Other names for (and stories about) the Augur’s Lituus

In Rome likewise a sacred hut of Mars, built near the summit of the Palatine, was burned to the ground together with the houses round about; but when the area was being cleared for the purpose of restoring the buildings, it preserved unharmed in the midst of the surrounding ashes the symbol of the settlement of the city, a staff curved at one end, like those carried by herdsmen and shepherds, which some call kalauropes and others lagobola. With this staff Romulus, on the occasion of taking the auspices when he was intending to found the city, marked out the regions for the omens. (Dion. Hal. RA 14.2.2).

We often see the lituus on republican coins and interpret it as a symbol of an augurship in the family or of the money himself.  I thought I’d just file this passage away here, so that I keep in mind that at lease in the Augustan era it was associated with the city founding and the pastoral origins of Romulus, and that Dionysius gives us here a variety of Greek names for the implement (Greek below).  In this fragment the survival of the lituus is compared to the survival of the sacred olive tree on the acropolis in Athens, a symbol of the life of the city itself.  This seems to me to indicate that the lituus might just be able to be read as a symbol of Rome itself…at least to some Greek scholars residing in Rome at the end of the first century.

Cf. Cic. Div. 1.30

And whence, pray, did you augurs derive that staff, which is the most conspicuous mark of your priestly office? It is the very one, indeed, with which Romulus marked out the quarter for taking observations when he founded the city. Now this staff is a crooked wand, slightly curved at the top, and, because of its resemblance to a trumpet, derives its name from the Latin word meaning ‘the trumpet with which the battle-charge is sounded.’ It was placed in the temple of the Salii on the Palatine hill and, though the temple was burned, the staff was found uninjured.

and Cic. Div. 2.80

Then dismiss Romulus’s augural staff, which you say the hottest of fires was powerless to burn, and attach slight importance to the whetstone of Attus Navius.

Omitte igitur lituum Romuli, quem in maximo incendio negas potuisse comburi; contemne cotem Atti Navi.

Greek of DH quoted above:

Ἐν δὲ τῇ Ῥώμῃ καλιάς τις Ἄρεος ἱερὰ περὶ τὴν κορυφὴν ἱδρυμένη τοῦ Παλατίου συγκαταφλεγεῖσα ταῖς πέριξ οἰκίαις ἕως ἐδάφους, ἀνακαθαιρομένων τῶν οἰκοπέδων ἕνεκα τῆς ἐπισκευῆς, ἐν μέσῃ τῇ περικαύστῳ σποδῷ τὸ σύμβολον τοῦ συνοικισμοῦ  τῆς πόλεως διέσωσεν ἀπαθές, ῥόπαλον ἐκ θατέρου τῶν ἄκρων ἐπικάμπιον, οἷα φέρουσι βουκόλοι καὶ νομεῖς οἱ μὲν καλαύροπας, οἱ δὲ λαγωβόλα καλοῦντες, ᾧ Ῥωμύλος ὀρνιθευόμενος διέγραφε τῶν οἰωνῶν τὰς χώρας, ὅτε τὴν πόλιν οἰκίζειν ἔμελλεν.

Rhodios, founder of Rome

Mosaic with a wolf suckling twins at Ma’arrat al-Nu’man, Syria, with inscription showing that the mosaic came from a hospital built in 511.

The first time I saw an image of this mosaic I thought the spellings of the names very odd.  PWMYΛΛΟC and PWΔC, except the delta looks like it has a tail like a funny iota script.  So perhaps its reads PWAiC, but that doesn’t make much sense either.  At with point I stopped worrying about it because its way after my period and just a distraction from getting this book done.  

Then today I started thinking about that odd letter in the twin’s name who isn’t Romyllos or Romulus or however you want to spell it.  I was reading Wiseman’s chapter on L. Brutus in his Unwritten Rome (2008) and I read this fragment of Alcimus (FGrH 560 F 4 = Festus 326-8L):

Alcimus says that Romulus was the son of Aeneas’ wife Tyrrhenia, and from Romulus was born Aeneas’ granddaughter Alba, whose son, called Rhodius, founded Rome.

Wiseman goes on (p. 302 ff.) to explain that ardea means heron and so does rhodios in Greek and so this passage is about Ardea claiming to be founder of Rome.  

Anyways.  I doubt a late Syrian mosaicist was following Alcimus or anything.  

199 out of 410 days: Pharaoh’s Daughter, Flora?!

Mosaic depicting ‘The Infant Moses and the Pharaoh’s Daughter’

I always love a good cross-cultural narrative parallel. There is a dreamer in me that secretly wants Jung’s Archetypes to be real.  I’m reading Wiseman’s “Games of Flora” today and he has a nice opening about how Flora under her Greek name, Antho, appears in some versions of the Romulus foundation legend:

But the story which has the widest credence and the greatest number of vouchers was first published among the Greeks, in its principal details, by Diocles of Peparethus, and Fabius Pictor follows him in most points. Here again there are variations in the story, but its general outline is as follows. ….Her name is variously given as Ilia, or Rhea, or Silvia. Not long after this, she was discovered to be with child, contrary to the established law for the Vestals. She did not, however, suffer the capital punishment which was her due, because the king’s daughter, Antho, interceded successfully in her behalf, but she was kept in solitary confinement, that she might not be delivered without the knowledge of Amulius. Delivered she was of two boys, and their size and beauty were more than human. 

So basically the evil king’s good daughter rescues the future leader of the people.  This time before the infant leader is tossed in the river, instead of after.  Still I can’t help but think of the Exodus story.  This led me to a very illuminating look at the character of pharaoh’s daughter in the Jewish tradition.

DAUGHTER OF PHARAOH: MIDRASH AND AGGADAH

What does this have to do with coins?  Not much particularly, except that now this coin with the head of Flora will probably get a wee mention in chapter 2 along with the more obvious wolf and twins types:

obverse

Like Father, Like Son

L. Valerius Flaccus, the moneyer of this coin, is likely to have been the son of the then or previous Flamen Martialis (priest of Mars):

War was to be waged against Aristonicus in the consulship of Publius Licinius and Lucius Valerius. The people was consulted as to whom it wished to have the management of that war. Crassus, the consul and Pontifex Maximus, threatened to impose a fine upon Flaccus his colleague, the priest of Mars, if he deserted the sacrifices. And though the people remitted the fine, still they ordered the priest to submit to the commands of the pontiff.

The Roman naming customs make it easy to elide the identities of family members. Many of the customs of the Roman state encouraged these associations, especially the Roman funeral.

It is likely that the son succeeded his father in this priesthood. At what date is uncertain. Here’s the entry in Magistrates of the Roman Republic:

Image

Image

Drummond in that 2008 article I mentioned in the last post raises the possibility already entertained by Broughton that Flaccus the younger is commemorating himself, not his father. BUT, then he pushes the idea even farther saying even if he meant to commemorate his father, it could be interpreted by later audiences as self commemoration (p. 396). This idea is important. It emphasizes that the image makers aren’t in control of the image and much of the reception depends on viewers evolving knowledge and assumptions about what is likely to be on a coin. This reminded me about a point Clare Rowan made in her blog. The ambiguity may be intentional or a fortuitous evolution. Neither Flaccus the elder or Flaccus the younger would be surprised or upset to have their individual accomplishments augment the acclaim of the other.

I selected this specimen as it is easier to see a few key details (rather than the ANS specimens). The face of Mars is in profile. His spear is pointed downwards diagonally behind him. The cape flows behind his nude body and the trophy rests over his left shoulder supported by his hand. This Mars type will be the basis for Augustus’ Romulus statue in his forum and its numerous copies. Like father, like son.