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M.Aurelius RIC890.jpg
161-180 AD - MARCUS AURELIUS AE sestertius - struck 163-164 AD45 viewsobv: M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG ARMENIACVS P M (laureated bearded head right)
rev: VICT AVG TR P XVIII IMP II COS III (Victory standing right holding trophy a captive Armenian at her feet), S-C in field
ref: RIC 890 (S), Cohen 984 (12 Francs 1878), BMC 1092
21.14gms, 30mm,
Rare

History: After the death of Antoninus Pius the parthian king, Vologaesus III run over Armenia in 161 AD. The Expeditio orientalis was started the next year from Capua,Italy. Statius Priscus, Avidius Cassius and Martius Verus were entrusted with command of the legions while Marcus Aurelius conducted affairs of the state back in Rome. The 5 year campaign (161 – 166 AD) against Parthia proved to be as decisive as any war in recent Roman history. A Roman candidate once again sat the Armenian throne and Parthia had been thoroughly defeated. This coin commemorate the end of the first phase of the Parthian War.
berserker
augustus_322.jpg
Augustus RIC I, 322682 viewsAugustus 27 BC - AD 14
AR - Denar, 3.83g, 20mm, Rome 19 BC, by moneyer Q Rustius
obv. Q RVSTIVS - FORTVNA, ANTIAT (in ex., hard to see!)
Busts, draped, jugate, r., of Fortuna Victrix, helmeted, holding patera in l.
hand, and Fortuna Felix, wearing stephane;
both busts rest on bar terminating at each end in a ram' s head
rev. CAESARI . AVGVSTO
A highly ornamented rectangular altar with a bowl on it, inscribed in front
FOR.RE
ex.: EX.S.C.
RIC I, 322; BMCR 2
R2; about VF, toned

FORTVNA ANTIATIS, Fortuna of Antium, one of the most important places of Fortuna worshipping, as two goddesses, sisters, FORTVNA VICTRIX, more male, and FORTVNA FELIX, more female. Or as two aspects of only one goddess?
On the rev. the altar of FORTVNA REDVX, erected by the Senatus for the lucky return of Augustus 19BC with the 53 standards from the Parthians in Rome near the Porta Capuana.
Q Rustius celebrates Augustus and his own hometown Antium.
4 commentsJochen
augustus_322~0.jpg
Augustus RIC I, 32293 viewsAugustus 27 BC - AD 14
AR - Denar, 3.83g, 20mm, Rome 19 BC, by moneyer Q Rustius
obv. Q RVSTIVS - FORTVNAE (AE ligate)
in ex. ANTIAT (hardly to see!)
Busts, draped, jugate, r., of Fortuna Victrix, helmeted, holding patera in l.
hand, and Fortuna Felix, wearing stephane;
both busts rest on bar terminating at each end in a ram' s head
rev. CAESARI . AVGVSTO
A highly ornamented rectangular altar with a bowl on it, inscribed in front
FOR.RE
ex.: EX.S.C.
RIC I, 322; BMCR 2
R2; about VF, toned

FORTVNA ANTIATIS, Fortuna of Antium, one of the most important places of Fortuna worshipping, as two goddesses, sisters, FORTVNA VICTRIX, more male, and FORTVNA FELIX, more female. Or as two aspects of only one goddess?
On the rev. the altar of FORTVNA REDVX, erected by the Senatus for the lucky return of Augustus 19BC with the 53 standards from the Parthians in Rome near the Porta Capuana.
Q Rustius celebrates Augustus and his own hometown Antium.





Jochen
Capua_copy.jpg
CAMPANIA, Capua18 viewsCirca 216-211 BC. Æ Biunx. Diademed head of Herakles right; club over left shoulder / Lion walking right, breaking spear held in its mouth; •• above. SNG ANS 208; BMC Italy pg. 80, 1-2; SNG Copenhagen 332; SNG Morcom -; Laffaille -; Weber 292. aF/F, obverse quite rough. Rare.

Ex. CNG eAuction 308, lot 539 (part of)
Molinari
Hyria.jpg
Campania, Hyrianoi. (Circa 405-400 BC)36 viewsFourrée Nomos (20.5mm, 6.33 g)

Obverse: Head of Athena wearing crested helmet decorated with olive-wreath and owl.

