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:
So I read this bit of Polybius (below) and landed right back at this coin (above):
For Hiero and Gelo not only gave seventy-five silver talents, partly at once and the rest very shortly afterwards, to supply oil in the gymnasium, but dedicated silver cauldrons with their bases and a certain number of water-pitchers, and in addition to this granted ten talents for sacrifices and ten more to qualify new men for citizenship, so as to bring the whole gift up to a hundred talents. They also relieved Rhodian ships trading to their ports from the payment of customs, and presented the city with fifty catapults three cubits long. And finally, after bestowing so many gifts, they erected, just as if they were still under an obligation, in the Deigma or Mart at Rhodes a group representing the People of Rhodes being crowned by the People of Syracuse. (5.88.5-8)
The context is c.226BC and Rhodes’ use of its recent earthquake to solicit diplomatically expedient gifts. [Link to some relevant scholarship]
A) It’s good context for the above coin on the personification of political bodies in honorific art forms in 3rd Century BC.
B) It might suggest that the coin type imitates a statue group or potential statue group or the known style of a type of statue group. This isn’t crazy lots of coin types derive from statues of one sort or another.
C) It made me think about who crowns whom in Hellenistic art in what context. Under the Empire cities shake hands rather than crown one another. Nike crowns everybody. She’s kind of a whore that way. It’s kind of her M.O. Ditto Eros (Cupid). Then this came to mind:
The crowning obviously honors and emphasizes the status of the crowned, but what about the crowner? Does it diminish the status of Syracuse to bestow the crown? Or in fact is it a statement of inherent superiority if one can crown another? We need only think of Napolean’s anxiety about being crowned by the Pope and thus his decision to crown himself and his queen.
On a more serious note, Walbank as always is full of goodness:
it be resolved by the People of Byzantium and Perinthus to grant to the Athenians rights of intermarriage, citizenship, tenure of land and houses, the seat of honor at the games, access to the Council and the people immediately after the sacrifices, and immunity from all public services for those who wish to settle in our city; also to erect three statues, sixteen cubits in height, in the Bosporeum, representing the People of Athens being crowned by the Peoples of Byzantium and Perinthus; also to send deputations to the Panhellenic gatherings, the Isthmian, Nemean, Olympian, and Pythian games, and there to proclaim the crown wherewith the Athenian People has been crowned by us, that the Greeks may know the merits of the Athenians and the gratitude of the Byzantines and the Perinthians.
Update 1/5/2016: My thoughts on this are maturing. I think there must have been a very typical statue group that was developed for such a representation and the Nero/Agrippina is a late example of the general type. This informs how I am thinking about types like RRC 419/2 and other crowning scenes on coins. Cf. Also the Corinth Crowning Ptolemy group attested by Athenaeus drawing on Kallixeinos and discussed by Pollitt (here and here).
Update 5/1/14: This isn’t precisely related to the rest of this post, but I wanted to be able to find this passage again when thinking about the Locrian coin (Pliny, NH 34.32):
This demonstrates Romans receiving honors from S. Italian Cities for their role as protector a decade before Locri’s coin. I also like the sentence about this being a means of establishing foreign clients. I doubt the Thurians saw it that way!
1/20/16: Constantine and the Tyche of Constantinople
This is from Plutarch’s Flamininus 16.4. After yesterday’s post I couldn’t help but share this gem. I like how both passages are topped and tailed by the word pistis, using word placement to frame and contextualize the rest of the content. Posts on Pistis and Fides.
The very first episode actually narrated in Polybius’ Histories doesn’t really let the Romans come off that well. The garrison they sent to Rhegium seizes the city for themselves rather than protecting it. This episode is set by Polybius in the back drop of the Pyrrhic War and he says after the war, as soon as they could, the Romans laid siege to the town and punished mercilessly their own garrison. The episode begins and ends with references to pistis (= fides = [good] faith). Now, Polybius is probably hazy on the details. See Walbank’s commentary (follow link above) for the nitty gritty details, but key points therefrom include:
” Dion. Hal. xx. 4 records that the garrison was against Bruttians, Lucanians, and Tarentines, and was sent in the consulship of C. Fabricius (282).”
“The Roman reduction of Rhegium (cf. 6. 8) is in 270; Dionysius (xx. 16) and Orosius (iv. 3. 3–6) attribute it to the consul C. Genucius, but his colleague Cn. Cornelius Blasio triumphed de Regineis (act. tr.).”
So 12 years is an awful long time to leave this rogue garrison hanging out in S. Italy… I also find the triumphal fasti entry interesting. We usually talk about funny business with the triumph in the civil wars and allied rebellions of the Late Republic but this appears to be a really early case of a Roman claiming to have defeated a foreign enemy when fighting other Roman, or former Roman, soldiers. And of course it made me think about this coin and its broadly Pyrrhic context and Locri’s status as a neighbor of Rhegium. The whole episode was quite an object lesson for the Locrians…: