(δηνάριον), the principal silver coin of the Romans, which took its name from having been originally equal to ten times the "as" (Pliny, 33:12), which was the unit. SEE FARTHING. It was in later times (after B.C. 217) current also among the Jews, and is the coin which is called "a PENNY" (q.v.) 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 (Bockh, Metrol. Unters. p. 299, 469). Those coined in the early period of the commonwealth have the average weight of 60 grains, and those coined under the empire of 52.5 grains. With some allowance for alloy, the former would be worth 8.6245 pence, or 17 cents, and the latter 7.5 pence, or 15 cents. 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 the equivalent of the Greek δραχμή (Pliny, 21:109), or about 15 cents, is the usual computation (see Wurm, De ponder. mensura, p. 54). A denarius was the day-wages of a laborer in Palestine (Mt 20:2,9,13; Tobit 5:15); and the daily pay of a Roman soldier was less (Tacitus, Ann. 1:17). In the time of Christ the denarius bore the image of the emperor (Mt 22:19.; Mr 12:16), but formerly it was impressed with the symbols of the republic.
The name of this coin occurs in the Talmud, in the form דַּינָר (see Lightfoot, at Mt 20:2). Pliny speaks of a golden denarius (Hist. Nat. 33:13; 34:17; 37:3; so also the Mishna, Kiddush. 2:2, etc.), which was of the average weight of 120 grains, and was current for 25 of the silver coin. In later times a copper coin was called denarius. It has even its representative in the modern Oriental dinar. See Greave, Roman Foot and Denarius (Lond. 1647); Rasche, Lex. Rei Numarice, II, 1:138; Pinkerton, Essay on Medals, 1; Akerman, Catalogue of Roman Coins (Lond. 1834), 1:15-19; and the essays De denario census, by Christiern (Upsal. 1732) and Mayer (Gryph. 1702). SEE MONEY.