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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: S. Estiot on a rare bust type of Probus and the Tetrarchs 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: S. Estiot on a rare bust type of Probus and the Tetrarchs  (Read 11531 times)
curtislclay
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« on: March 03, 2009, 01:26:55 pm »

The bust type in question occurs in two variants.

1.  The emperor, cuirassed, holds a short spear pointed downwards in his r. hand and two further short spears in his l. hand.  This type is known on a denarius of Probus struck at Ticinum, an aureus of Maximian struck at Siscia (image from CoinArchives below), and a unique bronze medallion of Maximinus II as Caesar struck at Aquileia, formerly in the Vatican collection but moved to Paris by Napoleon.

2.  The emperor, cuirassed or draped and cuirassed, holds in his raised right hand an ordinary spear pointed either down or up, and in his left hand a shield and two short spears.  This type is known on

a.  Two unique antoniniani of Probus struck at Siscia, both recent discoveries: one sold on eBay in 2003, the other presented here in Forvm in April 2008, just in time for S. Estiot to include it in her article!  I reillustrate the eBay specimen below, taken from the relevant Forvm thread which is now in Classical Numismatics.

b.  Four bronze medallions of Probus, three of them unique and the fourth known in two specimens, all from the same obverse die, assigned by Estiot to the mint of Siscia, primarily because we know from the two antoniniani just described that the bust type in question was used there under Probus.

c.  Aurei struck at Rome from a single obv. die for Diocletian, legend VIRTVS DIOCLETIANI AVG, and a single die for Maximian, legend VIRTVS MAXIMIANI AVG, date perhaps c. 288-90 AD.

d.  A unique small bronze medallion of Galerius as Augustus, repeating Maximian's legend VIRTVS MAXIMIANI AVG, rev. VOTA PVBLICA, Neptune and Isis standing, in the Gnecchi Collection at Rome.  Previously misattributed to Maximian, but Estiot shows that it must be Galerius, because the same reverse die was also used for Constantius I as Augustus, and because similar festival of Isis medallions, doubtless from the same issue, are known for Diocletian and Maximian as Senior Augusti after their abdication in 305.

e.  Rare folles of Maximinus II as Caesar and Constantine I as Caesar struck by Severus II at Aquileia in 306-7, just before his unsuccessful invasion of Italy against MaxentiusRIC VI, Aquileia 87 and 98a-b; Triton 1, 1997, lot 1684.
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2009, 05:51:29 pm »

P. Bastien, in his monograph on Roman imperial bust types, devoted a chapter to these types with the short spears and considered them to be assimilations of the emperors to Veiovis/Jupiter, because according to Aulus Gellius the statue of Veiovis in his temple on the Capitoline Hill showed the god holding arrows instead of a thunderbolt.

The correct explanation of this bust type, however, seems to have been discovered by Sylviane Estiot in her article "Sine arcu sagittae: la représentation numismatique de plumbatae / mattiobarbuli aux IIIe-IVe siècles (279-307 de n.e.)", Numismatische Zeitschrift 116/117, 2008, pp. 177-201.

According to Estiot, the short spears held by the emperors in these bust types were actually a weapon that was used by Roman legionary soldiers of the period, namely a short spear weighted with lead that was meant to be hurled by hand and was called a "plumbata" or "mattiobarbulus".

The proof is, in the first place, the following passage of Vegetius, De re militari, 1.17:

"Young men should also be taught how to use plumbatae, which are also called mattiobarbuli.  Two legions in Illyricum, comprising six thousand soldiers each, once wielded these weapons with such skill and courage that the men themselves were called mattiobarbuli.  These legions were so successful at winning battle after battle that Diocletian and Maximian, upon becoming emperors, ordained that as a reward for their valor these mattiobarbuli should assume the epithets 'Jovian' and 'Herculean' and that they should be considered the crack troops of the army.  Each soldier normally carried five mattiobarbuli attached to his shield, and, if they threw them effectively, these shield-bearing footsoldiers could virtually fulfill the role of archers.  For they could inflict severe damage to enemy soldiers and their horses before it came to hand-to-hand fighting, indeed while the enemy was still outside the range of javelins." (my translation from the Latin)

According to Vegetius, two Illyrian legions were particularly adept at using this weapon.  This fits with the facts (1) that the surviving examples of these short spears, their points and lead weights since their wooden shafts have perished, have been found predominantly in Croatia, Austria, and Hungary, and (2) that three of the four mints that used the bust types in question, namely Ticinum, Aquileia, and Siscia, are also in or adjacent to Pannonia (see map, Estiot p. 201).

The surviving plumbatae have bulges of lead in their shafts, apparently to increase their weight and penetrating power: see the four examples illustrated by Estiot, p. 200.  According to Estiot (it's not entirely clear in the pictures), two of the short spears held by Maximianus on the aureus shown above, enlarged by Estiot on p. 196, also have bulges in their shafts, just at the point where the emperor is grasping them with his hands.

The second bust type above shows short spears inserted in the respective emperor's shield, exactly as Vegetius describes.  There can be little doubt, Estiot suggests, that Diocletian's and Maximian's use of this bust type, 1b and 2c above, commemorated their honoring of the two legions who had become particularly effective in the use of this weapon, as Vegetius relates.

Estiot thinks Vegetius is exaggerating when he asserts that these short spears could inflict damage at even longer range than javelins.  Bust type 2, after all, shows the emperor holding a normal spear in his right hand, which he would certainly have to throw before reaching for the short spears attached to his shield!  So the short spears will have been effective at middle range:  first the soldiers hurled their long spears, then they threw the short spears attached to their shields, and finally they drew their swords and fought hand to hand.

