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Zodiac





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     Zodiac.  "The Ecliptic (or great circle which the sun describes in virtue of his proper motion) has been divided by astronomers from time immemorial into twelve equal parts called Signs.  The names are Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces.  In each of these signs the ancients formed groups of stars, which they denominated Zodiacal constellations (zwdia, animals), not confined to the ecliptic, but included within an imaginary belt, extending 9° on each side of it, to which they gave the name of Zodiac (zwdiakdz kukloz, circle or zone of the animals.)  (Encyc. Brit.., 9th ed. art., Astronomy, vol. ii., p. 771.)"  The Roman inferiority to the Greeks in the science of Astronomy is fully recognised by the Latin writers (Virg. Aen. vi. 848; Seneca, Nat. Quaest. vii., 25), and while the astronomical science of the Greeks was in its infancy, that of the Romans had no existence (Sir G. C. Lewis, An historical survey of the Astronomy of the Ancients, 1862.)

     The Zodiac is represented on several Greek Imperial coins (Alexander Severus - Perinthus; Julia Maesa-Amastris; Valerian-AEgae; Eckhel, Doct. Num. Vet., vol. ii., pp. 40, 386, vol. iii., p. 37); and on Alexandrian coins of Antoninus Pius (Eckhel, op. cit., vol. iv., p. 70; Head, Hist. Num., p. 721.)  It may also be found on the following Roman coins:--

HADRIAN.

     Obv. IMP. CAESAR TRAIAN. HADRIANUS AVG. Bust of Hadrian to r., laureated.  Rev. SAEC. AVR. (Saeculum aureum in the exergue) P. M. TR. P. COS. III. (around.)  Male figure (? Trajan deified or Hadrian with the attributes of Eternity) half naked, standing to r., within a circular or oval band or zone, on the outer side of which are the signs of the Zodiac; his r. hand rests on the zone and his l. holds a globe, on which is a phoenix. AV. (100 frcs.)

     Cohen (Méd. Imp. 1st ed., vol. ii., p. 157; 2nd ed., vol. ii., p. 216) describes the zone as "une auréole ovale," but this piece is described in the "Pembroke Sale Catalogue," p. 135, as bearing the signs of the Zodiac, and traces of it can be seen on the specimen in the British Museum (Madden, Num. Chron., N.S., 1862, vol. ii., p. 49.)

ANTONINUS PIUS.

    1. Obv. ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS. P. P.  Head of Antoninus Pius to r. or to l. laureated. Rev. ITALIA (in the exergue) TR. POT. COS. III. [or IIII.] S. C.  Italy, laureated, seated to l., on a globe, around which is the Zodiac.  AE. I. (12 frcs.)

    2.  Obv.  ANTONINVS AVG. PIVS P. P. TR. P. COS. IIII.  Bust of Antoninus Pius to r., laureated. Rev. No legend.  The earth (Tellus) seated to r., leaning against a bull lying down, and holding a cornu-copiae.  Four infants (the Seasons) are grouped around her, one is seated on her knees, another (Summer) holds a sickle; behind her a plough; above, a half circle of the Zodiac.  AE. Med. (500 frcs.)

COMMODUS.

    Obv.  M. COMMODVS ANTONINVS PIVS FELIX AVG.  Bust of Commodus to r., laureated.  Rev. COS. VI. P. P.  The Sun radiated, standing, holding a whip and about to get into a quadriga, which is raising itself to r. on the waves of the sea; in front, the star of the morning (Phosphorus); above, a portion of the Zodiac; to the r. the Earth (Tellus) lying to l., holding ears of corn and cornu-copiae.  AE.  Med. (500 frcs.)
   A similar type, but without the Zodiac, occurs on the brass medallions of Antoninus Pius (Cohen, Méd. Imp., 2nd ed., vol. ii., p. 381 ; Froehner, Médaillons de l'Empire Romain, p. 72.)

ELAGABALUS.

    Obv.  IMP. CAES. M. ANTONINVS. AVG.  Head of Elagabalus, laureated.  Rev.  COL. PTOL. (Colonia Ptolemais).  Diana Venatrix standing to r., in a distyle temple; the whole surrounded by the signs of the Zodiac. AE. II.
    Struck at Ptolemais Galilaeae.  The same type occurs on the second brass of Valerian I.

CONSTANTINE I.

   Obv.  CONSTANTINVS P. F. AVG.  Head of Constantine l. tor., laureated.  Rev.  RECTOR TOTIVS ORBIS.  The Emperor seated to l. on arms, holding in r. hand the Zodiac and in l. a parazonium ; behind, a Victory standing, holding a palm branch, and crowning him; in the exergue, S. M. T. (Signata Moneta Thessalonicae).  AV. (800 frcs.)
    This unique coin is in the British Museum, and has been historically illustrated by the present writer (Num. Chron., N.S., 1862, vol. ii., pp. 48-60.)  It was struck in A.D. 323, thirty-seven years after Diocletian had first divided the Empire, and when Constantine I. was entitled to inscribe on his coins that he was "sole master of the whole [Roman] world."

