Money

It’s one of my favorite words.  Yes, I wish I had scads of it, but what I really love is its history.  Take a peek behind that handful of change that you got at the supermarket and you’ll see geese, Gauls, and a goddess.

In ancient Rome there was a temple to Juno.  Within the temple precincts was a flock of sacred geese.  When the Gauls were besieging Rome in 390 B.C.E., some of them decided to come over the wall one night, and the geese put up the kind of fuss that only geese can.  They made so much noise that they roused the city and the Gauls were thrown back out.  So the temple became known as the temple of Juno Moneta — Juno who warns.  (I just found out that a half-century later a new temple was built on the same site by L. Furius Camillus, about whom I know nothing else, but there should be more people named L. Furius Camillus.)

Centuries later, the building where coins were stamped during the Republic was near the temple, and it too became known as “moneta”.  Eventually the stuff that was made there was called “moneta” as well.  (That’s a lovely version of metonymy, by the way — the container for the thing contained, “moneta” for the place that coins are made and also for the coins that are made there.)  The word descended to us as both “money” and “mint”.  So “money” and “premonition” have the same root, and if you listen closely when you get your change you can hear the sacred geese squawking.

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About lifeonatangent

This is my self-referential profile statement that is intended to give you useful information about me without actually, well, giving you useful information about me. I live in a midden with my dog, who plays into my obsession with words by having no recognized cognates in any other language or even any history going back further than Old English. Seriously. See http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=dog.
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One Response to Money

  1. Bobbi says:

    Oh thank you! All those tales you tell on the road I can now refer back to and ask questions if need be. (If I don’t forget, that is. You know how I am.)

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