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Ptolemais Galilaeae






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   Ptolemais Galilaeae, a town on the Phoenician coast, originally called Ace from Hercules and now St. John of Acre.  It took its Greek name from one of the Ptolemies, Kings of Egypt, and was the only city of that name converted by the Romans into a colony, an  event which occurred under Claudius.  Relegated the bare title of Colony, it does not appear that any right or privilege was conferred upon the place.  For example, if Ulpian is to be relied upon, Ptolemais was never admitted to a participation of the Jus Italicum, and was invested with nothing but the name of a colony (nihil praeter nomen coloniae habet).  Yet it does not seem probable that an emperor would send citizens and veterans to colonize a distant territory without investing them with some special liberties and immunities with which to enjoy their establishment there.  At any rate we know that Ptolemais had its series of colonial-imperial coins from Claudius to Saloninus including those of Nero, Trajan, Hadrian, Severus, Caracalla, Alexander Severus, Philip I, Valerianus and Otacilia Severa.
   The following are the chief types found on coins of this colony:
   Altar and Serpents.    On a fine and rare sestertius of Valerianus bearing the legend COLONIA PTOLEMAIDENSis, the type is a lighted altar and underneath the base of which on each side, rises a serpent.  On the left is a caduceus.  This appears to be the memorial of a sacrifice offered by the people of Ptolemais for a happy issue to the war with Persia, commenced by Valerian about the time when the medal was struck.  We see in it the altar on which sacred rites, according to the usages of paganism, were performed to the gods on this account.  The serpents are an augury of victories, as the caduceus is a symbol of felicity.  But the auspices, which thus promised triumphs over the barbarians, proved fatally deceitful; for the emperor was defeated, made prisoner and after the most ignominiously cruel treatment, put to death by Sapor, King of the Persians.


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