A denarius was a Roman silver coin, originally equivalent to ten asses (a brass Roman coin), hence their name which translates as "containing ten". The consular denarius bore on one side a head of Rome, and an X or a star, to denote the value in asses, and a chariot with either two or four horses. At a later period the casts of different deities were on the obverse, and these were finally superceded by the heads of the Caesars. Many specimens of this coin have been preserved. During Jesus' earthly ministry, agricultural laborers received a denarius for a day's work (Matthew 20:2). This is why the denarius is used in Revelation 6:6 to denote the extreme conditions where a quart of wheat or three quarts of barley would cost a full day's wage; a laborer "might be able to obtain a bare subsistence by his daily labor; but a man could not, in such cases, provide for a family".
- Barnes, Albert Barnes' New Testament Notes Christian Classics Ethereal Library Accessed July 5, 2007
- Clarke, Adam, Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible Grand Rapids: Baker Book House (1967)