The Pelasgians or proto – Latins (Arimii)

(The Pelasgians from the northern parts of the Danube and the Black Sea)





XXXIII. 4. Arimii (Arimani, Rami, Arimaspi, Arimphaei) in Dacia.


The most extensive, most civilized and most warlike Pelasgian population in the northern parts of the Danube and of the Black Sea in the primitive times of history had been the so-called Arimi.

Arimii had raised the military and political power of the Pelasgians to its highest glory.

The territory once occupied by this nation in Europe, Asia and Africa, had been vast, and the name of the Arimi, Arimani, Rami or Ramni, as they were also called, has remained through traditions, legends and names of localities, in the memory of the various populations from these three continents.


We find the oldest mention of the Arimii from the Carpathians and Istru with Homer (II. v. 783), who tells us that the terrible giant Typhon - who reached with one hand to the east, and with the other to the west (Apollodorus, Bibl. lib. I. 6. 3) – who had fought with the Titans and the Giants against the coalition of the gods, had been from the country of the Arimi.

This Typhon, a violent and continuous enemy of the populations of other races, had filled with terror all the regions of Asia Minor and Egypt, through his incursions and wars.

In the national traditions of the Greeks, he is shown as a fearful monster, who, after conquering the world from east to west, wanted to also reign over the heavens (Hesiodus, Theog. v. 836 seqq; Apollodorus, Bibl. lib. I. 6. 3). In Osyric religion he is the representation of the evil spirit (Lepsius, Uber den ersten agypt. Gotterkreis, p. 48; Plutarc, De Isid. C. 41); and for the peoples between the Euphrates and Indus, or in the religion of Zoroaster, Typhon is the demon inimical to the human genus, the principle of evil and darkness, the antichrist of the pagan world, and in this latter religion he is addressed under his national name of Ariman, ‘Areimanios, ‘Areimanes (Plutarc, De Isid. c. 46).


Another hero of the Pelasgian antiquity was venerated on the territory of Panonnia and in the suburbs of Rome under the name of Arimanius (C. I. L. vol. III. nr. 4314, 3415; Ibid. vol. VI. nr. 47; see Ch. XIV.12). This was Prometheus, the martyr king of Scythia from the Carpathians, the representative of Pelasgian civilization in the Stone Age, called Mithras in the religious language.

The Umbrii, on whose territory we find an ancient city called Ariminum, also gave Jove, the father of gods and men, the epithet Armunus (Huschke, Die Iguvischen Tafeln,II-a.7.p. 20, 322), meaning Jove of the Arimii, exactly like the ancient Romans also called the supreme divinity of the sky Jupiter Ruminus, and the Capadoccians called him Zeus Dachie (Strabo, lib.XII.c.2. 5).

Finally, Mars too, the powerful god of war, whose residence was on the territory of the Getae (Val. Flaccus, Argon. VI. v. 619), had the epithet Arimanios (Plutarc, Themist. c. 26 fine; the god Mars under the name of Hirmin is also mentioned in the medieval chronicle of Witechind (Grimm, D. Myth. 1854, p. 327), while a daughter of his was called ‘Armonia.

The population rich in gold from the central regions of the Carpathians also belonged to the ethnic family of the Arimii from the Danube.

According to the traditions gathered by Herodotus from the Greeks from near the Black Sea, Agathyrsus, the proto-parent of the Agathyrses from near the river Maris (today Mures), had been a son of Echidna (lib. IV. 9; Echidna also appears as the daughter of Agathyrsos I and mother of Agathyrsos II – Roscher, Lex. d. gr. u. rom. Myth. I. 1214); and according to Hesiodus, Echidna was from the country of the Arimii (Theog. v. 304).

In Homer’s Odyssey (IV. 84), the Arimii from the Danube are mentioned under the name Erembi, or Arambi, as Posidonius, the stoic philosopher from the 2nd century bc corrects this name (Strabo, lib. XVI. 4. 27; according to Aviennus – Descr. Orb. v. 271 – nigri Erembi dwelt close to Gades, see Ch.XVI.6). Here the letter b represents the nasal sound n, so Arambi = Aramni (Schuchardt, Vokal. d. Vulgarlat. III. 93).

The same Erembi appear with Dionysius Periegetus with the epithet of “munteni” (TN – from the mountain). At the same time Dionysius alludes quite clearly in his geographical poem that Erembii dwelt near the Rhipaei mountains (v. 962-963), and that they were from the genus of the Titans (v. 180).


In the epic traditions of antiquity we find other important mention about the country of the Arimi, from the north of Thrace.

Hesiodus calls the region from near the Atlas mountain, or the country of the Hyperboreans, where the dragon guarded the gold apples, eremna gaia (Theog. v. 334).

In Homer’s Odyssey (XXIV. v. 106), the legendary territory of the Hyperboreans also appears under the name eremna gaia, where the souls of the deceased heroes withdrew, in order to enjoy a happy and eternal life (Plato, Axiochus, at fine).

Here the term eremna applied to gaia is – in regard to its origin and meaning – only a simple geographical epithet, formed from the ethnic name of the Arimi, Arimani or Aramnilor.

The Greek authors have tried at all times to reproduce in their writings the ethnic and geographical names of the Barbarians in a form which had two meanings, one Greek and the other barbarian (Micali, L’Italia avanti il dominio dei Romani, Ed. 1826, I. 40; Plato, Critias, Ed. Didot, Vol. II. 254). ‘Eremna gaia with its geographical meaning is the country (tera) of Eremni or Aramni; and with the meaning of Greek etymology, eremna gaia is the misty, black and terrible country.

The same geographical epithet, but under the form of erimnos appears also in the Argonautics of Orpheus. Here the strong citadel of Aietes, who ruled also over the region of the Colchi, is called teichos erimnon (v. 764). In the same poem, the river Phasis, or today Buzeu, is called Phasis erimnos and Phasis eyrimenas (v. 85, 1052). The geographical character of this epithet is even better emphasized by Dionysius Periegetus (v. 694), who tells us, on the basis of some ancient sources today vanished, that the river Phasis springs from the mountain Armenios, ap’ oureos ‘Armenioio.

Arimii, under the form of Armeni, appear also at Pliny. In a geographical note, extracted from we don’t know what ancient author, he mentions close to the Ceraunic mountains, or the mountains of Cerna, the Armenochalybes (lib. VI. 11.1), meaning the iron smiths from the country of the Arimi. These are the same famous metal working masters, whom Eschyl calls in an altered form Chalibes anameroi (Prom. vinct. v. 715-716), giving thus to the word Armeni or Arimeni the Greek meaning of anameroi, meaning barbarian, inhuman.


The Arimii from the Lower Danube also appear in ancient geographical sources under the name of Rami. According to Ptolemy, one of the most important cities of southern Dacia was called Ramidava (Geogr. Lib. III. 8. 4), or the city of the Rami. From the longitude and latitude distances given by Ptolemy, the city Ramidava seems to have been situated in the region of today Buzeu and lower Siret.

Another group of Rami had its dwellings close to the Caucas (Pliny, lib. VI. 7. 2), but we cannot know if the Greek geographical sources used by the Roman author had not meant in this case the Caucas of Dacia.

A population with the name Ryndaci, to be understood as Rym – Daci (the changing of m into n before a d happens often in the Latin language), was settled near the Colchi, close to the river Phasis (Riese, Geogr. Lat. min. p. 45), or in other words, in the same geographical region where lived the ancient Arimi.

We find in the Argonautics of Orpheus a city called ‘Ermionia, situated close to the straits of the Rhipaei mountain, where dwelt the most just of men, historical epithet attributed to the Getae and the Hyperboreans. ‘Ermionia from Orpheus’ Argonautics seems to have been the same locality as the city mentioned by Ovid under the name Romechium (Met. Lib. XV. v. 705), whose geographical position is also near the straits of the Ceraunic mountains, or of Cerna.

Finally, a city from the southern parts of Dacia was called Romula in the times of Roman administration. We certainly have here only a Latinized form. Part of the ruins of this flourishing city, where four important Roman roads met, can still be traced on the territory of the village Rasca (= Ramsca) in Romanati district. The origin of the name predates without doubt the Roman epoch.

The ancient Arimi from the north of Thrace, who were contemporary with the great gods of the Pelasgian people, Uranos, Ianus, Saturn, Mars and Apollo, still figure in later Greek sources under the name Arimaspi, meaning Arimasci, a simple dialectal form of the name Arimi [1].