Modern attempts to reconstruct and throw these short spears have shown that they could travel about 60 meters (66 yards) and could be launched most effectively with an underarm throw.  On p. 200 Estiot shows a modern "legionary" in the act of hurling one!

It would appear from the Aquileian folles, 2e above, that Severus II used some troops armed with these short spears for his invasion of Italy against Maxentius in 307.  Estiot suggests that it may have been the sorry fate of this expedition, with Severus captured and executed and many soldiers deserting to Maxentius, that explains the disappearance of this weapon from the coinage at this juncture!




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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 12:48:33 am »

this is very interesting

Many thanks Curtis 
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Maffeo
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 03:55:25 am »

Thanks a lot, Curtis!
It's precisely this kind of research and discovery that makes ancient numismatics so fascinating, and so much more than just accumulating coins.
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curtislclay
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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2011, 04:03:58 pm »

In Revue Numismatique 2010, pp. 435-445, S. Estiot and V. Drost publish a new occurence of this bust type, namely on a half-follis of Maxentius struck at Rome c. 310-11 AD. This unique coin in the ANS collection shows the first variant of the type described and illustrated above, and is actually published by Sutherland in RIC VI, p. 380, 228, but inaccurately described and not illustrated, explaining why it was overlooked by Estiot in her original article.

Estiot had proposed that the Illyrian troops skilled in the use of these weapons might have been cashiered after their participation in Severus II's disastrous invasion of Italy in 307, explaining the apparent disappearance of the relevant obverse types after that year. But now we see that Maxentius was still using such an obverse type two or three years later, suggesting that some of Severus II's mattiobarbuli had defected to Maxentius and been incorporated into Maxentius' army. Perhaps they participated in Maxentius' reconquest of Africa from Alexander the Tyrant c. 310, and in his attempted defense of Italy against Constantine's invasion in 312. We know that after his victory Constantine discharged Maxentius' praetorian guard, and the Illyrian spear-throwers that Maxentius had apparently taken over from Severus II may have suffered the same fate, explaining the disappearance of that obverse type after 310-311, according to present knowledge.
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Curtis Clay
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« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2011, 09:20:50 am »

Thank you very much, Curtis, for the information you give on these two articles dealing with the portrait of the emperor holding plumbatae, a Late Antiquity weapon. Maybe it could be of some interest to add that the first article is downloadable (in French alas): 

S. Estiot, "Sine arcu sagittae : la représentation numismatique de plumbatae/mattiobarbuli aux IIIe-IVe siècles de n. è.", NZ 116-117. Festschrift für Günther Dembski, Wien, 2008, p. 177-201.
http://www.hisoma.mom.fr/numismatique/PDF/Sine%20arcu%20sagittae%20%28S.%20Estiot,%20NZ%20116-7,%202008%29.pdf

Cordialement,
S. Estiot
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Congius
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« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 12:36:39 pm »

An image of the Maxentius coin is now available on the ANS site (found via their very nice new search facility). It has an interestingly decorated helmet too.

http://numismatics.org/collection/1944.100.3010

Ben
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Jay GT4
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2012, 03:03:49 pm »

Found another example:

http://www.acsearch.info/record.html?id=115367

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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2012, 05:46:21 am »



May I add that both papers are now downloadable on the website Academia.edu ? :

http://univ-lyon2.academia.edu/SEstiot/

- S. Estiot, Sine arcu sagittae : la représentation numismatique de plumbatae / mattiobarbuli aux IIIe – IVe siècles (279-307 de n. è.), Numismatische Zeitschrift 116./117. (Wien, 2008), pp. 177-201. 
http://univ-lyon2.academia.edu/SEstiot/Papers/1411992/Sine_arcu_sagittae_la_representation_numismatique_de_plumbatae_mattiobarbuli_aux_IIIe_-_IVe_siecles_279-307_de_n._e._

- V. Drost & S. Estiot, Maxence et le portrait de l’empereur en Mattiobarbulus, Revue  Numismatique 166 (Paris, 2010), p. 435-445
http://univ-lyon2.academia.edu/SEstiot/Papers/1413385/Maxence_et_le_portrait_de_lempereur_en_Mattiobarbulus

Cordialement,
Sylviane Estiot

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Maciej D
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« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2017, 09:07:26 am »

Hello
I'll write something about the weapons of those coins.
This is not plumbatae.
These are the javelins of amentum.
The proof are:
1 fingers on a pole. Projecting one or two located.

2 Relief Tombstone of P. Flavoleius Cordus, infantryman of the legio XIV Gemina

3 Relief from legionnaire (Lanciarii) from Mainz.
 
4 Spare javelins were worn by two shield

Lanciarii were the elite of the Legionnaires. Therefore emperors they are showing up as such soldiers.
After the reform of Diocletian created legions of so-called legiones Palatinae a population of about 1,000 soldiers. The first four are Jovi Herculiani, Divitenses and LANCIARII.
Sorry for my poor English.
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Maciej D
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« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2017, 07:28:58 am »

I noted two examples javelin with amentum.
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« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2017, 12:14:47 am »

Why emperors on the coins are with javelins?
As the legionaries of the javelins were elite soldiers.
He writes about them Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus as "interpedites" (De.Re.Mil 1.20)
The arguments allow me to say that the theory is wrong plumbatae a weapon of coins are javelins from amentum.
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Rich Beale
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« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2017, 05:13:17 am »

This is your c) Diocletian
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