Reverse: Man-faced bull standing r. on exergual line, YDINA (retrograde) above. YDINA is in Oscan script and means "Urina", another name for Hyria.

For prototype, cf. HN Italy 539.

The city, named both Nola (new city) and Hyria (which Nola likely arose from), was situated in the midst of the plain lying to the east of Mount Vesuvius, 21 miles south of Capua. While Neapolis was the focus of minting in this general area, Neapolitan designs were adopted by several new series of coins, some of them bearing legends in Oscan script referring to communities that are otherwise unknown (such as the Hyrianoi). Complex die linking between these different series indicate, at the very least, close cooperation in minting. Didrachms sharing motives (Athena/man headed bull), but with legends referring to different issuing communities on the reverse, testify to the integration into a common material culture in Campania in the late fifth to early fourth century. The die sharing and use of legends in Oscan script allow for an interpretation of these issues as indigenous coinages struck in the Campanian mileu.

The influence of Athens on Hyria can be seen not only in the great number of Greek vases and other articles discovered at the old city but by the adoption of the head of Pallas with the Athenian owl as their obverse type.

This particular coin is an ancient forgery, which were quite common in Magna Graecia and typically of much higher quality than fourrees produced elsewhere. In ON THE FORGERIES OF PUBLIC MONEY [J. Y. Akerman
The Numismatic Chronicle and Journal of the Numismatic Society, Vol. 6 (APRIL, 1843–JANUARY, 1844), pp. 57-82] it is noted that ancient forgeries tend "to be most abundantly found to belong to the most luxurious, populous, and wealthy cities of Magna Graecia...Nor is it surprising that the luxury and vice of those celebrated cities should have led to crime; and among crimes, to the forging of money, as furnishing the means for the more easy gratification of those sensual indulgences, which were universally enjoyed by the rich in those dissipated and wealthy cities. Many of the coins of the places in question having been originally very thickly coated, or cased with silver (called by the French, fourrees), pass even now among collectors without suspicion."
1 commentsNathan P
EB0162b_scaled.JPG
EB0162 Zeus / Selene4 viewsCapua, CAMPANIA, AE sextans, 269-212 BC.
Obverse: Laureate head of Zeus right; two stars behind.
Reverse: Selene driving galloping biga right; two stars above.
References: BMC 9; Grose 195; SNG ANS 206-207; Laffaille 10; Weber 293
Diameter: 24mm, Weight: 14.592g.
EB
Casserole_Handle.jpg
Handle for Military Casserole Dish70 viewsThis handle from a bronze casserole dish has the ring-handle design (kasserollen mit kreisrunem loch) used circa 50 to 80 AD. Parallels can be found in Fibeln und Bronzegefasse von Kempten-Cambodunum, table 25, #14-15 from Cambodunum, Germany. The form is known as type Eggers 142/143; Petrovszky V 2,3; and Radnoti 15. It was likely mass-made in state factories (fabricae) the Capua area of Italy for the Legions and Cavalry Alae. This example came from near Carnuntum in Austria and may have belonged the Legio XV Apollonaris which was stationed at Carnuntum for much of the time during which this item was in use. otlichnik
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Italy, Capua - Amphitheatre391 viewsSpartacus fought there.1 commentsJohny SYSEL
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Italy, Capua - Amphitheatre335 viewsThe second largest amphitheatre ... arena is only 10m shorter and 8m narrower than colosseumJohny SYSEL
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Italy, Capua - Amphitheatre270 viewsJohny SYSEL
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Italy, Capua - Amphitheatre224 viewsJohny SYSEL
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Italy, National Museum Naples, Marble bust of Hannibal from Capua85 viewsA marble bust, reputedly of Hannibal, originally found at the ancient city-state of Capua in Italy (some historians are uncertain of the authenticity of the portrait). From Phaidon Verlag (Wien-Leipzig) - "Römische Geschichte", gekürzte Ausgabe (1932). Author died more than 70 years ago - public domain.Joe Sermarini
Italy- Pompeii- Entrance.jpg
Italy- Pompeii- Entrance PORTA MARINA AND THE CITY WALLS36 viewsPORTA MARINA AND THE CITY WALLS
Similar to a bastion, facing west, together with Porta Ercolano it is the most imposing of the seven gates of Pompeii. It takes its name from the fact that its road led to the sea. It has two barrel arches (round arch opening), later combined into a single, large barrel vault in opus caementicium. The ring of the walls visible today, already present in the 6th cent. BC, is over 3200 m long: it is generally a solid ring of wall, protected on the outside by a moat and inside by an embankment, atop which runs the patrol walkway. Twelve towers to the north, where the flat ground made Pompeii most vulnerable, also ensured its defense. Pompeii's definitive entry into the Roman orbit (with the Sullan colonization: 80 BC) reduced the importance of the walls, which were occasionally reused or destroyed to make room for houses and baths.

THE CITY WALLS
Pompeii rests on a plateau of Vesuvian lava, whose walls represented a solid natural protection, just the wall to the north were more vulnerable.
The ring of walls was 3220 m. long. Seven identified gates opened in the walls, while the existence of an eighth (Porta Capua) one was uncertain.
The materials used for the walls were mostly: Sarno stone and grey Nucerian tufo. At the beginning the walls were made of Vesuvian lava or ‘pappamonte’ blocks, later made of a double parallel row, than filled with stones and ground.
During the Samnite wars were built the fortifications with the ‘ad aggere’ system, with an embankment inner the city.
During the 3rd century B.C. was probably built an inner calcareous and tufo row, with buttresses and round the top of the walls ran a patrol walkway.
The last phase of construction of the fortifications was dated about the age before Sulla’s conquest: on the more vulnerable side of the walls guard towers in opus incertum were built, with regular distance.
John Schou
Italy- Terracina- part of Via Appia.jpg
Italy- Terracina- part of Via Appia47 viewsAppian way
The Appian Way (Latin: Via Appia) is a famous road built by the Romans. It is the most important among the Roman roads; it was called regina viarum, the queen of the roads.

Its construction was started in 312 BC by the consul Appius Claudius Caecus, restructuring an existing track that connected Rome with the Alban Hills (this road has been supposed to be the one that originally brought Latins from Albalonga to the future capital, at the time of its founding).

The original track of the Appian Way connected Rome (from Porta San Sebastiano in the Aurelian Walls, near the Baths of Caracalla) with Ariccia, Forum Appii, Terracina, Fondi, Formia, Minturnae (Minturno), Sinuessa (Mondragone) and finally Capua.

The road was later extended (190 BC) to Benevento (Beneventum) and Venosa which was founded at that time and populated by 20,000 Roman farmers; in a following epoch it was extended to Taranto (Tarentum) and Brindisi (Brundisium).

The Via Appia Traiana would soon have more linearly connected Benevento with Aecae (Troia), Canusium (Canosa) and Barium (Bari).

In 71 BC six thousand slaves rebelling under Spartacus, having been captured after his final defeat and death, were crucified along this road by Marcus Licinius Crassus.

After the fall of the Roman empire, the road was not as used as before; Pope Pius VI ordered its restoration and brought it into new use.

Wide parts of the original road have been preserved, and some are now used by cars (for example, in the area of Velletri). Along the part of the road closest to Rome, one can see many tombs and catacombs of Roman and early Christian origin. Also the Church of Domine Quo Vadis is in the first mile of the road.

The Via Appia was also the site of the first milestones.

A new Appian Way was built in parallel with the old one in 1784.

John Schou
coins73.JPG
Kyme, Aeolis35 viewsCumae (Cuma, in Italian) is an ancient Greek settlement lying to the northwest of Naples in the Italian region of Campania. The settlement is believed to have been founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks from the city of Cuma and Chalkis in Euboea upon the earlier dwellings of indigenous, Iron-Age peoples whom they supplanted. Eusebius placed Cumae's Greek foundation at 1050 BC. Its name comes from the Greek word kyma (κύμα), meaning wave - perhaps in reference to the big waves that the peninsula of Κyme in Euboea has.

There is also a small, modern Greek Euboean city called Kύμη (Kyme or Cuma or Cyme) as well as the nearby recently excavated ancient Greek city of Cuma [1], the source point for the Cumae alphabet. According to a myth mentioned by Aristotle and Pollux, princess Demodike (or Hermodike) of Kyme, is the inventor of money. (Aristot. fr. 611, 37; Pollux 9, 83,[2])

Cumae was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy (Magna Graecia), there having been earlier starts on the islands of Ischia and Sicily by colonists from the Euboean cities of Chalcis (Χαλκίς) and possibly Eretria (Ερέτρια) or Cuma (Kύμη).

Cumae is perhaps most famous as the seat of the Cumaean Sibyl. Her sanctuary is now open to the public. The colony was also the entry point onto the Italian peninsula for the Cumean alphabet, a variant of which was adapted by the Romans.

The colony spread throughout the area over the 6th and centuries BC, gaining sway over Puteoli and Misenum and, thereafter, the founding of Neapolis in 470 BC.

The growing power of the Cumaean Greeks, led many indigenous tribes of the region, notably the Dauni and Aurunci with the leadership of the Capuan Etruscans. This coalition was defeated by the Cumaeans in 524 BC under the direction of Aristodemus. The combined fleets of Cumae and Syracuse defeated the Etruscans at the Battle of Cumae in 474 BC.

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last mythical King of Rome, lived his life in exile at Cumae after the establishment of the Roman Republic.

Cumae was also a place where a widely influential early Christian work The Shepherd of Hermas was said to have been inspired by way of visions.

The colony was built on a large rise, the seaward side of which was used as a bunker and gun emplacement by the Germans during World War II.

In Roman mythology, there is an entrance to the underworld located at Avernus, a crater near Cumae, and was the route Aeneas used to descend to the Underworld


Kyme in Aeolis, c.350-250 BC, Ae 9-16 mm, cf. Sear 4186-7

Obv: Eagle
Rev: One handled vase (or cup, it is upside down in photo)
From Ebay

Check
ecoli
bridge002.jpg
Roman Bridge72 viewsThis is a Roman bridge in the south of Italy (Calabria) at the bottom of my grandmothers town today called Scigliano but in ancient times was known as Sturni. "Annibale’s Bridge” (Hannibal) is also known as ”The Bridge of Saint Angelo" The road and surrounding area is completely grown over but it was once a part of the Via Popilia which once joined Reggio Calabria to Capua. The bridge crosses the Savuto river. There are no tourists here, it is only known by the locals and is claimed to be the oldest free standing Roman bridge! It dates to 130 BC.Titus Pullo
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ROMAN REPUBLIC, Collateral Semilibral Struck AE Triens - Crawford 3937 viewsRome. The Republic.
Semilibral Reduction, 217-215 BCE
Æ Triens (54 grams; 37 mm).
Uncertain Italian Mint.

Obverse: Head of Juno (?) right, wearing double-crested diadem, her hair tied in three ringlets down neck; scepter or sword over left shoulder (?); ●●●● (mark of value) behind.

Reverse: Hercules, naked but for lion skin, grasping centaur by hair and preparing to strike him with club; ●●●● (mark of value) before; ROMA in exergue.

References: Crawford 39/1; Sydenham 93 (R6); BMCRR (Romano-Campanian) 113-115.

Provenance: Ex Munzen und Medaillen 47 (1972), Lot 74.

Crawford dates his 39 series of collateral, semilibral struck bronzes to the early years of the Second Punic War, 217-215 BC. The economic hardship on Rome imposed by Hannibal’s invasion led to a rapid decline in the weight of Roman bronze coins, resulting in the adoption of a semi-libral bronze standard (AE As of ½ Roman pound) and eventual elimination of cast coins. Crawford deduces that Hannibal’s defeat of Rome at Trasimene in 217 B.C. likely tipped the financial scales to the semilibral reduction. He notes that Capua overstruck Roman coinage of the late semi-libral period when Capua joined with Hannibal in 216-215. Further, in Roman Republican Coin Hoards, Crawford reports that hoard #56, found at Capua in 1909, contained three trientes and four sextantes of the “collateral” series; thus the series must have circulated in Capua for a time before the town switched sides to Hannibal in 216-215. It appears that the standard, prow-type semilibral coins (Crawford 38) came first, because hoards containing the Crawford 39 coins almost always contain semilibral prow types as well.

