An very odd uncia, in an already odd series

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So this is the first appearance of Apollo on the obverse of a Roman coin type since the creation of the stable denarius system (so 211 BCE).*  It is the very smallest of the bronze: 1/12 of an As.  So originally you’d have needed  120 of these to equal a single denarius and after the re-tariffing of the denarius 192.   Needless to say not many were made, and most were lost, and few come to us in as good of a condition as this specimen!

But what is really interesting about this appearance of Apollo is that he’s displacing ROMA.  Roma had been consistently the goddess of the uncia denomination since the creation of this bronze system.  The rest of this series (RRC 285) follows the traditional combination of denominations and gods, but not this one.   The series is also strange in its rejection of the prow reverse that has been the standard on the bronze and instead shows attributes of each of the typical gods.   Why forego Roma?  Was it just too complex to choose an attribute for her?  This seems weak.  Or did Apollo hold some special meaning?  We are unlikely to know.

FYI –  CRRO 241/6 (not is Crawford but identified by Russo 1998: no. 88) is catalogued as Mercury not Roma.  This is just a typo.  It is Roma in Russo and all known specimens. 

*- Yes, I’m deliberately overlooking the odd quincussis from Luceria made at the end of the Second Punic War.


3 thoughts on “An very odd uncia, in an already odd series”

  1. Actually, the uncia was not the smallest of the bronzes. There was (rarely) a semuncia (e.g., Cr. 38/3, 41/11 and 43/7) and even more rarely, a quartuncia (e.g., Cr. 38/7). I believe the quartuncia has the pride of place in being the smallest. All of these are contemporary with, or shortly before, the introduction of the denarius. None of which detracts from the interesting post about this particular, later, uncia!

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