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The head on the obverse of this denarius is that of Marcus Claudius Marcellus, who, in his fifth consulate, 506 (B.C. 208), made the conquest of Syracuse, and, it may be said, of Sicily. This Roman was the contemporary of Fabius Maximus, and of Scipio. He was one of the Consular Generals who distinguished themselves in the second Punic war, and had already acquired a high reputation at the epoch of Hannibal 's invasion. His active character and intrepid courage were conspicuously displayed in single combats. Even in his first consulate the qualities of a daring valour made him triumph over Virdomarus, or Viromarus, a Gaulish chief, who, at the head of an army of his nation, had come to the succour of his fellow-contrymen, settled for some centuries, in the north of Italy, and then at war with the Romans. Virdomarus, who had advanced towards Clastidium (a city of Liguria, between Placentia and Tortona, now Chiastezo), with numerous troops, fell beneath the blows of the consul, who had darted forth from the ranks to fight him.
The portrait on this denarius is without beard, as usual with the Romans of that period, when they had attained a certain age. The triquetra (or three human legs united to each other by the hips), a well-known symbol of Sicily, was placed behind the head to designate its victor.—The legend Marcellinus refers to the magistrate who minted the coin—one Claudius Marcellus who minted the coin—one Claudius Marcellus, who, being adopted into the family of the Cornelii Lentuli, had taken the surname of Marcellinus, and probably transmitted it to his descendants.—On the reverse we read the name of Marcellus, as having been five times consul. The type represents him bearing to the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, the spolia opima of Virdomarus. Jupiter was called Feretrius, because the triumpher went to his temple, carrying thither as a trophy the armour, offensive and defensive, of the genral whom he had killed with his own hand in battle, and which were for that reason denominated opima (great or most honourable). To accomplish this religious observance, the conqueror covered his head with one of the lappets of his toga, according to the rites prescribed in the Roman worship. Romulus was the first to perform this ceremony, in consecrating the armour of Acron, King of the Ceninians; which act was repeated only by A. Cornelius Cossus, and afterwards by M. Claudius Marcellus. Virgil thus celebrates this action in his AEneid:—
Aspice, ut insignis spoliis Marcellus opimis
Ingreditur, victorque viros supereminet omnes!
Hie rem Romanam, magno turbante tumultu,
Sistet eqnes; sternet Poenos, Gallumque rebellem;
Tertia arma patri suspendet capta Quirino.
Lib. vi. v. 855 et seq.
See great Marcellus! how, untir 'd in toils,
He moves with manly grace, how rich with regal
He, when his country (threaten 'd with alarms)
Requires his courage, and his conquering arms,
Shall more than once the Punic bands affright;
Shall kill the Gaulish King in single fight:
The to the capitol in triumph move,
And the third spoils shall grace Feretrian Jove.
Dryden 's Translation.
This Marcellus was the very man who shewed the Romans that Hannibal was not only to be resisted, as Fabius had done before him, but also to be attached and defeated. Indeed he beat the Carthaginian general near Nola, in a daring sortie. And after the conquest of Sicily, he assailed him several times with varied success. But his boldness, too often bordering on rashness, led him to expose himself near Venusia (now Venosa) to a snare which the sagacity of Hannibal had prepared for him. He fell into an ambuscade of the Carthaginians, and died defending himself with the greatest valour. The victor nobly rendered the funeral honours due to his heroic antagonist.—See Eckhel, v. p. 188 and 187—see also Visconti, Iconographie Romaine, T. i. p. 85, 8vo. edit.
This denarius was at first ascribed to Caius Claudius Pulcher, edile in 656 (B.C. 98), and consul in 662 (B.C. 92). But according to Borghesi, with whom Cavedoni agrees, it belongs to Caius Claudius, a legatus of Brutus and Hortensius, in Macedonia, 711 (B.C. 43); the same who caused Caius Antonius (brother of the triumvir), to be put to death, lest he should make his escape.
The female head on the obverse recalls to memory the spendid celebration of the Floralia, or feasts in honour of the goddess Flora, by C. Claudius Centho, consul in 514 (B.C. 240), in colleagueship with Sempronius Tuditanus.
