The obolus (or obol) is a Greek silver coin worth a sixth of a drachma. In Classical Athens it was subdivided into eight "chalkoi" ("copper pieces"). Two obols made a diobol.

According to Plutarch, the Spartans had an iron obolus of four chalkoi. The obolus is also a measurement of weight. In ancient Greece it was defined as one sixth of a drachma, or about 0.5 gram. In ancient Rome it was defined as 1/48 of a Roman ounce, or about 0.57 gram, but was never issued as a coin as part of the early republican coinage system. Below the drachm was the dupondius (1/5) to the quartuncia (1/480). [cite book |title=Ancient coin collecting 3 |first=Wayne G. |last=Sayles |year=1997 |pages=19 |isbn=0-87341-533-7 |publisher=Krause Publications |location=Iola] In modern Greece it is equivalent to one decigram, or 0.1 gram.

The word "obolos" or "obelos" (plural: oboloi, obeloi) means a long thin metal rod, such as a spit. "Oboloi" came to be used as currency because they represented ingots of copper or bronze, and were traded as such. Sparta chose to retain the use of the cumbersome, impractical "oboloi" rather than coins proper, so as to discourage the pursuit of wealth.

The deceased were buried with an obolus, placed under the tongue or on the eyes of the corpse, in order that, once a dead person's shade reached the underworld of Hades, it would be able to pay Charon for passage across the river Acheron. Those without enough wealth, or whose friends refused to follow proper burial rites, were forced to wander the banks of the Acheron for one hundred years.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • OBOLUS — Graece ὀβολὸς, nummi genus minutum. Nomen tulit, quod Atheniensium nummus Ὀβολὸς obelum in cusum ostentaverit: an potius a figura obeli, quam primitus habuit. Ita enim Eustathius in Il. α. Ὀβολὸν σιδήρου ἔλασμά τι ἔλεγον. χῆμα μὲν πῶς ἔχων ὀβολοῦ …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Obolus — mit Abbildung Demetrius I. (Griechisch Baktrisches Königreich) Ein Obolus (altgriechisch ὀβολός, Plural ὀβολοί – obolós, Pl. oboloí, deutsch „Spieß, Bratspieß“) war im antiken Griechenland eine geringwertige Münze mit einem Wert von 8 Chalkoi.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Obolus — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El obolus u óbolo (del griego antiguo ὀβολός, plural ὀβολόι) es una moneda griega de plata cuyo valor es la sexta parte de una dracma. En la Atenas clásica estaba subdividida en ocho chalkoi ( pieza de cobre ) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Obolus — »Scherflein, kleiner Beitrag«, häufig in der Wendung »seinen Obolus entrichten«: Das seit dem 18./19. Jh. gebräuchliche Fremdwort geht zurück auf den griech. Münznamen obolós (der sechste Teil der alten Drachme), der über gleichbed. lat. obolus… …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

  • Obolus — Sm kleine Geldspende erw. bildg. (18. Jh.) Entlehnung. Über l. obolus entlehnt aus gr. obolós, der Bezeichnung einer kleinen Münze (sechster Teil einer Drachme). Das Wort bedeutet eigentlich spitziger Stab und weist deshalb vielleicht auf eine… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Obolus — Ob o*lus, n.;pl. {Oboli}. [L., fr. Gr. (?)] (Gr.Antiq.) (a) A small silver coin of Athens, the sixth part of a drachma, about three cents in value. (b) An ancient weight, the sixth part of a drachm. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Obŏlus — Obŏlus, Gattung der Armfüßer (s. d.) …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Obolus — Obolus, altgriech. Münze = 1/6 Drachme; Arzneigewicht = 10 Gran …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • obolus — [äb′əläb′ə ləs] n. pl. oboli [äb′əlī΄] [L < Gr obolos, var. of obelos, a spit, needle, bar used as money] 1. in ancient Greece 2. a) a coin valued at 1/ 6 drachma b) a weight equal to 111/ 4 grains …   English World dictionary

  • Obolus — Spende; milde Gabe; Scherflein (umgangssprachlich); Zuwendung; Gnadengeschenk; Almosen; Gabe; Armengeld; Gnadenbrot * * * Obo|lus 〈m.; , od. se〉 …   Universal-Lexikon

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.