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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Greek Coins (Moderators: Dino, Meepzorp)  |  Topic: MFB Man Faced Bull types 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: MFB Man Faced Bull types  (Read 12081 times)
Brennos
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« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2015, 05:15:42 pm »

Humm definitely a hard work for your student  Tongue

For exemple the argument that you provide  :
He first argues that it is not Achelous because it wouldn't make sense for the people of Naples and Nola to have an Akarnanian (he says Aetolian and Akarnanian) God on their coins.
in fact doesn't exist in the original text angel

I don't blame you, again it is a hard text.

I will provide you with the essentials but in a word, the main argument (against MFB=Achélous)  is "the stability" of the iconography : The author states that the Achélous iconography is the one represented on the Akarnanian coins. As the iconography on the campanian coins differs from the one on Akarnanian ones, then the MFB represented on the campanian coins is not Achélous, QED . What a perfect cartesian proof ! afro

Arguments in favor of an agricultual allegory are more interesting and convincing...
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Molinari
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« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2015, 06:33:25 pm »

Ah, I see.  So Achelous would not be represented iconography ally with Victory above? That is just like Taylor's argument. Thank you for helping.

We actually suggest it isn't Victory/Nike at all, but a winged nymph, since nymphs are always present with Achelous and there are winged nymphs with Achelous in artwork from Nola.
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Enodia
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« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2015, 07:24:14 pm »

interesting.
in Greek art the small winged figure can also represent the psyche, or the soul as it leaves the body. as such this might be another point in the case for Dionysus.

~ Peter
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Brennos
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« Reply #28 on: September 17, 2015, 04:43:54 am »

Hi Nick,
I have sent you an email with the translation.
Perhaps you could correct my english and post it here.
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Molinari
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« Reply #29 on: September 17, 2015, 05:23:00 am »

Great work, Brennos.  Thank you very much.  I'll be sure to incorporate some of this discussion in the book (and mention your help!), as the arguments against Acheloos are certainly interesting and worthy of mention.  Your translation makes perfect sense of the text.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brennos Translation:

Bold texts are my (Brennos') personal observations or comments
(1) Refers to the footnote (1) in the text
[P.123 L.1-5] means lignes 1 to 5 on the original text page 123.


Please note that a “Boeuf” is an ox and not a bull which is a “Taureau”.
Important: For simplification, I will use the term MFB for what the author calls “a complete body of an ox with a human face and two horns”.


p.123  
[P123 L.1-5]  
The interpretation of the MFB as being the representation of Achélous is widely but wrongly accepted.  Pighius (1) and Carrera (2) are the only authors that have given the correct explanation regarding the signification of the MFB.
[P123 L.6-10]
MFB as Achélous interpretation is comforted by the work of Abbé Ignarra who :
-> has « modified » (i guess has badly interpreted or analysed or translated) the Trachiniennes tragedy of Sophocle (3)
-> pretends that Achélous is not only the god of the Etolian river but the god of all the rivers (4).

Arguments of the author against the view that MFB is Achélous :
[P.123 L. 11-13]
1°   The correct « translation/interpretation » of the Sophocle text is the one of Isaac Casaubon who is more “competent”
[P.123 L. 14-18]
2°   The poets have given the name of Achéloss to all drinking waters because it was the name of the king who has first mixed the water with the wine (5)  but it is not a reason to give the name of Archélous to all the rivers.

[P123 L. 18 to P124-L.19] This third argument is what I’ve called the “stability of the iconography” argument but I was probably not clear enough

[P123 L. 18- 21]
When a certain way of representing Achélous is first adopted on ancient monuments (including coins), then it cannot be modified afterward.  Particularly in all the area of the Achélous river.
[P123 L. 22- 25]
The Peoples (the Oenades), that live near the Archélous river mouth, have coins on which the type is :   bearded old head on a neck and not on a full body and the horns are almost horizontal.
[P123 L. 26- 28]
On the coins of Thyraeum the head is beardless and there is a single horn (6).
[P124 L.1- 4]
On several coins of Magna Graecia, we could see several different representations of a MFB (that one pretends being Archélous) and in Sicily there are representations with only half of the body (1)

[P124 L.5- 12]
If one has to choose which of those different representations is Achélous, then we should definitely take the one used on the Thyraeum coins with a single horn due to the mythological story. All the others representations that differ from this precise type (Neapolis, Nola etc…) are not a representation of Archélous.
[P124 L.13- 17]
Explains the well known mythological fable
[P124 L.18- 19]
Hard to conciliate the presence of the victory above the MFB with the fable where Achélous is the loser.

[P124 L.20- P.125 L.19]
The author gives the arguments against MFB as being the Minotaur, as it is nowadays obvious, I don’t translate it.

[P125 L.20- 23]
The coins that have a MFB type, come from Campania and the proximity area. The naturally fertile soil has been made even more fertile by agricultural works.
[P125 L.23- 25]
It is therefore quite natural to believe that people have adopted this symbol to express their gratitude.

[P126 L.1- 2]
Varron qualifies the ox as the friend of the men in the agricultural works. He calls it “servant of Ceres”  (1)
in fact the expression  “ministre de cérés” has here the same sense as a priest "ministre" of the Christ in the Christian religion. I translate it as “servant” but it is probably not the exact word ( i don't know if  I'm clear )
[P126 L.3- 8]
Columelle says that trying to kill an ox is a crime as important as trying to kill a man (2) . Elien (3), Stobée (4), Pline (5) and Valere-Maxime (6) give examples of punishment inflicted for having killed an ox. This proves how the ox was venerated by the ancient Romans. The ancient Romans were not allowed to immolate an ox to Ceres (7) but this law has not always been respected.
[P126 L.9-12 ]
An important  sentence hard to translate
If we had wanted to represent the symbol of agriculture and, at the same time, make known the importance of the ox (regarding agriculture), we should agree that we would not be far from the spirit of the allegory in chosing an ox with a human head.
[P126 L.13-17 ]
This is the likely reason why inhabitants from Neapolis, Nola and other Campanian cities have chosen the MFB type for their coins. To conclude, we can name our Cameo : Symbol of agriculture.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All this being said, I think his interpretation of the poets' use of Achelous is incorrect, especially when considering new evidence on the Homeric texts which place emphasis on Achelous as the original god of all water, which is supported by the Derveni papyrus. Also, the orthographic argument Achelous=King that mixed water and wine, Archelous=river, is not correct when we examine the original sources (literature and epigraphy).  All this is discussed in the upcoming book and it's really interesting stuff.  

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daverino
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« Reply #30 on: March 06, 2016, 01:06:49 pm »

I am not a scholar in this area but it seems that the themes on many Greek issues were things that appealed to the man-in-the-street or advertised the community such as its produce, tourist attractions and achievements in competition. If the Campanians were good agriculturalists, wouldn't it be reasonable that the MFB coins celebrate excellence in Bull breeding or victories in local prize-bull contests? Perhaps the man-face is a bit of whimsy that makes the coins more attractive or is part of the agricultural motif?
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« Reply #31 on: March 06, 2016, 01:36:34 pm »

The man-face on the bull is definitely not  mere whimsy, since the iconographic tradition is extremely old and very widespread, and carried a very distinct fluvial meaning, from which other associations emerge, e.g. Chthonic, liminal, fertility, apotropaic,etc.  It would certainly appeal to the man on the street for a variety of reasons.
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Enodia
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« Reply #32 on: March 06, 2016, 02:12:06 pm »

The man-face on the bull is definitely not  mere whimsy, since the iconographic tradition is extremely old and very widespread...


such as this image from the temple of Sargon II, 8th century BC Assyria, which may even be a depiction of the emperor himself. certainly not whimsy!

~ Peter
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Molinari
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« Reply #33 on: March 06, 2016, 02:26:03 pm »

Incidentally, we just found the same style headdress on what appears to be a man-faced bull on two late Ubaid seals, c. 3750-3500 BC.  This new find is the first example of the iconography in the Near East (Susa), and provides an important link in the Old Europe to Near East chain. Previously there's been a gap (reflected in the draft you have, Peter), but now we have a fairly clear pattern of transference from Old Europe to the Near East, with many sources documenting the contacts between these two areas (beyond the iconography) through Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Anatolia.  I am now completely convinced of a single origin of man-faced bull iconography in Old Europe that was adopted in succession by various cultures throughout the entire Mediterranean over the course of some 5 millennia (Old Europe to Near East to Cyprus, to Sicily, etc.) and we have the proof to back it up!
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ThatParthianGuy
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« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2016, 05:13:08 pm »

The Hittites and Neo-Hittites also seemed to make winged bull reliefs that predated the Neo-Assyrian Lamassu. Here is an example of one from Tell Halaf in Syria:
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« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2016, 06:31:23 pm »

That creature was certainly influenced from the more eastern  tradition but I believe it has the body of a lion rather than a bull.

At some point, I'd like to create another site with man-faced bulls from ancient art outside of coinage, similar to my Pinterest page but more organized.  There are a lot.  
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« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2019, 12:16:33 pm »

Lots of man-faced bulls on, e.g., AM coinage from Mallos. I agree the motif's likely ritual-sacrificial in origin.
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