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128/1. Decia - denarius (206-200 BC)19 viewsAR Denarius (uncertain mint, 206-200 BC)
O/ Helmeted head of Roma right; X behind head.
R/ The Dioscuri galloping right; shield & carnyx below horses; ROMA in exergue.
4.01g; 20.5mm
Crawford 128/1 (less than 10 obverse dies/less than 12 reverse dies)
- Privately bought from Münzen & Medaillen Basel.
- Ex collection of Elvira Elisa Clain-Stefanelli (1914-2001), former director of the National Numismatic Collection (part of the Smithsonian Institute).
- Naville Numismatics Live Auction 29, lot 479.

* Anonymous (shield & carnyx), Decius?:

This very rare issue has traditionally been attributed to a descendant of a line of three heroes named Publius Decius Mus. The first of that name was Consul in 340 BC; he received the Grass Crown after having saved his army from destruction against the Samnites, then sacrificed himself at the Battle of Vesuvius during his consulship in an act of devotio (exchanging his life against the victory of his army). His son was four times Consul (312, 308, 297 and 295 BC) and similarly sacrificed himself at the Battle of Sentinum in 295 BC against a coalition of Etruscans, Samnites, and Gauls. The third of that name was Consul in 279 BC and fought against Pyrrhus, who successfully thwarted his attempt to sacrifice himself like his ancestors (cf. discussion in Broughton, vol. I, p. 193).

300 years later, Trajan restored several issues of the Republic, including this one, but with the addition of DECIVS MVS on the obverse (RIC 766). Babelon thus assumed that this denarius was minted by the son of the last Publius Decius Mus (Decia 1). In this hypothesis, the shield and Carnyx refers to the second Mus -- the one who fought the Gauls.

However, Crawford contested this view, writing: "The restoration of this issue by Trajan with the added legend DECIVS MVS provides no grounds whatever for supposing that it was originally struck by someone of that name - the family was certainly extinct by this period."

It is still very strange that Trajan picked this rare denarius, from an irregular mint, for restoration. He could have chosen many other anonymous issues of the early Roman coinage, and simply add the name of Decius Mus. It thus shows that the imperial mint had retained some specimens or archives of previous issues up to the 3rd century BC, because due to its rarity, this denarius had already disappeared from circulation by the time of Trajan. A list of the magistrates behind each issue could therefore have been kept as well; Trajan might have selected the moneyers whom he thought were significant for the history of Rome and restored their issue. A Publius Decius Subulo was living in these years (Livy, xliii. 17) and perhaps minted this coin; his name could have been preserved in the archives of the mint, which might have led Trajan to pick his denarius for restoration.
1 commentsJoss
1cs Herennius Etruscus13 views251

Elder son of Decius, he was named Caesar in 250 and Augustus the next year. He died in battle with his father.


Radiate draped bust, right, Q HER ETR MES DECIVS NOB C

RIC 143
42 BC L. Mussidius Longus130 viewsCONCORDIA
Veiled and diad. head of Concordia right star below chin

Shrine of Venus Cloacina consisting of circular platform, inscribed CLOACIN, surmounted by two statues of the goddess

42 BC

Sear 494, RRC 494/42

ex-Canadian Coin

In Roman mythology, Cloacina (Latin, cloaca: "sewer" or "drain") was the goddess who presided over the Cloaca Maxima the main sewer drain in Rome. The Cloaca Maxima is traditionally said to have beeen started by one of Rome's Etruscan kings, Tarquinius Priscus. Despite her Etruscan origins, she later became identified with Venus.

Titus Tatius, who reigned with Romulus, erected a statue to Cloacina as the spirit of the "Great Drain". As well as controlling sewers, she was also a protector of sexual intercourse in marriage. The Romans believed that a good sewage system was important for the success of Rome, as a good sewer system was necessary for the physical health of Roman citizens. Additionally, Romans worshipped Cloacina as the goddess of purity. Cloacina was worshipped as an aspect of Venus at the small Shrine of Venus Cloacina, located in front of the Basilica Aemilia in the Roman Forum and directly above the Cloaca Maxima. The depiction on the reverse of this coin is that shrine.

The image of Concordia could be interpreted to convey the thought of Unity between the triumvirs to defeat Brutus and Cassius. Venus Cloacina on the reverse conveys the thought of purification for the treacherous murder of the dictator Julius Caesar by men who claimed to be his friends.
4 commentsJay GT4
708a, Otho64 viewsOtho (69 A.D.)
John Donahue
College of William and Mary