[1. The antique Pelasgian suffix ascus, asca, has been preserved to this day in the Liguric regions of Italy, where we find the localities called Rimasco, Romagnasco (see Ch. XXVIII. 3). On a coin of the Carnuti of Gallia, of the nationality of the Arimi, we find the name Arimacios (La Grande Encycl. See Gaule, p. 611). With the Romanian people the suffix ascu has been preserved in family names like Ionascu, Dumitrascu, Lupascu, etc].


According to Stephanos Byzanthinos, the Arimaspii belonged to the people of the Hyperboreans, ‘Arimaspoi, ethnos ‘Yperboreon (see ‘Arimaspoi). Aristeas of Proconnes, the famous poet and prophet of Apollo, who had lived according to some, in the times of Homer, characterizes like this the Arimaspi: “Many and very strong at war, rich in herds of cattle and horses, in sheep flocks; men with thick manes, which flutter in the wind; the most robust of all the people, having each an eye in his fine forehead” (Sitzungsb. d. k. Akad. d. Wiss. Phil-Hist. CI., CXVI, p. 758).

The Arimaspi dwelt in the southern regions of the Rhipaei mountains, or Carpathians, as the historian Damastis Sigensis, who had lived in the times of Herodotus, tells us (frag. 1, in Fragm. Hist. gr. II. 65; Eustathius, Comm, in Dionys. v. 32).


An Arimasp fighting with a griffon, guardian of gold. The artist presents the type of the Arimasp

as a tall figure, svelte and titanic, serious and full of energy, with his long hair falling on to his shoulders,

a sheepskin cap with its peak bent forward on his head, dressed in a knee long shirt,

girdled around his waist, and holding a round shield in his left hand [2].

(Drawing from a terracotta piece from Louvre Museum. Daremberg et Saglio, Dict. d. antiq. Tome I, 424)


[2. With Orpheus (Arg. v. 1063), the Arimaspii are neighbors of the Sauromatii and the Getae. According to the poet Lucan (Phars. III. v. 295), the Arimaspii dwelt between the Euxine Pontos and the Columns of Hercules (Cf. Strabo, XI. 6. 2).

According to Pliny, the Arimaspii had been formerly called Cacidari (IV. 19), a name which is neither Greek, nor Latinized, and which belongs to the idiom spoken in the regions inhabited by the Arimaspi.

According to Dio Cassius (LXVIII. 8) and Jornandes (Get. 10), the Dacians (Dacii) were divided in two social classes. The more noble and rich were pilophori or pileati, meaning those who wore caps, as we see them represented on the art monuments of the Romans; and the second class was formed by the lower people, Capillati or Comati, Chomatai. The Arimaspii, who wore caps on their heads and tied their long hair with gold threads, belonged mostly to the noble class of the pilophorii.

 The term Cacidari, as found in Pliny’s editions, had not been transmitted correctly. The ancient copyists of manuscripts had considered ol = d, reading Cacidari instead of Caciolari. The Greek word pilophoroi is only a simple translation of the ancient indigenous name Caciolari. Even today the Romaian people calls Caciulari those who wear high sheepskin caps (TN – cap = caciula)].


Pliny also writes: The Arimaspii, as some tell us, are neighbors with the peoples from the northern parts; they dwell close to the cave from which Boreas (or the northern wind) blows, and which place is called Gesclitos (probably a corrupt word instead of Desclitos, “deschis” (TN – open). These Arimaspi are in a continuous war around the mines, with the griffons, a sort of flying animals who, according to what the legends tell us, extract the gold from underground and guard it with incredible tenacity against the Arimaspii who try to steal it (lib. VII. 2. 2).

The cave of Boreas near which the Arimaspii dwelt was, according to Homer’s Illiad (XV. 171; XIX. 356), in the Rhipaei mountains, and according to Silius Italicus, on the territory of the Getae (Pun. Lib. VIII. 500-501).

Dionysius Periegetus (Orb. Descr. v. 31) also gives the Arimaspi the characteristic epithet of arimani and arimanii (areimaneis s. areimanioi), a word which, by its termination and its radical form, does not belong to the Greek language. With the term arimani or arimanii, Dionysius brings to light the ancient national name of the Arimaspi; but on another hand, he wants this name to also have a Greek etymological meaning: that the Arimaspi were arimani, meaning warlike people, or inspired by the god Mars (Eustathius, Comm. in Dionys. v. 31).

The same epithet arimani is also applied by Appianus to the Colchi (Mithr. c. 15), the people famous for their golden fleece, whose dwellings were, as we know, in the geographical region of the Carpathians, or of the ancient Arimi.

The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who had lived in the 1st century ad, calls arimani the Lusitanii and the Cantabrii (Bell. Jud. II. c. 16. 4). He tells us in another place (c. Apionem, lib. II. 4) that the ancient Iberians, ‘Iberes oi palai, meaning the barbarian populations of Hispania, were called ‘Romaioi, meaning Romans, although Hispania, as we know, had been completely conquered only at the time of Augustus. So we have here the same ethnic name of arimani, but under a later form.

The name Arimani, generally attributed to the Pelasgian populations from the Iberian peninsula, brings to light the fact that they belonged to the big family of the Arimi or Arimani from the eastern parts of Europe, from where they had emigrated in prehistoric times (see Ch.XXXII.6).

The Arimii from the Lower Danube also appear with the Roman authors under the name of Arimphaei, ‘Orgiempaioi with Herodotus. About these Pliny writes: we find that at the place where the chain of the Rhipaei mountains ends (meaning close to the Black Sea), dwell some people called Arimphaei, a people which is not different from the Hyperboreans. The Arimphaei dwell in the woods; eat the fruit of the trees, and have pleasant customs, because of which they are considered as saints even by the barbarian tribes of the neighboring populations, which do not harm either them, or those who come to them to look for shelter. And beyond the Arimphaei, dwell the Scythians and the Cimmerians, on open plains (lib. VI. 14. 2).

In this ethnographic note, the term Arimpaei is only a simple phonetic transformation of Arimnaei. A Romanian village from Banat, Ramna, appears in historical documents also under the form Rampna and Rafna (Pesty, A Szor. Bansag. II. p. 470).

Finally, the Arimii, the ancient inhabitants of Dacia, were also called Rumoni and Rumuni.

This results from the name of the Dacian prince Rumon (Ammianus, lib. XVII. c. 12), and also from the name of the locality Sclavinum Rumunnense (Jornandis, De Get. Orig. c. 5), today Slaveni in Romanati district. The origin of these forms definitely predates the Roman occupation (see following chapters).


We arrive now at the traditions of the Romanian people regarding the famous Arimi, who had once dwelt on the territory of ancient Dacia.

Some of these traditions show the Romanians of today as autochthonous at the Carpathians and at the Lower Danube, as descendents of an ancient people, called Ramleni and Ramni, who had once inhabited these regions.

Romanians”, these traditions tell us, “had not come here from anywhere, they have just been here” (Densusianu, Chest. Ist.- Michaesci village, Muscel); “Romanians have lived on these same places since they exist” (Ibid, Joresci village, Covurlui); “they have been here since the beginning of the world” (Ibid, Cosmesci village, Tecuciu); “our seed is from the giants” (Ibid, Bordeiul verde, Braila and Podeni, Prahova); and finally, “the Romanians of today were called in times past Ramni and Ramleni” (Ibid, Drajna village, Prahova).

The Romanians from the Carpathians also appear under the name Ramleni in the fragments of our still preserved heroic ancient poetry. In the orations hold during the folk weddings – after an ancient rite called “Romanian law” – the messengers of the groom tell us in rhymed dialogues that they are strong riders, that they come on horses faster than dragons, with lion heads (griffons), and that they are soldiers who are called Ramleni (Marianu, Nunta la Romani, p. 476, 480; Teodorescu, Poesii pop. 177).

Iovan Iorgovan, Hercules of Pelasgian times, is called in the old songs “son of Ramlean” (Teodorescu, Poesii pop. P. 419) and “Ramlean captain” (Alecsandri, Poesii pop, p. 14).

In other versions his epithet of Ramlean is replaced with the words easier to understand “Roman(ian)” (Gazeta Trans. Nr. 140, 1894) and “mocan” (TN – peasant).

These Ramleni of Romanian folk traditions have nothing to do with the ancient inhabitants of Rome, nor with the ancient citizens of the Roman empire; according to the ideas of the Romanian people they represent only an arch-ancient native population of these countries.