With regard to the reverse type, it is matter of dispute amongst numismatists, whether the figure of the vestal be meant for the daughter of Appius Claudius Pulcher, consul in 611 (B.C. 143), who placed herself in front of her father, and defended him when a tribune of the plebs whould have dragged him out of his triumphal car; or whether it was intended to represent Quinta Claudia, niece of blind Applius; that damsel, whom the Roman figment describes to have drawn, with her girdle, through the Tiber into Rome, the ship which bore from Pessinunta, the sacred image of Cyhele. (See cut in next page).—On this point Borghen, cited by Riccio, says—"Observing that thsi figure, although holding the simpulum, is seated; a posture in which sacrifice was not performed, there appears to me ground for suspecting, rather that it was intended, in this type, to represent a statue (che qui piuttosto, siesi voluto effigiare una statua). And supposing this to have been the case, a reason is further afforded for recognising in this image the statue erected to Quinta Claudia."—Engraved in Morell. Fam. Rom.—Riccio, p. 54, classes it amongst the RRRR in gold.—See VESTALIS.
If the head of the obverse of this coin be that of Apollo, as notwithstanding its entirely feminine appearance, is still to be inferred from the sister of that pagan diety, represented on the reverse, the whole together may be considered as referring to the Apollinarian games, which were splendidly celebrated in 715 (B.C. 39), in rejoicings at Rome, for the victory gained by Ventidius over the Parthians, P. Clodius being monetal triumvir 716. Riccio marks the above in gold RRRR, and values it at 30 piastres.
CLAVA Herculea.—A long rou Hnd club, headed with a knob; it was one of the peculiar insignia of Hercules, as that which this hero used instead of a sword, spear, or other arms, and with which he conquered and slew monsters throughout the world. On coins, this knotty club of Hercules, sometimes upright, sometimes reversed, and at other in a traverse position, indicates that the worship of that deity prevailed amongst the people, by whom the coin was struck.
The club of Hercules is seen alone on a silver coin of Augustus, inscribed BALBVS PROPR(AETORE). The club erect bears reference to the origin of this Cornelius Balbus, who descended from a family of Cadiz, in Spain, where Hercules was worshipped with distinguished honours. The same massive weapon also appears by itself, on coins of Commodus, who ordered himself to be called Hercules the son of Jupiter, and whom the coin is accordingly inscribed by its legend HERCVL. ROMANO.
The Clava Herculea appears on the field of other coins, in the imperial series, amongst those of Trajan, Gordianus Pius, Maximianus. It is seen in the hand of Hercules himself, sometimes the right, at others the left, or by his side, in coins o fthe Antia (see Restio), AEmilia, Caecilia, Cornelia, Eppia, Poblicia, Pomponia, Vibia, &c., families; and on coins of the Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Antonine, Aurelius, L. Verus, Commodus, Pertinax, Albinus, Severus, Caracalla, Geta, Gordianus Pius, Aemilian, Gallienus, Postumus, Victorinus, Claud. Gothicus, Tacitus, Probus Carus, Carinus, Numerianus, Docletianus, Maximianus, Constantinus Chlorus, Valerius, Severus, Galerius, Maxentius, Gal. Maxinus, Constantinus M.
The Clava of Hercules, with bow and quiver, displays itself on the well-known coin of Commodus. The same symbols of the monster-killing hero are struck on a coin of Postumus. And the Herculean Club, with an Eagle, likewise exhibits itself on coins of Trajan, Maximianus, Constantine the Great, &c.—See HERCVLI ROMANO.
CLAUDIA, a vestal virgin, who, being suspected of unchastity, cleared herself from that imputation in the following extraordinary manner:—The image of Cybele or Vesta, being brought from Phrygia to Rome in a galley, and it happening to stick so fast in the shallows of the Tiber as not to be removable even by the strength of a thousand men, she tied her girdle to the vessel, and drew it along to the city, in triumph over her calumniators!—This story is illustrated by a brass medallion (in the French cabinet) above engraved from , struck in honour of the elder Faustina; of whom though rumour had spread reports unfavourable to her matronly character, yet there were not wanting Roman flatterers to praise her as a wonderful pattern of correctness and modesty.—See CYBELE.
CLAUDIA, daughter of the emperor Nero, by Poppaea, born at Antium, in the year of Rome 816 (A.D. 64). She died an infant; and third brass coins (stil extant and of extreme rarity) were struck in honour of her memory, under the style of CLAVD(IA) AVGVSTA—DIVA CLVDIA NER. F. On the reverse of one is DIVA POPPAEA AVG. round a temple.—Mionnet.