The (un) Stable Earth

Tellus Stabilis is a goddess from the coinage from age of Hadrian onwards.  Notice she is not holding a rake as the catalogues say, that’s a yoke.


The other attributes are the short tunic of the farmer, the plow and two ears of grain.

This adjective and noun combination don’t appear in the extant corpus of classical literary Latin or the corpus of published inscriptions.  What does appear in epic poetry is the instabilis tellus!  Both Silus Italicus’ Punica and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, both in cosmological scenes.


Sertorius’ Pious Bullets?!

I’ve now found three references to three separate sling shot bullets with Sertorius’ name and title and also on the other side the word Pietas from Three distinct locations (map below).  Borja Díaz Ariño 2005 (quoted below) knows 5, and these three here may be in addition to those he documents (this is far from certain).





The phenomena has been interpreted in these ways:



Cf. also p. 113 of the same book.

UPDATE, best overview I’ve found so far:


Via Twitter Hannah Cornwell provides comparative evidence:

“Just checked: the Deities from the Sicily shots are not abstractions (Athena, Artemis, ‘the Mother’, Herakles, Zeus Keraunos). IG v.14. 608-10, no. 2407; also Chiron 12 (1982) 238-44.”

Context from Daremberg and Saglio.

Remembering the Slave Wars

Then [Fimbria] hired a slave, with money and the promise of freedom, to go to Sulla as a pretended deserter and assassinate him. As the slave was nearing his task he became frightened, and thus fell under suspicion, was arrested and confessed. Sulla’s soldiers who were stationed around Fimbria’s camp were filled with anger and contempt for him. They reviled him and nicknamed him Athenio – a man who was once a king of fugitive slaves in Sicily for a few days.

Appian Mithridatic Wars 59

The symbolic importance of portrait gems

Ptolemy abandoned his alliance with Rome, out of fear for the outcome of the war, but furnished Lucullus with ships to convoy him as far as Cyprus, embraced him graciously at parting, and offered him a costly emerald set in gold. At first Lucullus declined to accept it, but when the king showed him that the engraving on it was a likeness of himself, he was afraid to reject it, lest he be thought to have sailed away at utter enmity with the king, and so have some plot laid against him on the voyage.

Plut. Luc. 3


The Ptolemy is I think Ptolemy IX Lathyros

Death by Gold

Not sure how I didn’t make the mental connection prior to this but… the guy celebrated on this coin (RRC 401/1) is the same dude, Manius Aquillius, cos. 101, Mithridates’ killed by pouring gold down his throat!


I find it remarkable that a father with such a checkered career was rehabilitated by his son as the epitome of virtus.  Besides his death he was put on trial for his mismanagement of Sicily and he was given an ovation, not a triumph because he only fought against rebel slaves… (links to ancient sources)

How you die by this method is discussed in this Smithsonian article (the evidence that Crassus died this way is questionable).

Part of a speech from Posidonius preserved in Athenaeus from the Athenian usurper, Athenion:

‘King Mithradates is master of Bithynia and Upper Cappadocia; he is master of the whole continent of Asia as far as Pamphylia and Cilicia. And kings form his bodyguard, Armenian and Persian, and princes ruling over the tribes who dwell round the Maeotis and the whole of Pontus, making a circuit of three thousand six hundred miles. The Roman commander in Pamphylia, Quintus Oppius, has been delivered up and now follows in his train as a captive; Manius Aquilius, the ex-consul, who celebrated a triumph after his Sicilian campaign, bound hand and foot by a long chain to a Bastarnian seven and a half feet tall, is dragged along on foot by a man on horseback. Of all the other Roman citizens, some are prostrated before the images of the gods, while the rest have changed their dress to square cloaks and once more call themselves by the countries to which they originally belonged. And every community, greeting him with more than human honours, invokes the god-king; oracles from all quarters predict his supremacy over the civilized world. Wherefore he is dispatching great armies even to Thrace and Macedonia, and all parts of Europe have gone over to his side in a body. yes, ambassadors have come to him not only from Italic tribes, but even from the Carthaginians, demanding that they be allies to accomplish the destruction of Rome.’