Crawford labels this quadruped as a ram. Not a great fit. Hersh thought differently:
I hate to disagree with Hersh, but I don’t think that’s an udder hanging down. I was misled by the sales catalogue! Shame on me for not checking immediately! I even have the review on file.
I think it really must be a calf, a male calf (JUST LIKE HERSH SAID). I submit as evidence specimens of RRC 526:
Can we by extension guess that moneyer might be a Vitulus?! Or perhaps its too early for such punning symbolism. The main family to use the cognomen in the 3rd century were the Mamilii, namely the consuls of 265 and 262 BC.
Of course bulls and bull calves and Italian identity go together more generally (Pobjoy 2000: 201):
But then again it could just be just another symbol to distinguish the series. Something vaguely thematically appropriate (abundance, sacrifice …) but of no special significance.
This is the coin type at the heart of the chapter I need finish by the end of the month. I don’t expect to write too much about it here as I seem to like to keep my free writing and the formal writing separate. Yesterday was mostly looking at possible (and impossible!) epigraphic references to other members of the moneyer’s family, the gens Mamilia. Today I was chasing up the references from an old article that suggested the type is all about the moneyer showing support for the Italians. Not an idea I’m ready to support, but the references he cited were all fascinating. Here’s the best of the lot:
The other references also mention snake taming, but they’re not quite as fun (Pliny NH 25.11, Serv. Aen. 7.750, Sil., Ital. Pun. 8.495-510). I find it hard to believe that Mamilius is claiming kinship with the Marsi as fellow offspring of Circe via the coin, but who doesn’t like a good snake story?! It made me think of the ritual being shown on this coin:
This seems to be part of cult of Juno Sospita, or at very least it took place in close proximity with her sanctuary and it is her head on the obverse of the coin. Here’s some recent scholarship with references. The cult at Lanuvium is rightly contextualized by the accounts of the powers to charm snakes linked to Circe and her ilk (Medea, Angitia, etc) and the origins of various Italic peoples and associations with specific Italian topography.
The original wire transfer is still lost. I spent a horrible time on the phone with HSBC. Again. We’re investigating other services… I took a break to write this post largely because I need to tamp down my rage to get back to writing properly.