself and resolved to turn one-half of my substance into money, and place it in thy hands, since I am well assured that it will be safe in thy keeping. Here then is the silver—take it—and take likewise these tallies, and be careful of them; remember thou art to give back the money to the person who shall bring you their fellows.’ Such were the words of the Milesian stranger; and Glaucus took the deposit on the terms expressed to him. Many years had gone by when the sons of the man by whom the money was left came to Sparta, and had an interview with Glaucus, whereat they produced the tallies, and asked to have the money returned to them. But Glaucus sought to refuse, and answered them: ‘I have no recollection of the matter; nor can I bring to mind any of those particulars whereof ye speak. When I remember, I will certainly do what is just. If I had the money, you have a right to receive it back; but if it was never given to me, I shall put the Greek law in force against you. For the present I give you no answer; but four months hence I will settle the business.’ So the Milesians went away sorrowful, considering that their money was utterly lost to them. As for Glaucus, he made a journey to Delphi, and there consulted the oracle. To his question if he should swear, and so make prize of the money, the Pythoness returned for answer these lines following:—

Best for the present it were, O Glaucus, to do as thou wishest,
Swearing an oath to prevail, and so to make prize of the money.
Swear then- death is the lot e’en of those who never swear falsely.
Yet hath the Oath-God a son who is nameless, footless, and handless;
Mighty in strength he approaches to vengeance, and whelms in destruction,
All who belong to the race, or the house of the man who is perjured.
But oath- keeping men leave behind them a flourishing offspring.

Glaucus when he heard these words earnestly besought the god to pardon his question; but the Pythoness replied that it was as bad to have tempted the god as it would have been to have done the deed. Glaucus, however, sent for the Milesian strangers, and gave them back their money. And now I will tell you, Athenians, what my purpose has been in recounting to you this history. Glaucus at the present time has not a single descendant; nor is there any family known as his—root and branch has he been removed from Sparta. It is a good thing, therefore, when a pledge has been left with one, not even in thought to doubt about restoring it.”