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It will be worth while to glance at the evidence for its existence. In the first place, Æschylus 2 makes use of the curious expression, βούς επί γλώσση βέβηκε. The words are put into the mouth of one who has grave reasons for keeping silence, and the traditional interpretation, confirmed by Pollux, is, “I am bribed to silence,” the bous being supposed to be the coin weighing, so to speak, on the tongue and keeping it down. Theognis of Megara makes use of a similar expression, which, indeed, seems to have been proverbial. But whether any ox-type coins ever existed or not, I quite agree with all recent editors of Æschylus in thinking that the proverb quoted makes no allusion to them. “An ox is standing on my tongue,” or even, as Æschylus puts it, “a great ox," is a sort of Oriental metaphor to express the moral impossibility of speaking. The watchman of Æschylus was not bribed to silence (if he had been, the great dramatist would scarcely have made him boast of it), but was silent from fear. If any further argument were wanted, it would be supplied by the fact that Menander uses a parallel phrase, ûs étrà otópa, certainly without reference to coins.
But there comes the further question, were there ever any Athenian coins stamped with an ox ? Certainly, at first sight, it seems very bold to question what tradition 80 widely affirms. Plutarch 3 asserts that Theseus first struck them, perhaps taking the type from the Minotaur. Pollux · and other late writers, in addition to several scholiasts, bear testimony to a tradition of their existence. But Pollux himself at the same time gives us some information which shows how the tradition may easily
2 Agam., 36.
have arisen apart from fact. He says that at Delos the heralds, in proclaiming a reward, proclaimed it as of so many Bóes—a Bows, it appears, being considered as equivalent to a didrachm. We can perfectly understand how this would take place. At an ancient festival like that of Delos the various forms of words used would be religiously kept up, and long after payments had ceased to be made in cattle, the heralds adhered to the ancient phrase, the term Boüs having a conventional value fixed to it. But in later times, when every one had forgotten why the term Bows was used in this sense, traditional explanations would arise, and one might judge à priori that they would certainly be wrong. One of the most natural explanations in view of the fact that later Athenian tetradrachms were termed ydawkes, would be that at Athens or Delos 5 (as some reported) there had once been didrachms marked with an ox, and so called Bóes. This is precisely in keeping with what we know of Greek rationalistic explanations of a late date. We, who are far harder of belief, can scarcely imagine any one accepting this explanation unless he knew of the existence of a bull-stamped coin. But we must not judge of the Greeks by this standard. Pollux calmly asserts, in the same passage, that there were at Athens triobols with a head of Zeus on the obverse, a thing almost impossible, because totally contrary to the spirit of Athenian coinage. And of the rapidity with which a vaguely invented myth would pass for sound history, we have an excellent proof in the fact that the horse Bucephalus had been dead but a score or so of years when he was figured on coins 6 with the
5 Pollux, l. c. This shows how careless the author was in matters of detail. He did not take the trouble to ascertain whether the partizans of Athens or of Delos were in the right.
6 Those of Seleucus Nicator.
horns of an ox-a vain imagination, produced entirely by a foolish attempt to explain his name.
This theory appears to me fully to account for the widespread tradition of the Bous coins. Every time the herald at Delos made proclamation, people would ask one another,
Why does he use that curious form of expression,' and why is a didrachm reckoned the equivalent of an ox?" And of course, on principles of natural selection, the most plausible explanation would survive and be everywhere propagated. And finally, it would press into its service the current proverb, βοῦς ἐπὶ γλώττῃ, and twist it to suit itself.
I cannot, then, think it to be at all demonstrated that there ever were coins at Athens bearing the figure of a bull. If some Athenian coin must be called the Boûs, in deference to tradition, let it be the didrachm which I would assign to Athens; and if any one objects, let him produce any coin with a better claim to the title. And it is likely, at any rate, that a floating tradition of the past issue of coins such as we now know Athens to have struck, with bovine types, may have tended to induce people to ascribe the Bóes to her rather than to other
2. Two hemidrachms of Achaia (Pl. VII., fig. 3 and 4.) Obv.-Head of Zeus Homagyrius, right, laureate. Rev.-X within laurel wreath.
Size 3. Weight 40 grains.
I am reminded that some people would explain the use of the term Bous in payment at a late date by the fact that early weights were often made in the shape of animals; the early Bous, then, would be a weight of uncoined metal. But this subject is quite apart from the tradition I am discussing, which is of coined didrachms.-Cf. Dictionary of the Bible, article "Money."
Obv.-Female head, left, (nymph or local heroine).
These coins have long been at the British Museum, and cannot be called unpublished, the former appearing in Payne Knight's catalogue ; the latter being mentioned in Mr. Warren's "Federal Coinage.”. But these previous descriptions are incorrect; and the historical importance of the coins has not been noticed. It has been acknowledged that the Achaian league of Roman times was a revival in a different and far stricter form of a confederacy which had existed almost from prehistoric times among the cities of Achaia. It is, however, generally supposed that this confederacy was somewhat loose one, and the argument that there existed no coinage of the earlier Achaian league has sometimes been brought forward in favour of this view. Naturally and truly, the custom of striking money in common by several cities is supposed to indicate a close connection between them. Some importance, therefore, attaches to the fact that the Achaians, before the dissolution of their confederacy by Macedon, sometimes struck silver money in common. The two coins above described belong, beyond question, to the pre-Alexandrine period of Greek art. They present, as to style, a very marked contrast to the barbarous pieces struck by the later league, which they also considerably excel in weight. It is unfortunately impossible to fix their date accurately, but we can scarcely be far wrong in assiguing them to about the year 310 B.C.,
& P. 16, A 4; also in Leake.
9 P. 34. Mr. Warren, however, calls the figure on the reverse Artemis, and gives the coin a later date than 280 B.C., which seems quite impossible.
when the league was at the height of its power-just before the battle of Chæroneia. The head of Zeus resembles that on the coins of Alexander I. of Epirus ; the beautiful female head, the hair of which is confined in a most tasteful manner by a fillet, and the figure of Pallas, remind us of the coins of Tegea, Pellene, and other South Greek cities, struck before the liberties of Greece were prostrated by Philip II. of Macedon.
3. Didrachm of Sicyon. (Pl. vii. fig. 5.) Usual types ; on the obverse a graflito carefully punctured
with some pointed instrument to this effect
ΑΡΤΑΜΙΤΟΣ ΤΑΣ ΕΛΚΕΤΑΣ ΑΜΟΝ.
Thus, at least, after long and careful study, I believe it to run, although it is right to add that the T of EAKETAS might be a T, that the A of AMON is indistinct, and that at the eud of that word is a mark which might stand for an I, although I believe it merely to indicate the end of the inscription, there being a similar mark at the end of the first word. The first two words and the last need cause no difficulty; they are the regular Doric forms of 'Apréμιδος, της, and ημών. The form ΕΛΚΕΤΑΣ is, however, , , .
, , almost inexplicable ; it would seem to represent some attribute of Artemis, and, in default of any better theory, we are driven to imagine that it may perhaps have been an adjective connected with the verb č.kw, and signifying either “bow-drawing" or "withdrawing from trouble,"
, or possibly alluding to the function of Artemis in child. birth. The interpretation of the inscription in this case would be “Dedicated to Artemis 10 our deliverer,” or to
“ “ Artemis our helper in child-birth.”
It appears, then, that the present inscription is a dedi
10 The word iepóv being understood, which regularly in this connection takes the genitive case. See below.