Sullan Hercules?

As so often happens I was reading for something else and I came across this article.

Keaveney, Arthur. “Sulla and the Games of Hercules.” L’Antiquité Classique 74 (2005): 217–23.

and now I have an addition for any future edition of my book. This should have been cited in footnote 24 of chapter 4 (see pages 168 and 233).

Keaveney is a blistering invective against Wiseman’s interpretations of RRC 385/2. While it is not particularly collegial in tone, he raised some valid points and the two pieces of scholarship must be read in tandem.

BUT if I’ve read it correctly after all the criticism of Wiseman’s reading of Sullan evidence. He seems to accept there were games of Heracles and that this coin likely celebrated them. He suggests at the very end that maybe the games were not down graded because of Sulla but continued much like his ludi Victoriae. I still have no strong opinion.

I would note that Keaveney’s use of RRC 205/5 (n. 14 and corresponding text) shows a lack of awareness of Hercules as a standard god for any quadrans.

Besides the coin the certain evidence for the games includes two inscriptions

publication: CIL 06, 00335 (p 3004, 3756) = CIL 01, 00985 (p 728, 840, 964) = ILLRP 00703 = AE 1999, +00169         EDCS-ID: EDCS-17300541 province: Roma         place:Roma

]r mag(ister) ludos / [3 Her]colei magno / [3]neo fecit

ILLRP says of it “saxum magnum in via Appia inter Casal Rotondo et Tor dei Selci”.

publication:CIL 06, 30888 (p 3758) = CIL 01, 00984 (p 964) = D 06081 = ILLRP 00701 = AE 1888, 00033 dating: -70 to -31         EDCS-ID: EDCS-18300897 province: Roma         place:Roma

] / mag(istri) He[rc(ulis)] / suffragio pag(i) prim[i creati] / ludos feceru[nt]

ILLRP says of it “Fragmentum mamoris Graeci litteris aetatis Ciceronianae repertum Romae in monte Caelio”


Cicero on Concordia – unpublished paper, c. 2011

I’ve been saying I’ll publish this paper for ages. Maybe I will but no time soon based on the length of my to do list. So I’m going to add it to my blog here just so that it is available. Perhaps it will generate comment.

Favorite slide from the presentation of this paper. Each dot represents the use of the vocabulary of concord(ia) in a Ciceronian text.
My second most favorite slide from the same talk. It shows how Cicero’s use of Opimius as an exemplum changes over time in reaction to contemporary events.

AVR and MA Semis Obv Die Link

I’m pretty sure about this, but I also assume someone must have already said this in print somewhere? Maybe Russo? I’ve not found looked too hard yet, just throwing this post up because aha! moments are fun even if they are not actually new observations. Also this isn’t hugely unexpected we already knew the two issues were closely related and probably minted on Sardinia.

Here’s a specimen of MA series RRC 64/3. Schaefer thinks its is likely that all known specimens are struck by the same dies but not all are confirmed matches to one another because of quality of specimens.

From Schaefer’s archive.

Now let’s look at a specimen of RRC 65/3 (which is even more rare than 64/3)

From Schaefer’s Archive
side by side
left made monochrome and transparent and rotated to match alignment
die match illustrated by overlay
intentionally unaligned overlap for comparison

Some bibliography

I’m checking some stuff for RRDP and thus finding lots of RR bibliography I might want to check out down the road.

M. Iunius Brutus : triumvir monetalis e quaestor. by Peppe, Leo. In: Istituto Italiano di Numismatica. Annali Vol. 43, 1996, p. 47-64.

Lucio Giunio Bruto : ricerche di storia, religione e diritto sulle origini della repubblica romana. by Mastrocinque, Attilio. Trento : Edizioni La Reclame, 1988

Muttonis Mutunus: Q. Titius and the Case of the Obverse Head /by Katz, Rebecca. In: International Congress of Numismatics XV International Numismatic Congress Taormina 2015 Proceedings p.671-675

The ‘bead and reel’ denarius of C. Vibius Pansa / Bruce R. Brace. In: Aureus Investments (Spring, 1988), p. 2-6, CF. The ‘bead and reel’ denarius of C. Vibius Pansa : again / Bruce R. Brace. In: Canadian Numismatic Journal Vol. 34, no. 4 (Apr., 1989), p. 131

