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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Fig. 145—Denarius

Dena´rius, the principal silver coin of the Romans, which took its name from having been originally equal to ten asses. It was in later times (after B.C. 217) current also among the Jews, and is the coin which is called 'a penny' in the Auth. Vers. The denarii were first coined in B.C. 269, or four years after the first Punic war, and the more ancient specimens are much heavier than those of later date. Those coined in the early period of the commonwealth have the average weight of 52.5 grains, and those coined under the empire of grains. With some allowance for alloy, the former would be worth 8½ d., and the latter 7½ d.

It has been supposed, however, that the reduction of weight did not take place till the time of Nero; and in that case the denarii mentioned in the Gospels must have been of the former weight and value although 7½ d. is the usual computation. A denarius was the day-wages of a laborer in Palestine (; ; ); and the daily pay of a Roman soldier was less. In the time of Christ the denarius bore the image of the emperor (; ) but formerly it was impressed with the symbols of the republic.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Denarius'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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