logo UCSCquesto oro rotondo

THE GOLD COIN: METAPHOR OF GREEDINESS AND PERFECTION
GOLD COINS: ECONOMIC, TECHNICAL AND SYMBOLIC ASPECTS
by Claudia Perassi

The negative metaphorical value attached to gold coins is lively described in the chapter "I am a gold coin" of Orhan Pamuk's masterpiece "My Name is Red", in which a fake coin - produced in Venice as an imitation of an Ottoman 22-carat sultani - tells its adventurous life in Constantinople at the end of the XVI century. "I've constantly had my nose rubbed in it. Nothing's considered valuable anymore besides me, I'm merciless, I'm blind, I myself am even enamored of money, the unfortunate world revolves around me, not God, but me, and there's nothing I can't buy- all this is to say nothing of my dirty, vulgar and base nature. And those who know that I'm fake are given to even harsher judgments. As my actual value drops, however, my metaphorical value increases".

On the opposite side, we have two tercets of the XXIV Canto of Dante Alighieri's Paradiso, where a coin - certainly a gold coin, as it is described as shining - becomes a metaphor of pure and perfect faith in quality and quantity. Saint Peter examines the poet's faith, and after acknowledging Dante's ability in evaluating the alloy and weight "d'esta moneta" ("of this coin": i. e. the concept of faith), asks him if he has it in his "borsa" (i. e "his bag"). The poet answers that he has it, and it is so shining and undamaged that there can be no doubts about its fineness.


Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them

Sultana di Murâd III
Sultana di Murâd III
Fiorino di Firenze
Fiorino di Firenze


© 2008 UCSC Milano