The obolós, a coin of ancient Greece, one sixth of a drachma. Its name derives from obelós, an iron spit, six of which formed a handful (drakhma). Two obols was the daily pay of a juror. After death an obol was put under the tongue of the corpse to pay Charon the ferryman.

It was first of silver, later of bronze. From the 10th to the 15th centuries there was a French coin called an obole, first of silver, then of billon.

It was an apothecary weight of ten grains, or half a scruple. (This usage was current only until the seventeenth century.)

Meaning any small coin of little worth, it gave rise to Charles Lamb's nonce-word obolary, very poor.

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