In January 69 Otho led a successful coup to overthrow the emperor Galba. Upon advancing to the throne, he hoped to conciliate his adversaries and restore political stability to the Empire. These ambitions were never to be realized. Instead, our sources portray a leader never fully able to win political confidence at Rome or to overcome military anarchy abroad. As a result, he was defeated in battle by the forces of Vitellius, his successor, and took his own life at the conclusion of the conflict. His principate lasted only eight weeks.
Early Life and Career
Marcus Salvius Otho was born at Ferentium on 28 April 32 A. D. His grandfather, also named Marcus Salvius Otho, was a senator who did not advance beyond the rank of praetor. Lucius Otho, his father, was consul in 33 and a trusted administrator under the emperors Tiberius, Gaius and Claudius. His mother, Albia Terentia, was likely to have been nobly born as well. The cognomen "Otho" was Etruscan in origin, and the fact that it can be traced to three successive generations of this family perhaps reflects a desire to maintain a part of the Etruscan tradition that formed the family's background.
Otho is recorded as being extravagant and wild as a youth - a favorite pastime involved roving about at night to snare drunkards in a blanket. Such behavior earned floggings from his father, whose frequent absences from home on imperial business suggest little in the way of a stabilizing parental influence in Otho's formative years. These traits apparently persisted: Suetonius records that Otho and Nero became close friends because of the similarity of their characters; and Plutarch relates that the young man was so extravagant that he sometimes chided Nero about his meanness, and even outdid the emperor in reckless spending.
Most intriguing in this context is Otho's involvement with Nero's mistress, Poppaea Sabina, the greatest beauty of her day. A relationship between the two is widely cited in the ancient sources, but the story differs in essential details from one account to the next. As a result, it is impossible to establish who seduced whom, whether Otho ever married Poppaea, and whether his posting to Lusitania by Nero should be understood as a "banishment" for his part in this affair. About the only reliable detail to emerge is that Otho did indeed become governor of Lusitania in 59, and that he assumed the post as a quaestor, a rank below that of praetor or consul, the minimum usually required for the office. From here he would launch his initial thrust towards the imperial throne.
Overthrow of Galba
Nero's suicide in June 68 marked the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and opened up the principate to the prerogatives of the military beyond Rome. First to emerge was Servius Sulpicius Galba, governor of Hispania Tarraconensis, who had been encouraged to revolt by the praetorians and especially by Nymphidius Sabinus, the corrupt and scheming praetorian prefect at Rome. By this time Otho had been in Spain for close to ten years. His record seems to have been a good one, marked by capable administration and an unwillingness to enrich himself at the expense of the province. At the same time, perhaps seeing this as his best chance to improve his own circumstances, he supported the insurrection as vigorously as possible, even sending Galba all of his gold and his best table servants. At the same time, he made it a point to win the favor of every soldier he came in contact with, most notably the members of the praetorian guard who had come to Spain to accompany Galba to Rome. Galba set out from Spain in July, formally assuming the emperorship shortly thereafter. Otho accompanied him on the journey.
Galba had been in Rome little more than two months when on 1 January 69 the troops in Upper Germany refused to declare allegiance to him and instead followed the men stationed in Lower Germany in proclaiming their commander, Aulus Vitellius, as the new ruler. To show that he was still in charge Galba adopted his own successor, Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus, an aristocrat completely without administrative or military experience. The choice meant little to the remote armies, the praetorians or the senate and particularly angered Otho, who had hoped to succeed Galba. Otho quickly organized a conspiracy among the praetorians with promise of a material reward, and on 15 January 69 they declared him emperor and publicly killed Galba; Piso, dragged from hiding in the temple of Vesta, was also butchered. On that same evening a powerless senate awarded Otho the imperial titles.
Otho's Principate in Rome
It is not possible to reconstruct a detailed chronology of Otho's brief eight and a half weeks as princeps in Rome (15 January-15 March). Even so, Galba's quick demise had surely impressed upon Otho the need to conciliate various groups. As a result, he continued his indulgence of the praetorian guard but he also tried to win over the senate by following a strict constitutionalist line and by generally keeping the designations for the consulship made by Nero and Galba. In the provinces, despite limited evidence, there are some indications that he tried to compensate for Galba's stinginess by being more generous with grants of citizenship. In short, Otho was eager not to offend anyone.
Problems remained, however. The praetorians had to be continually placated and they were always suspicious of the senate. On the other hand, the senate itself, along with the people, remained deeply disturbed at the manner of Otho's coming to power and his willingness to be associated with Nero. These suspicions and fears were most evident in the praetorian outbreak at Rome. Briefly, Otho had decided to move from Ostia to Rome a cohort of Roman citizens in order to replace some of Rome's garrison, much of which was to be utilized for the showdown with Vitellius. He ordered that weapons be moved from the praetorian camp in Rome by ship to Ostia at night so that the garrison replacements would be properly armed and made to look as soldierly as possible when they marched into the city. Thinking that a senatorial counter-coup against Otho was underway, the praetorians stormed the imperial palace to confirm the emperor's safety, with the result that they terrified Otho and his senatorial dinner guests. Although the praetorians' fears were eventually calmed and they were given a substantial cash payment, the incident dramatically underscored the unease at Rome in the early months of 69.
Otho's Offensive against Vitellius
Meanwhile, in the Rhineland, preparations for a march on Rome by the military legions that had declared for Vitellius were far advanced. Hampered by poor intelligence gathering in Gaul and Germany and having failed to negotiate a settlement with Vitellius in early 69, Otho finally summoned to Italy his forces for a counterattack against the invading Vitellian army. His support consisted of the four legions of Pannonia and Dalmatia, the three legions of Moesia and his own imperial retinue of about 9,000. Vitellius' own troops numbered some 30,000, while those of his two marshals, Aulus Caecina Alienus and Fabius Valens, were between 15,000 and 20,000 each.
Otho's strategy was to make a quick diversionary strike in order to allow time for his own forces to assemble in Italy before engaging the enemy. The strategy worked, as the diversionary army, comprised of urban cohorts, praetorians and marines all from Rome or nearby, was successful in Narbonese Gaul in latter March. An advance guard sent to hold the line on the Po River until the Danubian legions arrived also enjoyed initial success. Otho himself arrived at Bedriacum in northern Italy about 10 April for a strategy session with his commanders. The main concern was that the Vitellians were building a bridge across the Po in order to drive southward towards the Apennines and eventually to Rome. Otho decided to counter by ordering a substantial part of his main force to advance from Bedriacum and establish a new base close enough to the new Vitellian bridge to interrupt its completion. While en route, the Othonian forces, strung out along the via Postumia amid baggage and supply trains, were attacked by Caecina and Valens near Cremona on 14 April. The clash, know as the Battle of Bedriacum, resulted in the defeat of the Othonian forces, their retreat cut off by the river behind them. Otho himself, meanwhile, was not present, but had gone to Brixellum with a considerable force of infantry and cavalry in order to impede any Vitellian units that had managed to cross the Po.
The plan had backfired. Otho's strategy of obtaining victory while avoiding any major battles had proven too risky. Realizing perhaps that a new round of fighting would have involved not only a significant re-grouping of his existing troops but also a potentially bloody civil war at Rome, if Vitellius' troops reached the capital, Otho decided that enough blood had been shed. Two weeks shy of his thirty-seventh birthday, on 16 April 69, he took his own life.
To be sure, Otho remains an enigma - part profligate Neronian wastrel and part conscientious military commander willing to give his life for the good of the state. Our sources are at a loss to explain the paradox. Perhaps, like Petronius, he saw it was safer to appear a profligate in Nero's court? In the final analysis, Otho proved to be an organized and efficient military commander, who appealed more to the soldier than to the civilian. He also seems to have been a capable governor, with administrative talents that recalled those of his father. Nevertheless, his violent overthrow of Galba, the lingering doubts that it raised about his character, and his unsuccessful offensive against Vitellius are all vivid reminders of the turbulence that plagued the Roman world between the reigns of Nero and Vespasian. Regrettably, the scenario would play itself out one more time before peace and stability returned to the empire.
Copyright (C) 1999, John Donahue
Edited by J.P.Fitzgerald, Jr.

Antoninus Pius. Thrace, Philippopolis; 25 viewsAres

In Greek mythology, Ares ("battle strife") is the god of war and son of Zeus (king of the gods) and Hera. The Romans identified Mars, the god of war (whom they had inherited from the Etruscans) with Hellenic Ares, but among them, Mars stood in much higher esteem. Among the Hellenes, Ares was always mistrusted: his birthplace and true home was placed far off, among the barbarous and warlike Thracians (Iliad 13.301; Ovid); to Thrace he withdrew after he was discovered on a couch with Aphrodite ( Odyssey 8.361).

Although important in poetry, Ares was only rarely the recipient of cult worship, save at Sparta, where he was propriated before battle, and in the founding myth of Thebes, and he appeared in few myths (Burkert 1985, p.169). At Sparta there was a statue of the god in chains, to show that the spirit of war and victory was never to leave the city. At Sparta young dogs and even humans were sacrificed to him. The temple to Ares in the agora of Athens that Pausanias saw in the 2nd century AD had only been moved and rededicated there during the time of Augustus; in essence it was a Roman temple to Mars. The Areopagus, the "hill of Ares" where Paul preached, is sited at some distance from the Acropolis; from archaic times it was a site of trials. Its connection with Ares, perhaps based on a false etymology, may be purely etiological. Ares s throne at Mount Olympus is said to be covered with human skin.

Antoninus Pius AE18 of Philippopolis, Thrace. AVT AI ADRIA ANTWNEIN, bare head right / FILIPPOPOLEITWN, Ares standing left, holding spear in left hand, shield leaning against him at right. BMC 10.
Aphrodite521 viewsAphrodite is the greek goddess of beauty and love. She is much older and more primordial than Venus. Venus was a more local goddess and came to Rome not before the 4th century. Aphrodite is melted together of indoeuropean-hellenistic, aegaean-anatolean and semitic-oriental elements. The origin of her name is unknown, perhaps it is related to the sem.*asthart. Her relation to Cyprus is referring to that origin. Possibly the name of the month April comes from etruscan *aprodita. So there could be an etruscan intermediation. She seems to be a conglomerate of old fertility goddesses. Her attributes dolphin and shell points to marine, dove, sparrow and and swane to caelestic and apple, rose and pomegranat to herbal sexual spheres. With Homer Aphrodíte replaces the dark weird deities as a light goddess of charm and gracefulness. She was called 'philommeides', the smiling, and she was the mistress of the Graces.
On the rev. of this coin we see Aphrodite as a later depiction as goddess of grace and seduction. She holds a mirror as the symbol of vanity. Her companions are two Erotes with torches to ignite love.
2 commentsJochen
CALABRIA, Tarentum183 viewsTaranto was founded in 706 BC by Dorian immigrants as the only Spartan colony, and its origin is peculiar: the founders were Partheniae, sons of unmarried Spartan women and perioeci (free men, but not citizens of Sparta); these unions were decreed by the Spartans to increase the number of soldiers (only the citizens of Sparta could become soldiers) during the bloody Messenian Wars, but later they were nullified, and the sons were forced to leave. According to the legend Phalanthus, the Parthenian leader, went to Delphi to consult the oracle and received the puzzling answer that he should found a city where rain fell from a clear sky. After all attempts to capture a suitable place to found a colony failed, he became despondent, convinced that the oracle had told him something that was impossible, and was consoled by his wife. She laid his head in her lap and herself became disconsolate. When Phalanthus felt her tears splash onto his forehead he at last grasped the meaning of the oracle, for his wife's name meant clear sky. The harbour of Taranto in Apulia was nearby and he decided this must be the new home for the exiles. The Partheniae arrived and founded the city, naming it Taras after the son of the Greek sea god, Poseidon, and the local nymph Satyrion. A variation says Taras was founded in 707 BC by some Spartans, who, the sons of free women and enslaved fathers, were born during the Messenian War. According to other sources, Heracles founded the city. Another tradition indicates Taras himself as the founder of the city; the symbol of the Greek city (as well as of the modern city) is Taras riding a dolphin. Taranto increased its power, becoming a commercial power and a sovereign city of Magna Graecia, ruling over the Greek colonies in southern Italy.

In its beginning, Taranto was a monarchy, probably modelled on the one ruling over Sparta; according to Herodotus (iii 136), around 492 BC king Aristophilides ruled over the city. The expansion of Taranto was limited to the coast because of the resistance of the populations of inner Apulia. In 472 BC, Taranto signed an alliance with Rhegion, to counter the Messapii, Peuceti, and Lucanians (see Iapygian-Tarentine Wars), but the joint armies of the Tarentines and Rhegines were defeated near Kailìa (modern Ceglie), in what Herodotus claims to be the greatest slaughter of Greeks in his knowledge, with 3,000 Reggians and uncountable Tarentines killed. In 466 BC, Taranto was again defeated by the Iapyges; according to Aristotle, who praises its government, there were so many aristocrats killed that the democratic party was able to get the power, to remove the monarchy, inaugurate a democracy, and expel the Pythagoreans. Like Sparta, Tarentum was an aristocratic republic, but became democratic when the ancient nobility dwindled.

However, the rise of the democratic party did not weaken the bonds of Taranto and her mother-city Sparta. In fact, Taranto supported the Peloponnesian side against Athens in the Peloponnesian War, refused anchorage and water to Athens in 415 BC, and even sent ships to help the Peloponnesians, after the Athenian disaster in Sicily. On the other side, Athens supported the Messapians, in order to counter Taranto's power.

In 432 BC, after several years of war, Taranto signed a peace treaty with the Greek colony of Thurii; both cities contributed to the foundation of the colony of Heraclea, which rapidly fell under Taranto's control. In 367 BC Carthage and the Etruscans signed a pact to counter Taranto's power in southern Italy.

Under the rule of its greatest statesman, strategist and army commander-in-chief, the philosopher and mathematician Archytas, Taranto reached its peak power and wealth; it was the most important city of the Magna Graecia, the main commercial port of southern Italy, it produced and exported goods to and from motherland Greece and it had the biggest army and the largest fleet in southern Italy. However, with the death of Archytas in 347 BC, the city started a slow, but ineluctable decline; the first sign of the city's decreased power was its inability to field an army, since the Tarentines preferred to use their large wealth to hire mercenaries, rather than leave their lucrative trades.

In 343 BC Taranto appealed for aid against the barbarians to its mother city Sparta, in the face of aggression by the Brutian League. In 342 BC, Archidamus III, king of Sparta, arrived in Italy with an army and a fleet to fight the Lucanians and their allies. In 338 BC, during the Battle of Manduria, the Spartan and Tarentine armies were defeated in front of the walls of Manduria (nowadays in province of Taranto), and Archidamus was killed.

In 333 BC, still troubled by their Italic neighbours, the Tarentines called the Epirotic king Alexander Molossus to fight the Bruttii, Samnites, and Lucanians, but he was later (331 BC) defeated and killed in the battle of Pandosia (near Cosenza). In 320 BC, a peace treaty was signed between Taranto and the Samnites. In 304 BC, Taranto was attacked by the Lucanians and asked for the help of Agathocles tyrant of Syracuse, king of Sicily. Agathocles arrived in southern Italy and took control of Bruttium (present-day Calabria), but was later called back to Syracuse. In 303 BC-302 BC Cleonymus of Sparta established an alliance with Taranto against the Lucanians, and fought against them.

Arnold J. Toynbee, a classical scholar who taught at Oxford and other prestigious English universities and who did original and definitive work on Sparta (e.g. The Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol. xxxiii 1913 p. 246-275) seemed to have some doubts about Tarentum (Taranto) being of Spartan origin.

In his book The Study of History vol. iii p. 52 he wrote: "...Tarentum, which claimed a Spartan origin; but, even if this claim was in accordance with historical fact..." The tentative phrasing seems to imply that the evidence is neither conclusive or even establishes a high degree of probability of the truth that Tarentum (Taranto) was a Spartan colony.

CALABRIA, Tarentum. Circa 302-281 BC. AR Drachm (17mm, 2.91 gm). Helmeted head of Athena right, helmet decorated with Skylla hurling a stone / Owl standing right head facing, on olive branch; Vlasto 1058; SNG ANS 1312; HN Italy 1015. VF.

Ex-Cng eAuction 103 Lot 2 190/150
2 commentsecoli
Capitoline Wolf189 viewsCapitoline Museums

It seems it's from 13th century - not etruscan.
Crawford 312/1, Roman Republic, C. Sulpicius Galba, Denarius serratus87 viewsRoman Republic (Rome mint 106 BC.), C. Sulpicius Galba.
AR Denarius serratus (3.90 g, 18-19 mm).
Obv.: D.P.P (abbreviation of Dei Penates Publici) , before jugate, laureate heads of Dei Penates l. .
Rev.: C. SVLPICI. C. F. Two male figures (the Dei Penates) standing facing each other, each holding spear in l. hand and with r. hand pointing at sow which lies between them; above, control mark C.
Crawford 312/1 . Syd. 572 . Bab. Sulpicia 1 .

Crawford interprets this type as Aeneas landing in Lanuvium (home of Sulpicia gens) with the Penates and the subsequent miracle of the white sow that foretold the founding of Alba Longa. (David Sear, RCV 2000).

The reverse of this coin shows the sow that led Aeneas to the place, where he founded Lavinium, the mother city of Alba Longa. The cult of the Penates was closely connected with Lavinium as the Romans believed that these godheads were brought first to Lavinium by Aeneas before they came to Rome. The Penates belonged to the original gods of Rome and were not imported from the Etruscans or Greeks. The original Roman religion personified all events connected with growing, harvesting and processing the products of the field. The Penates were responsible for protecting the larder in the house of every family. There also existed Penates for the whole of Rome. They were kept at the temple of Vesta together with the palladium, the statue of Athena coming from Troy, and the holy fire. Only once a year, on June 9, the married women in Rome were allowed to see them. They came barefoot on that day to sacrifice fruits and cake.

my ancient coin database
2 commentsArminius
Crawford 319/1, Roman Republic, Q. Thermus M.f., Denarius108 viewsRoman Republic (Rome mint 103 BC.), Q. Thermus M.f..
AR Denarius (3.87 g, 19-20 mm).
Obv.: Head of Mars left, wearing crested and plumed helmet.
Rev.: Q. THERM. M F in exergue, two soldiers vis-à-vis in battle stance, fighting each other with swords, defending with shields; Roman soldier protects fallen comrade between them.
Crawford 319/1 ; Sydenham 592 ; BMCRR Italy 653 ; Minucia 19 .

