Classical Numismatics Discussion
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register. Please look at the RECENT ADDITIONS and PRICE REDUCTIONS at the top and bottom of the page. All items are guaranteed authentic for eternity! Thanks for supporting Forum with your PURCHASES! Welcome Guest. Please login or register. Point your mouse to a coin in RECENT ADDITIONS or PRICE REDUCTIONS on this page to see the the price. All items are guaranteed authentic for eternity! Thanks for supporting Forum with your PURCHASES!


FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Eckhel on Roman Imperial coins 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Eckhel on Roman Imperial coins  (Read 3529 times)
curtislclay
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Caesar
*****
Online Online

Posts: 10923



« on: January 22, 2005, 07:16:47 pm »

       The recent contention that some Roman coins are "overrated" made me think of Eckhel's introductory remarks in vol. VI of his Doctrina Numorum, Vienna 1796, which may be translated/paraphrased from the original Latin as follows:

       I proceed to the explication of the coinage of the Roman Empire.  The world has not yet seen an empire more revered and famous than that of the Romans, whose very name evokes a magical admiration.  But that great merit would matter little for my present project, unless the Roman Empire overshadowed earlier empires not only in power and majesty, but in the copiousness, importance, and variety of its surviving coinage.  Although an incredible quantity of Roman Republican coins have come down to us, they nevertheless leave us unsatisfied in many ways.  The earliest Republican coins were in bronze only, silver was only introduced at a later date, and gold was hardly used at all.  The types on the coins in either metal showed little variety, until the vanity of the moneyers and their desire to boast about their ancestry alleviated the boredom caused by the ancient simplicity.  Yet the result was still not what later generations might have hoped for.  Instead of ancient exploits, some of them fabulous, we would have preferred to see contemporary events depicted in the coinage, along with at least some indication of when the coins were minted.  The coins of the emperors present a different picture.  Apart from the regular use of all three metals, the types often recorded contemporary history, be it exceptional deeds accomplished at home or abroad, benefactions granted by the emperors to the people, honors voted to the emperors, and whatever else seemed worthy of record throughout the great empire.  In this respect Roman imperial coins far surpass those of earlier empires, however famous, which with almost no aid to history tended to repeat a single type, so that if you have seen one coin of a particular king you might think you had seen them all.  Compare the coins of Philip II, Alexander the Great, the Ptolemies, Lysimachus, and others.  As to dates, although we do not always know the exact year of issue, we can at least be certain that the coins were struck during the reign of the emperor whose portrait they bear.  Another fact which is bound to bring pleasure to those who are interested in the history of the past is that the series of Roman emperors extends over fully fifteen centuries from Julius Caesar to Constantine XI, and the coins show us their portraits, and offer reliable, uncorrupted testimony of an empire at one time the greatest in the world, gradually laboring under its own weight and declining, and finally lapsing into utter barbarity and losing its former artistic capabilities.
      
      Since this vast and extensive class of ancient coins not only brings great profits to historical studies, but delights the soul through its reflection of the past, it is incredible to say how eagerly, from the Renaissance on, not only noblemen but commoners too have devoted time and money to collecting these remains of Roman antiquity, with an affection that has remained undiminished until the present day.  It is to their enthusiasm and efforts that we owe the rich collections known from that time, and made accessible to scholars for the advancement of knowledge.  Once collectors had done their duty by acquiring and assembling these treasures, scholars did not want to be remiss in performing theirs, whether by publishing catalogues of the collections, or explaining the coin types, or showing how to distinguish genuine coins from false ones, an ability which is among the most essential in this branch of studies.

        Eckhel then proceeds to a review of the literature on Roman coins up to his day.
Logged

Curtis Clay
Jochen
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Caesar
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 11523


Omnes vulnerant, ultima necat.


« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2005, 04:57:08 am »

Thanks, Curtis, to share this text with us!
Logged

Robert_Brenchley
Procurator Caesaris
Caesar
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 7327

Honi soit qui mal y pense.


WWW
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2005, 06:40:49 am »

It says a lot about the mindset of the late 18th Century antiquarian. Why couldn't those wretched Republicans have used coin types which were of more use to the scholars of later centuries??
Logged

Robert Brenchley

My gallery: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/index.php?cat=10405
Fiat justitia ruat caelum
curtislclay
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Caesar
*****
Online Online

Posts: 10923



« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2005, 11:25:09 am »

    Eckhel is not criticizing the Republicans, but their coins, from a perfectly legitimate viewpoint which is just as valid today as it was then:  how much do the coins teach us about the history of their time?
     If you try to deduce history from Roman Republican coins today, you will run into precisely the two difficulties he has pinpointed:  Most of the types refer not to contemporary, but to past events, often of doubtful historicity, and, one might add, often very difficult to explain with certainty in the absence of other relevant sources; and it is difficult to establish the precise years of issue of the various types.
Logged

Curtis Clay
slokind
Tribuna Plebis Perpetua
Procurator Monetae
Caesar
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6722


Art is an experimental science


WWW
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2005, 02:23:53 pm »

I'm sure Mr. Brenchley would agree, too, that there are lots of ' mindsets' in the early 21st century--as in any age.  It follows that there are specialties for all of them.  If you really like the half-folklore traditions of Republican Rome, and are interested in what they tell us about some mindsets of that day, you will embrace Republican denarii.  I dearly love Minerva sitting on a pile of shields and tending the wolf and twins.  If you are interested less in ancient Romans' fantasy world and more in the nitty gritty of chronology or power struggles, you might embrace Imperial issues (I think of early Severan, as an example).  If in the history of portraiture and what it tells us of  successive dynasties that chose different modes of depiction, you will be more interested in the obverses.  If in the panorama of the cultural universe of the whole Empire, you may join the ranks of those who collect Greek Imperials.  What Eckhel tells us, besides urging us to pay close attention to the difference between facts and wishful thinking, is what his own great mindset was.  We know him from what he wrote, and it is a privilege.  His was one of the names carved on the facade of the ANS at 155th Street.   Pat Lawrence
Logged
curtislclay
Tribunus Plebis Perpetuus
Procurator Monetae
Caesar
*****
Online Online

Posts: 10923



« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2005, 02:44:10 pm »

Pat,
      I'd have to say that I read Eckhel in order to learn not about Eckhel's mindset, though as you know I am one of his greatest admirers, but about ancient coins, and what their types and legends teach us about ancient history, what ancient texts and inscriptions illuminate them, and what scholars before Eckhel had said about the same matters!
      Eckhel devoted over a third of his great work, three volumes, to Roman Imperial and Byzantine coins, but his one volume on Roman Republican coins, and his four on Greek and Greek Imperial coins, are just as fundamental.  He did not play favorites!
Regards,
Curtis
Logged

Curtis Clay
Julian_II
Guest
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2005, 09:25:25 am »

I just want to add that many of this faboulous stories, were not just invented but come from true events. Once I posted in this forum an explanation I read about Romulus and Remus and the wolf. In latin wolf is "lupa" and lupa it also means prostitute, so some people think that a prostitute was the one who found the twins and helped them. There are many of this stories that with effort can be "translated" to reality. They are not just inventions from nowhere, they also tell us a lot. Still it is quite true what this author says about republican vs imperial coinage.
Regards, Javier.
Logged
LordBest
Procurator Caesaris
Caesar
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2008



« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2005, 10:02:48 am »

I personally agree with Eckhel (and Curtis Clay) that Republican coins are next to useless as a historical source. Except for the odd exception after 120BC, and perhaps a few rarer ones before, they do not tell usanything about contemporary events, fashions, or even tastes as the types were repeated through the centuries. They are quite hard to date, very few Republican coins are dated as closely as their Imperial descendants making them poor tools for dating archaeological sites.
It does reflect on Eckhels mindset, favourably. He was more interested in facts and events than half truths (at best) and legend, very Enlightenment.
                                   LordBest. Cool
Logged

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/index.php?cat=10003

Young Fogey.

What Would Machiavelli Do?

Inter arma enim silent leges
- Cicero
Julian_II
Guest
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2005, 09:26:40 am »

Still half truths, legends, or completely lies, can tell us a lot about what they feel, think etc. If they put sthg in a coin there is a reason, they weren´t done randomly selecting anything they want. For example, if you are studying Constantine, and you see a coin saying "IOVI CONSERVATORIS...", you are going to say just, ha! IOVI, what a lie, he doesn´t exist, or for example ask why he would do such coin if he was supposely Christian. Maybe it isn´t the best example, but I think that with effort you will be able to understand me.
My 2 cents.
Kind regards to all, Javier.
Logged
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: Eckhel on Roman Imperial coins « previous next »
Jump to:  

Recent Price Reductions in Forum's Shop


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.817 seconds with 39 queries.
zoom.asp