From the point of view of its etymology, the word Ramlean is only a phonetic transformation of the ancient term Ramnean. The changing of n into l and of l into n is one of the old phenomena of Romanic languages (Schuchardt, Vokal. d. Vulgarlat., I. 143). A locality in Banat, called today Radimna, also appears in historical documents under the form Radumlya (Pesty, Krassovarmegye, Tom. II. 15).


The term Ramlean was known in the Roman empire even before the Slav invasion.

On an ancient inscription from the Capitolin Museum appears a Hercoles Romanillianus (Guasco, Mus. Capit. I. 60. nr. 30, 1607; Fabretti, Corp. inscr. Ital. p. 584). It is the same epithet Ramlean, given to Iovan Iorgovan, or Hercules, in the heroic songs of the Romanian people.

A locality called Romulianum (Aur. Victor. Epit. 40) had existed in Dacia Ripenses and another with the name Ramlum in Thrace.

As we saw, the Arimii from the Danube had also been called Armeni in Greek antiquity.

The form of this name has been preserved to this day. Especially in Moldova, the name Armani and Armeni is applied to the inhabitants from “between marshes” or from the Danube delta (Tocilescu, Materialuri folkl. I. 1319). A similar tradition is communicated from Constanta district, Daieni village: “It is said by the old ones that some people called Armeni lived here before” (Chest. Ist.). We also find the name Arman synonymous with Roman in an epic song from Moldova (Sevastos, Cantece mold. 1888, p. 385).

In some traditions and legends the famous Arimi from the Lower Danube also appear under the names Rohmani, Rocmani, Rogmani and Rachmani.

These Rohmani, as the traditions of the peasants from Bucovina and Moldova tell us, had been Romani(ans), like us. They once had their country called Tera Rohmanilor (TN – the country of the Rohmans), which was situated towards south of Moldova (Densusianu, Cest. Ist. Bogdanesci village, Tutova), but not very far. They had been the men from ancient times, replaced by the Romanians of today (Ibid. Golaesci village, Iasi).


A certain tribe of these Rohmani formed a particular social class. Leading an ascetic life, they believed that they will reach an eternal life. These Rohmani appear as a sort of hermits, men of a particular piety and goodness, venerable and saintly, who still live today. The Romanian peasants of Moldova, Basarabia and Bucovina celebrate their memory in the seventh day after Easter, which they call Pascile Rohmanilor (TN – Easter of the Rohmans) (Marianu, Serb. La Rom. Vol. III. p. 171 seqq; Miklosich, Wand. D. Rum. 18). They dwell near the mouths of rivers which flow from Moldova; near the great waters in which flow all the rivers; in the isles of the seas; or in a wilderness on the shores of the sea; they have no houses, but live under the shade of the trees, eat wild fruits, meet their women only once a year, when they have a good time together for nine days, after which they again separate and live apart, the men from the women. These hermit Rohmani spend their lives mostly in religious devotions; they are very good men, with gentle behavior, because of which they are called “Buni” (TN – good ones) and “Blajini” (TN – gentle ones); they do not sin, do not harm anybody, but also nobody harms them; and because they are saints, they go after death straight to heaven, and are called “Fericitii Blajini” (TN – the Blessed Gentle ones). The Rohmani sensed the time of their death; they prepared alone for the last moment of their life; they donned death vestments, then the priests, relatives and friends came and the ceremony of farewell took place; then he for whom the hour had struck went alone behind a hill and disappeared, while the others returned home (Cest. Ist. Bolesci village, Roman).


As we see, this legend contains important historical elements. The good, pious and saintly Rohmans, for whom the Romanian peasants from Moldova, Basarabia and Bucovina have a religious respect even today, seem to have been the same people as Pliny’s (lib. VI. 14. 2) and Mela’s Arimphaei (Orb. Descr. lib. I. 2. 19), who dwelt in the woods, ate the fruit of the trees, spent their life only in prayers and worship of the gods and were considered as saints even by the barbarian tribes of the neighboring peoples; they are also the same as the religious Hyperboreans from near the Rhipaei mountains, who lived for long years, and when life became    too heavy to bear, they made the last feast, donned old style rich clothes and threw themselves from the rocks into the sea (Pliny, lib. XXVI,11,12; Mela, lib. III. 5).

According to other legends, the dwellings of the Rohmani were at Macarele (Densusianu, Cest. Ist. Dolhescii mari village, Suceava), by which must be understood Macharon nasoi, the islands of the Blessed.

Among all the “blessed” islands of antiquity, the holiest and most famous has been, as we know, Leuce island, from near the mouths of the Danube, today the Serpents’ island (Pliny, lib IV.27.1).

Leuce had been the island consecrated to the Pelasgian heroes (Dionysius, Orb. Descr. v. 543; Diod. Sic. Lib. II. 47; Priscianus, Periegesis, v. 557-561). Here lived the happy spirits of Achilles, Patroclus, Ajax, etc.


Other traces about the dwellings of the Arimii at the Carpathians and the Lower Danube are presented by the topographical terminology. From this we note here only the following:

Rama (Rima), village (Valcea); Rama, stream (Gorj); Ramna, two villages (Ramnicul-Sarat); Ramna, y.1475, two villages (Banat); Ramesci, two villages (Valcea); Rama, hamlet (Braila); Rymna, locality, 1274 (Gomor, Ung.); Rima-Szombat, or Rimanska Sobota, town near the river Rima (Gomor, Ungaria); Rigmani, s. (Transilvania); Roma, hamlet (Buzeu); Romlia, etim. Romnia, s. (Transilv.); Romos, in medieval documents Rams, s. (ibid) [3];


[3. The names ending with s or s(h) like Romos, Armenis(h), Ormenis(h), Petris (Dacia), Remis (Gallia), etc, are forms retained from antique times when they were usually pronounced with a preposition, like ad Romos, in Armenis, etc].


Romosz and Wolezek, two hamlets (Sokal, Galitia); Rum, town (Vasvar, Ung.); Ruma, little town (Sirmiu, Ung.); Rumno, s. (Rudki, Galitia); Rumno, estate (ibid); Aramesci, three villages in Moldova; Oromesci, hamlet (Arges); Haram (Arami), the principal town in the 14th century of a districtus valachicalis in Banat. Close to Serbia also exist the ruins of a castle called Ram [4];


[4. In vulgar idioms of the Latin language we find the aspiration of vowels at the beginning of words, and especially under the influence of r, for example: harena, harida, harundo, haruspex, hircus, honerare, etc.

Aram and Arim are the names of a national hero in Romanian folk poetry (Teodorescu, P. p. 627); Hasdeu, Dict. II. 1660). In these old songs, the strongmen who fought under the command of the hero are called Haramini (Alecsandri, Poesii pop. 64-69). This term designated in the beginning the nationality of the men, who had become renowned for their fighting prowess. But from the end of the Middle Ages onwards, under the name of haramini (Serb. Haramija) were understood the groups of outlaws (TN - haiduci) from the Balkan peninsula, who made incursions and fought for themselves].


Arimanesa, place (Braila); Armenis / Armenys, s. (Banat); Ormenis, s. (Transilvania); Rasca, etim. Ramsca, several villages in Transilvania and Romania. Near the village Rasca from Romanati district are the ruins of the ancient Dacian city called Romula in Roman official geography; Rascani, four villages in Moldova.

All of these differences of forms are just plain dialectal.


The legends and traditions of the Germans also tell us that the dwellings of the ancient giants were in the lands called Runtalo, Rimlo (Rim-land) and Rimis (Mitth. d. C.–Commission, z. Erforsch. D. Baudenkm. XV, Wien, 1870, 143); and Hrimnir, Hrimgrimr, Hrimgerdr, are personal names of Giants (Grimm, D. Myth. I. 1854, 493).


The archaic coins of Dacia, the Armis Series.

  1. The coins with the legend ARMIS and SARMIS BASIL (eus)


The existence of some ancient coins with the legends ARMIS and SARMIS has been known to the archaeologists and historians of Transilvania even around the end of the 16th century.

