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AEGYPTOS - Egypt personified under the image of a woman seated on the ground, holding in her right hand the sistrum, resting her left arm on the canistrum, or basket filled with fruits, and having on her right foot the Ibis standing.
This reverse which appears on coins of Hadrian, in all the three metals, was struck on the occasion of that Emperor's visit to Egypt, after having been in Judaea and Arabia, probably about the year U. C. 883, A. D. 130. (Eckhel, vi. 488.) The type is elegant, on gold and first brass, and is peculiarly appropriate to Egypt. The sistrum was a musical instrument sacred to Isis, in whose worship it was used, and national to Egypt. [See the word.] The canistrum, or basket of wheat, signifies the fruitfulness of the country, which is caused by the inundation of the Nile.
In reference to the sacred Ibis, a bird so peculiar to Egypt, that it was said to die, if taken to other countries, Cicero has observed, "the Egyptians, whom we are apt to ridicule so much, conferred honours upon animals only in proportion to the advantage derived from them. Thus their reason for worshipping the Ibis, was because it destroyed the serpent."
A large brass of Hadrian, the reverse without legend, but with S. C. in the field, "exhibits a majestic figure of the Emperor, with his left foot on a crocodile; he is in armour, with the paludamentum at his back, his right hand is supported by a spear, with the point peacefully downwards, and his left holds a parazonium. This was probably minted in remembrance of his visit to Egypt, and its date may therefore be nearly approximated - for Hadrian, having passed through Judaea and Arabia, arrived at Pelusium A. D. 130, where he repaired the tomb of Pompey." - Smyth, Descr. Cat. p. 103.
This historical legend appears on gold and silver of Augustus. The obverse presents the head of that emperor, without laurel, behind which is the augural lituus, and around is read CAESAR COS. VI - On the reverse are the foregoing words, accompanied with the figure of a crocodile, to the right. - The sixth consulate being inscribed on this denarius, shews it to have been struck in the year of Rome 726 (B. C. 28), under Augustus, to renew the memory of the capture of Alexandria, and thereby the conquest of Egypt, by his great uncle, and father by adoption, Julius Caesar. [The original silver coin is neither rare nor high priced, but the same type restored by Trajan is valued by Mionnet at 100 francs.]
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