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Roman Republic, Q. Pomponius Musa, c. 66 B.C., Eroto, the Muse of Erotic Poetry on Reverse
The reverse is a punning reference to the name of the moneyer. He struck coins for each of the nine muses, and Hercules, as their leader, presumably modeled after a group of statues. Each of the muses is indicated by a different obverse symbol. Eroto was not the "Muse of Pornography." She was rather the inspiration of poets such as Ovid. His poetry has literary value, but he was banished by Augustus, partly because of his smutty poetry, but also because of his adultery with the Emperor's daughter Julia. In Victorian England, this type was attributed to Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. They assigned the tortoise symbol to Terpsichore. They assigned the flower stalk found on this coin to both Eroto and to Terpsichore, depending on the reverse. Under this scheme only the Muse of Dance had two obverse symbols and only Eroto shared her symbol with another muse. Seven of the muses were about equally distributed, but Eroto was considerably rarer, and Terpsichore about twice as common as any other Muse. Victorian sensibilities about sex may have allowed numismatists to decide that Erotic Poetry should be very, very rare. By comparison, the Romans saw Eroto as "just another Muse." Her coins should be about as common as the others. Today we are convinced each of the nine obverse symbols represents only one muse.SH16472. Silver denarius, Sydenham 820a, RSC I Pomponia 17a, Crawford 410/7b, SRCV I 358, gVF, beautifully toned with iridescent blues, slightly flat in centers, weight 3.810 g, maximum diameter 18.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 66 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, flower stalk behind; reverse Q POMPONI MVSA, Eroto, the Muse of Erotic Poetry (previously described as Terpsichore), standing right, plectrum in right hand, kithara (lyre) in left hand; ex Dr. Charles L. Ruby collection, ex CNG; SOLD
Roman Republic, Q. Pomponius Musa, 66 B.C.
Many of the Roman moneyers had a solid sense of humor and word play with homonyms was very popular. Pomponius Musa, playing on his name, issued ten types each depicting Hercules Musagetes (Conductor of the Muses) or one of nine different Muses, creating one of the most interesting and sought after series of the Republican coinage. This coin depicts Clio, the Muse of History.SH71011. Silver denarius, RSC I Pomponia 11, SRCV I 353, Sydenham 813, Crawford 410/3, VF, porous, weight 3.501 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 90o, Rome mint, 66 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, scroll tied with cord behind; reverse MVSA on left, Q POMPONI on right, Clio, Muse of History standing left, reading from open scroll which she holds in both hands, left elbow rests on column; SOLD