Roman Gold Coins
In the early days of Rome, most of its coins were of silver or base metal, but as Rome became a great power and a strong trading nation, it needed th means to make and receive and payments in large amounts. The excellent fifth (millennium) edition of David Sears' Roman Coins and Their Values list only 20 gold coins from the beginning of the Republic in about 280 BC to 41 BC, compared with over 200 pages full of silver and base metal coins. From the beginning of the Imperatorial period (49 BC) through to the fall of the Roman Empire, gold coins were issued by or for most of the Emperors.
The very earliest Roman gold coins were staters emulating coins of the earlier Greek civilisation, but the standard issue Roman gold coin came to be the aureus, which simply means golden, referring obviously to its colour.
The Solidus was first introduced by Diocletian in the early 4th Century A.D. Eventually, the Solidus replaced the Aureus as the basis for Rome's gold coinage. Initially worth 1,000 denarii, the Solidus was used mostly for trade purposes and military expenditure, including the payment of soldier's wages. Because of the military associations of this coin, 'Solidus' is the root word for 'soldier' in the English and other languages.
Gold Silver Ratios
During our research for this page, we came across a section of Stevenson's Dictionary of Roman Coins, which related the changing ratios of gold to silver values (prices) for a range of periods in Roman history. We will soon be adding this newly (by us) found information to our Gold Silver Ratio page.
Concord Reverse of Gold Aureus of Aelius
Obverse of Roman Gold Solidus of Honorius