The specimens mentioned by the authors from across the Carpathians are the following:

1.       A silver coin, about which the Transilvanian archaeologist Steph. Zamosius (16th century) reports that because of its age it was so faded that only a few letters could me made out, and even those barely (Benko, Transsilvania, Ed. 1778, p. 10: “numisma argenteum, annis ab hinc plus quam 160 Zamosio in Dacia visum, ita tamen vetustate detritum, ut paucas leteras graecas, easque abrasas haberet: ARMIS SILE”). It seems that Troester writes about the same coin (Dacia, Nuernberg, 1666, 129: “Da auch dieses Koniges Sarmitz Muntz noch gefunden wird, mit der Uberschrift SARMIS BASILEYS…”). Soterius (18th century) also mentions that the coin of Sarmis had as emblem a boar with an arrow in its mouth (Schmidt, Die Geten und Daken, p. 60).

2.       A gold coin discovered in 1826 on the ploughed fields at Turda.

Obverse: a man’s head with a beard; the legend ARMIS BASIL(eus). Reverse: The perspective of a vast citadel with walls built of fashioned stone; before the gate is the sign of the swastika, as is often seen on the ceramic from Troy; on right is seen the half figure of an ox with its head lifted upwards.

2.       A gold coin discovered in 1826 at Turda.

Obverse: A man’s head with two faces, without epigraphy. Reverse: a tortoise, whose fore legs are partly confounded with two letters from the legend SARIMS BASIL (eus).  

3.       A coin of gold (Transilvanian quality), which around 1848 was in the collection of Count Eszterhazy from Vienna, discovered, as the archaeologist Neigebaur says, at Gradisce (Sarmizegetusa) in Transilvania. About this coin Neigebaur had made a communication at the meeting of the Archaeological Institute of Rome at 4 Febr. 1848. This coin had the legend: SARMIS BASIL and as symbol a tortoise. Its diameter was 1” and its thickness 1/4” (Neigebaur, Dacien, p. 39).

4.       A gold coin representing: Obverse: A head with the legend SARMIS BASILEOS. Reverse: A temple having inside an altar, on which burns a fire; on one side a human figure, on the other a donkey, and two knives on the lower part (Arneth, Sitz.-Ber. Akad. d. Wiss. Phil-hist. CI. VI.B. 307).

5.       A coin of silver. Obverse: A head with two faces, in about the way in which is represented Ianus. Reverse: SARMIS BASIL. A tortoise on which is seen a shield and on the shield a lance. On both sides there is the letter S (Arneth, Sitz.-Ber. Ibid.).

6.       Another coin which belongs to this group is today in the collections of the museum of Gotha and represents a head with two faces, while on the obverse it bears a monogram, which seems to be  (Kenner, Wien, Num. Zeitschr, XXVII B, 71). This monogram might contain the letters AP. AG. (‘Armas agator). The last word, with the meaning of dux, is the Homeric epithet of Hermes or Armes (Hymn. In Merc. V. 14, Cf. Pausanias, VIII. 31. 7).


As we see from this data which we find with the authors from across the Carpathians, the coins with the legend ARMIS BASIL differ in type, legends, the metal of which they are made and their weight, from the coins with the inscription SARIMS, or SARMIS BASIL; so we have here two varieties of coins, with different types and legends, which refer to the same king. From the point of view of the name, Armis and Sarmis is the same name, S from the beginning being only a simple dialectal aspiration.

The Transilvanian archaeologists and historians, Zamosius, Soterius, Hene and Neigebaur, have considered the specimens they had seen as authentic, attributing them to Sarmis, the supposed founder of Sarmizegetusa, identical with Syrmus, the king of the Triballi and of the Getae, who had fought a war with Alexander the Great near the Danube.

In 1851 the counselor Arneth made a communication to the Academy of Sciences of Vienna about the coins with the legend SARMIS, which he considered as fakes, but without indicating his reasons for this belief, either in regard with the technique, of the fabrication, the quality of the metals, or the form of the types and the character of the letters. The only reason expressed by Arneth, that we do not know so far any Dacian king with the name Sarmis, cannot be considered as final. How many antique coins, with names of unknown kings and princes, have been discovered to this day in various parts of the world, without being possible to declare, from a historical point of view, that all these specimens were real or fake.

In regard to the matter of the authenticity of these coins, we must show here that in Transilvania, at least until the middle of the past century, had not existed a commerce with fake antique coins, because, as Troester observes very rightly, in these regions are discovered all the time so many antique coins, through the ruins of the citadels, on ploughed fields and vineyards, that they are unearthed not only by the men with their ploughs, but also by pigs.

Arneth doesn’t make any mention about the coins with the name ARMIS, which began to be known even from the end of the 16th century.


The coins with the legends ARMIS and SARMIS BASIL(eus) do not constitute an isolated group in the ancient numismatics of Dacia; on the contrary, they form only an important link with a long series of ante-Roman coins of this country, which show us under different forms the type and attributes of the divinized king Armis.

We find that especially the type with two faces was also reproduced on other old coins of Dacia and Gallia; and the tortoise and the Erymanthian boar are simple astronomical symbols, which also appear in the numismatics of other Pelasgian tribes settle in Gallia, Italy and the Peloponnesus.

The name Armis which we find on two exemplars of the above specified coins is even today used by the Romanian peasants from the territory of ancient Sarmizegetusa, under the form of Armie as personal name and Armioniu as family name (especially in the villages Gradisce, Rea, Ostrov, Paucinesci, Ciula, Ciulisora).

From a historical point of view, the existence of an ancient king of Dacia with the name Arimus, or Armes, is beyond any doubt. The logograph Xantos, who had lived around 500 bc tells us that over the regions where Typhon had warred with the gods, had ruled a king with the name Arimus (Arimun) (Fragm. Hist. gr. I. 37. fr. 4). As we know, the serious battles of the Titans and Giants with the new master of Olympus had taken place on the territory from the north of Thrace, close to the Iron Gates (II. VIII. 15). Therefore the king Arimus had ruled in this part of the ancient world. Valerius Flaccus, one of the priests who had to guard the Sibylline books, also speaks about the same king. In his Argonautics, Valerius Flaccus mentions an Armes of Scytia, venerated as god by the pastoral populations of those lands, who had become famous for his acts of violence and for his fraudulent customs of stealing the herds and sheep flocks of others (Arg. VI. v. 520). We find this tradition more developed in the Greek epic literature which refers to Hermes, the ancient god of the Pelasgian shepherds, called in the Homeric poems also Hermias, Hermeas, and Hermaon by Hesiodus. The hymn of Homer in honor of Hermes presents this legend under the following form: Hermes, the gods’ messenger and author of useful things, had been the son of the nymph Maia, an astute child, deceitful with sweet words, thief, stealing cattle, spying during night and behind the gates. Hermes, born in the morning, rises the same night from the cradle, goes in secret to the grazing grounds of Apollo and steals his fine herds of oxen with high held heads. Returning afterwards to his mother, Hermes finds in front of the cave in which he had been born a mountain tortoise. The young god considers this to be of good omen, lifts up the tortoise and makes from its carapace a fine sounding lyre.



It results therefore from the legend which we find with Homer, that the god Hermes, who had played such an important role in the cult of the Pelasgians from the eastern parts of Europe, is the same as Armes, the god of the pastoral populations of Scythia, mentioned by Valerius Flaccus; that he is the same as Armis, or Sarmis, figured on the coins about which we spoke above, and which present the characteristic attributes of the god Hermes, an ox with its head hold high, a tortoise and a boar.

The country of the god Hermes, venerated by the southern Pelasgians, had been, according to the most ancient legends, at the north of Thrace, near Oceanos potamos, where all the gods had been born (Homer, Iliad, XIV. 201). His mother was the nymph Maia, the daughter of the titan Atlas, the powerful Hyperborean king; and his father had been Zeus aigiochos, the great god of Dacia, about whom we have talked in an earlier chapter. Homer also tells us about Hermes that he sang with a pleasant voice, and glorified gaia eremna, where the gods had been born; and that after making peace with Apollo for the oxen which he had stolen, this had given him a gold rod with three leaves, symbol of prosperity and all success. Because of this, Homer also attributes to Hermes the epithet of chrysorrapis (from chrysos, gold, and rabdos, rod), a term which by its form and by the way in which the ancients constructed the epithets seems to hide the name of the Dacian dynasty, Zarabi (Jornandes, Get. c. 5). In the ancient epic literature, Hermes also has the characteristic epithets eriounios, bringing of good things; dichaios, imparting justice; ormainon dolon, who thinks how to cheat; agator oneiron, leader of dreams, in fact agator ‘Oneiron, the Dux of the Oniri (understand Arimi). According to Orpheu’s Argonautics, the people of the Oniri had its dwellings close to the city fortified with walls ‘Ermionia (Hermionia), situated near the Riphei mountains (Arg. v. 1142; Odyss. XXIV. v. 12; Dionys. Per. v. 714).

