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A silver denarius of the emperor Geta with a Nobilitas reverse. Coin Type: Silver denarius of Geta, Caesar 198-209 CE, Augustus 209-211 CE
Mint and Date: Rome, 199-204 CE.
Size and Weight: 18mm, 3.20g
Obverse: P SEPT GETA CAES PONT
Bare-headed, draped bust right, seen from behind.
Reverse: NOBI-LITAS
Nobilitas, draped, standing front, head right, holding vertical sceptre in right hand and statuette of female deity, probably Minerva, in left
Provenance: dirtyoldcoins (eBay), June 2004
Ref: RCV (2002) 7184, RIC IV 13a; BMCRE V p197,223
BW Ref: 005 031 029
Click on the picture for a larger scale view of the coin

Note: The figure held by Nobilitas on coins of Commodus, Geta, and Severus Alexander appears in several reference works as "the Palladium," but this is clearly incorrect. The Palladium holds a shield at shoulder height and a transverse spear. This figure holds a tall sceptre in her left hand, and holds out a patera in her right, in a pose echoing that of Nobilitas herself. When asked about this figure on the Forum discussion board, Curtis Clay referred to the similar type of Commodus. He also said:

"The clothing is feminine, so definitely a female deity, probably Minerva.

Moreover the emperor is never depicted wearing a helmet on coins of this era.

Interesting that the statuette faces right on the CoinArchives aureus, but left on the BM aureus and sestertius that I refer to.

Why Nobilitas should hold a statuette of Minerva/Athena is apparently not yet explained.

The standard references are unhelpful.

Drexler, article Nobilitas in Roscher's Lexikon: "The ID of the statuette is uncertain. Eckhel calls it a Victory, Cohen Pallas, Cavedoni says she is helmeted and holds scepter and globe so calls her Roma as ruler of the world."

Vollkommer, article Nobilitas in Lexicon Iconogaphicum: Confusion and uncritical acceptance of previous assertions. In his list of monuments he calls the statuette both Palladium, incorrectly, and "Athena holding scepter and patera", correctly. In the text he assumes "Palladium" and quotes Köhler's idea that the reference is to Commodus' storage of the Palladium in the palace after the burning down of the temple of Vesta, where it was usually kept. A definite error, since the statuette held by Nobilitas is NOT the Palladium!"


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