On this coin, the moneyer probably commemorates his namesake who apparently exhibited great personal bravery when in conflict with the Ligurians. Crawford notes: "The moneyer is presumably to be identified with the Q. Minucius M.f. Ter. on the consilium of Pompeius Strabo at Asculum, perhaps as Legate.
The Ligurians were a people of the northern Appenines who probably represented the Neolithic peoples who were constricted by Gallic and Etruscan pressures. They inhabited the hills from the French Alps and along the Italian Riviera and had kinsmen in Corsica. They engaged in a series of conflicts with the Romans in the 230's but were not really reduced until after the Second Punic War. They were a constant threat to Massilia and other northern cities. In 197, Minucius Rufus marched through their territory. Q. Minucius Thermus, consul in 193 and governor of Liguria from 193 to 190, forced back one of the principal tribes, the Apuani (who had imposed a continuing threat on Pisa), relieved Pisa, and demonstrated across the Auser River.

my ancient coin database
5 commentsArminius
ETRURIA, Central Italy Uncertain City AE26, 300-250BC.66 viewsETRURIA, Central Italy Uncertain City AE26, 300-250BC. Male figure with Scepter (or lance) and Patera n. l. standing. Dog Rt. Holding a Aryballos in the muzzle hanging on cords for R. 10.17 G. SNG Cop. 44. P. Visonà, Due monete etrusche inedite e rare into collezioni italiane, SNR 79 (2000), 30, fig. 5. Very rare. Dark Green patina.

The Etruscan civilization was responsible for much of the Greek culture imported into early Republican Rome, including the twelve Olympian gods, the growing of olives and grapes, the Latin alphabet (adapted from the Greek alphabet), and architecture like the arch, sewerage and drainage systems.
1 commentsancientone
ETRURIA: Situla Fittings56 viewsA Pair of Etruscan Situla Fittings, circa 5th Century B.C. Bronze, 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm) high for the taller. Each depicting Acheloios, winged with fish scale belly, wearing cap, each piece preserving part of the vessel wall. Modern pinholes in reverse for mounting. I own the one on the right of the photo (MSP I, p. 108, Fig. 59a). Ex S. Donati, Lugano 1982; Ex. Christies' Sale 9666, lot 52;.59a-b.2 commentsMolinari
Fonteia 942 viewsFonteia 9 (85BC) moneyer Mn. Fonteius (brother of Crawford 347?)

Ob:Laureate head of Apollo right below fulmen behind MN(ligate) ∙ FONTEI ∙ C ∙ F (NT(ligate) downwards before monogram for Apollo (?), border of dots
Rev: Cupid on goat right above pilei in exergue thyrsus around laurel wreath, border of dots

BMCRR I 2476

Sydenham 724a

Crawford 353/1a

Northumberland Tablet VII 21
obv note “…has been designated Apollo vejovius. But as Ovid alludes to his not having the fulmen till the conflict with the Titans, and as Eckhel produces a copy with EX before AP- and reads it ex argento publico- the meaning is uncertain.”
Rev note: “This has been called Cupid, but there is no attribute of bow or arrow, whence Havercamp is of the opinion that the thyrsus denotes Bacchus, while Eckhel thinks it is the Etruscan Vejovius himself- the goat being a sacrifice peculiar to him.
On the whole the device seems to elude to the native haunts of the moneyer, for the curetes who guarded the little Jupiter were the Dioscuri, whose pilei and myrtle are here seen, and who were worshipped at Tusculum with special honor. Moreover, although the thyrsus is certainly an attribute of Bacchus, the myrtle belongs to the twins, and they may therefore have been considered the Dii Penates of the gens.”

Crawford: Monogram under chin Apollo; reverse is clearly Dionysiac. Grueber and Sydenham believe that the monogram under obverse head is Roma not Apollo. Head also Vejovis with winged genius on reverse.

Ex: CNG ex: Harry Strickhausen (misattributed by CNG; monograph under chin faint, but legible) 19mm, 3.93g
2 commentsPetrus Elmsley
GREEK, Italia, Velia Lucania, AR Didrachm 109 viewsStruck 293 - 280 B.C.
The obverse with the head of Athena facing left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with griffin. Monogram behind neckpiece, Φ on neck.
The reverse with lion stalking right caduceus above. The legend reading: YEΛHTΩN = "Of Elea"
Williams 515

Elea was the ancient name of the town of Velia. According to Herodotus, in 545 B.C. a group of Ionian Greeks fled Phokaia in modern Turkey, after it was besieged by the Persians. They settled in Corsica until they were attacked by a force of Etruscans and Carthaginians. The surviving 6000 took to the sea once more before finally settling on the coast of Italy and founding the town of Hyele, later to be renamed Ele, and then, eventually, Elea.
Diameter: 22 mm. Weight: 7.20 g.
4 commentssuperflex
GREEK, Sicily, Gela, AR Tetradrachm circa 465--450 BC17.22 g 11h Jenkins 220 {O58/R118} The Randazzo Hoard no.41 this coin59 viewsCharioteer in quadriga moving slowly left,column behind marking the turning point of the race,in exergue sea monster {pistrix}
Rev forepart of man-headed bull with Nike flying right to crown flan.
The Numismatic Chronicle 1894 page 212 contributions to Sicilian Numismatics by Arthur.J.Evans.These coins of Syracusan show the pistrix in the exergue of there reverse types,the introduction of which on the Syracusan dies Dr.Head has reasonably connected with Hierons great sea victory off Cumae of 474.I am inclined to go still further than Dr. Head,and to suggest that the symbol of sea power survived on the issues of the Syracusan democracy for another two decades or more.One of the novelties supplied by the present find is the appearance of the same sea-monster in the exergual position on a coin of Gela.It may ,therefore,be reasonably brought into connection with the same historical occasion,and may be regarded as a complimentary allusion to the great citizen of Gela who now ruled at Syracuse.It is possible that a Geloan contingent participated in the naval victory over the Etruscans,the victorious occasion of the present piece is ,indeed,accentuated and brought into direct relation with Gela itself by the obverse design,on which almost alone among the coins of this city,a flying Nike is seen crowning the head of the River-God.
1 commentsGrant H
Italy, Cerveteri - Etruscan necropolis181 viewsTomba dei Rilievi
4th century BC
Italy, Cerveteri - Etruscan necropolis160 viewsTomba dei Rilievi
4th century BC
Italy, Cerveteri - Etruscan necropolis163 viewsJohny SYSEL
Italy, Cerveteri - Etruscan necropolis189 viewsJohny SYSEL
Italy, Orvieto - Etruscan temple200 views1 commentsJohny SYSEL
Italy, Piombino, Museo Archeologico del Territorio di Populonia137 viewsGold found in graves of the ancient etruscan PopuloniaFranz-Josef M
Italy, Populonia131 viewsEtruscan graveFranz-Josef M
Italy, Populonia134 viewsEtruscan graveFranz-Josef M
Italy, Vulci - Great Temple1204 viewsEtruscan temple was at this site since 6th century BC, rebuilt by Romans.Johny SYSEL
Italy- Rome -circusmaximus model.jpg
Italy- Rome -circusmaximus model58 viewsA circus designates a circle or course for chariot racing. Aside from the Circus Maximus, the largest and oldest, there were three other circuses in Rome: the Circus Flaminius (221 BC), which actually was not a circus at all but a public square; the Circus Gaii et Neronis (circa AD 40), where many of the Christian martyrdoms occurred and on which St. Peter's basilica was built (the obelisk brought to Rome by Caligula to adorn its spina still stands in the square); and the Circus Maxentius (AD 309), built as part of his villa on the Via Appia and the best preserved.

In this view, the starting gates are in the foreground, with the royal box dominating the viewing standing on the left" or "and the royal box dominating the viewing stands on the left. The palace overlooks the Circus from the Palatine Hill.

The Circus Maximus was another public entertainment center, and was just a single, specific facility in Rome. The Maximus was used mostly for chariot racing. It could seat 250,000 people! There were other circuses in ancient Rome.

This oval basin, nearly 600 meters long, is almost entirely filled in with dirt. It was once a race track. It was made in the time of the Etruscan kings (presumably Tarquinio Prisco). Augustus adorned the brick structure with an imperial stage, which was rebuilt by Trajan, enlarged by Caracalla and restored by Constantine. During the reign of Constantine, the Circus could hold more than 200,000 spectators. Today only the outline remains (the area it occupied is now a public garden).

The most popular events were the chariot races held in the Circus Maximus, an arena that held up to 300,000 spectators. Competing teams with brightly decorated horses attracted fierce loyalty, and up to a dozen four-horse chariots crowded together through the dangerous turns, lap after lap. Successful charioteers became so wealthy that even emperors envied their riches.

John Schou
Italy- Rome- Circus Maximo seen from outside 1.jpg
Italy- Rome- Circus Maximo seen from outside 134 viewsCircus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is an ancient arena and mass entertainment venue located in Rome, Italy.

Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills the location was first utilised for public games and entertainment by the Etruscan kings of Rome. Certainly, the first games of the Ludi Romani (Roman Games) were staged on the location by Tarquinius Priscus, the first Etruscan ruler of Rome. Somewhat later, the Circus was the site of public games and festivals influenced by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. Meeting the demands of the Roman citizenry for mass public entertainment on a lavish scale, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus around 50 BC, after which the track measured approximately 600 metres in length, 225 metres in breadth and could accommodate an estimated 150,000 seated spectators (many more, perhaps an equal number again, could view the games by standing, crowding and lining the adjoining hills). Later, Titus Flavius built the Arch of Titus above the closed end, on the Forum Romanum, while the emperor Domitian connected his new palace on the Palatine to the Circus in order that he could more easily view the races. The emperor Trajan later added another 5000 seats and expanded the emperor's seating in order to increase his public visibility during the games.

The most important event at the Circus was chariot racing. The track could hold 12 chariots, and the two sides of the track were separated by a raised median termed the spina. Statues of various gods were set up on the spina, and Augustus erected an Egyptian obelisk on it as well. At either end of the spina was a turning post, the meta, around which chariots made dangerous turns at speed. One end of the track extended further back than the other, to allow the chariots to line up to begin the race. Here there were starting gates, or carceres, which staggered the chariots so that each travelled the same distance to the first turn.

Very little now remains of the Circus, except for the now grass-covered racing track and the spina. Some of the starting gates remain, but most of the seating has disappeared, the materials no doubt employed for building other structures in medieval Rome. This obelisk was removed in the 16th century by Pope Sixtus V and placed in the Piazza del Popolo. Excavation of the site began in the 19th century, followed by a partial restoration, but there are yet to be any truly comprehensive excavations conducted within its grounds.

The Circus Maximus retained the honour of being the first and largest circus in Rome, but it was not the only example: other Roman circuses included the Circus Flaminius (in which the Ludi Plebeii were held) and the Circus of Maxentius.

John Schou
Italy- Rome- Forum Romanum and temple of Saturn.jpg
Italy- Rome- Forum Romanum and temple of Saturn45 viewsThe Temple of Saturn (Templum Saturni or Aedes Saturnus) is the oldest temple in the Forum Romanum, consecrated for the first time in c. 498 BCE. It is located in the W. end of the Forum, behind the Rostra and the Basilica Julia, across the Clivus Capitolinus from the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

There have been three temples dedicated to Saturn on the location. The first was built in the last years of the Roman Kingdom, but was first consecrated in the first decade of the Roman Republic. Very little is known about this archaic temple, but it was probably Etruscan in style, just as the contemporary Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the Capitolium.

The first temple was torn down in 42 BCE and a new temple built in stone, by the aedile L. Munatius Plancus. The tall, massive, travertine clad podium, measuring 40×22.5m with a height of 9m, is from this building. This temple was in turn destroyed by the fire of 283 CE, which destroyed major parts of the Forum Romanum.

The temple was reconstructed under Diocletian after the fire, but the ground plan and podium from 42 BCE was retained. The temple was of the Ionic order with six columns on the facade. The eight surviving columns of red and grey granite are from this third temple, which largely used recycled material—not all columns, bases and capitals match stylistically.

The inscription on the architrave is also from this period. It reads: "Senatus populusque romanus incendio consumptum restituit"; meaning "The Roman senate and people restored what fire had consumed".

In front of the podium, under the now collapsed stairway, were two rooms, one of which served as the Aerarium, the State Treasury. On the side of the podium holes remain from where a plate was attached for the posting of public documents and acts pertinent to the Aerarium.

An altar dedicated to Saturn, the Ara Saturni, stood in front of the temple, on the other side of the road that passes just in front of the temple. The remains of this altar are now under a roof just in front of the Umbilicus Urbis Romae, near the Arch of Septimius Severus. See this map for an illustration of the probable location of the altar.

Inside the temple stood a statue of of Saturn, which would be carried in procession when triumphs were celebrated. The feast of the Saturnalia on December 17th was a part of the cult of Saturn and was started with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn.
1 commentsJohn Schou
Italy- Rome- Forum Romanum and temple of Saturn 1.jpg
Italy- Rome- Forum Romanum and temple of Saturn 131 viewsThe Temple of Saturn (Templum Saturni or Aedes Saturnus) is the oldest temple in the Forum Romanum, consecrated for the first time in c. 498 BCE. It is located in the W. end of the Forum, behind the Rostra and the Basilica Julia, across the Clivus Capitolinus from the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

There have been three temples dedicated to Saturn on the location. The first was built in the last years of the Roman Kingdom, but was first consecrated in the first decade of the Roman Republic. Very little is known about this archaic temple, but it was probably Etruscan in style, just as the contemporary Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the Capitolium.

The first temple was torn down in 42 BCE and a new temple built in stone, by the aedile L. Munatius Plancus. The tall, massive, travertine clad podium, measuring 40×22.5m with a height of 9m, is from this building. This temple was in turn destroyed by the fire of 283 CE, which destroyed major parts of the Forum Romanum.

The temple was reconstructed under Diocletian after the fire, but the ground plan and podium from 42 BCE was retained. The temple was of the Ionic order with six columns on the facade. The eight surviving columns of red and grey granite are from this third temple, which largely used recycled material—not all columns, bases and capitals match stylistically.

The inscription on the architrave is also from this period. It reads: "Senatus populusque romanus incendio consumptum restituit"; meaning "The Roman senate and people restored what fire had consumed".

In front of the podium, under the now collapsed stairway, were two rooms, one of which served as the Aerarium, the State Treasury. On the side of the podium holes remain from where a plate was attached for the posting of public documents and acts pertinent to the Aerarium.

An altar dedicated to Saturn, the Ara Saturni, stood in front of the temple, on the other side of the road that passes just in front of the temple. The remains of this altar are now under a roof just in front of the Umbilicus Urbis Romae, near the Arch of Septimius Severus. See this map for an illustration of the probable location of the altar.

Inside the temple stood a statue of of Saturn, which would be carried in procession when triumphs were celebrated. The feast of the Saturnalia on December 17th was a part of the cult of Saturn and was started with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn.

John Schou
Italy- Rome- Forum Romanum Cloaca Maxima.jpg
Italy- Rome- Forum Romanum Cloaca Maxima163 viewsDoor leading to the Cloaca Maxima, situated in the eastern stairs of the Basilica Julia at the Roman Forum. Here, you can sometimes hear (and smell) the sewer.

The outlet of the Cloaca maxima ("greatest sewer"). This drain was built as a canal through the Forum Romanum in the sixth century and its construction is generally attributed to king Tarquinius Priscus. In the second century BCE, the canal was covered.

The Cloaca Maxima was one of the world's earliest sewage systems. Constructed in ancient Rome in order to drain local marshes and remove the waste of one of the world's most populous cities, it carried effluent to the River Tiber, which ran beside the city.

The name literally means Great Sewer. According to tradition it may have been initially constructed around 600 BC under the orders of the king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.

This public work was largely achieved through the use of Etruscan engineers and large amounts of semi-forced labour from the poorer classes of Roman citizens.

Although Livy describes it as being tunnelled out beneath Rome, he was writing a great deal after the event. From other writings and from the path that it takes, it seems more likely that it was originally an open drain, formed from streams from three of the neighbouring hills, that were channeled through the main Forum and then on to the Tiber. This open drain would then have been gradually built over, as building space within the city became more valuable. It is possible that both theories are correct, and certainly some of the lower parts of the system suggest that they would have been below ground level even at the time of the supposed construction.

There were many branches off from the main sewer, but all seem to be 'official' drains that would have served public toilets, bath-houses and other public buildings. Private residences in Rome, even of the rich, would have relied on some sort of cess-pit arrangement for sewage.

The Cloaca Maxima was well maintained throughout the life of the Roman Empire and there is evidence to suggest it was still working long after the traditional fall of the Western Empire. In 33 BC it is known to have received an inspection and overhaul from Agrippa, and archaeology reveals several building styles and material from various ages, suggesting that the systems received regular attention. In more recent times, the remaining passages have been connected to the modern-day sewage system, mainly to cope with problems of backwash from the river.

The Cloaca Maxima was thought to be presided over by the goddess Cloacina.

The Romans are recorded — the veracity of the accounts depending on the case — to have dragged the bodies of a number of people to the sewers rather than give them proper burial, among them the emperor Elagabalus and Saint Sebastian: the latter scene is the subject of a well-known artwork by Lodovico Carracci.

The outfall of the Cloaca Maxima into the river Tiber is still visible today near the bridge Ponte Rotto, and near Ponte Palatino. There is a stairway going down to it visible next to the Basilica Julia at the Forum.

It is often said that it is still in use; this is not untrue, but the whole truth is that only a trickle of water flows through the age-old sewer. The exit shown on this picture is just south of the ancient Roman bridge now known as Ponte Rotto.

1 commentsJohn Schou
Kyme, Aeolis35 viewsCumae (Cuma, in Italian) is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. The settlement is believed to have been founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks from the city of Cuma and Chalkis in Euboea upon the earlier dwellings of indigenous, Iron-Age peoples whom they supplanted. Eusebius placed Cumae's Greek foundation at 1050 BC. Its name comes from the Greek word kyma (κύμα), meaning wave - perhaps in reference to the big waves that the peninsula of Κyme in Euboea has.

There is also a small, modern Greek Euboean city called Kύμη (Kyme or Cuma or Cyme) as well as the nearby recently excavated ancient Greek city of Cuma [1], the source point for the Cumae alphabet. According to a myth mentioned by Aristotle and Pollux, princess Demodike (or Hermodike) of Kyme, is the inventor of money. (Aristot. fr. 611, 37; Pollux 9, 83,[2])

Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy (Magna Graecia), there having been earlier starts on the islands of Ischia and Sicily by colonists from the Euboean cities of Chalcis (Χαλκίς) and possibly Eretria (Ερέτρια) or Cuma (Kύμη).

Cumae is perhaps most famous as the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl. Her sanctuary is now open to the public. The colony was also the entry point onto the Italian peninsula for the Cumean alphabet, a variant of which was adapted by the Romans.

The colony spread throughout the area over the 6th and centuries BC, gaining sway over Puteoli and Misenum and, thereafter, the founding of Neapolis in 470 BC.

The growing power of the Cumaean Greeks, led many indigenous tribes of the region, notably the Dauni and Aurunci with the leadership of the Capuan Etruscans. This coalition was defeated by the Cumaeans in 524 BC under the direction of Aristodemus. The combined fleets of Cumae and Syracuse defeated the Etruscans at the Battle of Cumae in 474 BC.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last mythical King of Rome, lived his life in exile at Cumae after the establishment of the Roman Republic.

Cumae was also a place where a widely influential early Christian work The Shepherd of Hermas was said to have been inspired by way of visions.

The colony was built on a large rise, the seaward side of which was used as a bunker and gun emplacement by the Germans during World War II.

In Roman mythology, there is an entrance to the underworld located at Avernus, a crater near Cumae, and was the route Aeneas used to descend to the Underworld

Kyme in Aeolis, c.350-250 BC, Ae 9-16 mm, cf. Sear 4186-7

Obv: Eagle
Rev: One handled vase (or cup, it is upside down in photo)
From Ebay

Lucania, Velia. (Circa 340-334 B.C.)34 viewsAR nomos (22 mm, 7.24 g, 2 h).

Obverse: Head of Athena left, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with a griffin; between neck guard and crest, Θ

Reverse: YEΛHTΩN (of Elea), lion prowling right; below, X.

Williams 262 (O151/R207); SNG ANS 1293 (same dies); HN Italy 1284.

Velia was the Roman name of an ancient city of Magna Graecia on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was founded by Greeks from Phocaea as Hyele around 538–535 BC. According to Herodotus, in 545 BC Ionian Greeks fled Phocaea, in modern Turkey, which was being besieged by the Persians under Cyrus the Great. They settled in Corsica until they were attacked by a force of Etruscans and Carthaginians. The surviving 6000 took to the sea once more, first stopping in Reggio Calabria, where they were probably joined by the poet/philosopher Xenophanes, who was at the time at Messina, and then moved north along the coast and founded the town of Hyele, later renamed Ele and then, eventually, Elea.

Elea was not conquered by the Lucanians, but eventually joined Rome in 273 BC and was included in ancient Lucania.
1 commentsNathan P
Marcus Junius Brutus62 viewsObv: LIBERTAS, head of Libertas with her hair in a bun, facing left.

Notice the interesting placement of the banker's mark by Libertas' eye. It almost gives the illusion that she is weeping. But for whom?

Rev: Lucius Junius Brutus (consul 509 BC) walking in procession left, between two lictors (official bodyguards) carrying axes, preceded by an accensus (public official who saw to civic functions), BRVTVS in exergue.

Footnote: A decade after he issued this denarius Marcus Junius Brutus' name would go down in infamy as the main conspirator in the assassination of Julius Caesar. His actions would plunge Rome into turmoil that would last for many years. Brutus' deep Republican sentiments are displayed in this issue honoring his illustrious ancestor Lucius Junius Brutus who deposed the last Etruscan King of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, in 509 BC and established the Republic.

Silver Denarius, Rome mint, 54 BC

4 grams, 19 mm, 270°

RSC Junia 31, S397
2 commentsSPQR Coins
Mercury140 viewsAR Serrate Denarius, Rome mint, 82B.C. by C. Mamilius C.f.Limetanus

Obv: Draped bust of Mercury right, wearing winged petasus, caduceus over shoulder, control letter M behind.
Rev: Ulysses walking right, holding staff and extending his right hand to his dog, Argos. C MAMIL on left, LIMENTAN (TA in monogram) on right.

Crawford 362/1 Sear RCV I 282 RSC Mamilia 6

Mercury was alleged to be the son of Jupiter and daughter of Maia, daughter of Atlas. It is thought that he was originally an Etruscan deity who was borrowed by the Romans. They later transferred all the myths and legends of the Greek god Hermes to Mercury. One of his main characteristics was his faithful attendance to Jupiter, to whom he acted as messenger. Among other occupations he was regarded as the patron of merchants and thus denoted by the winged hat (petasus) he wore. It was said that all business negotiations should be kept hidden under the hat and that the wings signified that the bargaining should be swiftly completed, like a bird flying through the air.
1 commentsnemesis
Bare head of Claudius, left.
Minerva advancing, right, brandishing spear and holding shield.
Copper As. 28.5 mm 10.9 gm 180 die alignment

Ancient even for the Romans. Italian or Etruscan origin for this goddess and directly identified with the Greek Athena. Shown here wearing a Corinthian helmet. Although a war goddess, she is also the patron of wisdom and handicrafts. This latter is probably what made her attractive to Claudius who reportedly authored several histories, none of which, unfortunately, have survived.
1 commentsMassanutten
Minerva303 viewsMinerva - Romano/Etruscan goddess of wisdom

Claudius AS

Attribution: RIC I 100
Date: 41-42 AD
Obverse: TI CLAUDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TR P IMP; bare head rt.
Reverse: Minerva advancing rt. brandishing spear and holding shield on lt. arm; large SC in lt. and rt. fields
Size: 25.8 mm
Minerva124 viewsMinerva - Romano/Etruscan goddess of wisdom

Domitian AR Denarius

Attribution: RIC II 764,
RSC 290
Date: AD 93-94
laureate head r.
CENS PPP, Minerva stg. l.
Size: 17.9 mm
Weight: 3.61 grams
Remus and Romulus with the she-wolf541 viewsThe symbol of Rome this is an Etruscan bronze currently on display at the Musei Capitolini in Rome.Titus Pullo
RIC 0108 Titus denarius158 viewsIMP TITVS CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M
Laureate head right

Wreath on curule chair.


Rome 79 AD

RIC 108 (C2), RSC 318

In the Roman Republic, and later the Empire, the curule seat (sella curulis, supposedly from currus, "chariot") was the chair upon which senior magistrates or promagistrates owning imperium were entitled to sit, including dictators, masters of the horse, consuls, praetors, censors, and the curule aediles. According to Livy the curule seat, like the Roman toga, originated in Etruria and it has been used on surviving Etruscan monuments to identify magistrates. The curule chair is used on Roman medals as well as funerary monuments to express a curule magistracy; when traversed by a hasta (spear), it is the symbol of Juno.

The curule chair was traditionally made of or veneered with ivory, with curved legs forming a wide X; it had no back, and low arms. Although often of luxurious construction, the Roman curule was meant to be uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time, the double symbolism being that the official was expected to carry out his public function in an efficient and timely manner, and that his office, being an office of the republic, was temporary, not perennial.
6 commentsJay GT4
ROMAN EMPIRE, Herennia Etruscilla32 viewsObv: HER ETRVSCILLA AVG
Diademed and draped bust, right. Crescent behind shoulders.
Pudicitia veiled and standing left, holding sceptre and right hand drawing veil.
Antoninianus, 3.9 gm, 22.1 mm, Rome RIC 58b.
Commentary: Herennia was descended from a noble Etruscan family and this fact and that she was wife to Trajan Decius is about all that is known about her. Declared Augusta in 249, she survived the death of her husband and presumably lived the remainder of her life in peace and comfort.
Spain- Taragona- Amphitheatre.jpg
Spain- Taragona- Amphitheatre46 viewsThis conventional seating may be observed at the amphitheatre at Tarragona in northern Spain. Tarraco, its Latin name, was the capital of the province of Hispania Tarraconensis. The seating is essentially the same as that found in Rome’s Colosseum. The amphitheatre’s construction is dated to the second century AD, a time of extensive building of centres of public entertainment throughout the Mediterranean. On the right side, the seating was hewn from the bedrock, while on the left, or seaward side, the seating was built up from blocks, a phenomenon also found at Syracuse in Sicily.

However, in a recent visit to Pompeii some interesting divergence from the norm is easily to be observed, for which no reason appears to have been voiced. The town of Pompeii, destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, had a population in excess of 10,000, and was clearly a place of sufficient wealth to

sport not only an amphitheatre seating 20,000, but also a traditional Greek theatre and a smaller building called the Odeon. The "large" theatre, as it is now called, can seat an audience of 5,000, the "small" theatre, which was roofed, had accommodation for 500. Seating was according to rank, it is supposed, two side boxes (rather like the royal boxes of later theatres) for honoured guests, an inner cavea for the decurions or magistrates of the town, the middle rows for the more wealthy members of the community, the upper tiers for the ordinary citizens. If one looks closely it is clearly noticeable that this inner cavea consists of the first four or five rows of benches.

It is clear that, unlike the earlier form of the Greek theatres, the front rows are considerably wider than those higher up in the auditorium. The size of the seating is far beyond the dimensions of even a large and well-endowed personage, extending inwards for a good metre or more. The reasons for the additional size are unclear, because the larger width does not make these benches any more comfortable for the sitter, if anything they provide less support than the more narrow benches above. Presumably, the spectators brought cushions with them for lengthy performances in much the same way as fans for rugby or cricket matches do today. One solution may be that the wider seating allowed the dignatory to relax by reclining as if at dinner though this can hardly have been a posture acceptable for a quasi-religious festival nor one which would have endeared these wealthy members of the community to their less well-endowed fellows higher up, even if conspicuous consumption was the order of the day, particularly during the Roman empire.

In the "large" theatre the first four rows, in the "small" theatre and in the amphitheatre the first five rows stand out from the rest and, in fact, have their special place denoted by a partition. In some of the theatres in Greece, the officials judging the competitions, which were part and parcel of the festivals, and high ranking citizens might occupy a special bench, or the first row of the auditorium, but the broad nature of the bench at Pompeii appears unique. Pompeii began as a Oscan settlement in the 8th century BC and was heavily Hellenised by the 6th century. Thereafter, Pompeii had a fairly chequered history, being conquered and lost by the Etruscans and Samnites, before becoming a Roman colony in 80 BC. The Samnites of the central hills and the more local Oscan speakers, an Italic dialect which survived down to the period of the empire, remained culturally and linguistically influential, and it is possible that the Greek practice of uniformity in seating was altered by these Italic tribes who, at times, controlled Pompeii. On the other hand, there could be direct Roman or even Etruscan influence, though this formalised partitioning of seating is not seen in any of the archeaological sites in Rome or in nearby Campania, for example at Puteoli or at Capua. Finally, as for what purpose the large widths were intended, without clear evidence, and certainly with no ancient mention, means that speculation takes over. It could be that wooden seats rather like thrones were brought in, even sedan chairs for the high and mighty of the town, though it is worth bearing in mind that high-backed chairs easily obscured the views of those scarcely less wealthy immediately behind. The Roman males, it will be remembered, tended to lounge on low couches when they ate, rather than sitting in upright seats, which became popular only in the later Byzantine period. It also seems likely that, given the amount of space, it was not just the men who were seated here but entire families - perhaps picnic baskets as well. Refreshments were provided during performances, but the wealthy possibly brought their own equivalents of the modern cool bags and six-packs. The illustrations of the three places of entertainment at Pompeii do not appear to suggest that these special seating are the product of modern reconstructions, some of which have proved disastrous to ancient sites; and, therefore, there seems to be no alternative to accepting at least the idea that preferential seating was the order of the day in this rather provincial town on the Bay of Naples. Etruscan tombs often show their owners in a reclining position as if at a meal, and other forms of entertainment also feature which, overall, might suggest an influence here from north of the River Tiber.

Having dwelt at length, as it were, with the bottoms and the bottom-most seats of the ancient theatres and amphitheatres I now want to move on to the general ambience of the structure. The Roman amphitheatre or hippodrome were dirty smelly places where, by the end of the day’s proceedings, the stench from the dead and dying must have made an abatoir a sweet-smelling location. It is recorded that sprinkler systems were used in the Colosseum to spray the audience and the arena floor with scented water to alleviate the foulness of the atmosphere. By way of contrast, the Greek theatre must have been a place of peace and serenity, except for sore buttocks and aching backs.

Many commentators of the ancient theatre have sadly noted that the early pristine form, as found today at Epidaurus and Segesta, generally underwent alterations during the Roman period. It is noted that the slightly more than a semi-circular design was largely filled in during later antiquity by the Roman scena; and today many examples of the traditional Greek theatres sport Roman brickwork at the front which reached the same height, in some cases, as the uppermost tier of the cavea or auditorium. This height also allowed for a velabrum or canvass cover to be used to provide shade or shelter from the elements. At Taormina, ancient Tauromenium, for example:

"The brick scenic wall was preceded by a row of nine granite columns crowned by Corinthian capitals, which had both a decorative and bearing function, in that they supported the higher parts of the stage. The niches in the wall contained marble statues. On the sides, there are remains of the ‘parascenia’, square rooms used by actors and for scenic fittings. The actors entered the stage through side openings. A further row of sixteen columns closer to the orchestra framed the decorative front of the stage."

This is quite a departure from the earlier simplicity of the Greek theatre. However, it is certainly arguable that Baroque is not necessarily less pleasing than Romanesque even if blocking out the natural view also took the theatre out of its topographical or geographical context. For the purists among us, more sacrilege occurred, for instance, again at Taormina, where the first nine rows of the seating were removed making the orchestra large enough for gladiatorial combats and beast hunts, while at the same time allowing the audience safety high above the blood sports taking place below them. Of course, the construction of a front wall can easily be accounted for by the changing tastes in the entertainment itself, while the local audience presumably knew the view pretty well, and did not come to the theatre to gaze at Mount Etna. Furthermore, Taormina, high up on a hill overlooking the sea, had no extra space on which to build a new amphitheatre, more regularly the venue for gladiatorial combats. And it is also quite possible that there were simply insufficient funds. Taormina was neither a large nor a wealthy city.

Meanwhile, at Delphi the scena was "low so that the audience could enjoy the wonderful view", says one expert. Nonetheless, while the modern tourist may find the view as gratifying if not more so than the ruined theatre, the ancient audience came too see and hear the performances in honour of the Pythian Apollo. The ancient Greeks did not come for the view, they came for theatrical, religious even mystic experience. It is the modern philistine in us who enjoys the view. That being the case, the construction of the ancient theatre had little to do with searching for a site with a nice aspect, though these obviously exist, even in abundance, but for acoustic perfection and adequate accommodation. Finally, the best seats were closest to the stage and its proceedings, while the worst seats, for looking at the productions, had the best views. Does this mean that the most wealthy, with the largest bottoms, were obliged to watch the entertainment with no chance of letting the mind wander to the natural surroundings? Or does it mean that the women, slaves and poorest citizens, who sat high above the productions, probably could not hear or see what was going on hence took in the nice view instead. Therein lies the morality tale embedded in the title of this paper. If you had the means you were forced to take in the culture. If you were female or poor you could let your mind wander to other matters, including wonderful views of nature.
John Schou
Velia, Lucania45 views465-440 BC (Period II: Pre-Athena Group)
AR Drachm (15mm, 3.52g)
O: Head of nymph right, wearing beaded necklace.
R: Owl with closed wing perched right on olive branch, head facing; YEΛH behind.
Williams 79; Hands Class VI; HN Italy 1265; Sear 251
ex Munzen & Medaillen GmbH

The first coins minted at Velia in the late 6th century BC were archaic drachms featuring a feeding lion on the obverse and a simple incuse square on the reverse.
The nymph head drachms such as this example, which Williams designates as ‘pre-Athena types‘, can be dated fairly accurately to the period immediately following the Battle of Cumae in 474 BC.
The combined fleet of Cyme and Syracuse defeated the Etruscans in a great naval battle off the coast of southern Italy, greatly weakening Etruscan influence in the region and thereby empowering Rome. The resulting economic boost allowed Poseidonia to begin coining again circa 470, followed by Terina in Bruttium and finally Velia. It was also around this time that Velia’s famous lion series of didrachms first appeared, and would continue for the next two centuries.
3 commentsEnodia
Villanovan kylix94 viewsA pre Etruscan "Villanovan" impasto ware kylix reconstructed from fragments, c 8th century BC.mauseus
Villanovan warrior, circa 8th century B.C.212 viewsThe Villanovan culture, flourishing between 1000-700 B.C., was the earliest Iron Age culture of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age "Terramare" culture. The name Villanovan comes from the site where the first archaeological finds relating to this advanced culture (remnants of a cemetery) were found: Villanova in northern Italy, near Bologna. Similar finds to those of the Bolognan village were discovered at urban centres across Italy, from parts of Campania in the South to the Po Valley in the North, but focused most around modern Tuscany and Lazio, equivalent to ancient Etruria.

During the 7th century B.C. the Villanovan culture began to give way to an increasingly orientalizing culture influenced by Greek traders and Greek neighbours in Magna Graecia, the Hellenic civilization of southern Italy. As a result, Villanovan culture disappeared, to be replaced by the Etruscan civilization.

Scale of this model: 75mm (1/24)
2 commentsRomaVictor
Z22 viewsConstantine the Great
City Commemorative (VRBS ROMA)

Attribution: RIC VII 62, Constantinople
Date: AD 333-335
Obverse: VRBS ROMA; helmeted and cuirassed bust l.
Reverse: She-wolf stg. l. suckling Romulus and Remus; two stars above; CONSIA in exergue
Size: 19.1 mm
(Etruscan bronze Capitoline Wolf statue: In front of City Hall, Rome)
My very first Roman coin ever!!!

Romulus and Remus are the twin brothers and central characters of Rome's foundation myth. Their mother is Rhea Silvia, daughter to Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before their conception, Numitor's brother Amulius seizes power, kills Numitor's male heirs and forces Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, sworn to chastity. Rhea Silvia conceives the twins by the god Mars, or by the demi-god Hercules; once the twins were born, Amulius has them abandoned to die in the river Tiber. They are saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the river carries them to safety, a she-wolf finds and suckles them, and a woodpecker feeds them. A shepherd and his wife find them and foster them to manhood, as simple shepherds. The twins, still ignorant of their true origins, prove to be natural leaders. Each acquires many followers. When they discover the truth of their birth, they kill Amulius and restore Numitor to his throne. Rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa they choose to found a new city. Romulus wants to found the new city on the Palatine Hill; Remus prefers the Aventine Hill. They agree to determine the site through augury but when each claims the results in his own favor, they quarrel and Remus is killed. Romulus founds the new city, names it Rome, after himself, and creates its first legions and senate.
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