Traces of a very ancient cult in honor of the deity Armin still exist today at the Carpathians. The first day of the month of May is one of the most solemn folk feast days of the Romanian shepherds and peasants from Transilvania and Banat. It is celebrated with traditional ante-Christian rites and is called Arminden. The word seems to be composed of Armin and den, very probably with the meaning of anniversary of the death of Armin (Cf. Lat. feriae denicales; Greek thana, death). The fathers of the Christian church have consecrated this day to the prophet Jeremiah. On the territory of Sarmizegetusa, the great feast of Arminden is celebrated at Densus, where still exists today the oldest architectonic monument of Transilvania, a mausoleum of ante-Christian shape, whose history we do not know, but which seems to have been restored during the Middle Ages in the same antique style. On the eve of this feast day, near the gate of each Romanian house is stuck into the ground a long staff of beech or oak, with branches and leaves on top, also called arminden. It stays near the post of the gate until the wheat is harvested, or until it is made the first new bread; then usually the Romanian women, in token of gratitude to God, bake a damper in a clay pot, burnt with wood of arminden.

In Attica and Arcadia, where the Pelasgian element had remained preponderant for a long time, the folk feast days in honor of Hermes were called ‘Ermaia; near the gates of public edifices and of private houses were placed posts or armindens, called ‘Ermai. We also note here that the name arminden for the posts of Hermes was also known in antiquity. The Greek authors had transformed though this word in ‘Ermathane, with the meaning of a statue or pilaster, which showed the head of Hermes together with that of Athena (Cf. Cic. Ad Att. I. 9).

As for the ancient representations of Hermes, he is often figured with a beard, and sometimes with two, three, and four heads. In the Roman cult the great feast day in honor of Hermes (Mercur) was on 15th day of May; and for Maia, the mother of Hermes, the sacrifices were made on the first day of May, meaning at Arminden (Macrob. Sat. I. 12).


About Armes, or Hermes, some historical traditions had been also preserved by the Arimic tribes which had migrated from the Carpathians to Italy. Faunus, the ancient king of the Latins, whose residence had existed on the hill of Aventin in Rome, also had, as Diodorus Siculus tells us (VI. 5. 2), the name ‘Ermas (‘Erman), certainly the form of Armes and Armen in Italic dialects. The wife of Faunus had been a girl from the country of the Hyperboreans (Dionys. I. 43), and he has most of  the traditional aspects of Armes [5].


[5. Armes as god of the shepherds and protector of the herds had as characteristic symbol two horns on his head. Faunus was also represented like this (Val. Flaccus, Arg. VI. v. 530-533; Ovid, Fast. III. v. 312). One of the ancient coins of Dacia (next figure, nr.11) also shows Armis with two little horns above his forehead].


Some of the ancient coins of Rome have on one side the type of Ianus, and on the other the type of Hermes. Probably Armes or Hermes is the occult god under whose special protection was the city of Rome (Macrob. Sat. III. 9). Numa appeals to Faunus, or Hermes, as Diodorus also calls him, when he wants to placate Jove’s anger (Ovid, Fast. III. 491).


After the conquest of Dacia, Hermes, or Armes, continued to be a protective deity of Sarmizegetusa and of the whole province. But in Latin inscriptions his ancient national name is always replaced with the names of other similar Roman deities.

We find the first allusion to the ancient founder and patron of Sarmizegetusa is the monumental inscription of the imperial legate M. Scaurianus, telling about the founding of the colony Sarmizegetusa. The text of this memorable inscription, as it has been copied before 1464, when the monument was almost whole, and as transcribed in the oldest epigraphic codices, is the following:

               I  .   O  .  M

ROMVLO       .       PARENTI




TRAIANI        .       AVGVSTI

CONDITA       .      COLONIA




                                                                    M     .    S C A V R I A N V M          p. Chr. 110.

                                                                                 EIVS  .  PRO  .  PR


In this inscription, Romulus with the epithet “Parens” figures as a protective deity of the colony Sarmizegetusa, immediately after Jupiter Optimus Maximus; and Mars, a superior Olympian deity, one of the 12 Consentes, is mentioned only in the third place, following a simple hero, or demigod, and only with the modest epithet of “auxiliator”. It may seem that the old dogmatic hierarchy was reversed in this inscription; and we ask, is it possible for Roman theology, so severe and traditional in forms, to retrograde an Olympian divinity?

Romulus, in quality of conditor urbis (Romae), was, it is true, venerated with the name “Quirinus” on the seven hills near the Tiber. But there could be no religious reason for Romulus to be decreed in the public cult of Dacia as ”Parens” of the colony Sarmizegetusa, which had not even received the adoptive name of  “Romula” or “Romulea”. So it is beyond any doubt that the name “Romulus Parens” from this inscription refers to another divinity, not to “Romulus Quirinus”.

The explanation of this mysterious inscription can be found only with the religious and historical traditions of Dacia. Sarmiz - egetusa as a city bore in fact the name of Armis or Sarmis, who had an ancient religious cult not only in Dacia, but also in Scythia, in Thrace, etc. At 110ad, the new colony was founded. The Roman senate decided to keep the historical name of this capital, so the new colony was consecrated under the name of Sarmiz – egetusa. Once the ancient name of the city was adopted, it was an indispensable condition of the public sacral right that the rights of the ancient tutelary divinities should be also respected, so much so that in the prayers of evocation, a solemn promise was made to these divinities, that they shall remain protectors of the people and of the Roman soldiers also in future times (Macrob. Sat. III. 9).

The imperial legate Scaurianus makes in the inauguration inscription of the colony only a change of form. The name of Armis or Sarmiz, of the ancient founder and patron of Sarmizegetuza, has been substituted in this inscription with the equivocal divinity of “Romulus Parens”, a name which from a historical and dogmatic point of view was referring to Armis, and from a political point of view honored Romulus, who was also called in the legends of the Middle Ages Armelus (Graf, Roma nella memoria del medio evo, I. p. 107). The other protective deities of the Colony Sarmizegetusa also had religious traditions at the Lower Danube. Jupiter Optimus Maximus represented in fact Zeus arisots megistos, euruopa, the tutelary ancient divinity of Dacia (see Ch. XII.7). Proof in this regard is the 24 inscriptions of Cohort I Aelia Dacorum from Britannia, out of which 21 are dedicated to I. O. M. (C. I. L. vol. VII, nr. 806-826, 975). Finally, Mars was the protector god of the Getic plains (Virgil, Aen. III. 35).

Hermes, whom the Romans have later assimilated with Mercury, appears as a protective divinity of the colony Sarmizegetusa also on a tetragonal post, or an antique arminden (hermathene), which had existed in the 16th century in the Romanian church from Hateg, with the inscription: Mercurio et Minervae dis tutelaribus (Neigebaur, Dacien, p. 88,1; 29, 48).


We have still another inscription of a particular importance about Hermes, as father of the Roman nation and about his filial relations with Dacia, inscription whose meaning has remained though entirely obscure to this day (C. I. L. vol. III, nr. 1351, 7853). The text of the dedication is the following:

           I  .  O  .  M

TERRAE        .     DAC

ET  .  GENIO .  P  .   R

ET      .      COMMERC




LX  .  VI  /  /  /  /  /  /  /


I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(axiom), Terrae Dac(iae) et Genio P(opuli) R(omani) et commerci(i) Felix Caes(aris) n(ostri) se[r](vus) vil(icus) statio(nis) pont(is) Aug(usti) promot(us) ex st(atione) Mic(ia) ex vi . . . . . . .


In this inscription Terra Dacia, the Great Mother of prehistoric times (see Ch. XII.10), identical at the same time with Maia, the mother of Hermes (Macrob. Sat. I. 12), occupies the place of age and dignity before Genius Populi Romani et commercii. We ask though who is this great tutelary divinity, because this name speaks here, as we see, about only one divinity, but with two principal qualities, one as Parent of the Roman People, and the other as Parent of commerce. In fact we have here a simple periphrasis. The divinity to which these words refer is Hermes (Hermias), the same as Armes of Scythia and Armis of Sarmizegetusa, also called Romulus Parens in the inscription of the imperial legate Scaurianus.

