Explaining ‘Old Money’

A Lawyer weighs in:


From the Loeb.

A grammarian has a go:


Again from the Loeb.

And now we get to the passage I actually went looking for:


So still from the Loeb.

Sesterce as a translation of nummo is weird and uncalled for.  A medimnus = 6 modii.


Cf. Cicero, Verrines 2.3.116

Verum ut hac ipsa ratione summam mei promissi compleam, ad singula medimna multi HS binos, multi HS singulos semis accessionis cogebantur dare, qui minimum, singulos nummos.

But that by this present calculation I may make out the sum which I promised to do, many were compelled besides to pay two sesterces, and many one and a half, with each medimnus, and those who had to pay least paid a single coin with every medimnus.

I want to check out the manuscripts but it seems like nummos here must mean sestertius.  So maybe it should mean a single unit rather than a physical coin. …

Here is Varro’s vocabulary (again Loeb):


I think in the end it was this passage I was truly looking for…





Sandan’s Pyre, Imperial Funeral Pyres

So I’m a little obsessed with what we do and do not know about the god numismatists call Sandan and others call Sandas or Di Sandas (Disandas, Desandas) or Ba’al Tars or even Tarsos.

One interpretation of the coin imagery is that it represents the Pyre which we here about  as a central ritual in the worship of “Heracles” at Tarsus.


Antiochus VII Euergetes, 138 – 129 BCE
164-27 BCE
under Marcus Aurelius
Image of Clay Plaque from Mastrocinque’s piece cited below.

While I’m not convinced that these must represent a pyre, a monument seems to be more likely, I would note there is a bit of similarity to the imperial funeral pyres…

Caracalla for Severus
Aurelius for Pius


Lots of primary sources are well collected by A.B. Cook in his Zeus (1914), p. 593ff.

So far the best modern treatment I’ve read is Attilo Mastrocinque’s 2007 piece.

Older meaningful returns in L’Année philologique and JStor are minimal:

Levy, G. R.. “The oriental origin of Herakles.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies (1934): 40-53. Doi: 10.2307/626489

Huxley, George L.. “Sandas in Cappadocia.” Philologus CXXVI (1982): 315-316.

Şahin, Hamdi. “Neue Vorschläge zur Lesung von mittelkilikischen Inschriften. 1.” Epigraphica Anatolica, no. 36 (2003): 153-155.

Krappe, Alexander H. “The Anatolian Lion God.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 65, no. 3 (1945): 144-54. doi:10.2307/595818.

Tarn, W. W. “A Greek Inscription from Kurdistan (C. I. G. 4673).” The Classical Review 43, no. 2 (1929): 53-55. (with reference to Tac. Ann. 12.13)

Jongkees, J. H. “Gottesnamen in Lydischen Inschriften.” Mnemosyne, Third Series, 6, no. 4 (1938): 355-67.

I’m sure there is more our there that I haven’t tracked down yet.


Dido’s Story, Illustrated

I was poking around at temples on provincial coinage to help a colleague and I stumbled upon these wonderful types.

Dido worships Melkart (Heracles at Tyre)


Dido sails directed by Good Fortune (directing helmsman)


Dido directs the building of Carthage (NOTICE SHE IS LABELED! Also notice, that there is a palm tree as a canting pun for Phoenicians!)Capture1

A quick look at coins in trade tells me Tyre starts making these types at least by the reign of Elagabalus…

Some are catalogued in RPC.

Titus Antistius (reluctantly) Quaestor (RRC 445/2)


Cic. Fam. 13.29: “…I am exceedingly intimate with C. Ateius Capito. You know what the ups and downs of my fortunes have been. In every position of honour or of difficulty of mine, Capito’s courage, active assistance, influence, and even money were ever at my service, supplied my occasions, and were ready for every crisis. He had a relation named Titus Antistius. While this man was serving in Macedonia as quaestor, according to the lot, and had had no successor appointed, Pompey arrived in that province at the head of an army. Antistius could do nothing. For if he had had things his own way, there is nothing he would have preferred to going back to Capito, for whom he had a filial affection, especially as he knew how much he valued Caesar and had always done so. But, being taken by surprise, he only engaged in the business as far as he was unable to refuse. When money was being Coined at Apollonia, I cannot say that he presided at the mint, nor can I deny that he was engaged in it; but it was not for more than two or three months. After that he held aloof from the camp: he avoided official employment of every sort. I would have you believe me on this point as an eye-witness: for he used to see my melancholy during that campaign, he used to talk things over with me without reserve. Accordingly, he withdrew into hiding in central Macedonia at as great a distance as he could from the camp, so as to avoid not only taking command in any department, but even being on the spot.

Crawford (RRC vol. 1 p. 80) of course knows this, but still exciting to read a fresh in Cicero.


RRC 445

I want to think more about how he might connect to later Anstitii who serve as moneyers.


Semo Sancus

I fell down another rabbit hole thinking about the gods of Tiber Island, because of Veiovis thing: Jupiter Iurarius and Semo Sancus.

Here are some images for future reference


There is some dispute about whether the statue (now in the Vatican and over restored) was found on Quirinal OR on the Tiber Island.  I’ve not tracked down (yet) the details referenced in the Wikipedia page, but Amanda Claridge is rarely wrong….

The inscription shown as its base (do they really go together? were they really found together?) in the drawing is now in Naples.  Would be worth taking some measurements…

The biggest point to realize is that the literary sources that talk about Jupiter on the island are unlikely to be ‘really’ talking about Veovis, because of the discovery of CIL 6, 379!

The only real evidence of for a temple of Veovis on the island is the Praenestine Fasti, Jan 1.

Alexander on Horseback


So, I started noticing the wild hair of the rider on Crepusius’ coins (RRC 361) and then I started thinking that clothing didn’t look very Roman either.  That led me to re read

Michael J. Taylor. “The Battle Scene on Aemilius Paullus’s Pydna Monument: A Reevaluation.” Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 85, no. 3 (2016): 559-76. doi:10.2972/hesperia.85.3.0559.

He makes the point that Roman cavalry wear tight fitting armor but often Macedonian warriors are represented with more flowing drapery.  He brings in a bunch of comparative visual evidence.  Figure 21 is the key.  Here is his reconstruction.  I’ve colored all the Romans yellow to make things clearer.  Besides Macedonians there are Allies and Gauls left uncolored


So who has that wild hair rides, dresses like a Macedonian, and is famous for his equestrian statues.  Oh just this dude: