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SIGNIS RECEPTIS S C



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     SIGNIS RECEPTIS. S.C. --The emperor
standing on a pedestal, with a spear in his left
hand, accepts with his right a legionary eagle,
which Victory presents to him. --On a first
brass of Vespasian.
     Pellerin in giving this, from the treasures of
his own cabinet, as a coin considered to be
unique, observes that "there is no doubt but
that it was struck after the model of those
which Augustus caused to be struck at Rome,
in each metal, to record the fact of his having
obtained from the Parthians a restoration of
those military ensigns, which they had kept as
a glorious monument of victories they had
gained over the Roman armies commanded by
Crassus and Mark Antony; but history is not
found to have made mention of a like event
under the reign of Vespasian. It is only
seen in Josephus and Tacitus, that, whilst in
Italy he was contending for the empire with
Vitellius, the Dacians attacked all the troops
of his party, who were on the banks of the
Danube, in Moesia; and it may be inferred
(adds Pellerin) that having afterwards reduced
these barbarous tribes to obedience, he compelled them to give up the military ensigns of
which they had possessed themselves; a particular clrcumstance which probably was forgotten or neglected by the historians." Mlange,
vol i. p. 200.
     Agreeing with the illustrious Frenchman
above quoted, so far as relates to the motive of
Vespasian being similar to that of Augustus in
causing medals to be coined as a record of
military honours recovered after being lost, the
equally illustrious German, whose Doctrina is
the text book of all Greek and Latin numismatists
of the present day, goes on to express his
opinion that this singular coin refers, not to transactions with the Dacians or any other barbarians
inhabiting the borders of the Danube; but rather
with barbarians occupying the regions washed
by the Lower Rhine, and which followed that
sanguinary and desolating revolt raised (70 A.D.)
by Civilis the Batavian, in which the
Germans made common cause with his countrymen, and which would have been still more
injurious to the Roman empire, if either there
had been greater concord amongst the barbarians,
or if a general, less discreet in policy and less
self-possessed amidst surrounding dangers than
Petilius Cerealis, had chanced in the end to
command the Romans. That during that war
military ensigns were lost by them in various
unfortunate battles, Tacitus the eloquent historian
of that rebellion distinctly declares. He
states that Civilis went forth to the assault
environed with the signa of captured cohorts;
again, after that disgrace the legions lost their
standards also ; and these were carried about in
reproachful insult to the Romans (in Romanorum
opprobrium circumlata
). And as, indeed, the coin
in question distinctly exhibits the aquila legionaria,
so we find the same author, Tacitus, not
disguising the shame incurred by his own nation,
in the cutting off of two legions by Civilis, but
acknowledging that they were compelled to
surrender. -- Eckhel, under the circumstances,
thinks it very likely that these ensigns were
restored when the good fortune of Civilis had
fallen way, and he was himself compelled to sue
for peace, the beginning of which we have from
Tacitus; but what aferwards happened between
those things which have been narrated and that
restitution of ensigns which this coin proclaims,
together with the fact of the restitution itself,
has had the misfortune to be omitted in Roman
history. These medals, therefore, teach us
what we are not allowed to learn from written
history."
A similar case of signa recepta occurred, or
was pretended to have occurred, under Domitian,
whose duplicity and treachery sufficiently
betrayed themselves in the war with Civilis.
The imperial braggart caused medals in gold and
silver to be struck with the type of a Dacian,
who, kneeling in the attitude of a suppliant,
presents a military ensign. -- Pellerin on this
point quotes Dion, who relates that the degenerate
son of Vespasian, and unworthy successor
of Titus, "received back arms and captives
from Decebalus, king of the Dacians, of whom
he had purchased peace at the price of great
sums of money;  and that he was so vain of it as
to cause himself to be decreed a triumph by the
senate, as if he had gained some signal victory ;
the same ancient writer also states that Domitian
had required all the Roman prisoners and
arms in the possession of the Dacians to be
delivered up to him; but, Dion adds, that they
kept many of them in their castles, where
Trajan subsequently found them."


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