CONTORNIATES

   1.  Obv. DIVO TRAIANO AVGVSTO.  Bust of Trajan to r., laureated.  Rev. No legend. Shield on which the head of the Sun and Moon, surrounded by the Zodiac ; a male figure seated ; behind, a statue of Minerva.  AE. (Eckhel, Doct. Num. Vet.,  vol. viii., p. 308.)
   2.  Obv.  IMP. CAES. FL. CONSTANTINO MAX. P. F. AVG.  Head of Constantine to the right, laureated, and with paludamentum, surrounded by the twelve signs of the zodiac.  Rev. S. P. Q. R.  (Senatus Populusque Romanus)  QVOD INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS MENTIS MAGNITVDINE CVM EXERCITV SVO TAM DE TYRANNO QVAM DE OMNI EIVS FACTIONE VNO TEMP (ore) IVSTIS REMP (ublicam) VLTVS EST ARMIS ARC (um) TRIVMPHIS INSIGNEM DICAVIT, within a laurel wreath.  AE. 14¼.
   The reverse of this remarkable piece of the  contorniate style is taken from the famous inscription on the arch of Constantine, dedicated in A.D. 315, placed thereon to commemorate the defeat of Maxentius (tyrannus) in A.D. 312, and which reads as follows (Orelli. Inscr., No. 1075):--

                IMP. CAES. FL. CONSTANTINO MAXIMO

                P. F. AVGVSTO S. P. Q. R.

VOTIS X    QVOD INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS MENTIS      SIC X

                MAGNITVDINE CVM EXERCITV SVO

TAM DE TYRANNO QVAM DE OMNI EIVS

VOTIS XX   FACTIONE VNO TEMPORE IVSTIS              SIC XX

REMPVBLICAM VLTVS EST ARMIS

LIBERATORI VRBIS                             FUNDATORI QVIETIS

   It appears to have been first published by Banduri (vol. ii., pp. 256, 279), but was condemned by Eckhel though he had not seen it. ("Qualiscunque dicatur, mihi opus antiquum non videtur."  Doct. Num. Vet., vol. viii., p. 88.)  It was at one time in the collection of Sir Andrew Fountaine, and from thence passed into that of the Earl of Pembroke.  The compiler of the "Pembroke Sale Catalogue" (p. 297) in a lengthy note vindicated its authenticity, supposing it to have been "a ticket of admission" issued on the occasion of the dedication of the arch of Constantine, but whether it sold as a genuine piece I am unable to say.  Cavedoni (Ricerche, p. 21), did not accept it as genuine; and Cohen (Méd. Imp., vol. vi., p. 582) has not admitted it tant il paraît suspect.
    As regards the inscription on the arch, it has been by some stated (Guattini, Monumenti Antichi di Roma, p. xciv., 1789 ; Roma Descritta, p. 42, 1805 ; Henzen, Suppl. ad. Orell., vol. iii., p. 113) that the words INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS appear to have been written over the effaced words NVTV IOVIS O. M., or perhaps DIIS FAVENTIBVS;  but Garucci quite sets this question at rest by stating (Num. Cost., 2nd ed., p. 245 ; Rev. Num., 1886, p. 96), from personal inspection, that the marble was not lower in the portion where these words occur than in other parts, nor are the letters themselves confused, nor are there indeed any traces of letters to be seen that could have been previously engraved.  The Padre Mozzoni assured Cavedoni (Ricerche, p. 21, note) that the words INSTINCTV DIVINITATIS were the original.  Cf. De Rossi, Bullet. d'Arch. Crist., 1863, Nos. 7 and 8.

   I may add that Constantine himself, in his "Oration to the Assembly of the Saints," speaks of his services as owing their origin to the inspiration of God ('Ex epipnoiaz qeon thn archn econsan lr on thz emhz andragaqiaz ton qedn aition einai diabebaiountaz.  Ap. Euseb., c. 26), whilst both Constantine and Licinius gave thanks to the Deity (Divinitas) and to God (Deus) for the victories that they had gained over Maxentius.  Cavedoni (Ricerche, p. 21, note) notices that Constantine is called Divino monitus instinctu by his anonymous panegyrist (viii., c. 11) and by Nazarius (Paneg., ix., c. 17 ; cf. 12, 13) as governing Divino instinctu.  For further particulars see Madden, Christian Emblems on the Coins of Constantine I., etc., in the Num. Chron., N.S., 1877, vol. xvii., pp. 11-56, 242-307; 1878, vol. xviii., pp. 1-48, 169-215; Smith's and Chectham's Dict. of Christian Antiq. art. Money.
    


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