It is quite heartening to be able to open a fairly mundane business newspaper and read something about Ancient Rome. So I was in for quite a surprise when I read this article in the Hindu Business Line this morning.
The author briefly talks about the benefits of the common currency system that Rome imposed on its colonies and about how that is a ‘sort of predecessor’ for the Euro.
Couple of things I feel the author missed (without arguing one way or the other)- although it was definitely true that Rome maintained the central mint for coins (especially the aureus) at Rome, there were loads of provincial mints churning out bronze and to a limited extent silver coins. This website gives a lot of information on provincial coinage in the empire. Rome also had the advantage as the central power to impose these standards on the areas she annexed.
Rome in my opinion was not just about hard power. She was also about soft power. Although the Romans themselves looked to Greece and Hellenistic culture for inspiration, people from the colonies aspired to be as Roman (or even more Roman) than the Romans themselves. In those days Rome was the top dog. The massive administrative, military and political machine that Rome was actually brought in quite a few benefits to colonies. For centuries to be Roman was to be cool! Not sure if the European Union and the Euro carry quite the same amount of charm.