Victory Redux

I came across the answer to my question some weeks ago about the origins of the Victory inscribing a shield motif. There is a nice summary of the evolution in Hölscher (p. 61-2 with references to his earlier work on Victoria). He sees its origins in three different elements: 1) 4th century representations of Nike’s inscribing inscriptions like the one above from Heracleia Pontica or this one from Mallos:

2) The practice of dedicating inscribed shields to record victories at major sanctuaries. Here’s a relatively recent piece of scholarship with examples and references to relevant literature And 3) the adaption of the Venus of Capua who is looking at herself in the reflection of Mars’ shield:

He then much to my delight mentions lots of gem and glass paste examples that located the fusion of these three elements in the second century BC. All of which very nicely contextualizes its first appearance as a variation of the standard quinarius reverse design (RRC 333/1).

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Part of me feels guilty for not knowing this already. Hölscher has been on my bookshelves for donkey’s years. I swear I’ve read this portion a number of times. My mind just didn’t make the connection while I was writing the earlier post. That had to wait until I read it again. Perhaps that’s why I”m so interested in re-reading (see today’s earlier post). To see information again for first time. For pleasure, for work. The repetition seems the only way to build the paths in my mind that lead to the connections that build the ideas that make the endeavor of learning seem worthwhile.

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Update 4/21/2014:  Key bibliography also includes:

R. Kousser, “The Desirability of Roman Victory: Victoria on Imperial and Provincial Monuments.” in Representations of War in Ancient Rome, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

And

R. Kousser, Hellenistic and Roman Ideal Sculpture: The Allure of the Classical, Cambridge University Press, 2008.  BMCR review here.

67 out of 410 days: Poetry and other Evidence

Reading for leisure is complicated when one reads as a primary professional obligation. As early as my undergraduate days I rationed novel reading by imposing strict rules: 1) only on weekends or school breaks, 2) never, ever start a book after 4 pm [to avoid being up all night]. Now, I read fewer novels, and usually old “friends”, sometimes from childhood, who’ve been read many times before. When I read something new, I like a guarantee of plot resolution. Somewhere in grad school I picked up poetry as a means of leisure reading that stands repetition and is low on time commitment. My tastes run highly rhythmic: Fenton, Auden and honest: Sexton, Addonizio.

What I haven’t read enough of is Greek or Latin poetry. Somewhere the ‘historian’ label interfered with my perception of such literature as particularly useful or engaging. A old well-grooved prejudice. One that protects poetry as a modern pleasure thoroughly divorced from my professional concerns. This is ridiculous. Ovid, Martial, Propertius and their friends tell us far more about the landscape of Rome itself and the attitudes and preoccupations of the people who inhabited it than Cicero. Or, if not more, than differently, with nuance and layers of meaning. Rich depths for the historian to plumb. With playful and pleasurable language to boot. Heck, Cicero in the pro Archia even tells us the value of the poetic perspective on history. I even like such literature, as literature.

I think, perhaps, a graduate seminar ‘Latin Poetry for Historians’ would be a fabulous course to develop post sabbatical. Something that honors the genre as an art form, while also exploring the diversity of the evidence it offers, and the complications of deploying such evidence.

66 out of 410 days: Hairy Goats and My Notes

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The last time I was in Oxford some 14 months ago, I think, I snapped this image with my camera phone in the Sackler Library.  I was so happy to find an example of the iconography of this coin in a published excavation report of site finds.  [Update 8/24/13:  The image above looks more like a sheep to me than a goat the longer I look at it here on the blog.  It’s the curly horns.  I think rest below are  really goats.] Something I stumbled upon on the new arrivals shelf.  An Italian publication I seem to recall.  What I can’t seem to find is any record at all of what the book was or from what site.

 

If I knew where it was I could say something about the context of the image, perhaps even a divinity associated with the area of the find.  Alas, what we have here is a failure of the information pack rat system.  What I’m very happy to say is that its a popular motif… you guessed it! … on SEAL rings.

A. Furtwängler, Beschreibung der geschnittenen Steine im Antiquarium, Königliche Museen Berlin (1896) Cat. no. 6811;  no. 7525; BM 1917,0501.513; Gold finger-ring with an engraved sard: Eros riding a goat.; BM 1923,0401.1121; Edinburgh Tassie 2258

It is also popular on Lamps:

Mould-made pottery lamp decorated on the discus with a Cupid riding a goat. The nozzle has an air-slit, and is mainly missing. The handle is mainly missing. The lamp stands on a base-ring. Covered with a brown slip.

