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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Classical Numismatics  |  Topic: Sol's gesture and Serapis' robe 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Sol's gesture and Serapis' robe  (Read 18561 times)
slokind
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« Reply #75 on: March 14, 2007, 02:05:05 pm »

Yes, I saw the Bryn Mawr review, but thought that the book would deal mostly with literally speaking gestures, and what I was curious about was not initially a speaking gesture, as I made haste to make clear by objecting to the Arringatore and the Primaporta Augustus, inter alios.  I do, naturally, know the rich repertory of actors' gestures in the Terence Mss and others.
The French object called the "Hand of Justice", the elaborately mounted ivory hand (which, whatever its exact date, is surely not later than 12c, apart from its mounting), did not for Napoleon any more than for Louis XVI or XIV or Henri IV or Louis IX, signify regal oratory, any more than any scepter or scepter-substitute on a consular-type imperial portrait does.  At any date at all, it has to do with Authority, not Rhetoric.
Whether there is any connection between images like Max. Daia's coin and the French "Hand of Justice" I do not know, certainly cannot show.  I was just interested to know whether.  When one pursues research in order to prove something, one is apt to end up with cold fusion.
The Christ images all are speaking gestures, papal I think today.  The crossing of two of the fingers which some Wiki said is the chi of Christos I take for evolved monastic and altar guild lore, a category of lore that has a pious signification for absolutely anything.  (Wiki and other encyclopedias, of course, have no authority unless articles are signed and unless adopted without altering the author's text, despite their containing a great deal that happens not to be wrong; they are useful sometimes for suggesting what needs to be followed up on).
Pat L.
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« Reply #76 on: March 14, 2007, 02:45:16 pm »

I've seen web sites that associate the HOJ not just with authority but specifically the ability to inflict capital punishement (as such it reminds me of the fourches patibulaires as sign of power/rank - apparently a French "thing" at that time), but I don't see that this necessarily needs to be in conflict with the sign-of-benediction origin that those web sites I linked earlier claim (i.e. divine power/justice, perhaps). It does at least have the same form as that gesture, while it seems to have little in common with Sol's gesture (other than being a raised hand - another Primaporta Augustus to be ignored, perhaps!). Are you saying, between the lines, that you think the HOJ was not derived from the benediction gesture?

Ben
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slokind
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« Reply #77 on: March 14, 2007, 05:00:40 pm »

Not 'between the lines'.  A front view of the Serapis on the attached, and other, coins would show an open hand in your face--a universally threatening gesture, a curse in some lands.  I think I said early on that Sol's hand (did the Colossus at Rhodes actually hold a torch?  Merely curious), as we see it on coins of the Severan age, is raised straight up, yanking his himation up, quite differently from any speaking gesture, whether Imperial or Christian.
Just how the straightforward Severan Serapis reverses relate to the post-Gordianian, especially post-Aurelian, representations of Sol, I do not know.  The only link is those apparently sycretistic 'folles' with Sol dressed and posed like Serapis and holding the latter's bust.
An afternoon's browsing suggests that there are too few surviving representations of Carolingian kings, or even of Ottonian ones outside of frontispieces of Gospels, to guess whether Charlemagne (for instance) held a second scepter, with a hand, in his left hand (as apparently Napoleon thought he did--else I doubt Ingres would have put it there).  I'd have to read all of Carolingian lit. to find out whether he and his successors had one, mentioned in a contemporary source! 
Hans Swarzenski, BTW, dates the ivory hand itself, 11-12c, but marks its St.-Denis provenance "(?)".  He sites an article by W. Martin Conway in Archaeologia, 1915, p. 50.  Period.  As you doubtless know, Swarzenski's Monuments of Romanesque Art is a marvelous treasury of 8th-12th c. Kleinkunst whose text never got written: just an annotated list of illustrations.
I do not expect to find anything in A. Goldschmidt's Elfenbeinskulpturen, of which our library has a copy (rpt).  I don't recall anything there.  We don't have Panofsky's Abbot Suger, which might have a lead in a footnote.  Or not.  The standard iconographic handbooks have nothing relevant.  Googling does bring up scads of garbage, too!
Even mention of a 'Hand' in an account of the coronation of Charlemagne would not be more than suggestive of Charlemagne's scholars thinking it was Imperial to have one.  When Byzantine emperors are shown, it usually is endowing or presenting something and they are shown without Imperial regalia, barring a crown: they didn't go to church carrying any scepter or scepter-like objects.
So here is a Serapis, to bring us round to coins, finally.  All 5 fingers spread.  Pat L.
• 27 04 04 AE 30 16.42g  axis 1:00.  SerdicaCaracalla, laureate, head to r.  AVT K M AVR SEV    ANTONINO S.  Rev., Serapis stg. l., holding scepter and wearing kalathos.  OVLPIAS    SERDIKES.  Varbanov III, p. 22, no. 341.
ADDED:
• Frontal, Rome, Caracalla sole augustus.
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« Reply #78 on: March 14, 2007, 08:51:44 pm »