The obverse of this Triens is particularly enigmatic. Both before, during and after production of this series, the goddess depicted on trientes was typically Minerva. In Roman iconography, Minerva’s attributes are the Corinthian helmet, aegis and spear. The goddess on this triens lacks the Corinthian helmet that was used to depict Minerva in previous Aes Grave series of libral and semilibral weight standard (See Crawford 35 and 38 Aes Grave) and on the subsequent, prow-type, struck trientes (Crawford 41 and 56). Some authors are non-committal as to the goddess’ identity (Crawford, for one, in his catalogue; though elsewhere in his text he refers to “Juno”); others attribute the goddess as Juno who, as Jupiter’s consort, is typically rendered with a diadem crown and scepter; and others believe the goddess is Bellona, a war goddess who is typically rendered with helmet and weapon. Firm identification depends, in part, on proper understanding of the headgear. I think attempts to call the headgear a “helmet” or “partial helmet” are misguided efforts to explain the crest. In my opinion, the headgear is a crested diadem. The odd crest attached to the end of the diadem is possibly a misinterpreted element borrowed from portraits of Tanit on Punic coinage, which always show Tanit with a stylized wheat leaf in this location (Tanit’s depiction was likely borrowed by the Carthaginians from Syracusan tetradrachms). There is also some confusion as to what the goddess holds over her left shoulder. Condition issues and poor strikes on some examples often eliminate this aspect of the design. Fortunately, my example is quite clear and one can see the shadowy image on the left shoulder which extends in straight-line behind the left side of the goddess’ head ending in a visible, rounded point above her head. Crawford may have thought the lower part of this element represented the goddess’ far-side curls (“hair falls in tight rolls onto BOTH shoulders” emphasis added), but this interpretation does not explain the point above her head. The point is not likely to represent the opposite crest, as the crest on the visible side does not extend above head-top level. A more plausible theory, proposed by both Grueber and Sydenham, is that the goddess is holding a scepter over her left shoulder, which is consistent with Juno’s attributes. Other possibilities are that she bears a spear, which is an attribute of Minerva, or a sword, which is an attribute of Bellona.

The Series 39 types and their relationship to contemporaneous Second Punic War events are interesting to ponder. Hercules is an important figure, appearing on two of the 10 available sides of the series. Likely this is a paradigm of Roman heroism during the War. In the myth depicted on this Triens, Hercules kills a centaur for assaulting his wife – is this an allegorical reference to Hannibal’s assault on Italy (and the likely response from Rome)?

Despite its beauty, this type would never again be repeated on a Roman coin. However, related imagery can be found on quincunxes of Capua and quadrantes of Larinum, Apulia, immediately following the defection of those towns to Hannibal’s side of the Second Punic War.
3 commentsCarausius
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Second Punic War, Vanquished Enemy Overstrike, 211-204 B.C.60 views" This coin is from Andrew McCabe's group H1, a previously unrecognized late Second Punic War issue, overstruck on the coins of Rome's vanquished enemies, from a mint or mints in Southern Italy, Sicily or Sardinia. The most common undertype is Carthaginian Tanit / horse types, but coins of Capua, the Bretti, Syracuse and other coins of the vanquished were also overstruck. For reasons unknown, these coins were overstruck on types that weighed half the standard for the same denomination at Rome. In the past these coins were often assumed, based on their weight, to date to the late second century or first century B.C."

Bronze triens, McCabe Anonymous group H1, cf. Crawford 56/4 (Rome mint, normal weight), VF, overstruck, nice green patina, 6.827g, 20.5mm, 270o, Southern Italy, Sicily or Sardinia mint, 211 - 204 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Minerva right, four pellets above; reverse prow of galley right, ROMA above, four pellets below; from the Andrew McCabe Collection;
jimmynmu
Spain- Taragona- Amphitheatre.jpg
Spain- Taragona- Amphitheatre46 viewsThis conventional seating may be observed at the amphitheatre at Tarragona in northern Spain. Tarraco, its Latin name, was the capital of the province of Hispania Tarraconensis. The seating is essentially the same as that found in Rome’s Colosseum. The amphitheatre’s construction is dated to the second century AD, a time of extensive building of centres of public entertainment throughout the Mediterranean. On the right side, the seating was hewn from the bedrock, while on the left, or seaward side, the seating was built up from blocks, a phenomenon also found at Syracuse in Sicily.

