I find Rutter in HNItaly convincing for his suggestion of Syracusan influence here. I also give Crawford’s views below. I just wonder if Arpi isn’t the inspiration or even the mint location for RRC 15/1. At very least it shows earlier reception of the Syracusan types among Rome’s allies.
Historia Numorum Italy no. 448 is listed with just one legend PROBOM. (P is actually closer to a Π with a short right leg. Note open form of R. These features consistent throughout). A specimen with clearly this legend is illustrated in the plates. Most of the specimens in trade are from different dies with variant readings:
The meaning of the legend is unclear. HN Italy suggests it comes from probus, meaning valid. Although the basic meaning ‘honest, good’ seems fine to me too.
It is connected to a similar legend at Beneventum on a type, the imagery of which is a mirror image of RRC 15/1 (HN Italy 440):
The correct resolution of the legend may be aided by consideration of the variant spellings observed.
Beneventum became a Latin colony in 268 and Suessa in 313. These coins are associated with the First Punic War. Hercules wrestling the Nemean Lion is a common enough artistic theme, known especially at the mint of Heraclea Lucaniae and occasionally at Tarentum.
Addendum. I wasn’t really happy with the probum meaning ‘approved’ as it seemed a strange thing to me to write on a coin. Out of keeping with typical legends (ethnics, magistrates, mint marks, the very occasional labeling of the image). I even tried to convince myself Probus could be an epithet or title for Mercury or something. I didn’t manage. Just a red herring. But … then I remembered the inscriptions on the Egadi rams of a roughly contemporary date.
We’ll known more once the inscriptions are published on there own, but for now the use of the probo, probare, probavi on the rams is enough to let me think probum on the coin is more plausible than I first thought.
[Disturbingly, if you google image search, ‘Beneventum Apollo Coin’, the first image that returns of the coin is hosted on some satanic-esque website obsessed with pentagrams. Reminded me of a time a student of mine unwittingly submitted a project full of images from some awful white power website. Appropriation of the past to support modern ideologies is a dangerous thing, especially on the intertubes.]
I was surprised to have so much trouble finding an image of this type. Thus I thought I’d throw up this bad screen shot and link just to help the next numismatist so struggling. HN Italy obviously knows more specimens than the Paris one as a weight range is given (6.1-6.4 g); I’ve not tracked down their locations. Millingen, although wrong to re attribute the coin to Sora, was correct to see it paralleling issues of Cales, Teanum, and Suessa. See my earlier post.
Update 10 April 2014: I’ve revised my thinking on this issue. I”m not sure it really parallels the issue of Cales, Teanum, and Suessa that well. Key differences in my mind are the lack of any additional symbols on the obverse and the placement of the legend on reverse in the field not in an exergue. It is also missing from the San Martino in Pentilis hoard which has decent number of all three of the others. I am thus skeptical we can really associate this coin with the others and by extension with the 1st Punic War.
Update 7 January 2015: A specimen from Naples was published in the same piece that gives us our first look at RRC 2/1. Isn’t that fun!? Images link to original publication. Based on this photograph I’m inclined to say that the HN Italy reading of the legend is in error. It should be CORANO not KORANO. Also HN Italy does not mention the palm branch (?) behind Apollo’s head. The hat shape of the rider seems distinctive.
I was thinking about tripods in a totally different framework when I came across the very smart work of Carsten Hjort Lange (again!). In his 2009 book, Res Publica Constituta, he gives a new reading of the famous plaque from the Palatine in light of the use of tripods on the coinage of 42 BC (p. 172ff). A great read, but too long to extract here just follow the link!
I also came across a reading of the Tripods on the Coins of Herod (same time frame) that I thought delightfully sensible:
So I was looking at the Neapolis coins that served as prototypes for the earliest coins in the name of Rome. And, Apollo has a very flippy hairdo of a not terribly typical type. Here’s another to prove I’m not making this up:
That flip was feeling familiar. And not from just the Roman type (RRC 1/1):
Here’s a link to one more of these. Anyway. It struck me that that hair flip is visually quite related to the neck flap that appears on Roma’s helmet on certain early types like these:
Also noted by Crawford is the lack of clarity of which divinity is intended by the helmeted and wreathed head on the obverse of the Cybele coin; he lists Attis, Corybas and Bellona as early suggestions. Wisemen in his 2000 chapter seems to endorse an idea originating with Alföldi and tentatively exploited and contextualized by Fishwick 1967, namely that the goddess is the Cappadocian Goddess Ma usually associated with Bellona or in Plutarch with ‘Selene, Athena, or Enyo’. Fishwick’s piece shows the imperial epigraphic references to Bellona elided with Virtus and the close association of that cult with the Magna Mater. Crawford himself on p. 307 of RRC vol 1 seems to suggest that Bellona is intended on Volteius’ coinage. The divinity on the obverse should within the logic of the series be one honored alongside Cybele. Three gods only have attributes on the reverse: Jupiter is paired with his temple, Hercules with the boar, Apollo and the tripod, but Ceres in her chariot is represented with the Father Liber who shares her festival. So Cybele in her chariot ought to have a similar companion on her obverse?
A standard reading would suggest that Volteius is promising personal largesse at such Ludi if selected as an aedile. This becomes a little bit more problematic when we consider that the Ludi he honors are put on by both curule and plebian aediles. It is hard to think he is actively “campaigning” for both. The selection is also not complete: the Floralia and the Plebian Ludi are both missing. More over the types honor the divinities but do not in anyway recall the spectacles or other public benefits of the ludi as some other ‘promotional’ coin types do.
Also confusing is the inscription of the Apollo coin:
S C D T is resolved by Crawford as stips collata dei thesauro or something similar recalling the original funding by individual contributions of this festival. It is hard not to see the SC as more readily read as Senatus Consulto as appears on so many other coins. This would leave the question of the DT. Dumtaxat is the most common resolution of this abbreviation in Latin inscriptions, usually preceding a number or measurement being translated ‘precisely’. There are far fewer of the Apollo coins surviving that any of the others in the series.
I’m really stuck on this Alföldi article. [See yesterday’s post for references.] He makes the assertion that the snake on an omphalos is the iconography of Apollo, not Aesculapius. He uses Etruscan cinerary urns as comparative evidence:
Yet these visual examples do not specifically link the image to Apollo they only show Italic usage. The image is clearly Delphic as Alföldi asserts. A point illustrated by the late 4th century Amphictonic Hemidrachms:
But this is by no means exclusive. The same reverse type was used at Pergamon after 133 BC to celebrate Aesculapius as Soter (savior):
Aesculapius has been a popular interpretation of the allusions on L. Rubrius Dossenus’ coins because of literary testimony of a plague in 87 BC. However, if Apollo is meant than these coins might be linked to the Veiovis / Apollo coins of the Marians. The interpretation of which remains controversial: