Thoughts on RRC 402…

Kopij NAC 2016, 106-127

So just finished reading this article.  It is very important revisiting of ideas and evidence explored in Martiz 2001.   Kopij is the best lay out of all the evidence.  I do how ever read the development of the semantic range of meaning a little differently.  I would want a both/and style interpretation.  Symbols are best when they’re meanings are layered.  The elephant scalp can evoke any, some, or all of these connotations AND the connotations bleed into one another.


I certainly agree that Numidian and Maurentanian usage of the elephant scalp is drawing on Roman usage/expectation, but it is not completely without reference to Egypt = Africa and Hellenistic Kingship/Ptolemaic associations!  Consider the reverse of this coin of Bogud (successor of Bocchus I, father of Bocchus II):Capture.JPG

I’m 99.5% certain RRC 402 is a female personification.  The earring on the BM specimen is my main gender indicator (circled in blue).  One of the oddest part of Pompey’s coin feels to be the placement of the ear of the Elephant very very different than any other representation as far as I can tell.


ex RBW specimen for reference:


I like how Kopij puts the legend comparisons with RRC 446 and 447 front and center.  This isn’t a comparison I’ve really dwelt on and it seems key.  Also the gold = crisis point is well taken.

Issues I want to think more about and were not really discussed in the article are the imitation of Marian and Sullan triumphal imagery (RRC 326/1; RRC 367/4&5).  The trace rider and the shape of the car seem closer to Marian prototypes.  The Victory and the gold material closer to Sullan imagery.   The obverse head is small compared to the flan like the Sullan precedent.   I wish I could be sure what the triumphator was holding in the case of the Pompey and Marius types.  On the Sullan type its a caduceus and was made BEFORE Sulla got to Rome.   The laurel wreath border is odd and has its best parallels (to my mind) in the late 80s BCE (RRC 358/1; 376/1; 374/2; 361/1).

Stylistically I think it fits best in the 70s… but I give that assessment a low confidence rating.

Elephant Scalps Again

So I’m reading Kopij NAC 2016, 106-127 on RRC 402 at this moment and it was really bothering me I didn’t have an image to hand of this (unique) coin (I do hate unique coins).  Both he and Maritz 2001 cite SNG Copenhagen but don’t illustrate.  Much to my delight this website on Magna Grecia gave me the Jenkins SNR 50 reference which let me track an image down.  I now see why Panormos and Camarina are preferred IDs.  The reverse looks very much like the reverses of those two cities at the end of the fifth beginning of the fourth centuries BCE.

It is much like many glass paste representations and not much like other early coin types…  No particularly personal theories yet…


A glass paste for a Pompey supporter


I don’t usually like to be totally 100% certain about anything, but this one seems pretty dang clear!  (RRC 447/1)


Addendum.  Tassie records a jasper with the same design (no. 2682) in the collection of one Mr. Chracherode.


Second Addendum.  A related glass paste: BM 1814,0704.2253 = ex. Townley coll. = Tassie 1042:


Caduceus replaces sceptre perhaps to lessen regal overtones?  Or simply to mark the coming of good things…



Did Romans love Herodotus?

That was my first thought upon seeing this Berlin glass paste (it has one more illustrated friend in the same collection).


BUT then I remembered this passage of Hyginus’ Fabulae


Cleops and Bitias (Kleobis and Biton) are here co-opted as symbols of filial piety on par or even exceeding the Aeneas and the Catana brothers.

Those Catana Boys Again…

I thought I’d settled my mind on RRC 308/1 previously (two earlier posts).  But now a Berlin glass paste has thrown open the question in my mind again.


The identify of the figure as one single Cantanaean brother seems confirmed by the symbol in the field, the triskeles, a symbol of Sicily.

This then got me thinking about arm and body positions.  The outstretch arm echoes the representations of the father on the coins of Sextus Pompeius (RRC 511/3).


The Sextus coins bear a strong compositional resemblance to these bronze coins of Catana (date disputed).  So strong in fact I might posit one or more pre existing local representations of monumental scale.  The one big difference is that the father is holding a long slender object in his out stretch hand.  No parallel object is held on the Sextus coins.  BUT on the glass paste above there is a similar long slender object in the father’s opposite hand held close to the body.


On these other coins of Catana (Katane) the mother’s arms are represented identical to the two coin types above, BUT the not the fathers.  He holds his arms close to his body.  There is a strong vertical element which could be the same rod like object seen above or might just be drapery as on the RRC 308/1.



Drapery is a keep design component in RRC 494/3:


The distinctive element of the glass paste illustrated above is the outstretch arms of BOTH father and son.  I would interpret this as a visual reminder of the other brother and the mother, a beckoning gesture.  What that stick thing is I’d dearly love to know…

All in all I’m back to being a little less sure of my reading of RRC 308/1…