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DACIA S C








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DACIA. S. C.----On a first brass of Hadrian, bearing on the exergue this simple legend, with the mark of senatorial authority in the field of the reverse, the province is personified under the figure of a young man, bareheaded, habited in a short dress, a military cloak thrown across his shoulders, and half-boots with ornamented tops. The figure is seated on a rock, with a legionary eagle in the right hand, and a palm branch in the left; his right foot rests on an oval-formed stone.
    The above is engraved from a well-preserved specimen in the British Museum. It is thus also that the coin is delineated in Queen Christina’s and the Farnese cabinets; and Captain Smyth notes a similar type of Hadrian in his own collection. It is however to be observed, that Eckhel describes the first and second brass Dacia of Hadrian’s mint, as personified by a woman, who holds in her left hand a curved sword (gladium incurvum). But all numismatic descriptions agree as to the military ensigns being put into the right hand of the conquered province, seated on a rock----the last feature of typification denoting the peculiar situation and national habitudes of the Dacians, allusive to which L. Florianus (lib. 4), says, the Dacians cleave to their mountains (Daci montibus inhaerent).----It appears from Spartian, that, before he ascended the throne, Hadrian was twice in Dacia, and took part as an officer in Trajan’s two expeditions against that country. At the period of the second war he commanded the 1st legion, surnamed Minervia.
    We learn distinctly from Eutropius (lib. 8), that as Hadrian, on at best a doubtful policy, had given up possession of Syria, Mespotamia, Armenia, and other conquests of Trajan in the East, so if left to himself, he would have renounced even Dacia; but that he was otherwise persuaded by his friends, who remonstrated with him against such a withdrawal of the legions, ne multi cives Romani barbaris traderentur.----For, immediately after the annexation of Dacia to the empire by Trajan, many Roman colonies were established there, which would all have been immediately exposed to, and in subsequent reigns were actually ravaged by, the inroads of fierce enemies, without the means of defending themselves. He was therefore induced to make no change in this quarter, except the discreditable one of causing Trajan’s celebrated bridge over the Danube to be thrown down; lest (according to Dion, 68, s. 16), the barbarians should overpower the guard of the bridge, and enter Maesia. Historians make no mention of any journey by Hadrian in that country when emperor.----But from his geographical coins it is to be inferred that he visited the Dacian province also. One of these, inscribed solely with the name DACIA, presents its type of personification, as given in the above and other examples. Others, purely military, repeat the usual type of an emperor addressing his soldiers, with a corresponding legend.----See EXERCITVS DACICVS.
    The Abbe Greppo, in his worksur les Voyages d’Hadrien.” observes, that there are several inscriptions of Dacia which connect themselves with the history of Hadrian. One deserves to be cited in this place. Although it be of a date posterior to the probable period of that prince’s advent in the province, yet the public works which it mentions may be regarded as a result of that journey. It relates to water conveyed (AQVA INDVCTA) into the ancient capital of Decebalus, which, having become a Roman colony, is recorded on ancient marbles----COLONia VLPia TRAIANA AVGusta DACICA SARMIZ.----The inscription is given in Gruter, Corpus Inscrip. Antiq. Vol. 1, clxxvii. 3 M.

    DACIA.  S. C.----A woman, clothed in the stola, stands, holding in her right hand a staff

surmounted by an ass’s head. This legend, and very singular type, present themselves on gold and silver, as well as on first and second brass, of Trajan Decius.
    On coins of Trajan (with legend of Provincia Dacia Augusti), the genius of the Dacian province, is seated on a rock, holding a military standard; and on coins struck in the province itself, under Philip I (with Provincia Dacia for their reverse legend) the same personification of the province carries the bent sword of her country. On the present second brass of Trajan Decius, both the above mentioned attributes are omitted; and in their place is clearly displayed the veritable head of an ass.
    “What may be the meaning of this symbol, I shall not (says Eckhel) in the absence of any ancient testimony, attempt to pronounce. For if, as some suppose, an allegory is concealed under it, the risk of error is in the ratio of the vagueness of all allegory, and I have an aversion to the troubled sea of conjecture. Instead of the ass’s head, Engelius sees on these coins the head of the Dacian dragon, fixed on a pole, the body and tail being let out, either by the carelessness of the moneyer, or to shorten his labour, or for want of space in the coin. (Engel. Comment. De Exped. Traj. p. 201). We know, indeed, from the relievos on Trajan’s Column, that dragons supported on spears, served the Dacians as military standards. I would readily give in my adhesion to this view of the subject, as we should then have a tangible point to start from, without being reduced to the uncertainties of allegory. But, on the most perfect of these coins, so long are the ears of the animal, as to leave no doubt on the mind that they represent those of an ass.”
    Among the mintages of Philip I there is a coin inscribed TRANQVILLITAS AVGG. On which is a woman standing, with a dragon in her right hand, by which type is probably intended one of the dragons, which, among the Romans, quite as much as among the barbarian nations, used to be carried, suspended from a pole, in the front ranks of an army.----“If this head (observes Eckhel), be compared with that which appears on the coin before us, the difference between the two instantly strikes the eye. Whoever is inclined to refer this type to the religion of the Dacians, may suppose that it alludes to the ass, which, among the Scythians, is one of Apollo’s victims, according to Clemens Alexandrinus (Protrepticos, p. 25, Edit. Oxon.)----“Phoebus is worshipped with the Hyperborean sacrifice of asses.”

 


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