And the also this figurine from Cyprus:

Eros riding a goat

Crawford thinks its likely to be Dionysiac.  Perhaps.  Erotes are floating around with goats on many a Dionysiac sarcophagus, or Seasons sarcophagus.  But this might actually have more to do with the cult of Venus/Aphrodite:

Pausanias tells us that this is Aphrodite Pandemos, All Encompassing Aphrodite, usually translated Common or Vulgar Aphrodite:

Behind the portico built from the spoils of Corcyra is a temple of Aphrodite, the precinct being in the open, not far from the temple. The goddess in the temple they call Heavenly; she is of ivory and gold, the work of Pheidias, and she stands with one foot upon a tortoise. The precinct of the other Aphrodite is surrounded by a wall, and within the precinct has been made a basement, upon which sits a bronze image of Aphrodite upon a bronze he-goat. It is a work of Scopas, and the Aphrodite is named Common. The meaning of the tortoise and of the he-goat I leave to those who care to guess.  

What kind of connotations would “Pandemos” in the mids 80 BC? If that is, in fact, the reference. Certainly populist ones…

Update 8/23/13: Here’s a great study about what Pandemos might mean in a different community.  Those working on Cyprus have connected the Eros on Goat terracottas with the cult of Aphrodite/Astarte.  Muller took a different approach and associated this the ‘sport of Eros’ i.e. the motif of erotes playing with the attributes of other gods and other activities.  Thus he sees the coin as referring to the infancy of Zeus.  This is usually dismissed because the goat is male and Zeus’s goat was a nanny-goat.

Liberty Dime Excursus

This, this is a distraction, but an enjoyable one.   I was asked in the comments what I thought about this product of the US mint from 1916 to 1945, specifically the reverse.

The image of fasces with and without axes has a LONG tradition in the official sanctioned art of the United States certainly going back to portraits of Washington.  Houdon portrays Washington as a sort of second Cinncinnatus:

Houdon's Washington with Roman fasces

and the representation became highly influential, see esp. Ward’s Washington:

File:George Washington Statue at Federal Hall.JPG

These are without axes.  The Civil War memorials tend to juxtapose axed and axeless fasces in near proximity.   Lincoln in his temple rests his hand on axeless fasces, but the tripods flanking the steps sit atop axed fasces:

Here in Brooklyn, Grand Army Plaza’s inner columns have fasces with axes, the outer without:

GAP columns 7-22

I read the dime as a ‘Liberty must be Defended’ ideology inspired by the memorialization of the War between the states and the new experiences of the Great War.

Many of the drafters of the constitution thought of the US as a (even the) new Republic. We’ve been left with a very Roman legacy.  Each generation, in its own way, must come to terms with what that symbolic language means in a new age.

Update 8/24/13:  The more I think about the more I want to emphasize the olive branch in relation to the fasces, this seems to me as very similar to the caduceus as a symbol of peace juxtaposed against the fasces on republican coins. Peace and Law and Order beget Liberty?  Augustus rather dramatically connected the idea of Liberty and Peace on this issue:

 

The obverse legend resolves: “Imperator Caesar, Son of a God, Consul for the Fourth Time, Defender of Liberty”.

65 out of 410 days: Countermarks

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It makes me really irritated I couldn’t get MS Word to make the whole table into a picture only a half at a time.

Yesterday I wanted to add something to chapter 6 about the coins of the mid 80s, that irritating in-between-time where the coins are full of strange gods we can’t quite identify. As I looked at them, I realized that I just did’t have a big picture regarding countermarks on coinage in my head.  [That’s not for lack of opportunity.  I’ve supervised a masters thesis die study of a countermarked issue and chaired academic panels with papers on the subject.]  Taking a no-time-like-the-present approach, I did a down and dirty survey of RRC, taking notes as I went.  The picture above is the result of those notes.  There are much better charts and analyses in many publications, but if I didn’t do one myself no matter how crude I’d never get the material stuck in my head properly.   I’m sure there are inaccuracies and missing elements, but I hope it captures the overall trends. Pink are were Crawford thought countermarks were die specific. Blue where they are not. Light pink is for apparent attempts to be die specific with known inaccuracies. Hashed pink is where some sub types are die specific, but others are not.  Dark pink is where countermarks indicate die pairs. Dark blue are for where die pairs are present, but the pairs are represented by multiple dies. Grey is for too little information.  The dates defer to Mattingly and Hollstein’s adjustment of Crawford’s chronology.

The use does not perfectly map onto the use of serrated edges BUT it does follow the same trend.   Early isolated experimentation in Sicily.  A little recurrence in the mid/late 2nd century, and then a much more serious adoption around 104/103 BC.   The difference is that countermarks stay in use almost continuously.  They taper off a bit in the mid 90s, are steady in 80s with a HUGE effort to use them right over the 83-79 period, and then they tale off in the 70s with a revival at the very end of the 60s early 50s.

Serrating each flan is a huge amount of effort and is likely to have drastically slowed production.  Countermarks, especially per die or coordinated applications, also require significant efforts, but are more logistically challenging, rather than man-power challenging.  What the chart above doesn’t capture are trends in types of systems: letters, numbers, symbols, combinations thereof, variations with dots and Greek letters, or double letters, or consonants with vowels.  No one system is dominant.   The hope has been that die studies of countermarked issues can tell us more about the operations of the Roman mint.  Many such studies have producing tantalizing insights and likely hypotheses.   All the different systems mean that countermarks can’t have served a single administrative function.  Like the serrati their popularity and also the experimentation with new systems and revivals of old systems may be about inspiring confidence in the money supply — to be seen to be producing GOOD coin.  45 out of 66 issuers who used them managed some degree of die-countermark coordination.

As a historian I’m most interested in what caused the 104/103 adoption.  The intensity during the time of the Sullan return and dicatorship is not unexpected, if it is about creating confidence in the money supply, but certainly not worth that such systems are applied even to camp coinages presumably made in less than ideal conditions under serious pressure.   Similarly the tail end.  Why the revivals?  Why the complete cessation?  More of a whimper than a bang…

I am also curious about its application to some quinarii.  The quinarii is never serrate.  And it is usually associated with particular applications and especially associated with Cisalpine Gaul…

64 out of 410 days: Reducing Stimuli

I saw this on a social media site which I frequent. I thought it was dreadfully pretentious. “Oh poor me! I am a creative. No one understands me. Life is soooo difficult.” *

And then I looked at my browser tabs. On average I have about 16+ web pages open, 7+ pdf documents, 4+ word documents, at least one spreadsheet, a few sticky notes, 3+ powerpoint files [I use powerpoint slides like the index cards of old for sorting notes, images, references etc.], the snipping tool, my dropbox file folder, skype, and then did I mention my problem with stacks of books:

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That is the “surface” of my desk this morning. I’m not sure there really is a surface under there.

[The pillow in the window is normally for the cats (when Mary Beard isn’t using it, of course); this reduces their attempts to climb the book stacks or stand behind me poking me with their paws for attention.]

Is this because I’m a creative mind? Maybe. Maybe, I just have a hard time focusing on one thing. What if I need it later? What if I lose the reference? What if forget to come back to it? OH MY G-D! I’m a data HOARDER. Some people hoard bits of string. Or tins of food. Or boxes of garage sale finds. Even some people to whom I’m related… Nope, not me. All information, all the time. A veritable pack rat of details.

The last couple days I’ve been trying to restrict my pdfs and browser tabs to a single one of each. To open another, I must close the last. It seems to help.

Now that I think about it a few colleagues have periodically said “Wow, you have a lot of windows open.” when they stop my office at work. Maybe I should have picked up on that feedback a little sooner.

* – If you’re the friend who posted the e-card above. I’m really sorry for being so horribly judgmental. And, thank you for helping me come to a useful little self realization.

62, 63 out of 410 days: Cleaning Up

At the blackjack tables! No. Not really. Not even the house. Just Chapter 6. I ended doing a major restructuring which felt satisfying and then I decided it was about time that I created neat and tidy corresponding apparatus: 1) numbered block quotations and groups of block quotations for corresponding literary sources with proper references to such in the text, 2) an actual bibliography used if a proper format, rather than a jumbled list of things I’d like to include, 3) (a) a number list of figures with (b) a list of cross references to figures in other chapters so I have something to check later to make sure in the final drafts those other chapters actually contain what they’re supposed to.

It is easier to revise a bad draft than agonize over a first draft.

That’s there as a reminder that I’m enjoying the revision process and that I shouldn’t worry about imperfections in first drafts. Something is more than nothing. I tell that to my students all the time.

I’m struggling a bit with the lack of footnotes. I think I could have them. Another book by the press in a different series but with a similar target audience used them. It was recommended by the editors as ‘inspiration’. One of my peer reviewers thought they might be better than parenthetical notation. All that said, they could get out of hand. They could start to clog the page and trigger OCD-like compulsions for completeness. Parenthetical notation feels like it will keep me in-line, writing for a-scholarly-but-still-introductory audience. For now.

I cheated yesterday. It was totally a work day and I didn’t give you a coin. Do I feel guilty? A little. Do you feel lied to and like our strong foundation of trust is broken? Are you disappointed in me? I promise I will make it up to you.

I woke up in the middle of the night linking about this coin. Perhaps that was my conscience eating at me. The jug and lituus and wreath reverse kept throbbing behind my eyelids. The IMPER pulsed. They want to make sure I don’t forget about them apparently. On the other hand, on waking I was treated to a little refrain of a Turkish conversation that featured in my audio lesson yesterday? “Amerikalı mısın? Evet, Amerikalıyım.” Over and over. I apparently I’ve got that bit down. Now, if I could just get better about saying and understanding the verb to KNOW, I’d feel like progress was being made.

Okay. On with it properly now.