Pigs and Fides

This is an idea that grew out of my last post which spiraled into tessera hospitalis, tokens of friendshipIt makes good sense that we have ones in the shape of joined hands.  The dextrarum iunctio was a common symbol of concordia and fides.  But what is up with all the half animals?  I think that it is likely to represent the animal sacrificed in the creation of the union.  I would also hypothesize that pigs are popular in this private domestic context for the same reason that we see pigs being used to seal a foedus.

Allow me to remind you of some famous numismatic pigs:


And sows:



Image result for social war oath

Tyche of Capua, Turreted Roma

File:Capua Æ Biunx 130018.jpg
Campania, Capua. 216-211 BC. Æ Biunx (25mm, 18.20 g). Bust of Tyche or Fortuna right wearing crown of turrets; strigil and two stars (mark of value) behind Horseman galloping right, with lance pointed forwards; w:murex shell below. SNG ANS 203; SNG France 488; SNG Morcom -; HN Italy 485. From the Tony Hardy Collection. Ex Italo Vecchi II (12-13 September 1996), lot 73.

So I wish I has a slightly better picture of this Capuan type (above) to set next to this Roman uncia (39/5):


They share detailed similarities right down to the rendering of the turrets, the necklace and drapery.  There is another related Capuan type as well, but it’s of a small denomination and has fewer parallels:

Campania, Capua. c216-211 BC. AE Uncia. Turreted female head right, thunderbolt on headdress; pedum behind, star below / Warrior on horseback right, holding long spear pointed forwards; star behind, murex shell below. BMC 11-12.

I’ve blogged about the problems with Roman coin and its interpretation previously.

251 out of 410 days: Back from Travels, Onto a New Chapter

A week of archaeological sites was a lovely break from writing. Yesterday and today have just been reading literature on file and looking over notes for the next chapter.  I thought I’d throw up this coin (HN Italy 2013) and Crawford’s 2002 comments:


From: M.H. Crawford, “Provenances, Attributions, and Chronology of Some Early Italian Coinages,” CH IX (2002), pg. 274.

I’m always nostalgic about this type.  I have strong memories of the first time I ‘found’ it in the old Ashmolean coin room and how much I loved bringing students in to see it and talk about its relationship to Roman types (RRC 28/3):


My favorite line out of this article of Crawford is certainly:

“It is no good simply lying in one’s bath and thinking that such-and-such an issue looks rather nice in such-and-such a year…”

I never dare do such a thing, but I did read this just as I was thinking how nice a bath sounded on a cold rainy Istanbul afternoon.  He startled me into keeping at my computer.  No bad thing.

The other Crawfordian gem of today’s readings was pretty much all of his 2009 article on aes signatum. Just to give a bit of the flavor, it begins “The term aes signatum seems to be taking an unconscionable time dying”  and contains a choice observation about “typical Anglo-Saxon insouciance about anything written in German, or even in French” followed by a pointed suggestion that in this case “maybe the insouciance was justified”.  (SNR 88 (2009): 195-197).


This is the coin type that occupied me much of last Thursday.  The interest comes from it being a potentially non-Italian instance of an oath-taking scene.  Such scenes appear during the Hannibalic War on both Roman coinage and that of certain Campanian cities which sided with the Punic forces.

And was resurrected by the Romans probably about 137 BC:

But was then famously the iconography was taken over by the Italian allies during the Social War in the 80s BC when they broke with Rome.

The swearing of an oath on a pig to seal a treaty is well attested as part of Italic culture, perhaps most famously at the Caudine Forks incident.  The legend of the type had previously been read on less clear specimens as FETIA and thought to refer to the fetiales, the priests associated with religious declarations of war and solemnizing the peace.  All these ‘oath scene’ coins have been associated with the fetiales in the past.  That’s somewhat problematic as such an oath could be sworn by the generals without such priests (again, see Cicero on the Caudine Forks oath).

Anyway, the new specimen above clearly reads EETI- and all the other reverse die specimens I’ve seen could be read the same way.  EETIA must be Latin as the letter combination is unattested in Greek.  It’s none too common in Latin.  If the word begins EETI- one thinks of the various legendary kings and heros named Eëtion.   They are associated with the Greek mainland or Asia Minor.  Leypold said he bought his specimen in Amisus and because small bronzes don’t tend to travel far its usually attributed to that location or the general region.   No other specimens find spots are known.   The lack of a diadem or garland on the obverse head has lead to the assumption it was a portrait of a Roman commander.  Speculation then commences about possible Roman commanders active in Asia Minor.  The Roman certainly experimented with coinage in the region.

As we puzzle out the legend we might recall that “Accian” Vowels, i.e. the reduplication of vowels to indicate their long vowel length, do appear on Republican coins.  [This type of vowel is discussed by Lucilius.]

And, even on provincial issues from Macedonia:

For the type of the last see BM catalogue.

One other clue might be visable on this rather awful specimen:

On this specimen one can see what I think might be a Q under the obverse head.   Q or PRO Q is a relativelycommon addition special issues and military coinage of this period.  We’ve seen two examples already above.  Here are two more from the Crawford sequence:

I grabbed this last example because of the placement under the bust.  If there wasn’t the assumption that it was from Asia Minor, I would have speculated Italic or at least Western Mediterranean origins.  The type is closer to the Campanian imagery of two figures holding a pig above the ground than any of the Roman or Marsic scenes.

But finally, given that there only seems to be one obverse die and maybe about four reverse dies amongst all the specimens, not to mention the scarcity of the type, this must be a very low volume production.  Why put all this energy into its manufacture?!  Who benefited?  Is it purely an ideological statement?  If so, towards whom is it aimed?