----- Original Message -----
From: "John Hooker" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, 10 April 2002 6:33 PM
Subject: Re: Caesar on the Gauls
> Hi Vyvyan,
> >I find it a lot easier to believe that it is Latin and therefore that
> >VIROS means soldiers-as-recipients (of an action, in this case, the
> >out of their pay). I find it easier to believe that while Romans prided
> >themselves on using only fine gold, in times of exigency, such as in war
> >time and during the aftermath of war, pending the restoration of trade
> >industry and primary production, they sometimes did use inferior Celtic
> >to pay soldiers of the lower orders, which they marked as VIROS, meaning
> >(payable to the) soldiery, to distinguish it from the coins of purer gold
> >with which those of noble rank were paid.
> A couple of problems here.
> The coin is Belgic and not Roman. It is very easy to tell the difference
> between the two. The style is Belgic, and typical of the coins of the
> Nervii. The subject matter and iconography is also typically Belgic, and
> this iconography began long before there were any Romans in that area. The
> fabric of the coin, the type of alloy and the evident production method
> also Belgic. Roman coins look very different. Being able, in some cases,
> identify specific die engravers of some Celtic coins, I find it amusing to
> hear the suggestion that I cannot tell the difference between Roman and
> Celtic coins!
I'm not casting aspersions on your evident expertise. Please don't imagine
that. But for the sake of effective 'knowledge-production', we need to ask
all the questions and follow up every lead. As scholars we stand on the
shoulders of giants, and giants sometimes make errors, and some errors that
giants make are gigantic. I think many have been made that can realatively
easily be corrected in ancient history because of the paucity of evidence
and the controversiality of evry little detail of every little bit of it.
Theories that emerge sometimes need to be checked for distortive factors so
that they can be corrected, so that the study can move to more and more
accurate foci and become a more internally consistent discipline.
What you say here does throw light onto the issue and raise some questions.
Keep in mind that the word VIROS has an appropriate Latin translation in
keeping with the hypothesis that they were minted from inferior Celtic gold
in order to pay the VIROS (Latin 2nd declension masculine accusative plural
of VIR -IS men/soldiers - according to Cassels Latin Dictionary), and no
translation has yet been hazarded for VIROS as a Belgic word or name.
What fault do you find with the hypothesis that Romans may have got Belgic
mint-workers to design and mint the coins, to pay, of course, the VIROS?
That would account for the quality of gold and the Belgic design features.
> Army pay was standardized and the amount paid depended on rank. The pay
> reckoned in silver denarii on a per annum basis. The quaestor was
> "quartermaster" and this was a very high rank. During the Gallic war
> Crassus (the eldest son of the Triumvir) and Mark Antony served as
> quaestors. Caesar treated his soldiers very well when it came to pay and
> gave them extra financial rewards above that of their standard pay. To not
> pay the soldiers properly, or to pay some of them with a debased currency
> would have been more than foolhardy, it would probably have been suicide!
> There was not a single mutiny during the Gallic wars, and although Caesar
> was a tough leader, he never did anything that would lessen the respect he
> got from his troops. Generally speaking, and throughout the subsequent
> Roman Empire, the soldiers could raise one to power, or end one's life,
> few subsequent generals achieved the level of respect that Caesar did.
> After the Gallic Wars, Caesar even raised the standard pay of the soldier.
You say that soldiers in the Roman army were given 'extra financial rewards
above that of their standard pay'. Their standard pay was in silver
denarii. Silver is less precious than gold, even the gold alloy that the
Celts used. So it wouldn't have been insulting to use such coins as these as
bonuses to reward the VIROS. They could have got (perhaps captured) Belgic
designers to create a kind of commemorative coin to celebrate a particularly
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