We are seeing here therefore some traditions with official and religious forms, which attribute to ancient Hermes, or Armis of Dacia, the honor of Parens of the Roman People.

The coins with the inscriptions ARMIS and SARMIS BASIL have been without doubt minted in the later times of Dacia, when Armis had become a legendary personality and had a religious cult. His type presents on these coins only the effigy of a protective divinity of Dacia, of a glorious Lord who had represented this country.


  1. The coins with the legend A(rmi)S  IO(n)


Ancient coins of Dacia,  the group of Armis – Ion

(After Archiv. d. Vereines f. siebenb. Landeskunde. N. F. XV. Bd. Taf. I-III. V.

 –Denkschriften d. Wiener Akademie, Phil.-hist. CI. IX. Bd., p. 402.9)


Another group of archaic coins of Dacia, which are often discovered in the south-west parts of Transilvania, are made of copper mixed with silver and a little gold. These coins are characterized by their very concave shape; have a diameter of 30-36mm, a thickness of 1-2mm and present a grayish-yellow color. Most of these coins show on the reverse, or on the concave part, the figure of a horse with bird feet. The horseman is indicated in a symbolic way by a simple crook, or by a stick with a caduceus on top, the principal attribute of the god Hermes. In the beginning, the gold rod of Hermes had the shape of a simple stick with three leaves, rabdos chryseie tripetelos (Hymn. In Merc. v. 529). But later, this rod appeared under the form of a shepherd’s crook (ceryx). The two upper arms were then brought closer together and finally transformed in serpents: an allusion to the fable that Hermes, seeing two serpents fighting, had separated them with his rod. Under this form, as Pliny tells us (I. XXIX. 12. 2), the rod of Hermes was used by barbarian peoples as symbol of reconciliation, of agreement and of peace. On some of these coins, instead of the caduceus figures an archaic lyre with three chords, musical attribute of Hermes. The mane of the horse is usually formed of seven globules or little stars, the number of the Pleiades, to which belonged Maia, the mother of Hermes. Sometimes these little stars are grouped together in the shape of the constellation of the Pleiades. (A symbolic character is also the particular concave shape of these coins. We have here a religious emblem of the tortoise from the legend of Hermes, and in a larger sense, of the vault of the sky (Servius, Virg. Aen. I. 505).

On the reverse of these coins also appear often some monograms, or abbreviated inscriptions. The letters though have a symbolic shape usually. So, one of these versions (nr.1in the figure above) shows on the reverse a longish square divided in two parts on the vertical . We have here in fact an archaic letter, and because the reverse of this coin has as symbol a caduceus, we shall have to consider this graphic sign firstly as a , initial letter of the name of Hermes, as the ancients wrote (Lenormant, L’origine et la formation de l’alph. Gr., p.13,25). On another reverse (nr.7) we see imprinted the letter , which under this form corresponds in the first line to . We have to examine now the obverse, or the convex part of these coins.

On this face is seen imprinted the principal type, a virile head, which at first sight would seem to have been drawn and engraved in an entirely capricious and barbarian style. But this singular form of the head is not due in any case to the unskilled art of the maker, but we have here a hieratic traditional type, composed therefore from a number of symbolical signs and figures, by some ancient metaphysical doctrines.

At the lower part of the head (nr.3, 8) is seen the letter or  = A, ornamented with globules or little stars. In front of the forehead is the letter, having its form from right to left or vice versa. On another specimen, the letter A appears under a more archaic form , which corresponds to a Latin A. We have here therefore two isolated letters, one initial and another final, which indicate the name of king A (rmi) S, as the same name also appears indicated on the reverse, by the graphic sign H(ermes). There exists another type of these coins (nr. 3), where before A is also seen the letter  D(eus), which corresponds to  from the reverse of nr. 7.

The ancient legends also told about Hermes that he had been the author of the spoken language; that he had given voice to the first people, or the faculty to express their thoughts through words (Hesiodus, Opera et dies, v. 78; Horatio, Od. I. 10; Ovid, Fast. V. v. 669; Macrobius, Sat. I. 19).  Because of this, he also had the epithets of logios and ermeneus. This theological legend which presents Hermes as verbum, or as the divine intelligence of antiquity, is expressed in a very clear way on the obverse of this group of coins. The head of king Armis, or Hermes, is figured here with open lips in the shape of a V (verbum) or lambda (logos), as if he were teaching somebody the first elements of expressing the words.

As we see, most of these ancient coins of Dacia present on the obverse the hieratic head of king Armis, under the form of ‘Ermas ermeneus, and on the reverse the attributes of Hermes as nuncio of the gods, the shepherd’s crook, or the staff in the shape of a caduceus, and his heavenly horse, light and fast, also called equus ales, Arion, Scythius (Dupuis, Orig. d. tous les cultes, VI. 480-483).


In antiquity Hermes had various names, like any other god. So, some of these concave coins of Dacia bear on the obverse the name of A (rmi) S, and on the reverse the name of IO(n) or Ianus. (The archaeologist Kenner from Vienna, speaking about a series of barbarian coins, belonging mostly to Dacia, states also the same phenomenon, two names on the same coin – Wiener Num. Zeitschr. XXVII B. p. 71).

To this category belongs the specimen from fig.6 where the monogram appears under the form = IO. On another specimen (nr.2) we find the letters . It is the same name of (n), but under the mystical form of ioe = vox, verbum, clamor, flatus. In fact even the monogram from nr. 7 presents under this form also a combination of  In the alphabet of the Romanian rafters from Rucar (Muscel district), the monogram is used to indicated the personal names which begin with Io (Ion, Iosif).

Finally, we also must note here that the name is also seen indicated on these coins by the astronomical sign of the balance , and by the shape of the caduceus and .


Apart from the types and the abbreviated legends about which we have spoken so far, we also find on these coins various astronomical symbols, which prove definitely that this Armis, represented on the concave coins of Dacia, was the same prehistoric personality as Ianus or ‘Ion.

So, we see that most varieties of these coins present on the reverse an entirely particular attribute, three globules or little stars, connected by a straight line and having the shape of a mace with three nodes

o – o - o. Also, several globules or little stars which surround the type of Armis in a circular or semicircular shape are seen on the obverse.

One of the finest boreal constellations has been consecrated in antiquity to Ianus and was called by his name. This constellation composed of 25 visible stars is characterized especially by three fine stars of secondary size, placed in a straight line and called in the Christian era the staff of Jacob.

The Arabs, who, during the Middle Ages, have transmitted to us the astronomical knowledge received at different times from the Greeks and from the Pelasgian tribes of Asia, called this entire constellation Aramech, and this name was especially given to the most brilliant star among the three placed in a straight line (Dupuis, t. VI. 411). So, under the form of Aramech, the Arabs have preserved the name of Armis, or Armes, for the constellation attributed to Ianus (also called Bootes during Greek-Latin antiquity, Orion by Hesychius).

The name of Ianus, under the form of Ionos also appears on another coin from this series.

A coin of this variety, which we reproduce here as nr. 12, presents the type of Armis, with open lips (ermeneus) on the obverse. On the reverse is represented the same Armis as Fatuus, prophet of the shepherds (Hymn. v. 566), sitting on a throne decorated with stars, holding in his left hand a scepter of globules or little stars, and in his right hand a bird, which he looks into its eyes (avem aspiciens). In front of the figure is the legend , and behind is , meaning two names: one A (r) MI (s), and the second a very clearly IONOS.


As we see, we have here some positive data, that at the time when these coins had been minted, the theological traditions of Dacia identified Armis, the ancient king of this country, or Hermes of the southern Pelasgians, with Ion or Ianus, called by Juvenal antiquissimus divum, and about whom the Italic traditions said that he had reigned firstly over the eastern parts of Europe [6].


[6. The Bulgarians of today, who represent in large part the Slavicized population of ancient Mesia, have a large number of old songs about a mythical hero, called Iancul voivod valach (TN – Iancu, Vallachian prince) and Iancula iunac (the brave), whose attributes are a wonderful horse or runner, an evening star and a miraculous bird (Sezatoarea, Falticeni, 1896, p. 142, 209)]


In fact also in the Greek-Roman theology had existed very close ties between Ianus and Hermes. Both are rectores viarum; both guardians of gates; both mediators between men and gods; both had as attribute the crook or the rod; both were considered as the same divinity of the sun (Macrobius, Sat. I. 0. 19); both were shown with two faces, Hermes in the eastern parts of Europe, and Ianus in the west. Finally, we also note here that some emissions of Roman coins had on one side the type of Ianus and on the other the type of Hermes or Mercury. (It seems that Roman theology knew the name of Armis of Ianus. We find various allusions to this name with the ancient authors Livy, I.19; Ovid, Fast. I. 254, V. 665).


