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Amalthea


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AMALTHEA: the name of the goat, to which fable assigns the honour of having suckled Jupiter. Out of gratitude for this good office, the king of gods and of men placed her, with her two kids, as a constellation in the heavens; and gave one of her horns to the nymphs who had the care of his infancy, accompanied with the virtue of producing whatever they desired. This is what is called the horn of plenty (see Cornucopiae), so often represented on Greek and Roman coins. Allusive to Amalthea, as Nutrix Jovis infantis (the nurse of the infant Jupiter), gold and silver coins of Domitian bear on their reverse the figure of a goat, within a laurel garland, and the legend Princeps Juventutis. On a second brass of Hadrian with s. c. the infant Jupiter is typified, under the goat Amalthra: -

Stat quoque capra aimul (says Ovid)
Infanti lac dedit iila Jovi.

In the Farnese collection (v. 169), there is a brass medaillon of Antoninus Pius, without legend of reverse, which exhibits the infant Jove sitting naked on the back of a goat, before an altar, with an eagle apparently sculptured on it, placed close to the trunk of a tree.

On the reverse of a billion coin of Gallienus, inscribed Jovi Conservatori Augusti, there is, instead of the usual magestic figure of the king of "gods and men," a goat, representing Amalthea. This piece of mythology is still more clearly alluded to, on a billon of Gallienus, and on gold and billon of his son Saloninus, which coins have, each for their type of reverse, a naked boy riding on a goat. - See JOVI CRESCENTI.


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