In Praise of Roman Fides

ἔτι δὲ καὶ καθ᾽ἡμᾶς ἱερεὺςχειροτονητὸς ἀπεδείκνυτο Τίτου, καὶ θύσαντες αὐτῷ τῶνσπονδῶν γενομένων ᾁδουσι παιᾶνα πεποιημένον, οὗ τἆλλαδιὰ μῆκος ἡμεῖς παρέντες ἀνεγράψαμεν ἃ παυόμενοι τῆςᾠδῆς λέγουσι:

 πίστιν δὲῬωμαίων σέβομεν,

τὰν μεγαλευκτοτάταν ὅρκοις φυλάσσειν:

μέλπετε κοῦραι,

Ζῆνα μέγαν Ῥώμαν τε Τίτον θ᾽ἅμα Ῥωμαίων

τε πίστιν 

ἰήϊε Παιάν,ὦ Τίτε σῶτερ.

Moreover, even down to our own day a priest of Titus is duly elected and appointed, and after sacrifice and libations in his honour, a set hymn of praise to him is sung: it is too long to be quoted entire, and so I will give only the closing words of the song:

 “And the Roman faith we revere, which we have solemnly vowed to cherish; sing, then, ye maidens, to great Zeus, to Rome, to Titus, and to the Roman faith: hail, Paean Apollo! hail, Titus our saviour!”

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.

Type vs Specimen

I’ve stared at this particular specimen of this particular type so much that when I came across an image of a different specimen in a book this morning part of me wanted to say oh that’s not the right image.  This can happen with famous or just easily accessible specimens of types.  The historian or student can start to think the one illustrative example IS the type.  This leads to some unfortunate readings.

Silver coin.

One of my favorite Roman historians have used the above image to argue that the Italic Bull is raping the Roman Wolf. [No, no I’m not going to give you a page reference for this.  I don’t really want to be bitchy about it.I got frustrated by my own cageyness when I came back to find the reference….]Capture.JPGI’ve even read it on student exams.  But other specimens make clear that only significant penetration on this type is an old fashioned goring with the horns:



The lesson is that unless one has seen as many specimens of a type as possible its really very dangerous to start generalizing.  A lazy die cutting can turn into a whole (sexualized!?) reading.

There are ten Flamininus specimens according to C. Botrè, “Lo statere d’oro di Tito Quinzio Flaminino: una coniazione straordinaria,” RIN 96 (1994/1995): four in museums: Athens, Berlin [??], London and Paris; and six in private hands including: WAW, 109 = Hunt I, 111, the Ley collection piece = Triton III; 30 November 1999, 815; LEU 81, 187NAC 39 (16.05.2007), 85.  His face may be fatter or thinner, rougher or smoother, hair wilder or sedate based on the specimen.  The controversy over how this image fits into Hellenistic portraiture traditions and/or Roman aesthetic conventions is not going to be resolved soon, but any discussion should be based on the examination of all possible specimens.