These concave coins of Dacia present therefore the most archaic official form of the name, or co-name of IO(n), of the first deified king of this country, a glorious name which was preserved, as a holy and traditional title by the Romanian Domns (TN – Princes, Sovereigns) until our days; but certainly without being aware of the origin, the age and the  extraordinary fame of this adoptive name.

On some of these coins (nr.6) we also have shown symbolized the figure of a dog , drawn in the same primitive archaic way as the figures of animals discovered at Troy. The dog was a sacred animal of Hermes or Mercury, symbol of vigilance and fidelity. 

An ancient coin attributed to the city Hadria from PIcenum shows on the obverse the type of Ianus, with a diadem of three stars o – o – o encircling his head and the legend HAT, and on the reverse, a dog, lying down. As Ovid tells us (Fast. v. 129 seqq), the ancient tutelary gods of Rome, called Lares praestites, whose religious feast day was on the first day of May (or at Arminden), also had as symbol a dog by the side of a man, because, as Ovid writes, these Larii, together with the dog, keep watch for the safety of the Roman people and of the walls of the city.

This attribute of the god Hermes represented in fact the austral constellation called chyon, canis, or the celestial dog, composed of 20 stars, among which is Sirius, the finest and brightest star of the sky, particularly consecrated to Hermes, called by the Arabs aliemini and aliaminio (Dupuis, VI. 509). The role played in the ancient theology of Dacia by this constellation (Pliny, II. 40) can be observed from the symbolic figure which we reproduce here.

Canis sidereus, symbol of the austral constellation Sirius.

Bronze figure discovered in Romania (our collection).



A small cavity of a circular shape, destined to bear a bright gemstone, or emblematical little star, can be observed under the left front leg of the dog,. The constellation Sirius was similarly represented by the Hebrew scholar Aben Ezra: “Figura Canis, in cuius sinistro pede anteriore lucerna” (Dupuis, VII. 53). The arch on which the figure rests is perforated at both ends, so it results that this astronomical symbol had been destined to be nailed on an object of a hemispherical shape.


The coins of the type Ianus were known even since the most remote antiquity. According to the historical traditions of the Romans and the Greeks, Ianus was the first to mint copper coins; and the poet Lucanis (Phars. VI. 405) writes that Iton (understand Ion), who had reigned over the Thessallian (or of the Pelasgians) land, had been the first to place the silver into the fire, who had minted gold coins and who had smelted copper in his huge ovens (Plutarc, Quaest. Rom; Macrob. Sat. I. 7; Athenaeus, lib. XV).

The oldest coins which belong to this group have been minted without doubt at the time when the traditions and theological doctrines of Dacia had formed from Armis a divine personality, when the religious mysteries from the Carpathians had reached their apogee, and when their influence – due to proselytizing – had begun to extend also to the southern Pelasgians (cf. Plato, Axiochus, Hermes was also the principal personality of the mystical cult of SamothracePreller, Gr. Myth. I. 241). This epoch predates in any case the final migrations towards west and south.


We see the concave shape of the Dacian coins imitated in Belgian Gallia, where various Arimic tribes had migrated since remote times. Near Sequana and Rhodan are arbitrarily reproduced the types, symbols, sometimes even the letter S from the coins of Armis, without taking into account the particular historical value which these signs had on the original coins. Ancient Gallia did not have, as we know, its own creation of monetary types. The essential character of its coins had been, until the beginning of Roman domination, the copying and imitation of the Italian, Sicilian and Hispanic types, and even of the coins from Thrace and Macedonia.

In Italy, the most ancient copper coins were called As; a word whose origin has remained obscure to this day. Also, we cannot surely know to this day, in which part of central Italy the first coins called asi had been minted. But a fact which deserves all our attention is that the ancient asi of central Italy present many symbolic shapes and even imitated letters, or even copied, from the coins of Armis – Ianus from Dacia.

So, some emissions of the Roman asi bear on the obverse the effigy of Ianus and on the reverse of Hermes. Another series of asi with the type of Hermes belong to the city Ardea. An autonomous coin of Alba of Latium has on the obverse the head of Hermes and on the reverse the figure of Pegasus running from right to left. On another Italic as with the legend HAT we see reproduced the three symbolic stars of Dacia o – o – o, decorating as a diadem the head of Ianus, and finally, on another Roman as, we find the combined letters , a simple imitation of the monogram  (Maia) from the coins from the Carpathians (see above).

As we see, the most ancient coins of Dacia and of Italy have the types and attributes of the same divinity, Ianus – Armis; as for the age and symbolic conception, the coins of Dacia have priority.


  1. The Dacian coins of the Maia type.

Some specimens having on the reverse the figure of the mounted messenger

and the legend IANVM (S)  ARIM(us).


Various concave coins of Dacia. Maia type.

(From the Archiv. d. Vereines f. siebenb. Landeskunde. N. F. XI. Ed. Taf. IV – VI).


Two categories belong to this group of coins:

Some are fabricated from the same metal as the preceding ones, copper mixed with silver. Their shapes are concave and belong to the class of the Dacian drachmas and tetradrachmas (above figure). Their effective weight varies between 15/32 – 18/32.

These coins, discovered in Transilvania, present on the obverse the type of the nymph Maia, sometimes with a group of 6 – 8 globules or little stars, the symbol of the constellation of the Pleiades, among whom Maia, the daughter of Atlas, had the place of age and honor. On one of these coins, the nymph Maia is figured with her face in the shape of a bird (nr. 3), an allusion to the folk name of the constellation of the Pleiades “gallina cum pullis suis”.

On the reverse is imprinted the figure of the celestial horse with various symbols, the shepherd’s crook of Hermes, the three stars or globules from the constellation of Ianus, connected together with a straight line, the group of stars of the Pleiades, which sometimes form the mane of the horse, and at other times are placed in a circle around another central star. (On these coins, the celestial horse is sometimes represented without head and neck  - Dupuis, VII. 4).


The second category of this group of coins is characterized by a more progressed art in regard to the drawing and imprinting of the types. These coins are of silver and have an effective weight between 12.685 – 17 g.

On the obverse is seen a woman’s bust, of a noble and intelligent type, with her hair finely curled. On both sides of this type is a leaf of bird cherry. She is Maia, the mother of “glorious” Hermes, to whom Homer (Hymn. in Merc. v. 4) gives the epithet of eyplochamos, with hair finely curled (next figure). The reverse of these coins usually shows the figure of a horseman in flight, holding in his hand a branch of bird cherry with three leaves. It is Hermes, the gods’ messenger, with his Homeric rod [7].


[7. Horatio (Od. II. 7. 13) also gives Mercury or Hermes the epithet of “celer”; a word which in old times had the meaning of eques (calaras), cf. Fulgentius Myth. Lib. I. The ancient art monuments of Greece showed Hermes with wings at his hat, or feet, so that he could pass not only over land, but also over water. But with the northern Pelasgians, as observed from coins and the ornamentation of the funerary urns, Hermes runs mounted on a horse.


The bird cherry, called in some parts of Romania scumpia and liliac (TN – lilac, syringa vulgaris), is a shrub genus with lilac, reddish purple, or white colored flowers, which in spring, in the month of May, decorates not only the modest gardens, but also the elegant parks. The geographical origin of this shrub is, according to new research, at the eastern Carpathians (Transilvania and Hungary). In the religious customs of the Romanian people, the bird cherry plays a particular role: it is the flower of Arminden, or the great folk feast day of 1 May (Hasdeu, Dict. I, p. 1710).]



fig.1. Dacian coin, Maia type, having on the reverse the legend IANVM(S) ARIM(us)

(From Archiv. d. Vereines f. siebenb. Ldskde, 1877, Taf. XIV. 10)


More specimens of this type of coins are in the collections of the imperial cabinet of Vienna. Some have been discovered in 1776 at Poson (Pressburg) in Hungary; others in 1855 at Deutsch – Jahrendorf in the county Moson near the right bank of the Danube (upper Pannonia); finally, other specimens have been found in 1880 at Simmering in Vienna.



