I’ve been reading Schafer’s 1989 dissertation on sella curulis und fasces. Many nice little observations and details here and there. This coin has the distinction of being the first to display the curule chair and to be the first minted by a curule aedile. The head of Cybele recalls the oversight of her games by the curule aediles. Schafer also wants to connect the lion’s feet on the curule chair as a fantastic detail linking to the role of lions in the cult of Cybele, a detail added to the coin to make the connection between obverse and reverse that much more obvious. He bases this assertion on the absence of such feet on other representations of the chair. I’m not so sure it is that unlikely that some sella curulis weren’t so adorned.
I’m interested in how the moneyer has used symbols and words together to communicate his message. The P. FOVRIVS is written onto the chair itself making the individual and the status of the object absolutely clear. This isn’t any old curule chair its Furius’ chair!
Then on the obverse at the end of the legend AED CVR is a foot. The foot is the visual symbol for the moneyer’s cognomen, Crassipes = crassus + pes = thick foot, i.e. probably clubfooted. The cognomen is known in other families in the Imperial period but primarily used by the gens Furii. Why is another matter. If it refers to the congenital birth defect it may be that the family had the genetic mutation that made the disorder more common. Or perhaps some ancestor just had a fat, swollen foot from a war wound or some more mundane reason. All that said the foot is clearly being used as a symbol of the name which appears on the reverse. Who was AED CVR? Crassipes obviously! There’s his foot.
The other thing this issue is good for is illustrating how spelling varients in proper names. He is always FOVRIVS with an O before the U, where as we later see the gens switching to just Furius. That said, the engravers swap between the CRASSVPES and CRASSIPES spelling. The varients crop up elsewhere but its curious that the moneyer himself didn’t seem to impose a single spelling of his cognomen on his coinage. I usually get quite sniffy if my name is misspelled or mispronounced.
There is, I should mention, a good chance that this moneyer is some relation to Cicero’s later son-in-law, a Furius Crassipes of unknown praenomen.