This is a lovely example of the coin of C. Fonteius. Notice the care taken with the details. The dog or wolf’s head on the ram about prow is particularly impressive. It’s even clearer on this specimen. The ship has been given a crew and a prominent helmsman. The rudder is emphasized as is the aplustre and the fillets off of it. His brother or cousin Mn. Fonteius made a similar coin a few years later:
The is another version of this second issue that looks a little different:
My unscientific survey suggests there are fewer of these in trade today, even though the British Museum has a number of examples. The differences are small, but significant. PP is added to the obverse, resolved Penates Publici. The other difference is the oval shape in the stern of the ship. Crawford in 1971 identified this as a doliolum containing the sacra of Troy and hypothesized a connection between the Dioscuri, the penates publici and these sacra.
I find this plausible if not one hundred percent certain. My issue comes with the identification of RRC 290/1 the earlier coin. Crawford happily extends the Dioscuri interpretation back to the janiform head on 290, but gives a completely different reading of the ship. He sees it as connected to Telegonus the founder of Tusculum’s overseas origins. This seem a stretch. The two coins produced in the same family with nearly identical images should, I think, have the same explanation. If one represents the arrival of the sacra from Troy, so does the other.
Here’s the comparative image Crawford discusses:
The three quarters perspective used on RRC 307/1 is a familiar style for depicted Roman galleys in Pompeian frescoes:
How early were the Penates associated with the Aeneas narrative? Apparently some time before the third century at least:
5 thoughts on “237 out of 410: Similar Images, Different Interpretations?”
[…] shouldn’t really talk about those Fonteian coins as I was doing yesterday without adding in this coin of Q. Lutatius Cerco (quaestor? whose […]
[…] later in the day I’m still thinking about those pesky penates and their iconography. The most indisputable example is from late in the Republican series, c.47 BC, the image above. […]
[…] 237 out of 410: Similar Images, Different Interpretations? […]
[…] 114-113 BCE (290/1) and the ship on Lutatius’ coin of c. 109-8 BCC (305/1). Earlier posts (1 and 2). The style of the aplustre is key. The major different is the raised deck behind the […]
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