This is an idea that grew out of my last post which spiraled into tessera hospitalis, tokens of friendship. It 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:
The ‘intensive’ Turkish language class and bureaucracy have occupied much of the last week, but now as the Kurban Bayrami festivities begin our lives are settling down a bit. The language class is certainly part of my professional goals for this sabbatical, but as it doesn’t touch on my research and writing directly I don’t find I have much to say about it. I set a simple goal of reading two chapters a day of a book I’m reviewing and writing notes there on in order to have a draft of the review by next Sunday. This should allow plenty of time for flash cards and grammar exercises and perhaps even some more bureaucracy, if any offices are open. It should also let me blog here a bit about the material, like the inscription above. Here’s a recent translation:
Here’s the link to the translation source and here’s an even more recent discussion. There is controversy over the date: Late Empire? Late Republic? The latter is more favored at the moment. The passage is often discussed regarding the role of the historian in society and how histories would have been experienced by contemporary audiences, i.e. reception in antiquity. What caught my eye was the list of things that cause problems in societies, the understanding of which will be beneficial to the audience of the history:
- popular politics
- AND loss of trust (pistis)
It’s the last rhetorical point that resonates with numismatic imagery and more. In the passage infighting (staties emphulioi), i.e. conflict between kinsmen, those who should be ‘natural allies’, is juxtaposed against the idea of a loosening loyalties (pistion katalusies), implying, perhaps, that the latter refers to external treaties or agreements, interstate affairs. The first pair similarly contrasts poor and rich. The poor should be stirred up to want undo societal influence, but equally the rich should not seek to become richer still. Harmony within a community, perhaps, depends on these two precepts (homonoia, the rhetorical opposite of statis).
This started me thinking about how Homonoia (= concordia) and Fides (= pistis) have a strong overlapping iconography, most obviously the joined right hands.
The joining of the right hand is so much a part of the iconography of each abstract ideal that when unlabelled we should perhaps read both ideas instead of just one alone:
The question of course becomes how far back should we read the development of this overlapping and sophisticated icongraphic rhetoric: