Mark J. Reed wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 4:06 AM, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> This is where things get confusing;  'sestertius' is strictly speaking an
>> adjective meaning "two an a half."
> Interesting.  Do you know the derivation within Latin?  It looks
> somewhat like "six thirds", which would of course be "two"...
> Ah, Wikipedia to the rescue.  Shortened from semis+tertius,
> interpreted as either "the third half" (where ½ is the first half, and
> 1½ the second) or "half the third" (that is, halfway from 2 to 3).

Something like that   ;)

The formation seems to be unique and in practice 'sestertius' was 
(almost) always used of money.

The more common formation was with the prefix _sesqui-_ = 'one half 
more', thus, e.g.
sesquidigtus  = 1.5 'digit' (a 'digit' was a sixteenth of a foot)
sesquihora = 1.5 hours
sesquimodius = 1.5 pecks (measure of capacity).
sesquipes = 1.5 feet

When prefixed to ordinals/factions it denotes 'one extra', e.g.
sesquioctavus = nine eighths.
sesquitertius = four thirds

> And you were right about the original composition: "During the Roman
> Republic it was a small, silver coin issued only on rare occasions.",
> while I had the wrong br* metal for the later one: "During the Roman
> Empire it was a large brass coin."  That'll teach me not to check my

It fell in value during the late Republic and empire. In the Classical 
period - which is what I'm more familiar with, among the Romans the unit 
of account was the sesterce. Denarius would be used only of the coin, 
understood to be four sesterces.
>> It was originally, however, worth two & half asses (Latin plural  :)
> See?  Livestock again.. ;-)


[log in to unmask] wrote:
 > The relationship between the soled and the dener is just the
 > standard medieval one between solidus (French sou) et
 > denarius (French denier).

So it was general in western medieval Europe? That would account for the 
use of 'denarius' and 'solidus' for our penny & shilling. Were the 
French 'sou' and 'dernier' also related to the 'livre'(libra) of silver 
(i.e. more or less a Troy pound - just over 373 grams - of silver?

So the old English system was, in fact, bringing the Germanic penny & 
shilling in line with European practice? Interesting.

 > It was decimalized during the
 > XIXth century for the same reasons as other currencies :
 > convenience. Inflation is a fact of life for Gutisc speakers
 > but it has nothing to do with decimalization as such.

Britain waited till nearly three quarters of the way through the 20th 
century - and that was mainly because of foreigner trade. Most of us 
natives were quite happy with it    ;)

But what, I think, Damien was wondering was why the Gutisc speakers 
decimalized by changing 12 deners = 1 soled --> 100 deners = 1 soled. 
Wouldn't 10 deners = 1 soled have been a more expected change?

When we decimalized our money in 1971, the old pennies & shillings 
(denarii & solidi) were, in effect, abolished. We retained only the 
'pound' (libra) which was divided into 100ths. Some wanted them called 
'cents', since they had no direct relation to the old system, but the 
government of the day decided to retain the term 'penny', giving it a 
new meaning.

Another proposal - obviously not adopted - was to change 12 pence = 1 
shilling ---> 10 pence = 1 shilling, and then have a new coin, 'the 
Royal', worth ten shillings. This would've said good-bye to the pound.

Personally, I was in favor of keeping the pound but dividing it into 
1000 units, by reviving the then obsolete 'farthing' (still use when I 
was a youngster running around in short trousers!), by similar changing 
the old 48 farthings to a shilling to 50. As there were 20 shillings to 
the pound, that would have given 1000 farthings = 1 pound.

But the government of the day took no notice of me    ;)

What money are they using in WHAT? There would have been no denarii or 
solidi or any of the other old Roman money. Maybe having discovered 
their calendar I should find out about their money.

"Ein Kopf, der auf seine eigene Kosten denkt,
wird immer Eingriffe in die Sprache thun."
[J.G. Hamann, 1760]
"A mind that thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language".