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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Provincial Coins (Moderator: slokind)  |  Topic: Unknown beauty from Marcianopolis 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Unknown beauty from Marcianopolis  (Read 20221 times)
curtislclay
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« Reply #50 on: June 03, 2008, 10:19:00 am »

In the Forvm Books and References board, Numerianus, responding to a request by Archivum, reproduced Seguin's comments on Rhodope, from his book Selecta Numismata Antiqua, Paris 1665.

Seguin says that in antiquity two identifications were proposed for Rhodope, after whom the mountain near Philippopolis was named.  Some authors said Rhodope was a Thracian queen who had been interred on the mountain or had been transformed into the mountain.  Other authors claimed that she was a nymph, the daughter of the river Strymon, who was impregnated by Neptune and gave birth to Athon, after whom a mountain was also named.

The coin type, Seguin says, favors the second identification, for the woman depicted there has no royal attributes befitting a queen, but is instead half nude like a naiad, while the plant she holds, and the plant growing behind her, look like river plants.
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #51 on: June 06, 2008, 03:15:02 pm »

   Curtis, thanks for that paraphrase; Seguin is right that the Rhodope figure is not so much queenly as nymphlike, just as the Nikopolis Haimos looks less like a king than a lusty young huntsman at ease.  Seguin doesn't connect the two topographical issues as we have, and as Pick does also(AMNG 1/1, 342, n. 5); once we do link the two, and do reference the myth of twinned metamorphoses-to-mountains, it's equally natural to reference the notion that the two form a couple of some sort, romantic in life, topographic-symbolic in afterlife.  The idyllic way they're both depicted as persons softens their famous regional myth even as it obliquely recalls it, so that their transformation to mountains can be represented as more like a fulfillment than a punishment.
   To return to another related motif (see resps. ##39 ff., above), bearing out a theme out of third-century Philostratus (Imagines 1.6: "For you know, I imagine, what is said of the hare, that it possesses the gift of Aphrodite to an unusual degree"), here's a lovely and rare second-century Kyzikos issue with an image of Eros the bunny-hunter (cf. http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/765 and 777), from http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=114678&AucID=131&Lot=336:
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« Reply #52 on: June 06, 2008, 03:33:26 pm »

Nice find!
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« Reply #53 on: June 14, 2008, 06:33:01 am »

A bit closer to Moesia and Marcianopolis is another version of the type of Eros holding up a hare, on a coin (unpublished?) of Commodus from Philippopolis in Thrace.
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« Reply #54 on: June 14, 2008, 08:39:46 am »

Thanks for posting this, Francis; remarkable, and right in the loop, since we're interested in a kind of dialogue between coin-types in this same vicinity (resp. #46 etc.).  I hope you'll let RPC in on this one, important and beautiful.
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« Reply #55 on: June 14, 2008, 09:07:08 am »

Thanks for the reminder! I do send things to RPC sometimes, but I must somehow have forgotten this one. The RPC IV database is such a useful resource that we should all do our bit to support it. Anyhow, it's on its way now.
And: here's another Philippopolitan hare, on CoinArchives:
http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Philippopolis+AND+hare
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wandigeaux (1940 - 2010)
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« Reply #56 on: June 14, 2008, 01:07:40 pm »

Here's another one, just like the other one, but not the same one.  An early purchase from FORVM.  George Spradling
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Hwaet!
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« Reply #57 on: June 14, 2008, 04:17:45 pm »

I wonder what these hares are doing on the Moesian/Thracian coins? If the hare is no more than just an appropriate symbol for the region (because of the supposed super-abundance of the animals), why then is Moesia waving it about on the Viminacium coins (year 4) for Gordian? Why isn't the animal merely hopping about on the baseline, like the legionary animals on the commonest Viminacium coins?
Now, if the hare were a tribal totem animal in the Balkans, and Gordian's generals had beaten up or intimidated the local tribals on the emperor's way to the East (through Moesia) in 242-3, that might just explain why Moesia (the Roman province) is shown waving her hunting booty. (Are there any Moesian/Thracian experts out there who know about the local cultures?)  Smiley
An even wilder thought, regarding the Viminacium hare coins: At the risk of turning into an Erotic monomaniac, might not the Moesia coins not only include the "Balkan bunny" as a familiar provincial symbol but also echo the Eros-with-hare motif, known from statues in Philippopolis and elsewhere, and refer - with sly flattery - to the young imperial visitor, for whose future fecundity and ability to establish a stable dynasty his loyal subjects might well invoke the help of Eros and Aphrodite?
Speculation upon speculation!   laugh
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« Reply #58 on: June 16, 2008, 08:23:30 am »

I would of course defer to Curtis' wisdom on the topic of Viminacium's bunny coins, but I've done my own extensive speculating on this topic.  I've written my thoughts down in the notes for this coin in my tantalus album:

http://www.tantaluscoins.com/coins/24233.php

Cheers!

Scott S.
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« Reply #59 on: June 16, 2008, 12:25:56 pm »

A curious animal for a province (or an emperor) to be sacrificing on an important occasion - unless the hare indeed had some local totemic significance! But it doesn't look particularly like a sacrificial scene, does it? A most puzzling type. (And I wish I had one.)   Smiley
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« Reply #60 on: June 17, 2008, 08:09:36 am »

It just so happens that CNG has one up for auction right now if you are interested in overpaying.  Smiley  Something interesting about these Viminacium Bunny coins is that they show up maybe 2 or 3 times a year and they are almost always in the same condition (ie, I've never seen a high grade specimen) unlike other similar rarities which have a high grade specimen pop up once every 2 or 3 years.

