In the study of Roman money Theodore Mommsen remains 135 years after his work a towering figure, more pragmatic than theoretical in his economics, yet still sound. He saw the politics in monetary history, and especially its connection with the strength of the state. His view is more penetrating than MV = PT, fashionable in twentieth-century scholarship on Rome. And it is better economics than offered by the Polanyi School as the alternative line of analysis. The Polanyists infer an absence of a Roman monetary system from the failure of some part to be as sophisticated as the best. On the contrary, the Roman monetary system does not look so different from that of Europe since Mommsen wrote, uneven in its use of monetary devices, but sensibly so.