The Dodrans of Cassius

Based on the New Italy Hoard  (Hersh NC 1977), Mattingly holds that the denomination the Dodrans (3/4s of an as = 9 unciae) was first introduced by C. Cassius, not M. Metellus (2004: 220).  This rules out his original theory echoed by Crawford in RRC that the type was introduced by the later to provide a space to commemorate a divine ancestor via the legendary Caeculus.  Why would Cassius create a new denomination for Vulcan?   Mattingly gives a terse answer: “The Vulcanal near the forum was the center of popular and tribunican activity in the early republic.”  No footnote.  It’s a hard assertion for which to find much support.

Does it have anything to do with Liber on his other new denomination the bes (2/3s of an as = 8 unciae)?  What do Vulcan and Liber have in common?  Not much but we do have his intriguing passage:

That the two gods could be linked is shown in this little passage from Hyginus’ Astronomica:

According to Eratosthenes, another story is told about the Asses. After Jupiter had declared war on the Giants, he summoned all the gods to combat them, and Father Liber, Vulcan, the Satyrs, and the Sileni came riding on asses. Since they were not far from the enemy, the asses were terrified, and individually let out a braying such as the Giants had never heard. At the noise the enemy took hastily to flight, and thus were defeated.

This text however seems to me another explanation of a common artistic motif “Hephaestus’ return to Olympus”:

Terracotta oinochoe: chous (jug)

The narrative might go back to a lacuna in the Homeric hymn of Dionysus, some speculate.  The narrative is mostly deduced from various vase paintings with the help of this passage in Pausanias:

There are paintings here–Dionysus bringing Hephaestus up to heaven. One of the Greek legends is that Hephaestus, when he was born, was thrown down by Hera. In revenge he sent as a gift a golden chair with invisible fetters. When Hera sat down she was held fast, and Hephaestus refused to listen to any other of the gods save Dionysus–in him he reposed the fullest trust–and after making him drunk Dionysus brought him to heaven.

Visual Parallels, Debunking Historical Allusions

Crawford in RRC says of this coin: “The obverse type recalls the standard obverse type of the coinage of Lipara, captured by C. Aurelius Cotta, Cos. 252; the reverse type alludes to the triumph celebrated in consequence.”  He echoes Broughton in the MRR: “On coins of L. Cotta, perhaps celebrating the taking of Lipara, see Gueber CRRBM 1.200f.; Cesano, Stud. Num. 1 (1942) 158.”   Looking at the coins of Lipara doesn’t instill confidence in this claim:

I have a hard time believing I’m the first to see this, but the parallel with Malaka in Spain is nearly perfect, right down to the wreath and the placement of the tongs behind the head:

The mint of Malaka is well studied, but I’ll need to read up a bit on the dating of the obverse proto-type.  I think we can be sure the Spanish coin is the prototype, and not visa versa, as the Malakan bronze has Punic lettering.

So if the Lipara connection is a red herring, why this type?  So far I’m hard pressed to find a Cotta with a Spanish connection.  The poor L. Aurelius Cotta, cos. 144, was denied the opportunity to go to Spain (Val. Max. 6.4.2).

Perhaps the Malaca connection is also a red herring.  Maybe there is no attempt to recall a spanish Familial connection, only that it provided an attractive model for representing Hephaistos, the smith god, for some other reason…  One to think about.

[The ANS does list specimens in its collections for all these types, but they are just not imaged yet, hence the reliance on non-academic sources.  There are also academic images here but they do not allow direct links and the image quality is pour.]