Un interessante quinario di M. Porcius Cato (92 a.C. circa). by Spagni, Lopez. In: Noi con la lente anno 5, n. 3 (magg.-giugno 1993), p. 13-14

Les symboles sur les monnaies de M. Papirius Carbo et de L. Titurius Sabinus. by Vercoutre, A. [1893]

Un curioso denario di Lucio Titurio Sabino. by Spagni, Lopez. In: Bollettino Numismatico v. 9, no. 4 (Sept. 1972), p. 6-8

Le figurazioni degli assi di C. Marcius Censorinus. by Bartoccini, Renato. In: Il Gazzettino Numismatico v. 4, no. 1 (Feb. 1975), p. 46-52

La monetazione di L. Rubrius Dossenus / Patrizia Calabria. In: Rivista Italiana di Numismatica (Italy) Vol. 94 (1992), p. [65]-85

Quand Ogulnius frappa le quadrigat… / Mathieu Debaes. In: Liber amicorum Tony Hackens Louvain-la-Neuve : Association de numismatique professeur Marcel Hoc, c2007. p.179-191

A propos d’un as de C. Licinius Macer et de la répartition des attributions entre les triumvirs monétaires sous la République. by Thiry, Jean-Claude. In: Cercle d’études numismatiques. Bulletin Vol. 25, no. 1 (janv.-marc 1988), p. 1-6

Die Asse des C. Licinius Macer / Andreas Alföldi. In: Schweizer Münzblätter No. 92 (Nov., 1973), p. 117-119

Dio Cassius og numismatickken. by Kromann, Anne. In: Nordisk Numismatisk Unions Medlemsblad No. 4 (Aug., 1978), p. 65-69

Les deniers triomphaux de C. Valerius Flaccus. by Laffranchi, Lodovico. In: Demareteion I (1935), pp. 117-123

Les deniers de C. Valerius Flaccus frappés à Marseille et les dernières émissions de drachmes massaliotes / Andreas Alföldi. In: Revue Numismatique Ser. 6, Vol. 11 (1969), p. 55-61, pls. 6-13

L’aigle légionnaire sur les deniers frappés par Aulus Postumius et par Sextus Pompée. by Vercoutre, A. Verdun, 1897

Un portrait d’Aulus Postumius Albinus?. by Deonna, W. In: Actas y memorias de la sociedad española de antropologia, etnografia y prehistoria Madrid, 1947 v. 22, p. 5-13, 4 pls

Un ripostiglio di denari repubblicani da Albano / Giuseppina Ghini, Silvia Aglietti, Fiorenzo Catalli. by Ghini, Giuseppina; Aglietti, Silvia; Catalli, Fiorenzo. In: Rivista Italiana de Numismatica e Scienze Affini Vol. 109 (2008), p. 15-55 : ill., plan, photos ; 24 cm.

Der römische Münzmeister L. Rustius (1. Jh. v. Chr.) und seine Familie / Manfred Gutgesell In: Allgemeine Numismatik, Antike, Mittelalter, Neuzeit, Medaillen Bremen : Bremer Numismatische Gesellschaft, c1997 p.15-22

Nota su varianti inedite di denari repubblicani. I / by Armando Liati. Subject(s): Moneyers — Rome | Rome — Lucretius Trio, Cn In: Annotazioni Numismatiche Anno 5, Serie I (Marzo, 1995) Milan: Edizioni ennerres S.r.l.

Le denier de Lucius Farsuleius Mensor. by Vercoutre, A. Épinal, 1893

Das Bildnis des Konsuls Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus. by Lahusen, Götz. In: Archäologischer Anzeiger Heft 1 (1985), pp. [113]-117

L’emissione del prefetto di Caesar Q. Oppius (CRA 550/3a-c). by Martini, Rodolfo. In: Annotazioni Numismatiche 2 (giugno 1991), p. 25-27; cf. Note sull’emissione in oricalco di Q. Oppius (CRA 550/3a-c). by Veronelli, Giorgio. In: Annotazioni Numismatiche 1 (febbr. 1991), p. 12-14

The Coins of Clovius and Oppius (RRC 476/1 and 550/1-3): new Evidence from Find-spots / Marta Barbato In: The Numismatic Chronicle London : Taylor & Walton, 1838- vol.175, 2015, p.103-116

Vulci (CHRR 10)

In 1842 the excavator, Fossati, wrote to Gennarelli a detailed description of his discovery of the Vulci hoard with its fragments of a bull-bull bar and a cock-rostra bar. This includes a description of its proximity to the bridge and the jar in which it was found. Thankfully for us Gennarelli published that letter.

