Lunar Deities Everywhere!

I came home in awe of the presenter’s PowerPoint skills.  It was a visually stunning two hour talk and was googling around for an image of a fun trishekel minted by the Carthaginians in Spain, the one with the diademed head and a ship prow.  I thought I’d write about that.   No reason other than it captivated my imagination.  But in my digging, I ended up here.  I was about to move on as I’m trying to avoid images not in museum collections on this blog as much as possible, but I was struck by the similarity of the reverse of HN Capua 494:



To a coin of about 56 BC minted by Sulla’s son (same series as the first coin in the last coin post):

So I started searching for Selene or Luna on Roman Republican coins to find the Faustus coin and any relevant predecessors.  The Faustus coin was entered as Diana so didn’t appear, but it did return the lead coin above–a spectacular image of Luna appearing Sulla in a Dream, a story known from Plutarch.  The BOOK as approved by my publisher and series editor ends in 49 BCE.  This epiphany coin playing on the Endymion/Selene iconography dates to 44 BC.  That said, it directly contextualizes the Diana in a biga coin by demonstrating a contemporary awareness of the Plutarch narrative.  I think I better include it.  The Capua coin is also likely to make an appearance as it strengthens Crawford’s suggestion that the divinity on the coin should be linked this passage:

“It was while Sulla was ascending Mount Tifata that he had encountered Gaius Norbanus. After his victory over him he paid a vow of gratitude to Diana, to whom that region is sacred, and consecrated to the goddess the waters renowned for their salubrity and water to heal, as well as all the lands in the vicinity. The record of this pleasing act of piety is witnessed to this day by an inscription on the door of the temple, and a bronze tablet within the edifice.”

Mount Tifata directly overlooks Capua.  The temple of Diana Tifatina still stands, at least in part, as the Basilica di Sant’Angelo in Formis.  I find no need to choose between the Plutarch or the Velleius narrative.  Diana, Luna, Selene, Artemis, we are still firmly in the realm of moon goddesses.  There is no meaningful iconographic distinction in the coins.





2 thoughts on “Lunar Deities Everywhere!”

  1. I’m by now convinced that the so-called Dream of Sulla coin in fact represents Selene and Endymion. In what is possibly Michael Crawford’s most obscure publication, notes to the Edinburgh collection published in pamphlet form in 1984, and containing an update on his accumulated views on typology, he says: “J.Rufus Fears, Museum Notes 1975, argues that the reverse portrays Selene and Endymion, not the dream of Sulla. He argues, negatively, that at Plutarch Sulla 9, the figure who appears is Semele not Selene, but his arguments for the appropriateness of Semele do not seem strong. He argues, positively, that Plutarch’s account of the dream differs from the representation on the coin where there is no thunderbolt and no warlike overtones. But the attitude of the winged figure may be taken as threatening. Fears may be right on the identification of the scene. But I still regard the absence of any circumreference to Caesar on what is a small and isolated issue of the coinage of 44BC as suggesting a date at the beginning of the year rather than after the death of Caesar. I am quite sure that the significance of Selene and Endymion on late sarcophagi is unlikely to be relevant to a type of a denarius of 44BC, that the type is not a funeral tribute to a dead Dictator and that the peaceful passing of Endymion is wildly inappropriate to exemplify the eternal felicity of the murdered Caesar. C.Congrossi, Contributi dell’ Istituto di Storia Antica, 1976, doubts whether the reverse portrays the dream of Sulla, though without raising the textual problem in Plutarch Sulla 9, and draws attention to the similarity to representations of Selene and Endymion. She does not consider all the prosopographical evidence for L.Aemilius Buca and misunderstands the situation when she asserts that he necessarily celebrated Caesar on all his issues and ignores the fact that the legend on this denarius is unique among those of 44BC in bearing no reference to Caesar”. MHC’s notes on Edinburgh can be found here:

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