I've found what would seem to be an authoritive source for the hand-of-justice meaning - the French Dept. of Justice web site, and it says "The Hand of Justice has three open fingers, and the King held it in his left hand. It symbolizes simultaneously the hand that strikes, caresses and blesses."

[BROKEN LINK REMOVED BY ADMIN]

The emphasis on the three fingers and tri-partite meaning, would seem to rule out direct derivation from any gesture that didn't also have the three fingers. Given that this was a symbol of the Holy Roman Empire (and that the King's regalia already contained the threat of the sword of justice), I wonder if this meaning might be a partial secularizing of an original purely religious meaning, since it does match the shape of the christian benediction gesture (where, incidently, the three fingers may represent the holy trinity - a claim that I've seen made for the HOJ, presumably just based on it appearing to be the same).

So, back to the five fingered gesture of Sol/Serapis... I'm not at all certain that this is necessarily the stop/in-your-face threat gesture that you suggest, since it doesn't generally appear to be depicted that way. It's generally more like a hand raised high in salute/greeting (another "universal"), than the aggressive horizontal in-your-face, but there are also the cases where it's used as part of a bust vs full figure where it doesn't appear raised at all, and on at least one full-figure representation where the same gesture might be presumed it is also just a hand held closely in front of the body (see rev of attached picture - another Daia coin, but this time issued by himself vs Constantine). The only entirely common element seems to be the gesture itself, rather than the precise place/mode of delivery.

While I don't expect that Sol's gesture is an oratorial one, I don't think that the occasional vigorous himation raising depictions in of themselves necessarily rule it out - that is after all just an emphatic form. The gesture book I mentioned isn't really about normal speaking gesture but rather oratorical theatricism (partly based on the surviving descriptions of Quintilian and Cicero), although it's more broad than that.

Ben
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« Reply #79 on: February 10, 2008, 11:21:57 pm »

I hesitate to bring up this old thread again (well, not really), but this hand gesture (which Pat L. has called the "egregious hand") appears not only as a gesture of Sol, Serapis, or the emperor.  As I was belatedly placing coins in 2x2's, I came across this AE32 of Philip I of Corycus, SNG von Aulock 5684 (this coin), depicting Thalassa (or Amphytrite) on the reverse clearly making this mudra (to employ a technical term from another, Buddhist, tradition that seems to express what is being talked about here).  An apotropaic gesture imperiously calming the waves, perhaps?  Cheers, George Spradling
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« Reply #80 on: February 11, 2008, 12:17:10 am »

Not to forget Homonoia, if indeed it is she, on Maximianus' tetradrachms.  Also a calming gesture, possibly?

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slokind
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« Reply #81 on: February 11, 2008, 01:54:44 pm »

I do NOT want to recommence discussing the Hand.  Only, there is a natural tendency to include rather generic and merely ill drawn raised hands suggestive of power or proclamation.  By using words like 'grappling' and 'egregious' I only wanted to try to call attention to the character of  a few that do seem extraordinary--that seem like very well drawn non-fleshly hands.  The number that are merely gesturing 'Hi, Sailor' (so to speak) are innumerable.  Anyhow, even the egregiously different ones may mean nothing special, after all (and, of course, I meant 'egregious' in the literal Latin sense).  Pat L.
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