The distinguished archaeologists Seidl and Kenner from Vienna, who have described these coins, have overlooked the historical importance of the numismatic types, which they characterize only with the words “a woman’s head” and “a rider”. As for the legend from the reverse, they considered that it contains the name of an unknown barbarian prince from the territory of upper Pannonia, IANTVMARVS. This deciphering of the legend under the form of IANTVMARVS has struck us at first sight of the drawing which they had published, as unsatisfactory. That’s why we believed necessary to have more positive information about all the specimens of these coins, preserved today in the collections of the numismatic imperial cabinet from Vienna. From the communications made to us by the Direction of the imperial museum regarding this, the legend is the same on all the specimens of this type of coin, composed of two groups of letters, one on the upper part at right, the other on the lower part, each group containing the same letters. At the same time the Direction of the imperial museum was good enough to also put at our disposal a copy in plaster from the reverse of the best conserved specimen, whose drawing we reproduce here in the following figure:

And in truth, the doubts which we had from the beginning about the exactness of the deciphering of this epigraph have been entirely proved. IANTVMARVS as the numismatic legend is a simple error.


Even before examining this legend we have to state something. The Dacian coins have their national particularities in regard to the form of the types and the symbols, the form of the alphabet and the epigraphic execution of the legends. Often, the letters imprinted on these coins have symbolic form, to correspond more or less to the dogmatic characteristics of the tutelary divinities. So, we see that on the coins from the group Armis-Ion the symbols, as well as the letters, have astronomical characters; all are ornamented with little stars or globules, because the globe was the primitive dogmatic form from which Ianus had been born (Ovid, Fast. I, v. 110). On other coins, the letters are formed of little unconnected lines, thicker at base and thinner at the top, having the aspect of some symbolic little horns; often the alphabet of the legends is composed of letters of Latin form mixed with Pelasgian archaic characters; finally, it happens that some parts of the letters are so vaguely imprinted, that can remained unobserved even by the most trained eyes in the reading of numismatic legends.

All these epigraphic particularities of the ancient Dacian coins produce serious difficulties and often errors in the exact deciphering of the legends.

We come back now especially to the inscription which we see imprinted on the reverse of these coins (see fig.1,3).

In regard to the first group of letters, , we shall state here the following. After the examinations made by the distinguished archaeologist W. Kubitschek from Vienna, there is not the slightest trace of a T connected to N on none of the five specimens of the imperial museum; and this is also confirmed by the plaster copy which has been sent to us (last figure above). The second paleographic matter is that the letter with which ends this first part of the legend doesn’t have in any case the value of a Latin M, but is one of the characteristic letters of the Cadmian, Dacian, Etruscan and Rhetian Pelasgian alphabets, representing san (= S, sigma); so that the first part of the legend contains the name  = IANVS.


The second group of letters which is seen at the lower part of the reverse, has on the best conserved specimen of the museum of Vienna (see figure above) the form , where the letter R has a globule on top, so it represents here the value of an RI. But in regard to the last letter , this is not a VS, as the archaeologists Seidl and Kenner have supposed, but we have here just a simple M archaic, having the front leg very thin (and very hard to observe). In order to evidence better this fact, we shall reproduce here several specimens with the form of this letter in the Cadmic-Phoenician alphabet, and in the manuscripts which belong to the first period of the Middle Ages: ,and  this shall serve to make it more clear that this epigraphic character, erroneously considered as VS, is only a simple M.


The last group of letters on the coins shown in Fig.1, 3 presents therefore the name of ARIM(us).

The historian Xantus also mentions a king with the name Arimus (Arimun), who had reigned over the lands where Typhon had warred with the gods.

On the gold coins of Dacia we also find the form ARMIS.

An ancient bronze coin, which the numismatists attribute to the city Ariminum of Italy, presents on the obverse a head with a beard and a conical hat, and on the reverse the name ARIM (Mionnet, Descr. d. med. Suppl. T. I. p. 208).

A coin of the Ilergetae from the Iberian peninsula presents on the reverse the figure of the Dacian rider with the legend  * PMAN (Orman), and on the obverse the type of Ianus with globules on his head and beard. The entire legend from the reverse of these silver coins (fig.1,3) contains therefore the name fo IANVS ARIM(us), as these both names also appear on the concave coins of Dacia under the form of A(rmi)S IO(n).


Fig.4. A coin of the Ilergetae of Hispania, minted at Osca, representing

on the reverse the type of the Dacian rider with the legend  * PMAN

(From Berthelot, Gr. Encycl. T. XVI. 354)



These coins with the legend IANVM(S) ARIM(us), although discovered near the frontiers of upper Pannonia, belong, by the divinities and by the symbols which they present, to the class of the ancient national coins of Dacia (Eckhel, Doctr. Num. I. 2. 4). The domination of the Dacians had also extended, in the later times of the Roman republic, over upper Pannonia.

In this regard we shall mention here the expedition of Boerebista, the contemporary of Caesar, who had conquered the territory of the Boii in upper Pannonia and of the Taurisci in the eastern parts of Noric (Strabo, lib. VII. 3. 11; Tacitus, Hist. IV. 54).


We must mention here still another variety of the Dacian coins which belongs to the group Maia.


Fig. 5 Dacian coin, Maia type. On the reverse is the figure of the Dacian rider,

And the legend IANVM(S)

(From the Archiv. d. Vereines f. sieb. Ldskde, 1877. Taf. XIV. 12).


This coin shows on the reverse the type of the Dacian rider, having under a legend which has remained un-deciphered to this day. Some parts of the letters which compose the legend seem to have been dulled, so that the drawing which we reproduce here after the Archive of Transilvania, is somewhat poor. But if we compared it with the coins IANVM(S) ARIM(us), discovered at Deutsch - Jahrendorf and at Poson, we can easily recognize that the legend from the reverse is , meaning Ianus. (On the obverse of this coin we see the type of the nymph Maia, under the form of Terra mater - Macrob. I. 12), having on her head a helmet and the legend DVTEVTE. We cannot know if the legend from this face of the coin was exactly reproduced, so we cannot say if we had here a name of the divinity, or the name of the coin, or maybe a slogan in the national language of the Arimi of Dacia.


To resume, all these antique coins of Dacia, with the legends APMIS BASIL(eus); AP(mis) AG(ator), A(rmi)S IO(n), A(r)MI(s) IONOS and IANVM(S) ARIM(us), glorify as we see, the great parent of the Arimic nation from the Carpathians, Armis, or Hermes, the gods’ interpreter, the genial teacher of the ancient world, the author of the alphabet and astronomy, about which we shall also speak later [8].


[8. A marble relief, discovered at Gradisce, in the ruins of Sarmizegetusa, around the beginning of the last century, represents the figure of a rider in the same position as it appears on the coins of Dacia.

Its drawing is published in the Hungarian magazine “Tudomanyos Gyujtemeny”, Pest, 1836, t. IV, p. 114, under the title “The ancient rider from Gradisce”. It is the legendary Hermes and probably this relief formed a holy icon for a temple or sanctuary].


Before closing this study of the ancient coins of Dacia, we believe that it is of special interest to reproduce here some historical data about the gold rod of Hermes, as emblem of the sovereign power of the Romanian Domns (TN – Princes or Sovereigns).


Fotino (Istoria. II. 6) writes about this: After Negru Voda has extended his reign over the entire Country of Muntenia (TN – Valahia), the Ban of Craiova (from the family of the Basarabs) came to him, made obeisance and willingly subjected himself to him, and Negru Voda allowed him to be autonomous in the ruling of the five districts, and conferred to him a silver rod. Fotino extracts this note from an ancient Serbian chronicle. It results therefore that the gold rod was in those times the symbol of the superior authority of the Romanian Domns.

Apart from the Serbian chronicle cited by Fotino, we have another historical source regarding this.

A Latin manuscript from the 17th century, titled “Historica relatio de statu Valachiae, 1679 – 1688”, published by J. C. Engel in Geschichte d. Walachey p. 109, shows the broadsword and the rod of Hermes as the national ensigns of the sovereign power and dignity of the Domns of the Romanian Country. About the attributes of Hermes writes Albericus (De deorum imaginibus): “sua laeva virgam tenebat …quae erat serpentibus circumsepta, et gladium curvum, quem harpen homo vacabat”.

It results therefore that the gold rod had been the traditional scepter of the Romanian Domns since the most ancient times.

The attributes of Hermes as ensigns of the Domns of the Romanian Country.