The subject of coinage in the Roman imperial economy is a difficult issue. It an imperative features that may be expected in discussing modern economy, such as the respective roles of credit and money in economic exchange, cannot be pursued effectively from Roman evidence. Nevertheless, one can start with the availability of money, which can be investigated further from indirect evidence.
According to Paul and Michael (71), who are among the most interesting experts of the ancient economy ponder whether the Roman world was ever entirely using money. Three literal sources talk about coin in the Roman era, which are references in documentary sources and coin survival, although the primary concern is with the coin, found evidence.
The explicit references to barter trade are handful and usually refer to distant or outlying regions. Thus, mentioning little about non-monetized economy whose viewpoint is urban and mainly confined to Rome or any other great cities. However, there are suggestions that money was not abundant everywhere. Taxation of the Roman Empire that was levied in kind raises a question about the degree of monetization in the Roman world. In some cases, the government preferred goods to money for tax payments (Paul and Michael 62).
During the reign of Caligula, who had brought the end of Tiberius’s changes, restored some republican practices that the Tiberius had stopped. Caligula spent money on public games, and festivals, which were popular with the ordinary people. He spent all the money that had been left by Tiberius, and for his extravagance, he eventually ended up raising taxes to pay for his stylish lifestyle. However, during his short reign, it was determined later that he had a mental illness. In Caligula’s memory, the senate ordered the A.D 43 that is his bronze coin be recalled and melted down. The death of small bronze coinage in the provinces was also associated to the effective numismatic damnation. On the other hand, the mint of local Gaul seemed to have continued to mint with Caligula’s portrait. However, in the course of the two years, which intervened between Caligula’s death in 41 and 43, also contributed to the recall and meltdown of the Caligula coin. The re-carving of imperial portraits became the standard approach to images of the other two emperors (Burgan 29).
Historical writers view the coin under the heading of morality or self-advertisement, but not in economic or financial terms. Under the imperial rule, the use of coin was viewed as a political affirmation of the individual typically reserved for the ruler. Almost every claimant to the throne immediately issued his coin. The use of coin for private individuals was a sign of the ruler, and of overweening ambition. Its connection with the potency of the individuals, meant that the coin of the unjust ruler or coin of political rival could have been seen as the visible targets for destruction, regardless of any economic considerations, thus, culminating to the senate’s decision to melt down bronze coin of Caligula after his assassination.
The states use of sale mechanisms is shown in the sale of conquered populations as slaves and in the constant sales of the goods of, which took place at times of fiscal stress. They are attested under Caligula, nerve and mucus Aurelian’s. Caligula’s short reign is depicted in terms of breathtaking extravagances that were followed by desperate attempts to obtain funds. It offers little clue to the state financial position under normal conditions, although Caligula reputedly began with a vast surplus that ended with a deficit. However, Claudius’s reign of thirteen years was long enough to allow some financial recovery. Nevertheless, the rate of circulation of the coin was too slow, due to the velocity as measured by loss of coin weight, as much less as comparable modern currencies that implied that, there were few physical transactions. During the emperor’s era, the rate of the coin was diffused from the mint was apparently slow. Coins were disseminated from the mint by public spending. It had two primary elements, army pay, spent mainly in the provinces and spending of money by the emperor mostly in Rome and Italy (Jones 11).
There is indirect evidence, in historical context, which is known as propaganda that Claudius spared no pains to remind the public about the Caligula distractive idiosyncrasies. Besides, it manifests that, the feelings were running strongly against Caligula at the beginning of Claudius reign. His act was declared null and void by the senate and his name, along with that of Tiberius taken out of the list of emperors’ mention in oaths and prayers. All of this might suggest that conditions in the early part of Claudius reign were right for demonetization. However, in the event where the evidence is overwhelming, against Claudius allowing the senate to go that far there for declaring Caligula hoists (public enemy).
Finally, the use of coins is evident in the Roman Empire even before the reign of Caligula although it was short-lived. The currency was mainly used for tax payments in some trade. It is also evident that during the reign of the emperors, the availability of the emperor’s portrait on the coins was an important aspect to them.
Burgan, Micheal. Empire of Ancient Rome. London: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Jones, Richard D. New York: Routledge, 1998. Print.
Paul, G M, and Michael Ierardi. Roman Coins and Public Life Under the Empire: E. Togo Salmon Papers Ii. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1999. Print.
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Please be advised that my disappointment and mockery is directed entirely at your writing skills, and not you as a person.