I was reading this description of the pomerium. And all of a sudden I couldn’t help but think about the ritual of beating the bounds still used in many English (and Irish?) parishes today. Clicking on the picture above will give you a basic history with images. There is a good scholarly reflection on the revival/restoration of the historic practices here. I like how this modern take accepts that each deployment of the ritual must be meaningful in the contemporary context and thus evolves overtime.
This was because I was hemming and hawing over how to talk about this coin of 81 BC, if at all:
Is it just about generalized ideas of bounty and stability in the aftermath of the Civil Wars? Or is there some specific reference to Sulla’s extension of the pomerium or the establishment of his colonies throughout Italy? Should we see the reverse as a peaceful genre scene or the illustration of a religious ritual? The latter seems more likely given themes on the Roman Republican coin series generally, but on the other hand a more generalized symbolism would be more typical than the documentation of a very specific contemporary event or series of events.
I’m leaning toward a more general symbolism because the figure is clearly in a tunic, not a toga or other ritual garb. And especially as it seems to be a direct echo of this earlier issue (100BC by Mattingly’s reckoning), with the exception of the addition of the driver:
Ryan 2009 has a good take on this issue, calling it a «aktualitätsbedingte Familienthematik » = “a family type of contemporary significance” linking it both to historical agrarian legislation by the family AND current events.