61 out of 410 days: Still at It

I can tell that two months in to this sabbatical I’ve fully adopted research as my primary occupation. I wake up thinking about coins, sometimes in the middle of the night, usually quite happily in the morning. Whenever I relax, I just default to thinking about coins. A happy obsession. [Except when I wake up with the cold sweat panic that the book won’t ever be done, but as SDA says I just need something to worry about. If I’m anxious there must be a reason.]

I get frustrated with the slow progress. SDA says if there is progress (which there is!), don’t question the process. I wonder if I don’t need a bit of Zen, one foot in front of the other. I might be losing the individual trees for the forest. I see my job as the whole of the series and thus as I find anything relevant at all for the project I feel I need to capture it and file it away for later. This is exhausting. I constantly have to refind my place. I want a more one-foot-in-front-of-the-other – what will help me write the next sentence? – approach. Inspiration, and curiosity, and a continuous investment of time and energy all seem to be present but I could do with more focus.

Two things made me very happy with the process. 1) The engaging comments here on the blog. and 2) Finding I trust Drummond’s article on Sulla’s augurship enough that I can move on with my writing and just cite him. Both are nice reminders that we can’t do all the work ourselves. We need our colleagues to point things out and also to provide many of the answers.

The other thing that makes me happy is giving up the idea of weekends. Crazy, right? It means I don’t have to stop and restart and upset any momentum. And, there is always tomorrow to move the project forward. Some how its liberating. Good thing I like the work.

Bocchus Monument, Sulla’s Monuments

Hölscher in 1980 proposed that this monument was the base of the Bocchus Monument, so well known from literary descriptions (Plutarch, Marius 32,  Sulla 6).  The best discussion of the literary sources is Mackay.  If this is true the statues on the top of this base would look something like this:

Reverse Image

This coin was struck by Sulla’s son, Faustus and probably copied his father’s seal ring (cf. Marius 10, Sulla 3).  So far so good by way of background.  It has been suggested that the base is not the original base BUT was restored after Sulla’s return.  The logic being that Marius would not have let such an offensive monument remain standing when he controlled the city.  The two trophies of the relief are seen as representations of the Sullan trophies of Chaeronea (again see Mackay, link above), just like on this coin:

Reverse Image

[There is also a regular denarius with the same design, but I am showing the aureus because it’s prettier.]  This image is also associated with a Sullan seal ring by Crawford based on Dio 43.18.3 and the iconography is also seen on the Athenian New Style Tetradrachms (BM specimen):


Already Crawford brought in the Sant’Omobono relief into the discussion, with reference to the other block:

He sees an analogy between the two wreaths hanging out from the palm branch and the two trophies.  I’m interested in same detail but because of how it echoes the iconographic strategy of a later coin type (Pompeian?).



Notice how the four wreaths hang from the palm branch to presumably symbolize multiple victories.  And, NOW, as I type this and check my RRC entry for 436/1, I see that Crawford saw the exact same connection…. [Insert footsteps-of-giants sentiment here.]

Not everyone thinks the Sant’Omobono Reliefs are the Bocchus Monument.  Detractors include: Hafner German. – Zu den vermeintlich sullanischen Waffenreliefs von S. Omobono. Rivista di archeologia 1989 XIII : 46-54 and Alexander Thein’s unpublished dissertation on Sulla of 2002.  Another dissenting opinion is  Reusser, C. 1993, Der Fidestempel auf dem Kapitol in Rom und seine Ausstattung: ein Beitrag zu den Ausgrabungen an der Via delMare und um das Kapitol 1926–1943, Rome, p. 121-37.

Santangelo gives a concise up-to-date survey of the literature and its conclusions (p. 2-3, n. 7), but also see his later discussion at  p. 206.

Minor reference updates 27 August 2013 & 16 June 2014

2/15/2016 addition:

Flower, Art of Forgetting, p. 113: