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Author Topic: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?  (Read 10167 times)

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Offline Jochen

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Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« on: September 23, 2005, 08:27:38 am »
This is a Geta AE30 from Augusta Traiana:
obv. AVT KP CEPT - IMOC GETAC, Bust, laureate, cuirassed, seen from behind, r.
rev. AVGOVSTHC - TRAIANHC, coiled serpent with radiate head

I have two questions:
1) Is the snake the so-called Agathodaimon or something else?
2) Can anyone give me a correct attribution of this coin?

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Offline Pscipio

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2005, 09:07:36 am »
Jochen, we had a thread about that beautiful coin some weeks ago: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=21739.msg144763#msg144763 According to Luigi, this specific coin is not listed in Varbanov.

Lars
Leu Numismatik
www.leunumismatik.com

Offline Jochen

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2005, 09:41:57 am »
Thanks, Lars! I have not mentioned that thread. And the deity? Any opinion?

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Offline slokind

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2005, 04:46:55 pm »
Ever since I saw the largish sculpture of such a snake in the Constantza (Tomis) museum, and read about the one labeled Glykon on a coin of Abounoteichos, and began to see various degrees of departure from real snake appearance on the coins, I have been trying to answer your question.  The ones from Alexandria illustrated in LIMC are surely Agathodaimon.  The one from the Athenian agora has a human head, so is no ordinary snake, and neither are those with radiate nimbus and a forked fish tail.  Whether the person who handled the money (and the persons who ordered it made) called it Glykon or Agathodaimon or both interchangeably is what I cannot ascertain, though opinions can be found.  The fact is that agathos daimon means just that, and the household snake is certainly an agathos daimon (while Glykon purported to be more and other than that) suggests that ANY of the four-coiled snakes could be referred to as an agathos daimon, while at Alexandria they had a specific cult of their own.  The Danube region more likely shared the Pontic cult, but we don't know which of the unlabeled images were referred to as Glykon and had a sub-Asklepieian cult.
Pat L.

Offline Jochen

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2005, 05:03:56 pm »
Thanks, Pat! The serpent deities are still very unknown to me. So I have to dive into this materia!

BTW Here is a statue of Glycon(?) from Constantia/Bulgaria, pardon Romania naturally!
 
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Offline slokind

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2005, 10:15:54 pm »
Yes, that's the one I saw and could not forget and mentioned in my last post.  As you see, the head is neither human nor leonine, and it certainly is not reptile (unless you're thinking of the dragon in Fritz Lang's famous film, perhaps).  Because of its dating, based on technique and, I think, context, and because the Glykon cult is Antonine to Severan, mostly, so far as we know, and because Contstantia (but it's in Romania) is just a day's sail from Abounoteichos, I do not think that the museum is unjustified in identifying their snake with the mantic one.  Pat
Here is a human-headed one on a coin, which is not seen very often.
04 09 02 Nikomedia, BithyniaCaracalla.  Laureate, head to r.  ANTONEINOS      AVGOVSTOS.  Rev., true, human-headed Glykon snake, from a city that, like Abounoteichos, is in Bithynia.  NIKOMEDEON DI      S NEOKOR[ON]; in the ethnic, the mu-eta is ligate.

Offline Bacchus

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2005, 02:57:51 am »
Does the uniform depiction of having 4 coils have a specific meaning? (lovely coin btw)  I have noticed this for all the issues from this region.

Many thanks
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Offline Jochen

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2005, 08:12:06 am »
Starting with my explorations of the snake-god I found Lucian of Samosata online: http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/lucian/lucian_alexander.htm

Glycon, the snake-god, seems to be an invention of the Greek prophet Alexander of Abounoteichos, which Lucian called charlatan and Alexander the oracle monger. In his book about Alexander he wrote:
Then, too, they had long ago prepared and fitted up a serpent’s head of linen, which had something of a human look, was all painted up, and appeared very lifelike. It would open and close its mouth by means of horsehairs, and a forked black tongue like a snake’s, also controlled by horsehairs, would dart out.

A nice article with the title 'How inventing rituals for a  new cult - Recycling of rituals, the formula of success of Alexander of Abounoteichos' by Angelos Chaniotis from the University of Heidelberg (in German) is found under http://66.249.93.104/search?q=cache:GhAtty4VaisJ:archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/volltexte/2004/5103/pdf/ChaniotisAlex.pdf+glycon+lukian+heidelberg&hl=de

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Offline slokind

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2005, 12:00:27 pm »
Yes, just that text of Lucian is the grounds for the Constantza Museum's calling their sculpture Glykon, though only that one coin of Abounoteichos labels the serpent.
The question is, how many of the standard four-coilers should be called by that name, if any?  Also, whether the very specifically radiate-nimbus fish-tailed snake, which at Pautalia is shown with an altar, is Glykon or Agathodaimon or a named divinity whose name we don't know or just a lucky snake.  An even more basic question, indeed perhaps a necessary one, is that asked above: how come and with what meaning, if any, is the ordinary coin snake shown with four coils, symmetrically?  When does this motif, with exactly four coils, first occur?  How widespread is it?  Without that basic information it may be pointless to try to give a name to it.  I have noticed (I think) that Pautalia gives special attention to the elaborated snake, but you have a dandy one from Augusta Traiana, and they also occur occasionally all over the Danubian region, if not farther.  It did not occur to me, though it is methodologically essential, that we need to establish the geographical and chronological range of the four-coiler and its relatives first of all.  Pat L.

Offline Bacchus

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2005, 01:25:32 pm »
I think Caracalla is the earliest Emperor I remember seeing with this reverse but it is possible it has appeared earlier.

I attach a picture of Philip II from Tomis where the snake has lost its symmetrical coiling, (actually there is probably still 4 "bends") but retained the radiate head

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2005, 01:40:11 pm »
And just to contradict myself here is an AE19 from Septimus Serverus (wildwinds source) from Philippopolis - with all four coils.
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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2005, 01:52:54 pm »
And of course those wild and crazy guys in Trajanopolis just has to ruin it all and issue this monstrosity  ;D (source wildwinds) also Septimius Severus with about 8 coils.
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Offline Jochen

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2005, 02:43:06 pm »
The two coils of the snake on your first coin remind a bit on the laying eight, our usual symbol of infinity! Ok, I know it was invented not earlier than 1655 by Wallis.

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2005, 06:06:35 pm »
Does anyone have one for one of the earlier Antonines?  Lucian suggests that our Stoic Marcus Aurelius was especially interested in the Abounoteichos cult of Glykon, but do we have plain four-coilers earlier than that?
Here is the earliest one on my teaching computer (I'm off line and off AC and off light and fans at the house, so this is from my office).  Pat L.

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2005, 10:53:00 pm »
I found the little booklet, Miniature Sculpture from the Athenian Agora (1959).  Here, closely cropped, is its last page.  The little bronze is also in LIMC, and, of course, Ionopolis is the same as Abounoteichos; the name Glykon is in the exergue.  I still can't recall one earlier than the 160s AD.  Pat L.

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2005, 02:36:43 am »
I spoke of particularly cult-like early Severan coins at Pautalia.  Here is my pride and joy:
04 03 05 Æ28/30 12.97g  axis 6h.  PautaliaSeptimius Severus, laureate, bust  to r.  AVT KAI CE?TI CEVHPOC ? CEBARev., Cult snake (with head resembling the sculptured one in Constantza Museum), bearded and fish-tailed, between two altars.  At l., OVL[PIAS PAV] and below altar base T ALIAS and at r. KAI[-- and continuous below --N]ERATOV.    Not found on line or in Varbanov, GIC, SNG Cop 2, or Lindgren 2 and 3.  The smaller ones of Albinus have the snake and one altar (tree at left).  Another like mine was sold shortly before (cc e-mail 17 Feb 05).  The magistrate was Oneratus.
For the ones of Clodius Albinus, see CoinArchives.
To round out the picture, here is a Commodus of Philippopolis.
The Lucius Verus  coins have to be 161-166; anyone find a Marcus Aurelius or an Antoninus Pius (I THINK not).
Pat L.

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #16 on: September 26, 2005, 03:06:55 am »
Both those examples are quite spectular and I had never seen either before with such interesting reverses.  I couldn't find anything in my new SNG Palistine - Arabia either (excellent and massively formated A3 book btw) though this would be on the cusp of the area in question.
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Offline Jochen

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2005, 08:21:22 am »
I found this new one of Commodus from Pautalia/Thracia. Here it is a coiled snake eating from an altar. Wether it is the snake of Alexander I don't know.

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2005, 01:27:39 pm »
I think the Pautalia type with the altar(s) is unique to Pautalia.  If so, the coins for Commodus, Cl. Albinus, and Septimius (issued under Oneratus) come in very quick succession in the earlier 190s, say.
So, at this point, we do have earlier, similar snakes (for Lucius Verus) but none so far for Marcus Aurelius (so if Lucian's text is right, M. Aur. was not publicizing his interest) or Faustina II, let alone Antoninus Pius or Hadrian.
For a long time I thought that the reverses with crescents cradling stars were mid-Empire, but then the seven star issue, septemtrio[nes] Late Republican denarius, with TRIO cradled in the crescent and seven stars all round was brought to my attention.
I cannot recall, however, the snake pattern nearly so early.  What, then, is the date of the Alexandria Agathodaimon reverses?  I'll have to check that at the library, if someone else doesn't get to BMC or LIMC first.
The question is whether the coiled snake pattern, whether symmetrical (as for Geta and Caracalla) or not (which seems to be true of the earlier ones posted above), occurs in Pontic Asia Minor and Danubian cities earlier than the purported invention by Alexander of Abounoteichos of the Glykon cult and, if it does, whether the earlier occurrences can be equated with the Alexandrian cult.
It is interesting that the snake pattern is quite quickly generalized to the 4-coil pattern with only slightly non-reptilian extremities.
Pat Lawrence

Offline Dapsul

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2005, 03:03:26 pm »
This is not exactly about coins, but nevertheless quite interesting: According to Lukian, Alexander of Abonuteichos got his first snake from Macedonia, from Pella exactly, where there were very big and tame dragons and snakes. Some years ago, they found at Vergina, not far away, some remains of a really big marble snake, which is still unpublished, but stored behind the museum, where it is visible. Very stunning phenomenon in my opinion.

Offline Jochen

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2005, 03:31:58 pm »
Nice found! I think there were many different snake cults especially in Thracia. The problem with the coins is to decide wether it is a depiction of Alexander's Glykon or not. The coin of Lucius Verus bears the name GLYKON on the reverse and looks like the statuette of the museum of Constanzia. And this statuette matches the description of Lucian. But with the snakes with the 4 elaborate coils we have a different situation. Even the head looks not human but snake-like. So sadly we have to live with a rest of incertainty.

BTW Here is a nice Agathodaimon from Alexandria crowned with Shkent and the typical caduceus and corn-ears from a friend of the German forum.

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Offline slokind

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2005, 11:49:08 pm »
On Alexandria tets there are serpentine agathodaimones of the type shown above at least as early as Nero and for empresses as well as emperors.  I do find the basically cobra-like character of these distinctive, though.
The Septimius Severus Thracian snakes are sometimes not quite stock 4-coilers but approaching that pattern.
Lucian said that Glykon changed the aspect of his head, in just the way we have seen above.
We need sources, written sources either by authors or epigraphic (with names and dedicatory legends) for all those Thracian snake cults.
After all, puzzling as it may be, the Pax Augusta of Claudius (thread in Roman) has the grace to be labeled when accompanied by a snake.  Who knows what we'd make of her if she weren't?
Anyway, Alexandria's Agathodaimon has substantial chronological precedence over the Thrako-Moesian and Bithynian snakes.
BTW, as I recall, the 'statuette' in Constantza is lifesize even for a python.  It only looks small in a little image.
The real problem is the same as, How many gods lurk behind the Thracian Horseman image?  The number of cults involving snakes, lucky and mantic and guardian (and I suppose you could call the Erichthonios snake his avatar?) is legion.  Pat L.

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2005, 12:19:05 am »
Pautalia, to be sure.  An ancient town I might like to visit.  Here's the Marcus Aurelius to go with those Lucius Verus coins, beautiful, earlier than his son's.  And it looks like a mixed breed snake, so possibly a Glykon (but not labeled, of course, so not demonstrable).  Just found this on line.
[BROKEN LINK REMOVED BY ADMIN]

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2005, 11:29:30 pm »
I managed to make myself so enamored of this subject and this coin that I bid on it, and for the first time, I think, from a major printed auction catalogue, won it by the skin of my teeth.  It was listed as same reverse as Commodus's (as a youth) in Ruzicka, but, though the same design, it is not the same die--the sequence of the reverse legend is different.  So far as I have been able to determine, the Marcus Aurelius is still unpublished except for the catalogue (Freeman & Sear Auction 12).  So here it is, and thrilled as I am to have it, I shall re-new this thread (which already contains all the comparanda) rather than make it my Coin of the Day.
14 11 05 Æ29/32 21.01g  axis ~6h  Pautalia.  Issued by Asel. Aemilianus.  Marcus Aurelius, laureate, head to r.  [A]N[T]ÔNINOS    AVR K[---(?).  Rev., Cult snake with lion or wolf head, bearded, and fish tail, in specially designed winding (besides Commodus's corresponding snake, cf. Caracalla's at Nicomedia, RG pl. XCIV no. 226, with human head, which Waddington calls Glycon; it was the Glycon snake that changed the aspect of its head in real time at Abounoteichos, so the ID does not seem too bold).  Although FS 12, lot 257 said that the reverse is Ruzicka pl. VIII, 18, no. 180, and this is, I think, certainly the same issue, Marcus Aurelius has his own reverse die (the legend on this one starts hHGE opposite the serpent's snout, and on Commodus's it starts opposite the tail.  If Marcus's were more regular in shape, they would be the same size, but the Berlin Commodus is even heaview than my Marcus Aurelius.  Even the Oneratus snake on the altar is more nearly the usual quatrefoil-coiled snake than this one and those at Nicomedia.   
Also, I found the complete text of the Lucian essay at the Gutenberg.org site, in a wonderful translation by H. W. Fowler (and his brother), the author of "Modern English Usage" and "The King's English".  It is too long to paste here, and since it is not .jpg, I can't just attach it.
Patricia Lawrence

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Re: Geta from Augusta Trajana, Agathodaimon?
« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2005, 02:44:41 am »
Very nice coin, Pat, and a particularly angry snake !    I find the lettering on the reverse is unusual too - or perhaps it is the lack of definitive border that make it appear so.
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