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Laodicea Syriae






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Laodicea Syriae (now called Ladkeyah or Latakia), a maritime city situated on a peninsula towards Phoenicia, and possessed of one of the finest harbours.

It was founded by Seleucus I Nicator [Seleukos I, Nikator] (one of the most powerful generals of Alexander the Great, and the first of the Seleucid Kings of Syria). It afterwards received many favours from Julius Caesar, and in consequence took the name of Julia, aVC 707, from which time it dates its new epocha (48 BC). It struck both Autonomous and Greek Imperial coins. The former offer the head of Alexander I, Bala, King of Syria. An Imperial Greek of Hadrian bears the name of Aradus, in token of its alliance with that island; but it was not until the reign of Septimius Severus that this Laodicea became a Roman Colony. By the same emperor it was constituted a Metropolis, and invested with the privilege of striking coins with Latin legends, which it exercised under his reign (including his empress Julia Domna), and continued to do so in considerable numbers under the suceeding reigns of Caracalla, Geta, Macrinus, Diadumenian, Elagabalus, Philip I, Trebonianus Gallus, and Valerian I; on which were inscribed COL SEP AUR LAOD METRO Colonia Septimia Aurelia Laodicea Metropolis. The name of Septimia being adopted in memory of its benefactor Severus, and the former name of Julia abandoned.

Vaillant has not enumerated any colonial medals of Laodicea in Syria ad mare, struck under Septimius Severus. But Pellerin has supplied that omission by giving engravings of three fine large brass of this colony dedicated to that emperor, viz.,

- IMP CAES L SP SEVERO AVG T IVL AVH MC, radiated head of Severus, joined with that of Julia Domna (it is judged this legend should read Imperatori Caesari Lucio Septimio Severo Augusto et Julia Matri Castrorum) / SEP LAOD (Septimia Laodicea), Jupiter seated, holds a Victory in one hand, and rests his other hand on a spear. Under his chair an eagle. A table before with a large urn on top.
- Same as above / figure of Silenus standing
- Single head of Severus / ANT AVG GET CAE, Caracalla and Geta joining hands

The following are also amongst the types of this colony, as given in Vaillant:

Temple. On a second brass of Caracalla, which bears the legend of COL LAODICEAS METROPOLEOS, and the initials D. E.; in the field of the coin and eagle, whith its wings spread, stands within a temple of two columns surmounted by a dome. The same reverse appears on a coin of Elagabalus. Vaillant thinks the eagle to represent Jupiter, not the Roman empire (ii 38).

In Vaillant's work there is only one medal of this colony inscribed to Caracalla. Pellerin, however, speaks of ten others struck under the same emperor. Of these he mentions those that have for their legend AETERNVM BENEFICIVM, and for their type a measure full of corn ears; also those attributed to this city which represent the wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, with the legend ROMAE FEL.

Laurel Crown. A small brass, inscribed to Geta as Caesar, bears for legend SEPT COL LAOD METRO within a laurel wreath. Note: Laodicea computed a new era from the time of Septimius Severus, to whom, deserting the cause of Pescennius, this city adhered, during the brief but bloody struggle of those two men for the imperial throne. The consequence was that Pescennius treated her [Laodicea] with the greatest oppression and cruelty. But as soon as he [Pescennius] was slain, Laodicea was invested with the colonial privileges of which Severus had instantly stripped the people of Antioch, who had sided with his rival. Antioch was later pardoned by Severus, and then Laodicea was made a a Metropolis for its second title. The laurel wreath alludes to the victory gained by Severus over the Parthians, and on which account the title of Caesar was conferred upon Geta by his father. iii p. 57.

Diana. On a small brass of Elagabalus (ii 82), this goddess in her character and costume of huntress stands in the middle of drawing with her right hand an arrow from the quiver which hangs at her back, and holding the bow in her left. Note: The Laodiceans of Syria, from the variety of coins which they dedicated to Elgalabalus, a native of that country, seem to be among the first who proclaimed him emperor. They selected Diana as the type of this reverse, doubless on account of her being the object of supreme worship in their city, as Lampridius records, in noticing her image placed in the adytum, a most secret and sacred place of her temple there.

Diana also appears on a small brass of Philip I, standing with bow and arrow in her hands, and with two stags at her feet, one one each side; those animals being sacred to her, as Apollodius affirms. On this medal the goddess appears with the tutulus on her head, and clothed in a long tunic. ii p. 162.

Turreted head. On a small brass of Elagabalus is the turreted head of a female, with the legend LAODICEON. On another of the same size is the same head placed within a temple of two collumns: in each are the letters D. E. Note: Vaillant gives what appears to be sufficient reasons for regarding this type as representing the Genius of the City, and not one of the Dii majorum gentium, such as Pallas and Diana, as Patin seems to consider it. ii 82.

Wrestlers. On a small coin of Elagabalus are two naked Athletae wrestling, the legend LAODECEON. Note: These male figures indicate certain certamina or public sports celebrated at Laodicea. On such occasions the competitors for the prize were stripped of clothing and annointed with oil and wax. They contended together with mutual grappling and liftingn whilst each endeavoured to give the other "a flooring." Hercules was, according to Pausanias, the reputed institutor of the olympic games. There are colonial medals of Caracalla which inform us that the certamina olympia were performed at Tyre; and this coin shows the probability of the same contests having been celebrated at Laodicea. ii 83.

Woman, with a turreted head, stands holding in her right hand an eagle, and in her left a rudder, on a small brass of Philip I; on another the same figure extends her right hand but without the eagle; and on a third she appears sitting on the ridder, holding the handle of it in her right hand. The legend on all three reverses is LAODICEON METROPOLEOS. Note: The women delineated in different ways represents the city of Laodicea, and is the Genius loci, adorned with towers as of strongly fortified; bears a ship's rudder to indicate its maritime site and its possession of a directing influence. As a Roman colony, the Genius of Laodicea holds an eagle, the symbol of Rome. The port of this city appears, from the the description of the ruins by Shaw, to have been spacious and well sheltered. The Genius being seated on the rudder (an unusual mode of representation) argues the tranquil state of the colony; for Laodicea reposed awhile after peace had been entered into by Philip with the Persians, who, occupying part of Mesopotamia, threatened Syria herself, and therefore this city, in congratulation, inscribed these coins to the emperor. ii 168.

Woman standing with tutulus on her head and clothed in a tunic, places her right hand on the tiller of a ship's rudder, and in her extended left hand holds two small images. Note: The personification of Laodicea here supports the small statues of Trebonianus Gallus and his son Volusian, as if those two princes were the Genii of the city, in like manner as on coins of Philipopolis, Rome seated is seen bearing in her hand the images of the Philips, Philip I and Philip II. ii 214.

Silenus. On a first brass of Trebonianus Gallus, struck by the Laodiceans, Silenus appears in his usual posture and with usual attributes: the right hand uplifted, and the goat skin bag on his left shoulder. Note: this type shews that the deified tutor and associate of Bacchus was worshipped at Laodicea. ii 215.

Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. This type appears on a second brass of this colony struck under Macrinus, omitted in Vaillant, but engraved in Pellerin (Mel. i pl. XVIII No. 11), with legend of reverse ROMAE FEL. Also on a very fine first brass of Diadumenianus, not noticed in Vaillant, but given in Planch. xix of the Melange, TOM. i No. 2.

Women with turreted heads. On a large brass of Elagabalus struck in this colony, the reverse presents for its legend COL LAOD METROPOLEOS, and for type a group of six figures, the center one of which represents a woman with towers on her head, seated, having the figure of a river god at her feet. Four other females standing, two on each side of the middle one, have the like turreted ornaments on their heads, and have their faces turned towards the woman who is seated. In the field of the coin are the letters D E. This remarkable and elegent medal is desribed in Pellerin's Melange, T. i pl. xix No. 7.

Quadriga. On a second brass of Laodicea struck under Elagabalus, is another remarkable reverse, allusive to the stone worship introduced by that Syrian priest of the Sun into the city of Rome. The reverse COL SEP L (Colonia Septimia Laodicea); and the type, a car drawn by four horses, on which is the image of the god Elagabalus, represented under the symbol of a round conical formed stone. This also is engraved in Pellerin's Melange, pl. xix No. 8. For further explanation of the type see CONSERVATOR AVG of Elagabalus.

Table, with urn and palms. On a second brass of Gordian III, with the legend COL HELIOP is a table on which is placed a large urn, containing three palm branches. Pellerin, Mel. i pl. xx No. 11.

Colonist at plough. This type appears on a second brass of Philip II, inscribed to him by the Laodiceans.


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