In the A.V., in several passages of the New Test., "penny," either alone or in the compound "pennyworth," occurs as the rendering of the Greek δηνάριον, a transfer of the name of the Roman denarius (Mt 18:28; Mt 20:2,9,13; Mt 22:19; Mr 6:37; Mr 12:15; Mr 14:5; Lu 7:41; Lu 10:35; Lu 20:24; Joh 6:7; Joh 12:5; Re 6:6). It took its name from its being first equal to ten "n asses," a number afterwards increased to sixteen. The earliest specimens are of about the commencement of the 2d century B.C. From this time it was the principal silver coin of the commonwealth. It continued to hold the same position under the empire until long after the close of the New-Testament canon. In the time of Augustus eighty-four denarii were struck from the pound of silver, which would make the standard weight about 60 grains. This Nero reduced by striking ninety-six from the pound, which would give a standard weight of about 52 grains, results confirmed by the coins of the periods, which are, however, not exactly true to the standard. The drachm of the Attic talent, which from the reign of Alexander until the Roman domination was the most important Greek standard, had, by gradual reduction, become equal: to the denarius of Augnstus, so that the two coins came to be regarded as identical. Under. the same emperor the Roman coin superseded the Greek, and many of the few cities which yet struck silver money took for it the form and general character of the denarius, and of its half, the quinarius. In Palestine in the New-Test. period, we learn from numismatic evidence, that denarii must have mainly formed the silver currency. It is therefore probable that in the New Test, by (δραχμή and ἀργύριον, both rendered in the A.V. "piece of silver," we are to understand the denarius. SEE DRACHMA. The δίδραχμον of the tribute (Mt 17:24) was probably in the time of our Savior not a current coin, like the στατήρ mentioned in the same passage (ver. 27). SEE MONEY. From the parable of the laborers in the vineyard it would seem that a denarius was then the ordinary pay for a day's labor (Mt 20:2,4,7,9-10,13). The term denarius aureus (Pliny 34:17; 37:3) is probably a corrupt designation for the aureus
(nunzmus); in the New Test. the denarius proper is always intended. See Smith, Dict. of Class. Antiq. s.v. Denarius. The earlier silver denarii were struck by the authority of distinguished families, and bear portraits and designs illustrative of Roman history; these are called consular denarii. After the time of Julius Caesar they present us with a series almost unbroken of the emperors, together with many of their wives, sons, daughters, and occasionally of their fathers, sisters, and brothers also. The consular denarius bore on one side a head of Rome, and X or a star, to denote the value in asses, and a chariot with either two or four horses; but afterwards the reverse bore the figures of Castor and Pollux, and sometimes a Victory in a chariot of two or four horses. At a later date the busts of different deities were given on the obverse; and these were finally superseded by the heads of the Caesars. The reverses varied, and some of them are very curious. The name continued to be applied to a silver piece as late as the time of the earlier Bvzantines. The states that arose from the ruins of the Roman empire imitated the coinage of the imperial mints, and in general called their principal silver coin the denarius, whence the French name denier and the Italian denaro. The chief Anglo-Saxon coin, and for a long period the only one corresponded to the denarius of the Continent. It continued to be current under the Normans, Plantagenets, and Tudors, though latterly little used. It is called penny, denarius, or denier, which explains the employment of the first word in the A.V. See Arnold. De denario Petri (Alt. 1769); Dorschaeus, Denarius Vespertinus (Rost. 1657). SEE DENARIUS.