3 of 234 Days: Triple Diana or Three Nymphs?

From Schaefer’s Archives (presumed forger’s die, now in Zurich money museum (see previous blog post)

I love that I can use the Berlin catalogue as a digital index for Woytek. The pages here discuss the college of moneyers and why 41 BCE is a better date for them. It does not engage with typology, but rather mint structure.

Smyth 1856: 2 describes two specimens of RRC 486/1. He discounts an unattributed description of as the Caryatidae, and favors seeing it as the metamorphosis of the three Clymenidae, sisters of Phaeton, with the obverse being their mother, Clymene. He quotes in Latin a line from Havercamp. The view is over a hundred years old by the time Smyth paraphrases. AGNETHLER 1746: 72-73 (next set of images) makes explicit what Smyth only implies. The attraction of this interpretation is based on the moneyer’s cognomen LARISCOLUS being derived from larix: the larch tree. The idea was that the three figures are turning into these trees. Smyth rejects an idea he attributes to Cavedoni that the obverse represents Acca Laurentia and that the money is thereby associating he gens, ACCOLEIUS, with the mother of the Lares and more over implying a connection between his cognomen and these protective deities.

Public domain image of a European Larch

Given the conviction of all these forebearers, I found myself surprised no one had pointed me to an ancient account of this myth. I had hope when I turned to Rasche 1785 when he gave a Pliny reference…

But NO! that passage is about the triple nature of the larch, a rather clever means of creating a connection, I admit.

“the fir and the larch divide the process into three parts and produce their buds in three batches; consequently they also shed scales of bark three times…”

Pliny 16.100

So what’s up? Well, outside of the numismatic bubble these sisters are typically called Heliades (a small point, but helpful for tracking down info!) and all of the accounts (as far as I can tell) have them turning into poplar trees if any type of tree is specified. Also their number isn’t fixed, as many as seven appear in some accounts (three is also a known number).

So how and when did our former colleagues reject this interpretation and land on the Diana as worshiped at Nemi…? A story for another day. This was enough of a pleasant warm up exercise and now onto the to-do list.


  • Finalize Tow Proposal (DUE Friday, Jan 6, 5 pm)
  • Spend sometime with Dionysius
  • Send Letter of Recommendation (RE grad teaching)
  • Triage former student emails from over break
  • Contact more curators about feasibility of collections visits concurrent with this trip (progress!)
  • Contact Princeton and Rutgers about possibility of visits
  • Write BM about whether scans of Nemi photos can be had
  • Write Clare in case she’s seen these photos and is interested in those token images mentioned by Crawford

Not Today (but maybe tomorrow, or the day after)

  • Submit Signed Tow by 5 pm Jan 6
  • Spend MORE time with Dionysius
  • Teaching requests for Fall 2023
  • Circle back to department about any Jan planning meetings
  • Book flights
  • Set time table for any collaborative RRDP work/publication prep that needs to happen this semester: Chicago pub, INC pub, collaboration with RACOM, etc…
  • Circle back to Capito project
  • Consider ask for funding from Dean’s office
  • Begin Med school rec letter
  • record mini myth
  • find out what is on that v old harddrive and back up to cloud
  • follow up with Lafayette
  • Contact more curators about feasibility of collections visits concurrent with this trip
  • Write up Teaching Eval
  • Follow up old student/tree sunset
  • Rosen Fellowship refs

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