I find Rutter in HNItaly convincing for his suggestion of Syracusan influence here. I also give Crawford’s views below. I just wonder if Arpi isn’t the inspiration or even the mint location for RRC 15/1. At very least it shows earlier reception of the Syracusan types among Rome’s allies.
This issue of Cosa imitates Rome’s first didrachm (RRC 13/1). It’s date post 273BC (the founding date of Cosa) has sometimes been used to try to draw down the date of Rome’s first didrachm, the idea being that iconographic borrow would be unlikely over a gap of some 40-50 years. The gap doesn’t bother me.
I was just intrigued by the dolphin addition to the design. Buttery says its there “bronze to identify Cosa as a port” (p. 22). Need this be true? I’m just recalling the dolphin neck terminus we find on the obverse of the coins of Signia:
Segni is most certainly not on the sea. And as I mentioned in passing in another post, Mercury isn’t particularly associated with nautical imagery and dolphins. I’m wondering it is not a design element considered aesthetically pleasing at the bottom of a protome to ease the transition. Two examples an argument does not make. I’ll keep my eye out for more.
Historia Numorum Italy no. 448 is listed with just one legend PROBOM. (P is actually closer to a Π with a short right leg. Note open form of R. These features consistent throughout). A specimen with clearly this legend is illustrated in the plates. Most of the specimens in trade are from different dies with variant readings:
The meaning of the legend is unclear. HN Italy suggests it comes from probus, meaning valid. Although the basic meaning ‘honest, good’ seems fine to me too.
It is connected to a similar legend at Beneventum on a type, the imagery of which is a mirror image of RRC 15/1 (HN Italy 440):
The correct resolution of the legend may be aided by consideration of the variant spellings observed.
Beneventum became a Latin colony in 268 and Suessa in 313. These coins are associated with the First Punic War. Hercules wrestling the Nemean Lion is a common enough artistic theme, known especially at the mint of Heraclea Lucaniae and occasionally at Tarentum.
Addendum. I wasn’t really happy with the probum meaning ‘approved’ as it seemed a strange thing to me to write on a coin. Out of keeping with typical legends (ethnics, magistrates, mint marks, the very occasional labeling of the image). I even tried to convince myself Probus could be an epithet or title for Mercury or something. I didn’t manage. Just a red herring. But … then I remembered the inscriptions on the Egadi rams of a roughly contemporary date.
We’ll known more once the inscriptions are published on there own, but for now the use of the probo, probare, probavi on the rams is enough to let me think probum on the coin is more plausible than I first thought.
[Disturbingly, if you google image search, ‘Beneventum Apollo Coin’, the first image that returns of the coin is hosted on some satanic-esque website obsessed with pentagrams. Reminded me of a time a student of mine unwittingly submitted a project full of images from some awful white power website. Appropriation of the past to support modern ideologies is a dangerous thing, especially on the intertubes.]