AURORA and Endymion

Jeton Düştü! Thanks to RRC 453. The figure with Endymion and Luna is not Victory but Aurora.

This is just a small selection of the frequency of the appearance of Victory in these scenes with Endymion. While (thus far) I’ve not found a literary role for Victory/Nike in the narrative most ancient artists clearly found her an essential component. Thus RRC 480/1 should be identified as Luna and Endymion NOT the dream of Sulla.
ANS specimen
Naples, Arachne
Castel Gandolfo, Arachne
Mantua, Arachne
Assisi, Arachne
Villa Doria Pamphili, Arachne
Tarquinia, Arachne
Ostia (now Copenhagen), Arachne

Thus I (partially) agree with Congrossi and Fears (I have a harder time seeing an allusion to Caesar):

Fears, J. Rufus. “Sulla or Endymion. A reconsideration of a denarius of L. Aemilius Buca.” The American Numismatic Society Museum Notes XX (1975): 29-37.

Abstract: “The reverse of the denarius of L. Aemilius Buca portrays Selene and Endymion, not the dream of Sulla. It was issued after Caesar’s assassination and served as a funeral tribute to him.”

Cf. Fears, J. Rufus. “Sulla or Endymion ? A denarius of L. Aemilius Buca.” American Journal of Archaeology LXXVIII (1974): 165.

Cogrossi, C.. “Il denario di L. Aemilius Buca e la morte di Cesare.” Contributi dell’Istituto di Storia antica dell’Università del Sacro Cuore IV (1976): 169-178.

Abstract: “This denarius must have been struck between the end of April and June 44 BC. J.C. Contrary to the opinion of A. Alföldi (cf. APh XXXIV p. 458), it is not the dream of Sylla that he represents, but the sleep of Endymion, and he thus alludes to the death of Caesar. Neither the title of Dictator nor that of Parens Patriae appears there, but simply that of the monetary L. Buca. The currency, which does not admit the divinity of Caesar, but does not deny him the merits of the great man, corresponds well to this precise moment.”

Nothing about Victory in Borg or Zanker and Ewald, and Platt says the following:

Update 6/11/21:

Alföldi 1942 pl. 45

Triumviral Regal(ish?) imagery

What’s up with the filleted scepter on Antony’s ship series ? Cleopatra’s ships?

NAC 78, lot 775 (provenance and current whereabouts unknown to me) illustrating RRC 543/1. Note Cleopatra’s regal titulature and the tiara behind Antony.
RRC 539/1 – tiara as regal symbol of defeated enemy
RRC 540 – IRL temple obscures Regia, thus visually replacing it from the perspective of the Roman Forum, but even though temple functions that way, coin does not invoke that same symbolic action.

RRC 494/3 – Aeneas

RRC 494/42-43 – Cloacina perhaps evokes Tarquin or Tatius legends?! esp the latter when paired with Concordia?

Do the fasces and curule chairs disappear in the Augustan era iconography because they recall regal power (esp. given the lack of Collegiality in the dictatorship)?! Cf. RRC 497/2

Is libertas always anti Regal? (And why do we assume veiled heads are libertas when not labeled as such on the obverse?! cf. RRC 502/1-3)

RRC 505/3 – diadem

RRC 507/2 – broken scepter but what precisely is victory doing with the diadem?

To what degree is putting one’s own head or the head of one’s living leader on a coin a regal move in the eyes of a Roman audience? I lean away from the significance given prevalence in the civil war post ides period.

Unfinished post…

RPC 1 1775

Cf. posthumous tetradrachms of Philip

Potential allusions to kingship on Augustan coinage

Refs to Foreign Kings (maybe)

Surrender of children imagery. RIC I2 Augustus 200, 201A and 201B,

Kneeling Parthian. RIC I2 Augustus 287-289, 304, 314 (with diademed Herucles restoration reverse), 315

Kneeling Armenian. RIC I2 Augustus 290-292, 305-306

Armenian Standing with Tiara. RIC I (second edition) Augustus 307 (Cf. 514 (victory slaying bull), 515-517 tiara and case, 518-520 standing no tiara)

kneeling (generic?) barbarian 416

Possible Refs to Roman Kings

Tarpeia (299) implies world of roman kings? Ditto Foedus Gabinium types (363-364, 411).

Cn. Piso’s Numa bronzes (390-396) from c. 16-15 BCE.

Do plowing foundation scenes always imply kingship?! or a regal type act? (cf. 402 but also other earlier)

No wolf and twins? No wolf at all? No Aeneas in the post republican period?

A “Restoration” Type

Some colleagues asked if I had something to say about kings on coins after 44 BCE. I have lots to say pre 44 BCE on that topic but I’m trying to work out if I have anything worth saying in print on the evolution and what parameters I might put on such an essay. Hence if you see me posting about stuff later than I usually do that why. Just in the pre-writing survey stages.

I wish the type below was in the footnotes of my book as it is lovely illustration of how aware elite families are of their earlier coin types. This one imitates RRC 401/1.

Subtype of RRC 501/1 with Lyre Key?

McCabe Specimen

Most specimens look like the one below with a blank field above the plectum, but a few including the one above seem to maybe have a tuning key.

In trade

Those with the tuning key may be

Schaefer Dies

AP = VE 39, not 1252

O = McCabe specimen above

Just possible also on AE but not clear from images

Looking over the Schaefer binders it seems like the die engravers didn’t like the blank space above a short plectum and kept trying to make it longer and on just a couple dies that plectum extension transforms into a lyre key. I don’t ascribe any particular meaning to this variation, just an interesting feature.

I am indebted to D. Levinson, @Ancientlyric, and James Lloyd for helping educate me on tuning keys.

Colonization, Triumphs, and Skin Color

Public domain image of the mosaic from the baths at Colonia Augusta Nerviana Martialis Veteranorum Sitifensium (mod. Algeria). The theme is the triumph of Dionysus over ‘India’.
Detail of above.

It’s speculated that the name for the city in which this mosaic was found derives from their an indigenous or Semitic word meaning ‘black’.

Notice that the animals (esp. the giraffe = cameleopard) are African not exclusively “Indian.” Notice the emphasis given to the textured hair of three of the four captives. Notice the purple stripes on two of the captives garments and the diadem marking them as high status prisoners.

How would this read to a Roman veteran assigned to this colony or the children of such veterans as they lived in a north African landscape? The artist makes a clear distinction between the heroic/divine as white/pale skinned, the tanned/brown of the fauns and satyrs (non-human), and the black/dark brown of the bound captives. The image of Dionysus esp. Victory holding a crown above his head and riding in the chariot recalls imperial triumphal imagery.

Detail of above
Roman triumph - Wikipedia
Marcus Aurelius Triumphal imagery now in Capitoline Museum
The Arch of Titus (article) | Early empire | Khan Academy
Detail of the Arch of Titus.

Blanchard-Lemée, Michèle. “Dionysos et la victoire: variations sur un thème iconographique à Sétif et à Djemila.” Comptes Rendus / Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, no. 1 (2001): 529-543. Doi: 10.3406/crai.2001.16281


RRC 279 and 276 are likely struck by the brothers of cos. 120 who killed himself in 119 when convicted because of his actions on the land commission. Given how the dating of these two issues is approximate 122-119 ish AND the drama around their brother it seems worth some further thought.


Beness, J. Lea. “Carbo’s tribunate of 129 and the associated dicta Scipionis.” Phoenix 63, no. 1-2 (2009): 60-72.