While we're talking about Diocletian, did anyone ever figure out how many "denarii
" the original Diocletianic Follis
was tariffed at, and the varying values of the debasement?
It will be a great joy
if someone finally figures out the real names of all the later "AE1/2/3/4 of the later periods, too, although some of the names are suspected, like Centenionalis
A vast amount of literature has been written on the subject over the last fifty years or so. Anything written before the 70's however will use an incorrect price for gold (i.e. 50,000dc or 99,000dc/lb instead of the now accepted 72,000dc) and will not take into account the Monetary Edict discovered in the 60's and first published by in 1971. The latter is the fragmentary inscription
that records the doubling of the tariff on circulating coinage effective 1st September 301AD and that the new tariff for the argenteus
was 100dc. There is another very fragmentary section that probably refers to a 25dc coin (I agree) but others have tried to argue, rather unconvincingly imo, that it refers to a 'radiatus' of 5dc.
It is generally accepted, but not universally so, that the Monetary Edict preceded the Price Edict
, and that the doubling of the tariff created the rampant inflation that the Price Edict
was intended to counter. That seems to make sense to me. Recently the trend is to date the Price Edict
to Nov-Dec 301AD.
Since the post-301AD tariff for the nummus
was 25dc then it follows that is was 12.5dc beforehand. This seems a very awkward value and not easily divisible into post-reform radiate
fractions, unless of course PRR were 2.5dc each, which is just as awkward. There is a fragmentary papyrus mentioned by Bagnall I think (Currency and Inflation in Fourth Century Egypt
, 1985) which mentions an imperial retariff from 12dc to a value that is unfortunately lost. Perhaps the nummus
was therefore 12dc from its inception in 294AD until the Monetary Edict, and equivalent to 6 PRRs of 2dc each, and that the Monetary Edict only approximately doubled the tariff to the nearest convenient value, 12>25dc? Who knows, we just don't have irrefutable evidence yet.
Some have claimed a tariff of 5dc for the nummus
at its inception, but I cannot accept that. This I think comes
from early claims that the XXI
& K-V mintmarks
on certain Alexandrian, Siscian & Antiochene nummi of 300-301AD was evidence that the nummus
was tariffed at 20 sestertii
). I am an adherent of the XXI
theory, and see the resurgence of XXI
on pre-edict nummi as an attempt by the State to reassert the intrinsic value in the face
of inflation. A comparison of the weight
ratio of the pre-reform 'aurelianianus
' and the nummus
(both were struck from similar alloys) then the new nummus
must have been tariffed at over 2.7x the tariff of the silvered radiate
. Otherwise what would be the point of introducing a new denomination
? The State would never have introduced the nummus
at a loss. If the aurelianianus
was 2dc before 294AD then the nummus
would need to be at least 5.4dc to have an equal ratio of face
value to intrinsic value. If the aurelianianus
was 4dc (which I suspect) then the nummus
of 294AD would have been tariffed at at least 10.8dc, i.e. a tariff of ~12dc would give the State ~20% extra denarii
communes for the same amount of metal.