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p288 Cistophorus

Article by Philip Smith, B.A., of the University of London
on p288 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

CISTO′PHORUS (κιστοφόρος), a silver coin, which belonged to the kingdom of Pergamus, and which was in general circulation in Asia Minor at the time of the conquest of that country by the Romans (Liv. XXXVII.46, 58, XXXIX.7; Cic. ad Att. II.6, XI.1). Its value is extremely uncertain, as the only information we possess on the subject is in two passages of Festus, which are at variance with each other, and of which certainly one, and probably the other, is corrupt. (Festus, s.vv. Euboicum Talentum, and Talentorum non, &c.; see Müller's notes): and, with respect to the existing specimens, it is doubtful whether they are double or single cistophori. Böckh supposes them to have been originally didrachms of the Aeginetan standard: others take them for tetradrachms. Mr. Hussey (pp74, 75), from existing coins, which he takes for cistophori, determines it to be about ⅘ of the later Attic drachma, or Roman denarius of the republic, and worth in our money about 7¾d. The existing specimens are extremely scarce. The general device is, on the one side, the sacred chest (cista, whence the name) of Dionysus, half open, with a serpent creeping out of it, and on the reverse, the car of Demeter, drawn by serpents. The period during which cistophori were struck, is supposed to have been from about B.C. 200, down to the battle of Actium. (Panel, de Cistophoris, Lugd. 1734; Eckhel, vol. IV pp352‑368; Böckh, Metrol. Untersuch. pp101, 107.)


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