At the end of this post, I provide the .pdf link** of the last draft (2007) of the article I'd been working on for more than five years. Eventually I convinced myself that I'd never get it published. The .pdf has its footnotes for the first ten pages; thereafter the information that would have been footnotes is incorporated in the 'Ayiyoryitika' catalogue raisonné of the coins, which is linked below. For larger images of the coins, see the Picasa album also linked below. Persons seriously interested in the subject will find the notes, and probably the text, useful, and others may find its continuous text more intelligible. For those reasons, though I never finished editing it, I provide it here.
Statuary and its representation on coins and gems
I. Many Classical and later figural compositions (not counting some plainly meant to be placed in front of a wall) evidently were best viewed from somewhere in an arc of about 120°, from left to right, that offered a shifting variety of quasi-frontal pictorial views. "Good views" may be described as those that in the visual processes of our brains either make the subject more intelligible or are formally gratifying. 'Formally gratifying' implies a complex range of visual pleasure, but usually includes specific kinds of clarity and subtlety, avoiding the banal. The old handbooks' notion that Greek representation of figures progressed from something like Egypt's (stereotypically considered), to tentative contrapposto, to gradually mastery of twisting in space, to the representation of action in space (cf. Giambologna: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rape_of_the_Sabine_Women). This linear progression is simplistic, because intelligent artists responded to all sorts of siting demands, and a statue (or a tight group) that could be walked around but usually was seen more or less from in front, especially the sort of bronze statuary that was popular in sanctuary parks, was not backward or anachronistic but often more sensitive to its situation. Thus, many Late Classical types may be (so to speak) semi-pictorial, with that continuous 120° arc of best views. These (beginning with the famous Discus Thrower of Myron) are usually not very good in strict side views, but in accord to the ideals of Greek sculpture are fully modeled in depth.
Dresden #100 Young satyr pouring wine, type exemplifying an extended pose with an S curve, usually attributed to young Praxiteles and about a decade earlier (Todisco) than Boardman's date, thus about contemporary with his father's Eirene. Such a statue manifestly exists as a work of art with its aesthetic principles as its primary raison d'être (this is not a practical way to pour wine). As much can be said of many fourth-century types, even when an obscure cult can be found to explain them (as with the Apollo Lizardslayer).
The digital snapshots are of the Louvre statue, relieved of its restorations and cleaned.
Some statuary types may originally have been placed in the open, all views being nearly equal. The older photos were taken when the "Piping Faun" and the "Sauroktonos" stood in the open and with a 'normal' lens (50mm for Nikon F). Such a figure may seem unlikely for a coin, but those of Caesarea Panias seem to show the type of the "Piping Faun" (and, with tiny horns on its brow, it probably in fact is a Pan).
For students, I wrote of the "Piping Faun":
Paris, Louvre. Young satyr playing flute. This statue juxtaposed to the Resting Satyr perfectly exemplifies Lysippic as distinct from Praxitelean. Both statue types have the charm of the late fourth century, or a bit later, but the Piping Faun (as he may be called conveniently) has a face related to the Lysippos Eros stringing his bow and a nonchalant stance with leg crossed in front altogether opposed to the Praxitelean S-curve. Again, this boy-satyr is quasi-Caravaggiesque whereas the Praxitelean ones recall Andrea del Sarto or possibly Pontormo.
At that time (probably 1982) the Louvre, ex Borghese, Apollo Sauroktonos also stood in the open, with only window light, still with a couple of modern fingers, but as a statue it also benefits from the 50mm lens on the old Nikon F.
The small digital camera of 2002, with typical wide-angle distortion, did not show the combined tilt and twist of the boy Apollo's body as well as these do. Though the back view, even making allowance for a marble copy (photos of the Cleveland bronze show finer sinuosity), is plainly a secondary view, concealing the lizard motif that justifies the posture for the composition, it is not negligible, and the relation of the shoulders to the pelvis is plain in all three views (only a teacher intent on bringing the statue to students would have taken the photographically erroneous image in the center).
From every other point of view, I was lucky to get back to the Louvre one last time, if only with a pocket camera, in 2002:
The torso in the NAM Athens is worth studying because it not only has never been scrubbed, so that nuances on the front of the torso look subtle rather than slick but its lack of both arms reveals the fine relationship between the contours of the front and those of the back, young flesh over bones and muscles that knit the body together in life.
Though the reaching left side of the body has straighter contours, and the boy's torso is childishly plump (as on the Villa Albani bronze statuette), even in this fragmentary condition it is not at all "boxy" as those of bronze casts of bent and turning Late Classical torsos often are (including the Cleveland statue, if the photo in the press-release for it which shows the left flank gives us a true idea of it). The NAM torso helps us to understand the sculptural challenge of a supple adolescent Apollo or Eros for Praxiteles as much as an Aphrodite.
