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:
The first time I saw an image of this mosaic I thought the spellings of the names very odd. PWMYΛΛΟC and PWΔC, except the delta looks like it has a tail like a funny iota script. So perhaps its reads PWAiC, but that doesn’t make much sense either. At with point I stopped worrying about it because its way after my period and just a distraction from getting this book done.
Then today I started thinking about that odd letter in the twin’s name who isn’t Romyllos or Romulus or however you want to spell it. I was reading Wiseman’s chapter on L. Brutus in his Unwritten Rome (2008) and I read this fragment of Alcimus (FGrH 560 F 4 = Festus 326-8L):
Alcimus says that Romulus was the son of Aeneas’ wife Tyrrhenia, and from Romulus was born Aeneas’ granddaughter Alba, whose son, called Rhodius, founded Rome.
Wiseman goes on (p. 302 ff.) to explain that ardea means heron and so does rhodios in Greek and so this passage is about Ardea claiming to be founder of Rome.
Anyways. I doubt a late Syrian mosaicist was following Alcimus or anything.
Tatius, legendary king of the Sabines and co-regent at Rome for 5 years with Romulus, is used by two moneyers in the Republic as an obverse type. Tatius appear in some of the earliest Latin literature in a famously alliterative line of Ennius:
Warmington in the Loeb clearly assumes a negative context (above). This reading has been endorsed again by a recent introductory essay on Ennius. [Not bad little introduction to his alliterative tendencies there too.] By contrast Elliott very recently has swung out to an opposite positive direction:
Sometimes there is a danger of learning something completely unrelated to Greco-Roman antiquity when using a coin database. I searched “Sabine” expecting to return RRC 344/1 [I was thinking about the iconography of two figures carrying two other figures]. Which the search did, but I also got back a handful of medals like the one above.
The Second Battle of Sabine Pass took place on September 8, 1863, and was the result of a Union expedition into the Confederate state of Texas during the American Civil War. It has often been credited as the most one-sided Confederate victory during the conflict. …
… In recognition of the victory, local residents smoothed off Mexican dollars, stamped them with the battle and date, plus individually the name of each soldier, hung them on green ribbons and presented them to the troops. Approved by the Confederate Congress, the Davis Guards Medal is believed to be the only official military decoration issued by the CSA [wikipedia]
Needless to say anything that rare and historic is likely to inspire forgeries. A number of the specimens in the ANS collection have notes saying such and such cast doubt on the authenticity of the specimen. Here are all the ANS specimens together. Interestingly only the ones with soldiers’ names are listed as possible forgeries.
The coin conversion is particularly interesting to me. I’d also love to know who and when named the pass and the adjoining Sabine Lake. The habit of naming places with Classical allusions is one I associate most strongly with New England, especially Upstate New York.
I’m trying to make up my mind whether I think RRC 308/1 represents one of the Catanaean Brothers as most scholars think or if I am swayed at all by Evans’ claim that it is really Aeneas. Above is a coin of Catana showing the brothers. Here is the Republican coin:
There two literary accounts of the brothers. One is Hyginus’ list . I give the two proceeding entries and the two after for context:
The eagle was assigned to the Roman legions as their special badge by Gaius Marius in his second consulship. Even previously it had been their first badge, with four others, wolves, minotaurs, horses and boars going in front of the respective ranks; but a few years before the custom had come in of carrying the eagles alone into action, the rest being left behind in camp. Marius discarded them altogether. Thenceforward it was noticed that there was scarcely ever a legion’s winter camp without a pair of eagles being in the neighbourhood.
Horses, Wolves, Boars are all featured on the Republican coin series. Not so much, minotaurs … It’s not really an argument, but surely something went wrong in Pliny’s account or the manuscript or something… Very strange. But then there is the Festus to back it up…
MINOTAURUS. The figure of the Minotaur was among the military insignia, because the projects of the general should not be less mysterious than the labyrinth which held this monster. The Minotaur, it is said, was the fruit of the love of Pasiphae, wife of King Minos, and a bull. But others say that Taurus was just the name of her lover.