I’m trying to make up my mind whether I think RRC 308/1 represents one of the Catanaean Brothers as most scholars think or if I am swayed at all by Evans’ claim that it is really Aeneas. Above is a coin of Catana showing the brothers. Here is the Republican coin:
There two literary accounts of the brothers. One is Hyginus’ list . I give the two proceeding entries and the two after for context:
Xanthippe, when her father Mycon was shut up in prison, nourished him with her own milk.
Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus, killed her sons on account of her father.
In Sicily when Mount Aetna first began to burn, Damon rescued his mother from the fire, and Phintias his father, too.
Aeneas, likewise, in Troy bore out from the fire his father Anchises on his shoulders, and rescued Ascanius his son.
Cleops and Bitias were sons of Cydippe, a priestess of Argive Juno.
The juxtapostion and connection of the brothers with Aeneas suggests that in the Augustan period at least they were linked together. This makes sense in light of Sextus Pompeius Pius’ coin type:
The other literary source is the anonymous poem Aetna. The story serves as its closing climax:
Once Aetna burst open its caverns and glowed white-hot: as though its deep-pent furnaces were shattered, a vast wave of fire gushed forth afar upborne by the heat of the lava-stone, just as when the ether lightens under the fury of Jupiter and plagues the bright sky with murky gloom. Corn-crops in the fields and acres soft-waving under cultivation were ablaze with their lords. Forests and hills gleamed red. … They think they have escaped, but the fire catches them: it consumes its prisoners’ booty: and the conflagration feeds itself, set on sparing none or only the dutiful. Two noble sons, Amphinomus and his brother, gallantly facing an equal task, when fire now roared in homes hard by, saw how their lame father and their mother had sunk down (alas!) in the weariness of age upon the threshold. Forbear, ye avaricious throng, to lift the spoils ye love! For them a mother and a father are the only wealth: this is the spoil they will snatch from the burning. They hasten to escape through the heart of the fire, which grants safe-conduct unasked. O sense of loving duty, greatest of all goods, justly deemed the surest salvation for man among the virtues! The flames held it shame to touch those duteous youths and retired wherever they turned their steps. Blessed is that day: guiltless is that land. Cruel burnings reign to right and left. Flames slant aside as Amphinomus rushes among them and with him his brother in triumph: both hold out safely under the burden which affection laid on them. There — round the couple — the greedy fire restrains itself. Unhurt they go free at last, taking with them their gods in safety. To them the lays of bards do homage: to them under an illustrious name has Ditis allotted a place apart. No mean destiny touches the sacred youths: their lot is a dwelling free from care, and the rightful rewards of the faithful.
Can you represent just one Catanaean brother? There are other coins of Catana that show just one brother and parent per side, but they are still both there…
What would the contemporary Roman have seen? Perhaps either narrative? I’m not willing to follow Evans wholeheartedly but some doubt seems warranted.
nec sanctos iuvenes attingunt sordida fata: /securae cessere domus et iura piorum.
The Loeb translation of the poem really doesn’t do justice to the last line and the thematic emphasis of the last word. PIUS.