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Sceptrum, sceptre an ancient ornament held
by kings in their right hand when they performed
any of the important functions attached
to royalty, especially when they administered
justice. -- The sceptre is, on coins, the sign of
divinity, and particularly an attribute of Jupiter.
Tarquin is said to have been the first who carried
a golden sceptre surmounted by an eagle ; and the
Romans, who invested their consul with regal
power and authority, added to other marks of
dignity enjoyed by those chief magistrates of
the republic a kind of sceptre called scipio (see the
word). -- It served afterwards to designate imperial
power. -- Jobert observes that on medallions,
and even on the smaller coins of the lower empire,
the Augusti, when represented in the consular
habit, hold the sceptre ; and it is thus that
almost all the Constantinopolitan emperors appear.
The sceptre is surmounted by a globe, on which
an eagle is placed, to show by these tokens of
sovereignty that the prince governs by himself.
From the time of Augustus this consular sceptre
of which we speak is seen on medals of the
Imperial series. -- "Phocas (adds the same author)
was the first who caused the cross [which sacred
symbol of Christianity, by the way, he insulted
by his murderous ingratitude to an earthly
benefactor] to be added to his sceptre ; his successors relinquished the sceptre altogether, in order to hold in their hands nothing but crosses of
different forms and sizes."
The Sceptre appears in the hands respectively
of Cybele, Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Pallas, The
Sun, Venus, Vesta, Aeternitas, Pax, Pietas,
Pudicitia, Salus, Securitas, Arabia, Asia, Italia,
and Macedonia, with their deities and personifications,
on numerous coins of emperors and
also on several coins of Roman moneyers.
The Sceptre is seen in the hand of the emperor,
on medals throughout nearly the whole
series from Augustus to Johannis Comnenis.
It also appears in the hand of other figures on
various moneyer coins and many imperial medals
from Julius Caesar to Honorius.
A Sceptre, on whose point a globe and an
eagle appear, being the sign of empire acquired
by arms, is often observed in the hand of
emperors whose effigies are adorned with a breastplate.
A Sceptre, to which a laurel crown, a globe,
and a rudder are added, on a denarius of the
moneyer Cornelia, indicates the sovereign power
of the Romans, since kings for the sake of
majesty used the sceptre. The globe is displayed
to signify the earth, as the rudder does the sea,
over both which the Roman empire extended
itself. Moreover, the Corona laurea is united
to the Sceptre to denote that the power of Rome
was strenghthened by victories.
A Sceptre and a peacock on a lectisternium
form the type of the reverse on a coin of
Faustina senior, allusive to her consecration.
SCIP. Scipio, surname of the Caecilia, and
likewise of the Cornelia family.
Scipio Eburneus, a wand or stick, made of
ivory, which it was the custom of those who
were allowed triumphal honours to bear in their
hand. -- Many representations of this are seen
on coins of ancient Roman moneyers, such as
those of Acilia, Aemilia, Curiatia, and others,
on which we see figures, carried in triumphal
quadrigae, holding the scipio in their right hand.
-- This ivory staff was a prominent mark of the
higher magistracies, viz., of the consuls, the
praetors, and in like manner of the proconsuls.
In the time of the republic, the scipio eburneus
had no sort of ornament ; and the senate alone
had the right of giving it to the consuls elect. --
Under the emperors it was surmounted by the
image of an eagle, or as Juvenal (Satyr x.,
v. 43) expresses it : --volucrem sceptro quĉ
surgit eburno. During the republic the consuls
bore this distinctive symbol of their great office
only on the day of their triumph ; but under the
emperors they carried it every day, and entered
the senate with it in their hands. -- Millin says
"the emperor never carried the scipio." True,
not as emperor -- the sceptrum being the mark
of imperial distinction -- but probably an emperor
carried the scipio when he made procession as
one of the consuls, for Morell has given us the
scipio eburneus, with an eagle on the top of it,
as in the hand of Vespasian and of Titus, on a
brass coin of the former emperor. -- The same
ensign of consular dignity appears in the hand
of Trebonianus Gallus, of Probus, of Numerianus,
of Val. Maximianus, on the respective
coins of those Augusti.