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The most learned and skilled numismatists unite in opinion that coins of this type (and there were a variety of them as well in brass as in silver) were struck out of Rome with the character and workmanship of whose mint they have indeed nothing in common.
Suetonius, in his life of Augustus, says: "Templa quamvis sciret etiam proconsulibus decerni solere, (namely Titus Flaminius), by the people of Calchedon), in nulla tamen provincia, nisi communi SVO ROMAEQVE nomine recepit: nam in urbe quiden pertinacissime abstinuit hoe honore." Eckhel, after making the above citation, alludes to the supposition hazarded by Schlegel, that the temple represented on this medallion was that of the Olypian Jove, at Athens, the construction of which was finished at the common cost of the Kings of Asia.
This Eckhel treats as an unfortunate conjecture, and proceeds to observe on the contrary: "We have other and most decicive evidences that the temple in question was that of Pergamus (now Bergamo), the capital of the province of Asia (Minor)." This is in the first place proved by Taitus: cum divus Augustus SIBI atque urbi ROMAE templum apud Pergamum sisti non prohibuisset. To coobarate the fact there are also Greek coins of Pergamus, struck not only after Augustus's death but during his lifetime, on which he is represented with a spear in his hand, within a temple inscribed QEON SEBASTON (Deum Augusutum). Moreover, on other coins struck also in the age of Augustus, at the same city of Pergamus, is seen the head of Rome turreted, with the epigraph QEAN RWMHN (Deam Romam). And likewise on a Pergamon coin in the Imperial Museum, struck under Trajan, is read: RWMN KAI SEBASTW accompanied with the type of a temple, within which Augustus stands, and, holding a spear, is crowned by Rome, who supports a cornucopia in her left arm. If therewith be compared those siver medallions which severally. bearing heads of Claudius, Nerva, and Trajan, are inscribed COM ASI ROM ET AVG, accompanied by a similar type; and also the beautiful silver medallion of Hadrian, bearing on its reverse the words COM BIT, and for its type a temple of four columns with the statue of the emperor in the portico. and the legend ROM S P AVG on the entablature above, it will be apparent enough that the coins which both in inscription and in type thus agree, although they may differ in language, yet were struck in one and the same city, namely in Pergamus.
Still more applicable to the present medal are the words od Dion, who after having stated that Caesar had permitted a temple to be erected at Ephesus and at Nicaea, in honour of Rome and father Julius, adds: extraneis autem hominibus quos Graecos ipse appallabat, concessit, ut SIBI quoque temple facerent, ASIANIS quidem Pergami, Bithynis veroNicomediae. Therefore those also are Asiatics, who, on ths coin call themselves COM ASIAE, and who show that is was purposed to raise at their own expense the temple ROM ET AVGVST.
Antiquaries, in treating these coins, which are to be found in all large collections, have adopted various opinions concerning them. Amongst the more modern writers, reference may be made to Schlegel and Havercamp, both of whom regard it as beyond a doubt that all of them were struck at Rome, but differ from each other in assigning reasons for their having been publically stamped. Eckhel on the contrary asserts, and in the most masterly way makes good his opinion, that they are all of foreign workmanship
Schlegel thinks it sufficiently proved from these coins that even whilst Augustus lived, an altar was dedicated in the city, and a temple built to his honour, and that this was done about the year 13 BC, as on the coin itself Augustus is called PONT MAX; and, moreover, he names from Sex. Rufus the region (of Rome) in which these sacred structures stood. But that, so long as Augustus lived, no devine honours were paid to him in the city, is placed beyond a doubt by the arguments of Eckhel on the medals of DIVVS Augustus. The coins in question, therefore, could not have been struck during the lifetime of that prince. As, however, Suetonius and others it is clear that altars and temples were everywhere established in the provinces, to the joint ownership of Rome and Augustus. Havercamp strangely reconciles himself to the notion that these medals are of Roman die, by supposing that the senate wished, by this type, to evince the respect of the conquered people towards the emperor, but that devine worship had not been decreed to the living prince in the city itself.
On these two opinions Eckhel passes judgement to the following effect: "Even though we may arrive at the conclusion that all these coins were struck beyond the walls of the city, in some one or another of the provinces, it will not be needful either that with Schlegel, against the authority of historians the most worthy of belief, we should reasonably rashly assert that Augustus, while still living, received the honours of consecrationat Rome; or that with Havercamp we should devise the evasion above mentioned. But I have profs, not a few, and these of the most valid kind, to shew that this money was coined abroad.
I. Augustus, though he forbade devine worship to be paid to him in the city, allowed it freely out of Rome. From a mass of testimonies too numerous to cite at legnth, I shall adduce some which spontaneously occur to me. Suetoninus says: Provinciarum pleroeque super templa et aras, ludos quoque quinquennales paene appidatim constituerunt." Aug. c. lxi. The testimonies of Tacitus and of Appianus may be added, from which it partly appears that devone honours were paid to Augustus, on the defeat of Sextus Pompey, and therefore early enough. We have already noticed the altar erected to Augustus and Tarracona. Concerning that at Lugdunum, Strabo states it was erected to Augustus, with a temple, at the confluence of the rivers (the Saone and Rhone), in the name of Gailish nations, or peoples, sixty in number. Suetoninus hands it down to us that this altar was dedicated 10 BC; but Dion informs us that the festal day of Augustus had already been celebrated two years before at the altar of Lyons. Livy moreover notices the dedication of an altar to Caesar (Augustus) at the confluence of Arar and Rhodanus (Saone and Rhone), and the appointment of C. Julius Vereundaridubius of the AEdui as priest of the same. An epigraph in Gruter makes mention of the altar erected at Narbo (Narbonne), by Martius; and the priest of the altar at Rome and Augustus is mentioned in inscriptions found at Lyons. But, what still more closely applies to the present coins, I have brought forward several testimonies under the year 19 BC [see ROM ET AVG COM ASIAE above], that everywhere throught the provinces temples were dedicated to Rome, and at the same time Augustus. I add to these the inscription, which (as mentioned by Pocock) to this very day is read at Pola in Istria, inscribed on the fronts of the temples: ROMAE ET AVGVSTO CAESARI DIVI FPATRIPATRIAE."
After having quoted Jesephus's History for Caesarea in Palestine, Chishull's Ant. Asiat. for Mylae in Caria, and ancient marbles for Pergamus and other sities in Asia, to shew that in the Greek provinces of the empire, temples were consecrated and inscribed to Augustus, and that the worship was paid to him, in his life-time, was associated with that to Rome, the learned and acute author of Doctrina Numorum Veterum, procceds:
II. To observe, that "the (religious) veneration jointly paid to each of the divinities (Roma et Augustus) is also marked by the coins themselves, which were doubtless struck extra urbem." With regard to the medal above described, which exhibts the temple erected by COM ASIAE ROM ET AVGVST, Eckhel expresses his belief that "no one would wish to deny that as a temple established in Asia itself is thereby indicated, so the medallion itself was struck in Asia; and, therefore, for the coins now in question, a country foreign to Rome must be sought."
III. If these coins had been struck in "the city," there would not have been wanting the mark S C, which, on brass money of assuredy Roman die, struck under Augustus, it was never the practice to omit.
IV. Many proofs of this are derived from medals of the largest size, but of this age there are none of such volume coined at Rome; not a few, however, appear were struck in Spain and in other colonies.
V. We have extremely few coins, in large brass, of Roman die, on the obverse of which is the head of Augustus, he still living, was engraved. It is therefore in no way probable that the mint masters, in stamping coins of this kind, should have wished to infringe upon the custom of his age. Lastly,
VI. If their fabric be examined, the eye accustomed to inspect the coins will easily percieve that it differs exceedingly from that which is found paculiary to distinguish Roman workmanship. Indeed there is in the Imperial Museum at Vienna a coin of this kind extant, with Nero's head upon it, of a fabric so barberous, and with the letters of the reverse so gaping, that there is evidently no likelihood whatever of its having seen the light in Rome.
No one, therefore (says Eckhel in conclusion), will now, I think, question the fact that all these coins were executed at a distance from Rome.