Excellent photos of La Bruna (CHRR 16) bars acquired by Berlin as well as some superb etching of other aes grave can be found in Dressel 1894.

Roman Names 101

I was asked if I could recommend an overview of how Roman names work. This is a type of lecture I give every semester sometimes multiple times, but I realized I don’t have a standard write-up of the framework to recommend. Writing up the basics in plain English seems like a good idea, as maybe I could then use that class time for something more interesting.

Greek naming conventions tended to involve a personal name (typically the same as one’s paternal grandfather) followed by an indication of who your father was and maybe where you lived to distinguish you from others with the same name. Greeks thought Romans were bizarre for having three names rather than one and sometimes had a hard time distinguishing which of the three names was the ‘right’ one to identify an individual.

Let’s run through some examples so unlike the Greeks we can know what is going on

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Marcus is the praenomen, or first name. This is typically the same as one’s father, or if one is a younger son, then the same as another male kin. If your older brother dies you might even take his praenomen to preserve its use in your generation. Branches of families rarely used more than two or three praenomina. This is the name your parents and close friends would call you in intimate situations. It is the closest thing a Roman has to a personal name. The Romans have very few common praenomina. Because of this they tend to be abbreviated. These abbreviations also preserve archaic letter forms in some cases: M.= Marcus, but M’. = a five stroke M = Manius, and C. = Gaius because Cs and Gs were historically the same letter. Many families uses the same few common praenomen, but a few families had special praenomen of their very own, the most famous being Appius (Ap.) among the Claudii.

Tullius is the nomen, or clan (gens) name. This is the biggest family unit. All the daughters of the men with in the same gens all had the same name, Tullia. Yes this was confusing and led to the use in the families of nicknames often reflecting birth order (e.g. Prima, Secunda, Tertia), or sometimes just terms of endearment (e.g. Tulliola). More on women and names below.

Cicero is the cognomen, or familial branch name. Not all Roman citizens have a cognomen. A famous example of a Roman citizen with only two names would be C. Marius. Cognomen often use terms to describe physical or personal characteristics. Cicero means chickpea. Balbus means stammerer. Caecus means blind. However, they are inherited on the paternal line and we can sometimes know when a cognomen was adopted by a specific historical individual and a new branch of the family begun using that name to mark the descendants of that individual, but usually we cannot. The main function of the cognomen is to distinguish family lines within a gens.

A lot of other information can appear in and around the Roman naming conventions:

M. Tullius f. M. n. M. Cor. Cicero Imperator

f. M. is the filiation of the individual. It expands in this instance to filius Marci, ‘son of Marcus’.

n. M. is a rarer inclusion but is used when an individual wished to indicate their paternal grandfather. Here it expand to nepos Marci, ‘grandson of Marcus’.

Cor. is the abbreviation of a tribus (tribe) and indicates the division in which one voted in certain assemblies. Enrollment in a tribe is inherited and established and confirmed in the census. Through out most of the historical period of the Roman Republic there were 35 tribes each with their own three letter abbreviation and originally correlating to geographical regions, but as families moved they did not change tribe.

Imperator is an title. All such titles go at the end of the name, not the beginning. When in the imperial period Imperator appears a the front of the name it is itself a praenomen, not a title.

Let’s look at a few other instances to observe other Roman naming features.

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus

Publius is the Praenomen, Cornelius the Nomen (gens), and Scipio the Cognomen. So far so good. But let’s remember that Publius was born the son of L. Aemilius Paullus conqueror of Macedon in 168 BCE. His biological father had him adopted by the son of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilianus, the dude who defeated Hannibal at Zama. Divorce was relatively common in Roman society so while marriage alliances between families could establish political alliances, giving a son in adoption created an even stronger (almost unbreakable) bond between families. Publius remained on intimate terms with his biological father and his birth family is preserved in his name by the inclusion of his original gens plus -an as another cognomen. This is why we sometimes call Caesar’s heir the former Octavius and future Augustus, Octavianus, even though he never used that name himself.

