Saturday, April 09, 2005

Stretching the point 

The Llama Butchers ask for comments on Evelyn Waugh's Helena. As for Helena herself, I say: "Big hair!"

Æ3, Nicomedia, 326-327 CE, RIC 148
FL HELENA AVGVSTA, Tiaraed, mantled bust right, Magnia Urbica hairstyle | SECVRITAS REPVBLICE, Helena as Spes standing facing, head left, hitching skirt right, holding branch left. NS in exergue.

Silvered Æ antoninianus, Gallienus, Siscia, Göbl 1395ff 

GALLIENVS AVG, Radiate cuirassed bust right | IO CANTAB, Jove Cantabrorum standing facing, head left, holding long scepter right and thunderbolt left.

Gallienus made important changes to the organization of the Roman military, including the formation of mounted units that could quickly respond to border incursions, such as the one by Shapur that Valerian had responded to slowly.

At least some of the horses for these units were from Spanish Cantabria (Spain's best-known annual wild horse-taming is in nearby Galicia).

Friday, April 08, 2005

Æ27, Anemourion in Cilicia, Valerian, SNG Levante 517 

AVT Π ΛI OVAΛEPIANON, Laureate cuirassed bust right | ANEM_[OVP]IEΩN, Tyche standing facing, head left, holding rudder left and cornucopia right, all within tetrastyle temple. ET Γ in exergue.

I've previously mentioned that Valerian died a captive of Shapur, "Great King" of the Persians, but perhaps omitted some of the circumstances. Shapur had brought his armies into Roman lands not to capture territory, but to seize slaves and other booty.

Anemourion was one of the cities the Persians looted, only a few years after this coin was minted, and it never fully recovered.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Silvered Æ antoninianus, Gallienus, Rome, Göbl 477f 

GALLIENVS AVG, Radiate head right | FELICIT AVG, Felicitas standing facing, head right, holding globe right and caduceus left. T in left field.

Earlier this year I posted an identical coin but for the placement of the letter T. I don't think there's any certainty of the significance of the placement, but it's commonly thought to mark different issues. Presumably someone ordered the mint to produce a given number of coins. The mark of each officina, or workshop, was placed in an assigned spot on each die. When the order was complete any surviving dies would be destroyed, and a subsequent order would require new dies that would be marked in a different place.

The point of all this, it's thought, was to allow responsibility to be established more readily in case of a problem.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

AR denarius, Q. Pomponius Musa, 66 BCE, Rome, Crawford 410/3 

Laureate head of Apollo right, rolled and tied scroll behind. | Clio standing left, resting left elbow on pedestal, holds and reads from open scroll Q.POMPONI right, MVSA left.

Another of the muse-themed coins issued by Q. Pomponius Musa, a Roman pun. Clio is the muse of history, symbolized on the obverse by the closed scroll, which is open on the reverse.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Æ30, Mopsus in Cilicia, Valerian, SNG Levante 1358 

AVT·K·OVAΛEPIANOC CE, Radiate cuirassed bust right | [AΔPO] VA ΓAΛ MOΨ[E]ATΩN Δ[...], Tyche standing right, presenting prize crown to Valerian and Gallienus seated left on curule chairs.

Construction and significance of the curule chair here.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Billon antoninianus, Gallienus, Rome, Göbl 116k 

IMP GALLIENVS P F AVG GERM, Radiate cuirassed bust right | VICTORIA GERMANICA, Victoria advancing left, palm over shoulder, holding wreath left. Captive at feet left.

A nice-looking example of silver (badly debased, but the quality of the alloy would continue to decline for many years) from the joint reign of Valerian and his son. Victory over German tribes is celebrated both on the reverse and in the title GERMANICVS appended to the obverse legend.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Æ31, Tarsus in Cilicia, Gallienus, SNG Levante 1196 (this coin) 

AV KAI Π ΛI_Γ ΓAΛΛIHN[O]C CEB, Radiate draped cuirassed bust right. Π before and behind | TAPCOV MHTP_O_ΠOΛE_ΩC A M K, Nike standing right, Γ to either side, left foot on globe, inscribing oval shield EIC / AIΩNA / TOVC / KVPI / OVC.

The inscription on the shield is translated "wishing eternity to the Emperors" (and thanks to FORVM board member ember for that info.)

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