Why, if pointed copies in marble employed plaster models made from piece molds, do the difficulties of assembling the molds so as to recreate the sinuosity of a bent and turning body not appear in the marble copies? The marbles, though, do differ somewhat among themselves in their stance, and good marble workers, I think, would be able to fudge, in working out the continuities of flesh over skeleton around the flank; they usually would have extra bulk to work away, if we may judge from such as the youth from the Janiculum now in Copenhagen.
(Remember that all the above are merely my own point-and-shoot teacher's instructional pictures. For professional images and an up-to-date discussion, see Pasquier andMartinez, Praxitèle, 2007, Chapter III, Praxitèle: Un Choix romain, pp. 128–200. The two volumes by Antonio Corso are by now harder to find and much more expensive.)
II. To turn now to the questions, the art historical questions, raised by the representation of this opus nobile (for the ancient literary sources, see Praxitèle, pp. 423-428), the Apollo Sauroktonos of Praxiteles on coins, I have reserved two of the old photos taken with 'normal' lens for the Vatican and Louvre Sauroktonoi. One thing the ancient die engravers did not deal with is camera angles and the like.
(Zoomable images of my own photographs of the coins are available at http://picasaweb.google.com/slokind/SaurCoins#
The same numbered series are listed with smaller images with descriptions and some discussion at http://www.forumancientcoins.com/ayiyoryitika/saurcoins/ayiyoryitika-saurcoins.htm
See its Introduction and its Tentative Conclusions.
The identifying numbers of the coins are shown bold face and in dark red. Only a few images to illustrate this discussion are reproduced in this blog post)
(a) Scale. The earliest of the Sauroktonos coins (all bronze) were issued by the governor Zeno for Antoninus Pius at the time when Marcus Aurelius was first Caesar and are only about 20mm in diameter. 1 The similar unsigned ones for Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, 2, 3, are scarcely larger. At such a small scale it is noteworthy that the engraver knows better than to include an outsize dart, but he is careful to indicate the lizard that identifies the motif.
(b) Single vantage point, with foreshortening. These earliest Sauroktonoi also show the figure very much as he appears against the wall in the Vatican, difficult as the foreshortened forearm is at such a scale, and Apollo is slender and stands straighter, resembling the Vatican copy more closely than any later one: 2.
It is, therefore, noteworthy that a Sauroktonos for Septimius Severus, 14, about a half century later (when Gallus was governor of Moesia Inferior), also conforms to this description:
(c) Composite vantage points for easier clarity. Die engravers never try a frontal face on these coins, but most of them do 'unfold' the dart-aiming arm, as if (logically) it were seen from farther right than the rest of the figure. On 12a a very fine small reverse die with an early-looking portrait of Septimius Severus suggests to me that it is contemporary with larger coins issued by Gentianus (study still in progress), or just before 198 BCE, when Tertullus became governor and Caracalla was made Augustus.
Like an eagle shown with spread wings, here the boy Apollo, both to fill the circle of the flan better and to show him ready to cast his dart most clearly. Hereafter most of the reverse dies will have what reminds those of us who learned to drive a car before there were lights for directional signals, of signaling for a left turn, though a classicist might think of Zeus about to throw a thunderbolt. A century later this tendency to show every part of a body from its most characteristic angle will become general, but here, I think, it is simply a die-engraver's response to a specific composition, one that in sculpture shows the figure in the act of turning.
(d) The first 'aberrant' Sauroktonos for Septimius. Still earlier, indeed the earliest Severan Sauroktonos of Nicopolis when Moesia Inferior had become a separate province, is 10. For the die link that places it in the governorship of Auspex, see http://www.forumancientcoins.com/ayiyoryitika/Auspex_Dies.html where it is listed as 6b. The pose is similar to the last, but the style isn't. I was not astonished that the serpent on the tree is long enough for a snake (because on any copy these attributes could vary, being added separately), nor was I surprised by the snake (Praxitèle, p. 208, fig. 126c) found with the Cleveland bronze, but the apparent leafy twig (instead of a dart) held high in Apollo's right hand surprised me as much as it did Doug Smith, whose specimen (newly photographed for this study) remains the best one:
(e) Caracalla's Variant Apollo Sauroktonos. The most important Nicopolitan variant of the Apollo Sauroktonos reverse type is that issued for the boy Caracalla by the governor Tertullus, evidently when he was named Augustus. 11 It is important because it is certainly deliberate in all its details (not the work of an engraver perhaps left over from Commodus's reign and possibly unfamiliar with the subject).
The right arm is not stretched out horizontally, nor does Apollo seem to be poised to throw a missile; he is holding a leafy twig which we may fairly suppose is laurel. The lizard, mouth wide open, however, is shown very plainly and in the expected position on the tree trunk. The posture, for the first time here, is (like the Borghese-Louvre Sauroktonos) leaning forward. The whole figure is in 3/4 view, though the shoulders are very narrow and the engraver seems incapable of making the far (left side of boy's body) pelvis seem to melt into the background. The boy Apollo seems, actually, to resemble the boy Caracalla. What is most important is that this variant, with the lowered twig, is repeated: 17, 21 (for heirs to the throne, not for others).
(f) Geta's small but equal, and 'true', Apollo Sauroktonos. Sharing a reverse die with his father, we have Geta's small (copper) coin with another forward-leaning Sauroktonos but true to the statuary type, with a dart to hurl at the lizard. As on the last, the rendering of the pelvis in 3/4 view is ambiguous, and the letter forms also relate it to Tertullus's Caracalla. I call it Geta's, because his are more numerous and, it seems, finer. I post 13b Doug Smith's, the best of my own, and one 13a of Septimius, showing how the reverse die continued to be used even when on the verge of breaking. The die pairs are all the same.
Like the letter forms, the portrait of Septimius resembles those issued by Tertullus, and, of course, until he became Caesar himself, Geta did not have coins issued in his name. Many regard this as the nicest of all the Nicopolis ad Istrum Sauroktonos reverse dies. No large (D. 26–29mm) Apollo Sauroktonos coin issued by Tertullus for Septimius alone is known.
(Though all the images in this post are made to zoom to the same width, the coppers, mostly on whetstones for a background, are only 16–19mm in diameter).
(g) Plautilla and Geta share a distinctive die. In the years when Aurelius Gallus was governor of Moesia Inferior (which included the occasion of Caracalla's marriage to Plautilla) Septimius, after the issue of 14, discussed above (b), had shared reverse dies with a rather awkwardly engraved Sauroktonos, with the dart-throwing arm drawn back, as on 12a, (c), but not nearly so skillful. A different and more attractive Sauroktonos die was shared by Plautilla and Geta, 16a, b.
This die used the same mode of showing the dart-throwing arm, and it is very neat, but the body of Apollo does not lean forward (so the figure looks static, unlike that on 12a, where the forward thrust of the pelvis braced against the supporting right leg imparted the sense of impetus), nor does it have the graceful character of the Antonine ones that so closely recall the statue as we know it from full-size copies. The somewhat linearly nervous character is underscored by the almost comically gnarled tree trunk. Is this a die with a different prototype? That seems less likely than assuming that it is a differently trained die engraver. And for all that it is comparatively painstaking, it begins to look anti-classical—not "unofficial" or "Thracian" but "Late".
(h) The joint issue by Ulpianus for the Augusti of the Variant Sauroktonos 11 initiated by Tertullus. Unknown till recently and not directly relevant to the coins' relation to the statue type, at a date perhaps a decade later than Caracalla's being made co-Augustus, part of a group of Ulpianus issues for Caracalla showing him as an idealized beardless youth when his actual portraits show a tough guy with a thick beard. This is a numismatics question, but one of these, 17b, has a Sauroktonos reverse that attempts to recreate the Apollo of the Tertullus issue, 11. Stylistically, this too is painstaking but stiff and, in my opinion, makes no independent contribution to the question of the coins' dependence on larger models that may have been available.
(i) Longinus's obverse MDb for Macrinus, with Apollo Sauroktonos R7x, xbis, xter. The remarkable coins issued in less than a year (the entire reign being only 14 months in 217–218) for Macrinus are set forth in http://www.forumancientcoins.com/ayiyoryitika/longinusdies.html. Some of these are the finest Nicopolis Severan (though Macrinus was not of his family) since Tertullus. Until the end of the 20th century no Apollo Sauroktonos issued by Longinus was known, and I show here the only one known to me that shows the dart in Apollo's right hand, 18:
What makes the Longinus issue so remarkable is that it leaves no doubt that an engraver, at least this engraver, had access to a faithful model for the Sauroktonos, leaning forward, resting his left forearm on the tree trunk, bracing his right leg, raising his head slightly, the whole convincingly suggesting the 3/4 view of the body which the large copies relation to their bases indicate is the primary pictorial view. Even though only a generous Danubian patina has preserved it for us, like the handsome and expressive portrait of the Mauretanian emperor, in a bust seen as from in front and wearing a fringed cloak over his armor, this Sauroktonos leaves no doubt of the engraver's training in Greek traditions of representation and his understanding of it. For anything like it we must compare Commodus's 9, http://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4800/?search&stype=quick&q=Bithynia&rno=719 , and that one is Bithynian. Compare also http://picasaweb.google.com/slokind/SaurCoins#5367447131324056658 (without a tree or a lizard, so testifying only to the pose).