Regarding the scene as a sacrificial scene, as my notes state, I'm more inclined to view this reverse as having overtones of being a "Moesia as Demeter" scene.  If it were to have any connection to the Emporer sacrificing reverse I would say the bunny scene is more likely supposed to mean some kind of offering of abundance.  Just my guesswork though.

Scott S.
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« Reply #61 on: June 17, 2008, 04:18:06 pm »

Thanks for the tip, Scott. I had indeed noticed the coin. I won't comment on prices; let's just say that for a coin that is not directly what I collect, it would not be a sensible buy. Once you start collecting things that are only tangential to your interests life starts to get expensive, and I'm a bit too old to be broadening my collecting interests. It would be nice to have a Viminacium bunny, however, as a pendant to the much rarer Eros coin, and it would be good to get to the bottom of the question of these Balkan rabbits/hares.
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« Reply #62 on: June 18, 2008, 07:59:56 am »

Regarding the Viminacium Bunny prices, if you are patient you can probably find one on Ebay within the next year that will sell for 50 to 75 bucks.  Not cheap, but that is about as good as it gets.  There is usualy about one each year that goes for that price, but you have to be thorough with your searches and lucky.  The weakened dollar certainly hurts too, and is likely a major contributor to CNG's insane prices of late.

Oddly enough I bought a bunny Vim at a CNG auction about a year ago.  It was misattributed and sold in a bulk lot.  I spotted thier error and turned a small profit after I liquidated the lot (keeping the bunny coin of course).  Smiley  I also found one about 2 years ago on a dealer's private website.  It was baddly corroded and barely attributable, but the seller had no idea what they had and sold it to me for 18 bucks.  Not bad for a fully attributable bunny coin.

The bargains are out there for those willing to sink time into looking for them I reckon.  But then again, it certainly has helped me that I specialize in Viminacium coins too!

Scott S.
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« Reply #63 on: June 18, 2008, 11:24:09 am »

I still can't make out the rabbit.  Are its ears flopping down and is it facing right or at us, is the left hand of the nymph on its head?  Can't make out fromt paws from haunches. (sorry)
Raymond
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« Reply #64 on: June 18, 2008, 12:06:08 pm »

You are probably referring to the photo in resp. #44, where it's Moesia that's holding the hare (it is Eros that's doing the holding on the Cyzicus and Philippopolis coins in resps. #51 and 53); all are holding the hapless hares by their hind feet, and their ears all point more or less leftward and up.
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« Reply #65 on: June 19, 2008, 01:15:40 pm »

Now a Commodus coin with reverse representing a Bacchus-carrying Satyr with hare; this particular satyr hoists his hare ear-end-up, an arrangement still harder to process well, formally anyway:

http://www.coinarchives.com/a/lotviewer.php?LotID=22540&AucID=24&Lot=658

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« Reply #66 on: June 19, 2008, 04:40:47 pm »

What a wonderful coin (though Hadrianopolis, of course)!  I began to recall modern-day boys stringing up hares and nutrias head down, but thought I'd better check the 7th century BC hunter-boy on the Chigi Olpe (attached).  The hares don't seem to be head down.  I do know that when you gut them and skin them you hang them scut-up and start there.  I once had a neighbor who raised rabbits, and I watched men hang and butcher a cow with broken bones in Mani.  I won't go into details, but that is the way it's done.  Our little Early Archaic hunter (little: on the miniature frieze), however, has hares more rightside-up than not.  Pat L.
The drawing is from its publication in Antike Denkmäler from the 1890s.
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« Reply #67 on: June 19, 2008, 04:56:56 pm »

A good opportunity to show my double die-matching specimen of that Commodus coin, kindly identified by Pat in earlier times. Coming from a lot I purchased when I started collecting provincials, so unfortunately, but not surprisingly, in poor condition. 18-19 mm, 3.70 g.

Lars
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« Reply #68 on: February 20, 2010, 08:06:05 am »


It is worth noting how far the shifting descriptions of this unknown beauty from Marcianopolis have confounded its most recent cataloguers. Jochen's first posting (*) rightly begins with Pick's cautious but thorough description (AMNG 1/1 755), which the entry in Hristova-Jekov (6.24.5.2-3), "Demeter (Moesia?"), remarkably fails to cross-reference correctly even as it does cite Moushmov 548.  Views regarding this same reverse figure become far more confused and confusing in Varbanov's English, citing both Pick and Moushmov in its earliest reference but then (mis?)devoting four entries and two photos (1265-67 and 1283) to the same reverse variously listed as Hope (Elpis) and a river-god with reed.  In contrast to these two opposed ill-grounded guesses V. describes the analogous Nikopolis reverse (3479) much more carefully and helpfully as a "female figure seated on rock l., holding poppy in extended l. hand, r. hand resting on rock"; though Hope (Elpis) on coins generally holds a flower,  not all women with flowers necessarily stand for Hope-Elpis -- just think of Persephone!  It is useful to work to untangle such cruxes but disastrous to simplify things prematurely and gloss over an intricate case by selectively missing its tangles.

   * http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=25011.0
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