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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numism  |  Reading For the Advanced Collector  |  Topic: What's in that patera? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Bill S
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« Reply #25 on: October 07, 2005, 07:26:41 pm »

One species I have not yet kept, but would like to, is "Zamenis longissimus", more commonly called the Aesculapian snake.  If I ever do succeed in getting one, I'll try to post a picture of one being fed from a patera.

Meanwhile - if anyone is curious about what this species of snake looks like, check out <http://www.herp.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/ElaphLongi.htm>.

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Jochen
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« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2005, 06:34:13 pm »

Reading this interesting thread I remember a Provincial coin with Amphilochos on the rev. There stands a tripod behind him with a snake coiling upwards. At the top of the tripod you can see a round item like a small globe I wasn't able to identify. Now I think it could be an egg to feed the snake! Any opinions about that?

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slokind
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« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2005, 07:07:49 pm »

Yes, I agree.  If that isn't an egg it is a compaction of snake food that the snake is just as avid for!  That is a great coin!  Maybe the snake had to accept your offering before delivering an oracle or a formula for healing or whatever?  Pat L.
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Steve Minnoch
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« Reply #28 on: October 08, 2005, 11:12:28 pm »

According to Michael Harlan's book on late republican moneyers, Aelian describeds snakes being offered barley cakes in his description of the ritual where maidens made an offering to Juno Sospita at Lanuvium. 

He also relates a story where a divine snake in Egypt is offered bowls of barley soaked in honey and milk set out on tables.

If we are talking about divine snakes, or a divinity feeding a snake must the true diets of the animals really be a factor.  A mere mortal might not be able to get a snake to feed on milk, but would a goddess necesarily have any problem so doing?

I doubt it is relevant but I recall that in the rituals of Bona Dea (also a "medical" goddess was linked to snakes) wine had to be referred to as "milk".

Steve
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*Alex
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« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2005, 11:25:26 am »

I suddenly remembered I had this coin (below) which brings the patera, snakes and egg thing all together. It depicts Asklepios with the snake sacrificing out of a patera over a lighted altar, and don't you think that the oval things "cooking" on the top of the altar could be eggs?
If so, perhaps the wine was used for the traditional pouring on the flames of the altar, and the snake ate the eggs.

Alex.
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slokind
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« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2005, 11:42:40 am »

Yes, great coin both for itself and as evidence.  If not eggs (which might explode in dry heat: never put a whole egg in a microwave oven), then those unbaked 'cakes' which Steve Minnoch mentioned in #29 above.  I think that is the answer.  The All-Souls Day cakes that Orthodox take to cemeteries are made of just the same recipe as the ancient Egyptians fed to their snakes.  That is, I think the ladies told me 'barley', and it looks like barley, but is in any case whole grain, not like wheat, soaked in honey and milk.  That kind of continuity has, of course, fascinated many generations of classicists and anthropologists.  The likelihood of modern, urban Athenians coming up with that recipe without tradition seems slight.  Those cakes are larger, and the family do 'help' the souls consume them, but it isn't something you'd eat otherwise.
I am sure that no veterinarian would recommend them as a diet for pet snakes; it might be like feeding adult cats milk.  Pat L.
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