Africanus is sometimes called a agnomen, or honorific name. This type of cognomen can also be passed down to one’s sons after it is earned, typically through military victory and then triumph. But other agnomens exist like, Pius (the pious one), which is typically earned by extraordinary dedication to one’s father. Or Torquatus, referring to a famous instance of single combat in which the original individual who earned the name slew a Gaul and took the torque from his neck.

Thus far we’ve looked at elite male names. What about everyone else?

M. Tullius l. M. Tiro

This is the name after manumission of Cicero’s secretary. Tiro is his slave name. He retains this as a cognomen. He has no filiation (cf. Orlando Patterson and the idea that enslavement entail natal alienation). Instead, his ex-enslaver (dominus = master, lord), becomes his patronus (patron = father-like figure), and his status as a formerly enslaved person is worked into his name by the inclusion of patron’s praenomen. l. M. = libertus Marci, Marcus’ freedman. Notice he is given his ex enslaver’s praenomen and nomen (gens). Remember that familia in the Roman sense of family includes the enslaved.

The following passage shows how elite men liked to play with naming conventions when manumitting enslaved peoples using the name creation process to flatter each other and themselves:

I am glad about Eutychides, who, using your old praenomen and your new nomen, will be called Titus Caecilius, just as Dionysius, from a combination of your names and mine, is Marcus Pomponius. I am, by Hercules, exceedingly gratified that Eutychides has had cause to know your kindness to me, and that the sympathy he shewed me in the time of my sorrow was neither unnoticed at the time nor afterwards forgotten by me

Opening of Cicero’s Letter to Atticus 4.15

Cicero’s friend was born

Titus Pomponius

He earned Atticus as a cognomen through his fondness for Athens (including many acts of generosity to the city). BUT then his rich maternal uncle Quintus Metellus had no male children and thus wrote a will that Atticus could have the greater part of his estate if he accept a posthumous adoption thus taking a new name and responsibility for the family cult. (Cf. Caesar’s testamentary adoption of his great nephew Octavius.) He thus became

Q. Metellus Pomponianus Atticus

When Atticus manumitted Dionysius he flattered his friend by giving him the praenomen Marcus. When Atticus manumitted Eutychides he gave him his own old praenomen Titus. The purportedly ‘freed’ individuals had no say in this.

What about women you ask?!

When female enslavers manumit an enslaved person they have the fictive feminine praenomen Gaia.

M. Tullius l. Ↄ. Syrus

This is a plausible freedman’s name for a formerly enslaved man named Syrus manumitted by a woman named Tullia. One could refer to this woman formerly as:

Tullia f. M. Cornelii (Dolabellae)

Tullia daughter of Marcus, wife of Publius Cornelius Dolabella

Her husband freed a female slave named Aphrodita she would come

Cornelia l. P. Aphrodita

Did I miss something? Did I make a mistake? Let me know!

First Monday in August


I like course design, re-design, and implementation. This blog post is my attempt to pause and think before I dive into the minutia. It is a stepping back to remind myself of the big picture. A reflection on what the work ahead involves.

It’s still a pandemic and my students are still in crisis. Some of this is because of the changes and uncertainty the delta variant is raising. Some of this is how the long timeline of the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing hardships. Just the pandemic itself has created a fatigue. We’re not starting from zero, but from minus 45.

The positive of the pandemic teaching experience is that I’ve learned to be more flexible, and am sure I can find even more ways to be flexible.

Most of the courses I’m teaching this fall have never been taught in a pandemic before. To do the work ahead I want to start by thinking closely about what I consider most essential for my students to learn, all the different ways they might learn those things, as well as reviewing and affirming my own ethical principles. This list of reminders to myself will likely grow…

  • Invite students to articulate what they need
  • Believe students
  • The function of grades is to help communicate progress towards course completion
  • Any passing grade indicates how well the student has met learning outcomes
  • Incentivize engagement
  • Provide clear structures
  • Provide flexibility
  • Provide alternative means of meeting course objectives
  • Encourage students to apply pre-existing knowledge
  • Empower students to find and evaluate information independently and share that information with peers
  • Foster positive peer to peer interaction
  • Make transparent WHY each task associated with the course is useful and/or meaningful