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Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.
MVNIFICENTIA GORDIANI AVG.- The Flavian Amphitheatre, in which a bull and an

elephant (the latter with a man sitting on it) are opposed to each other. On each side of the Amphitheatre is an edifice; by the side of that on the left stands a colossal figure of Hercules.

To a description of this remarkable type, which appears on a brass medallion of Gordianus III, Eckhel appends the following illustrative note. After adverting to the word Munificentia, accompanied with the figure of an elephant on coins of Antoninus Pius (see preceding column of this work), he says- "Livy has recorded that elephants first appeared in the games of the circus, in the year. V.C. 586.

Extravagance keeping pace with the increase of wealth, they were frequently introduced into the spectacle, and afforded a sight, not only extraordinary, but in many instances pitiable. Pompey the Great, in his second Consulate, exhibited altogether eighteen of these animals, which, wounded and mutilated as they were during the progress of the performances, met with the commiseration even of the people, when, on feeling their wounds they desisted from the combat, and moving around the circus, with their trunks lifted into the air, they appeared to entreat the interference of the spectators, and to call their lords to witness, reminding them, as it were, of the oath by which they had been induced to allow themselves to be allured from Africa.

This is Dion's account; to which Pliny, writing on the same subject, adds that the people were so excited with indignation at this spectacle, that disregarding the general in chief (imperator), and the signal munificence displayed by him in their honor, they rose as one man, with tears in their eyes, and showered on Pompey imprecations, the weight of which he soon afterwards experienced.

Cicero, also, who was a spectator on the occasion, has related, that great as was the astonishment of the people, they felt no gratification at the sight, but rather a feeling of pity followed the exhibition, and an opinion that there was a kind of affinity between that animal and the human race. "For myself," adds Eckhel, "I would willingly bestow my praise on the feeling displayed by the people, who suffered themselves to be touched by the toils and pains even of beasts. But I am reluctantly compelled to withhold my commendations, when I reflect on the inconsistent sympathies of this same populace, which, desiring that the blood of brutes should be spared, could feed its eyes and thoughts with the slaughter of human beings in the arena. I now recur to the coin itself, which represents the Amphitheatre of the Flavii (at Rome), and within it, in addition to the elephant, a bull also; for these animals used anciently to be pitted against each other; Martial having described such a combat."
Doct. Num. Vet. vol. vii. p. 315.

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