However, in a recent visit to Pompeii some interesting divergence from the norm is easily to be observed, for which no reason appears to have been voiced. The town of Pompeii, destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, had a population in excess of 10,000, and was clearly a place of sufficient wealth to

sport not only an amphitheatre seating 20,000, but also a traditional Greek theatre and a smaller building called the Odeon. The "large" theatre, as it is now called, can seat an audience of 5,000, the "small" theatre, which was roofed, had accommodation for 500. Seating was according to rank, it is supposed, two side boxes (rather like the royal boxes of later theatres) for honoured guests, an inner cavea for the decurions or magistrates of the town, the middle rows for the more wealthy members of the community, the upper tiers for the ordinary citizens. If one looks closely it is clearly noticeable that this inner cavea consists of the first four or five rows of benches.

It is clear that, unlike the earlier form of the Greek theatres, the front rows are considerably wider than those higher up in the auditorium. The size of the seating is far beyond the dimensions of even a large and well-endowed personage, extending inwards for a good metre or more. The reasons for the additional size are unclear, because the larger width does not make these benches any more comfortable for the sitter, if anything they provide less support than the more narrow benches above. Presumably, the spectators brought cushions with them for lengthy performances in much the same way as fans for rugby or cricket matches do today. One solution may be that the wider seating allowed the dignatory to relax by reclining as if at dinner though this can hardly have been a posture acceptable for a quasi-religious festival nor one which would have endeared these wealthy members of the community to their less well-endowed fellows higher up, even if conspicuous consumption was the order of the day, particularly during the Roman empire.

In the "large" theatre the first four rows, in the "small" theatre and in the amphitheatre the first five rows stand out from the rest and, in fact, have their special place denoted by a partition. In some of the theatres in Greece, the officials judging the competitions, which were part and parcel of the festivals, and high ranking citizens might occupy a special bench, or the first row of the auditorium, but the broad nature of the bench at Pompeii appears unique. Pompeii began as a Oscan settlement in the 8th century BC and was heavily Hellenised by the 6th century. Thereafter, Pompeii had a fairly chequered history, being conquered and lost by the Etruscans and Samnites, before becoming a Roman colony in 80 BC. The Samnites of the central hills and the more local Oscan speakers, an Italic dialect which survived down to the period of the empire, remained culturally and linguistically influential, and it is possible that the Greek practice of uniformity in seating was altered by these Italic tribes who, at times, controlled Pompeii. On the other hand, there could be direct Roman or even Etruscan influence, though this formalised partitioning of seating is not seen in any of the archeaological sites in Rome or in nearby Campania, for example at Puteoli or at Capua. Finally, as for what purpose the large widths were intended, without clear evidence, and certainly with no ancient mention, means that speculation takes over. It could be that wooden seats rather like thrones were brought in, even sedan chairs for the high and mighty of the town, though it is worth bearing in mind that high-backed chairs easily obscured the views of those scarcely less wealthy immediately behind. The Roman males, it will be remembered, tended to lounge on low couches when they ate, rather than sitting in upright seats, which became popular only in the later Byzantine period. It also seems likely that, given the amount of space, it was not just the men who were seated here but entire families - perhaps picnic baskets as well. Refreshments were provided during performances, but the wealthy possibly brought their own equivalents of the modern cool bags and six-packs. The illustrations of the three places of entertainment at Pompeii do not appear to suggest that these special seating are the product of modern reconstructions, some of which have proved disastrous to ancient sites; and, therefore, there seems to be no alternative to accepting at least the idea that preferential seating was the order of the day in this rather provincial town on the Bay of Naples. Etruscan tombs often show their owners in a reclining position as if at a meal, and other forms of entertainment also feature which, overall, might suggest an influence here from north of the River Tiber.

Having dwelt at length, as it were, with the bottoms and the bottom-most seats of the ancient theatres and amphitheatres I now want to move on to the general ambience of the structure. The Roman amphitheatre or hippodrome were dirty smelly places where, by the end of the day’s proceedings, the stench from the dead and dying must have made an abatoir a sweet-smelling location. It is recorded that sprinkler systems were used in the Colosseum to spray the audience and the arena floor with scented water to alleviate the foulness of the atmosphere. By way of contrast, the Greek theatre must have been a place of peace and serenity, except for sore buttocks and aching backs.

Many commentators of the ancient theatre have sadly noted that the early pristine form, as found today at Epidaurus and Segesta, generally underwent alterations during the Roman period. It is noted that the slightly more than a semi-circular design was largely filled in during later antiquity by the Roman scena; and today many examples of the traditional Greek theatres sport Roman brickwork at the front which reached the same height, in some cases, as the uppermost tier of the cavea or auditorium. This height also allowed for a velabrum or canvass cover to be used to provide shade or shelter from the elements. At Taormina, ancient Tauromenium, for example:

"The brick scenic wall was preceded by a row of nine granite columns crowned by Corinthian capitals, which had both a decorative and bearing function, in that they supported the higher parts of the stage. The niches in the wall contained marble statues. On the sides, there are remains of the ‘parascenia’, square rooms used by actors and for scenic fittings. The actors entered the stage through side openings. A further row of sixteen columns closer to the orchestra framed the decorative front of the stage."

This is quite a departure from the earlier simplicity of the Greek theatre. However, it is certainly arguable that Baroque is not necessarily less pleasing than Romanesque even if blocking out the natural view also took the theatre out of its topographical or geographical context. For the purists among us, more sacrilege occurred, for instance, again at Taormina, where the first nine rows of the seating were removed making the orchestra large enough for gladiatorial combats and beast hunts, while at the same time allowing the audience safety high above the blood sports taking place below them. Of course, the construction of a front wall can easily be accounted for by the changing tastes in the entertainment itself, while the local audience presumably knew the view pretty well, and did not come to the theatre to gaze at Mount Etna. Furthermore, Taormina, high up on a hill overlooking the sea, had no extra space on which to build a new amphitheatre, more regularly the venue for gladiatorial combats. And it is also quite possible that there were simply insufficient funds. Taormina was neither a large nor a wealthy city.

Meanwhile, at Delphi the scena was "low so that the audience could enjoy the wonderful view", says one expert. Nonetheless, while the modern tourist may find the view as gratifying if not more so than the ruined theatre, the ancient audience came too see and hear the performances in honour of the Pythian Apollo. The ancient Greeks did not come for the view, they came for theatrical, religious even mystic experience. It is the modern philistine in us who enjoys the view. That being the case, the construction of the ancient theatre had little to do with searching for a site with a nice aspect, though these obviously exist, even in abundance, but for acoustic perfection and adequate accommodation. Finally, the best seats were closest to the stage and its proceedings, while the worst seats, for looking at the productions, had the best views. Does this mean that the most wealthy, with the largest bottoms, were obliged to watch the entertainment with no chance of letting the mind wander to the natural surroundings? Or does it mean that the women, slaves and poorest citizens, who sat high above the productions, probably could not hear or see what was going on hence took in the nice view instead. Therein lies the morality tale embedded in the title of this paper. If you had the means you were forced to take in the culture. If you were female or poor you could let your mind wander to other matters, including wonderful views of nature.
John Schou
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Tyre, Lebanon, Grave Stelle of Signifer21 viewsFor Cavtronivs Basvs of Capua, Signifer (standard bearer) of the Cohort Italica.otlichnik
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Victoria Brescia35 viewsStatue of Victoria Brescia (Italian: Vittoria alata = winged Victory), found behind the Capitoline Temple of Brescia in 1826, now in the Santa Giulia Museum in Brescia.

Roman copy of a statue of Aphrodite of the 3rd century BC from a Greek City State. Wings added in 1st century BC to transform her in a winged Victory holding a shield to write on it (name of Victor?). The original Aphrodite (type of the Venus of Capua) was holding the shield of Ares to look at her face reflected on the inside of the shield.

The type of the Victoria of Brescia can be found on many Roman coins and on Trajan's column.
Jochen
     
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