More on the Iconography of the Penates

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Detail of the Ara Pacis panel showing the Aeneas offering sacrifice

In past posts, I’ve worried quite a bit about the penates.  I may have to write this all up eventually as a proper article or something.  I’m still working on Dionysius ahead of my Yale talk this coming Saturday.  And, my work led me back to passage on the Penates in book 1.   And I found this comment by A. E. Dumser on the aedes Penates on the Mapping Augustan Rome Website.

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Here are some more images just for further context:

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Notice the prominent placement of this panel and even the depiction of the Penates shrine itself in relation to the monument as a whole. Aeneas’ piety is echoed by the piety of the those who are participating in the sacrifice at this very altar.

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Update 6/30/17 – just a bibliographical reference for when I come back to the penates:

M. Stöckinger, Inalienable Possessions : the di penates in the Aeneid and in Augustan Culture, p. 129-48 in Mario Labate, Gianpiero Rosati (ed.), La costruzione del mito augusteo. Bibliothek der klassischen Altertumswissenschaften, Band 141.   Heidelberg:  Universitätsverlag Winter, 2013.  ISBN 9783825361136.

Roma Aeterna in the 3rd Century BC?

Reverse of RRC 39/4. ANS 1969.83.100.
Obverse of RRC 39/4. ANS 1969.83.100

So I don’t think I’ve ever thought particularly hard about this uncia type although the types of RRC 39 are exceptionally fascinating as a group (see my previous comments on the semiuncia).  I ended up here because I was trying to better understand the context of a passage in Dionysius today:

Yet this village [sc. Pallatium, Evander’s foundation,] was ordained by fate to excel in the course of time all other cities, whether Greek or barbarian, not only in its size, but also in the majesty of its empire and in every other form of prosperity, and to be celebrated above them all as long as mortality shall endure. (D. H. 1.31.3)

So this seems related to the idea of Rome as the Eternal City, but I realized I knew next to nothing about the origins of this concept.  Turns out its right in Dionysius’ own day with the earliest Latin articulation being Tibullus (c.55-19BC):

Romulus aeternae nondum formaverat urbis (Elegies 2.5.23)

This brought me to a survey article written in 1965 that included this intriguing paragraph on the iconography of aeternitas (p. 29):

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I’m not endorsing (yet) this interpretation of the type, but it a sharp observation and a intriguing possibility I’d like to think about another day when I have more time!   From a numismatic perspective one would have to also consider in this context all the other republican issues which juxtapose the sun and the moon: RRC 309/1, 310/1, 390/1, 474/5, and 494/20b.

Update on 10/11/15:

Dionysius’ reception of the concept of Rome as the Eternal City is some what problematized by his version of the Marcus Curtius story as preserved in the fragmentary books (14.11).  He says Curtius had to throw himself into the gap to give Rome more strong young men.  Livy’s version instead says the self sacrifice will result in Rome being Eternal (7.5).  The date of book 7’s composition is debatable.

Update 10/12/15:  I want to think more about how Gowing’s argument may fit into all this:

Gowing, Alain M. – Rome and the ruin of memory. Mouseion (Canada) 2008 8 (3) : 451-467 ill. [rés. en franç.]. • The importance attached to buildings is reflected in Roman culture generally, but nowhere better documented than in the Augustan program of restoration. A significant portion of that program existed to preserve the legacy and memory of Rome as manifested in buildings. Yet Romans were aware that no building could last forever ; the impermanence of buildings, especially in comparison with the immortality conferred by literary endeavours, is a standard trope in Latin literature. The eternity to which the phrase « urbs aeterna » – first attested in the poetry of Tibullus and Ovid – refers does not reside in buildings, but in the timeless landscape Camillus remembers and describes in his speech in Livy 5, 54, 2-3.  [Abstract and Citation from L’Année Philologique]

Trigas

Reverse of RRC 382/1b. ANS 1944.100.1925

There are two coins in the Roman republican coin series and one from Teanum from the time of the First Punic War that display a triga, a three horse chariot.  All have Victory (Nike) as the driver.  I’ve always found this a rather weird design as opposed to the biga or quadriga (2 and 4 horse chariots), but not worried too much about it.  For my previous thoughts on these coins and more images follow this link.

Anyway, as I settled back in Dionysius this morning (It’s Yom Kippur today.  No classes and thus a much welcome writing day from me!), I came to this passage in his description of the ludi Romani:

 In the chariot races two very ancient customs continue to be observed by the Romans down to my time in the same manner as they were first instituted. The first relates to the chariots drawn by three horses, a custom now fallen into disuse among the Greeks, though it was an ancient institution of heroic times which Homer represents the Greeks as using in battle. For running beside two horses yoked together in the same manner as in the case of a two-horse chariot was a third horse attached by a trace; this trace-horse the ancients called parêoros or “outrunner,” because he was “hitched beside” and not yoked to the others.  (Dion Hal. 7.73.2)

I think this well explains the one horse on the Roman republican coins looking back at the others as if it were loose.  This may be trying to represent the trace horse.  I might also want to investigate further a connection between the moneyers of RRC 299/1 and 382/1 and these ludi.  It also makes me revisit my earlier thoughts about trying to connect the Roman triga to the Teanum triga.  Perhaps this is a mistake as the Teanum coins do not seem to attempt to represent the third horse as on a trace.

So finally after a very long time this blog says something about coins again.  That feels good.  I’m sad I’m not in Taormina but 5.5 month old twin girls and a full teaching load are not really compatible with mid-semester international travel….

Other names for (and stories about) the Augur’s Lituus

In Rome likewise a sacred hut of Mars, built near the summit of the Palatine, was burned to the ground together with the houses round about; but when the area was being cleared for the purpose of restoring the buildings, it preserved unharmed in the midst of the surrounding ashes the symbol of the settlement of the city, a staff curved at one end, like those carried by herdsmen and shepherds, which some call kalauropes and others lagobola. With this staff Romulus, on the occasion of taking the auspices when he was intending to found the city, marked out the regions for the omens. (Dion. Hal. RA 14.2.2).

We often see the lituus on republican coins and interpret it as a symbol of an augurship in the family or of the money himself.  I thought I’d just file this passage away here, so that I keep in mind that at lease in the Augustan era it was associated with the city founding and the pastoral origins of Romulus, and that Dionysius gives us here a variety of Greek names for the implement (Greek below).  In this fragment the survival of the lituus is compared to the survival of the sacred olive tree on the acropolis in Athens, a symbol of the life of the city itself.  This seems to me to indicate that the lituus might just be able to be read as a symbol of Rome itself…at least to some Greek scholars residing in Rome at the end of the first century.

Cf. Cic. Div. 1.30

And whence, pray, did you augurs derive that staff, which is the most conspicuous mark of your priestly office? It is the very one, indeed, with which Romulus marked out the quarter for taking observations when he founded the city. Now this staff is a crooked wand, slightly curved at the top, and, because of its resemblance to a trumpet, derives its name from the Latin word meaning ‘the trumpet with which the battle-charge is sounded.’ It was placed in the temple of the Salii on the Palatine hill and, though the temple was burned, the staff was found uninjured.

and Cic. Div. 2.80

Then dismiss Romulus’s augural staff, which you say the hottest of fires was powerless to burn, and attach slight importance to the whetstone of Attus Navius.

Omitte igitur lituum Romuli, quem in maximo incendio negas potuisse comburi; contemne cotem Atti Navi.

Greek of DH quoted above:

Ἐν δὲ τῇ Ῥώμῃ καλιάς τις Ἄρεος ἱερὰ περὶ τὴν κορυφὴν ἱδρυμένη τοῦ Παλατίου συγκαταφλεγεῖσα ταῖς πέριξ οἰκίαις ἕως ἐδάφους, ἀνακαθαιρομένων τῶν οἰκοπέδων ἕνεκα τῆς ἐπισκευῆς, ἐν μέσῃ τῇ περικαύστῳ σποδῷ τὸ σύμβολον τοῦ συνοικισμοῦ  τῆς πόλεως διέσωσεν ἀπαθές, ῥόπαλον ἐκ θατέρου τῶν ἄκρων ἐπικάμπιον, οἷα φέρουσι βουκόλοι καὶ νομεῖς οἱ μὲν καλαύροπας, οἱ δὲ λαγωβόλα καλοῦντες, ᾧ Ῥωμύλος ὀρνιθευόμενος διέγραφε τῶν οἰωνῶν τὰς χώρας, ὅτε τὴν πόλιν οἰκίζειν ἔμελλεν.

The Greek Vocabulary of Clemency

I’m trying to figure out who (if anyone) has talked about Larcius the first dictator in Dionysius of Halicarnassus as model for good Roman leadership at the end of the Republic and beginning of the Principate. Basically, I’m checking to see who has read the passage the way I want to read it.  This brought me to Dowling’s book on Clementia, p. 4.   She mostly focuses on the Empire, but puts the concept in an earlier context.  Here’s the bit I wanted to share with you (Clicking on this photo will make it bigger):

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Basically, I just want to put in a footnote pointing out that ἐπιείκεια as the Greek word for Clementia can be pushed much earlier on the basis of Dionysius 5.76.1:

οὓς πρὸς συγγενεῖς καὶ φίλους ἀναγκαζόμενοί τινες ἀναιροῦνται, ἐπιεικεστέρων μᾶλλον ἢ δικαιοτέρων ᾤετο δεῖν αὐτοῖς διαλύσεων.
those [sc. wars] which men are forced to undertake against kinsmen and friends, he thought they ought to be settled by an accommodation in which clemency outweighed the demands of justice.  (Cary Trans.)

Disarming the People? Ancient Perspectives on Weapons Bans

I’m just getting back to work after maternity leave.  A piece of mine that was partly worked out here on the blog has finally been published.  You can read it here.  Far warning, my next speaking engagement is on Dionysius of Halicarnassus, so I’m on a bit of historiographical kick at the moment.

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When he had said this and thereby filled all the common people with wonderful hopes, he established two institutions which are the worst of all human institutions and the prologues to every tyranny — a redistribution of the land and an abolition of debts. He promised that he would take upon himself the care of both these matters if he were appointed general with absolute power till the public tranquillity should be secured and they had established a democratic constitution. When the common people and the unprincipled rabble gladly accepted the proposal to pillage the goods of other men, Aristodemus conferred upon himself the supreme command, and proposed another measure by which he deceived them and deprived them all of their liberty. For pretending to suspect that the rich would raise disturbances and insurrections against the common people on account of the redistribution of the land and the abolition of debts, he said the only means he could think of to prevent a civil war and the slaughter of citizens and to guard against these miseries before they happened, was for all of them to bring the arms out of their houses and to consecrate them to the gods, in order that they might make use of them against foreign enemies who should attack them, whenever the necessity should arise, and not against one another, and that in the mean time they would be suitably placed in the keeping of the gods. When they agreed to this also, he disarmed all the Cumaeans that very day, and during the following days he searched their houses, where he put to death many worthy citizens, alleging that they had not produced all their arms for the gods. After this he strengthened his tyranny by three sorts of guards. The first consisted of the filthiest and the most unprincipled of the citizens, by whose aid he had overthrown the aristocracy; the second, of the most impious knaves, whom he himself had freed for having killed their masters; and the third, a mercenary force, consisting of the most average barbarians, who amounted to no fewer than two thousand and were far better soldiers than any of the rest. (DH 7.8.1-3)

This passage comes from Dionysius’ extended digression on the tyranny of Aristodemus at Cumae.  A common argument in favor of a broad interpretation of the US second amendment and the right to bear arms is to allow the people to defend themselves against tyrannical government.  You can read about this and how it have entered the rhetoric of the current presidential campaign here.  I found it interesting to find tyranny in antiquity characterized by a weapons confiscation followed by the imposition of a police force.  It made me wonder whether such weapons confiscations were in anyway a historiographical theme.  The only other one that pops immediately to mind is the order by the Roman consul to the Carthaginians to surrender all arms as the second condition of their surrender into the faith of the Romans (Polybius 36.6.5ff.).

290 out of 410 days: The Impression Elephants Make

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From L. Ambrosini, ‘Un donario fittile con elefanti e Cerbero dal santuario di Portonaccio a Veio’. Image links to PDF with more images and references.

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I ended up at this article by way of this coin type from Etruria:

ETRURIA. Val di Chiana. Æ 18 mm (4.68 gm). Head of an African right / Elephant right with bell hanging from neck, Etruscan letter below. SNG ANS 36. SNG Morcom 44. HN Italy 69.
From catalogue: Commentary on this enigmatic issue has focused on the significance of the elephant, which appears to be Indian rather than African. This zoological observation seems to rule out a reference to the Carthaginian elephants and thus poses a challenge to dating this coin to the time of the Second Punic War. Yet E.S.G. Robinson, in NC 1964, pp. 47–48, proposed an interpretation that overcomes these difficulties. He submitted that the association of the elephant with an African head, probably representing the animal’s driver, points to an African origin. Rather than dating the coin issue to the time of Hannibal’s invasion, Robinson drew attention to the disaffection of Rome’s Etruscan allies in 208–207, centered on the town of Arretium, and suggested that the coin types expressed the seditious hope that Hasdrubal would arrive to reinforce his brother. In these historical circumstances, the elephant was a symbol, perhaps copied from earlier coin types, rather than a portrayal from life.

There are a number of these coins in the ANS collection and also a good selection in the acsearch.info database.  The main publication is:

Baglione, M.P. 1976. Su alcune serie parallele di bronzo coniato. In Contributi introduttivi allo studio della monetazione etrusca. Atti
Convegno Napoli 1975: 153-180. Roma.

Baglione records 158 known specimens at that time, the vast majority in public collections.  Baglione endorses (if I’ve read the Italian right!) Robinson’s dating and notes that W. V Harris, Rome in Etruria and Umbria (Oxford 1971) p. 140 also follows Robinson’s interpretation. I’m wary of dating by type alone and would like some new good hoard or excavation evidence to confirm this hypothesis.  I’d also think a little die study might be of use to get an idea of the size of the issue: it seems at first glance that we’re looking at multiple dies for each letter under the elephant (four different Etruscan letters are well attested) and a number of obverse dies.   Elephants do appear elsewhere in the Second Punic War on the coinage of rebelling Italic communities.  The most impressive example being the aes grave of Meles in Samnium which copy the Barcid silver coinage (Robinson, Essays Mattingly, 1956: 40, fig. 3A; HN Italy 441-42 (but no illustrations)).

I’m more interested in the unusual votive offering.    Ambrosini draws the parallel with the famous plate in the Villa Giulia (inv. 23949) with a depiction of a war elephant and her cub.  There is a second similar plate from maybe Sardinia that I can’t put my hand on a reference at this moment. from Corsica:

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Roma mediorepubblicana; Aspetti culturali di Roma e del Lazio nei secoli IV e III a.C (Rome 1973), no. 33 = Villa Guilia and no. 34 = Corsica.

The votive offering confirms the theme of elephant and cub in a military context.  That, of course, made me think of that passage in Dionysius that I quoted in a previous post about how the Roman’s wounded a cub to gain a tactical advantage over Pyrrhus’ use of elephants.

Update 3-19-2018:

Note that Cassius Dio believes that Etruria was recruited by Pyrrhus. But this account has been dismissed by scholars.

Let us remember that Ptolemaic Egypt supplied not only the elephants but also some 9,000 troops, both cavalry and infantry.