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…:
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:
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:
Being rather demoralized by the stalling of the edits and then further derailed by a networking lunch (a most pleasurable experience with much inspiration about future study abroad, err… ‘international education’ as one says today), I couldn’t really think about coins, but didn’t want to break my promise to put a coin from the book here every day. So I looked in my coin file and this one popped to the surface. It looked familiar so I did a key word search and sure enough just over a year ago I talked about it at a nice invited lecture at Leeds University. I said: “Near, orat the end of, the war with Pyrrhus, the Locrians, a community in the very toe of Italy, created a coin which has the very earliest depiction of the personification of Roma on it. She bears a scepter, rest her right arm on a shield, and sits upon a curule chair. She is being crowned by the personification of Pistis, the Greek equivalent of fides. Both figures are labeled with legends so the audience cannot mistake the unusual scene. Even this type of labeling on coins is virtually unknown at this date. Legends usually named whose coin it was ‘the coin of King Philip’ or the ‘the coin of the Athenians’. Our literary sources on the Pyrrhic War are spotty but according to the epitomes of Cassius Dio, the Locrians changed sides a few times and suffered the consequences of those choices—a pattern of events that repeated itself in Hannibalic War. I take this ‘celebration’ of Roman good faith as an expression of a rather desperate hope that they might benefit from this particular Roman virtue.” I then connected it with a few literary texts. Anyway. It’s something. Back to the damn edits.