(j) The Agrippa Sauroktonos coins for Macrinus and Diadumenian. So far, we know of no Sauroktonos coin for Diadumenian except for the very last one, issued by Agrippa. Although the production of the Nicopolis mint for those last months when Agrippa was governor was prolific, it was also inconsistent, and one die engraver produced some aberrant work. Besides the last Sauroktonos for Macrinus, he also cut an Aphrodite die (used for both father and son) giving the goddess boots and a shoulder cloak.
14 08 06 Æ27 Nicopolis ad Istrum. Issued by Agrippa. Diadumenian, head to r. K M OPPEL ANTONI DIADOVMENIANOS. Rev., Aphrodite, stg. turning to r. in the pose of the Medici Aphrodite but wearing a cloak (though clearly on this example not boots); on the ground, at l., stg on its head, dolphin and at r. burning altar. VP AGRIPPA NIKOPOLITON PROS IS and in exergue TROmega (though the rho does resemble an iota). On this example the features of the profile face of Aphrodite are unusually clear, though the body is quite rough. Pick, AMNG I, 1, p. 459, no. 1799 (rev. die = no. 1690 of Macrinus), Taf. XV, 34.
Given that Aphrodite, shown here with one of Diadumenian's obverse dies, his Apollo Sauroktonos 20 is a little less surprising. There is nothing crude, by the standards of Greek Imperials, about this work, only it is weird. No preserved specimen, and I have looked at as many as a dozen, actually preserved Apollo's right hand in front of his body, several scholars besides myself have been unable to decide whether between his torso and the tree trunk we see a strung-out lizard or a twig with a few leaves, and on some specimens we see a stick or dart (between the lambda and the iota of the legend) that is inexplicable, especially in terms of lizard-slaying.
Yet the die is neatly cut, and apart from making no sense the figure clearly is modeled on dies like the Antonine ones with which we began. Therefore, it contributes nothing to the history of the Sauroktonos as such, if it was done by rote copying by a die engraver never in touch with the story that justifies the pose. Earlier, still Antonine, compare the anomalies in the small copper issued at Nicopolis for Commdous, 8:
The last known Sauroktonos, 21, is perhaps more remarkable, but it is not aberrant; its reverse shows the same variant of a true Sauroktonos, with a leafy twig in his lowered right hand, that from 11 and 17 we saw for Caracalla. Surely, whatever their idea was, it was used dynastically for Diadumenian as another Antoninus (poor lamb!):
This is a stripped coin (showing its Danubian brass), but it is one of only two known to me. Both are illustrated by Hristova & Jekov, Nicopolis ad Istrum (in Bulgarian), Blagoevgrad, 2009, no. 220.127.116.11 (in http://picasaweb.google.com/slokind/SaurCoins# their catalogue numbers are given in the captions for each of the Nicopolis coins). Though this die adds nothing to the evidence of 11 and 17 for the type of this variant, it does further reinforce its being deliberate, whatever it meant to them.
As for pastiches: For Apollonia ad Rhyndacum, I still have too few specimens to add anything to the remarks made on its pastiches using the Sauroktonos pose that I already posted near the end of the Sauroktonos Coins page.
One pastiche, 6, actually included in my own Sauroktonos list of reverse dies, because it is at Philoppopolis, may deserve extra attention:
The boy does stand ready to cast a dart or arrow, but the column or pillar, with a quiver or the like leaning against its base, negates the lizard-on-tree motif integral to the Sauroktonos anecdote. On the other hand, the childish round belly of the figure seems to follow the same prototype as for 4, which makes it seem proper to Philippopolis, and, as regards Faustina II's son, that may be a quiver (if it is anything in particular) on 8, shown above. Here we have an enigma. It is not at all comparable to Apollo's legs merely being miscrossed on the big coin, 5, which Gargilius Antiquus issued late in his reign for Antoninus Pius; the latter is a true Sauroktonos with one minor and insignificant difference. [Not insignificant, but I can't get at it to correct it right now, is my having typed 'NEIKO' instead of 'PhILIPPO' in the city's name! You can see the phi at about 1h. opposite Apollo's nose]. I wish the specimen were better, but this coin is very hard to obtain for photography.
III. The relevance and utility of the coins and statues for each other.
The purpose of these three blog posts and of both the Sauroktonos Coins Page and its supplement the Sauroktonos Coins album, taken all together, was to address this topic. Since scholars persisted in using the coins much as Overbeck had done (Griechische Kunstmythologie 4, Apollon, p. 304, no. 94; Münztafel V, 2), as testimonia as such, circular and inconclusive arguments continued much as always.
Here my conviction has been, as it has been for the last decade, that there are more questions that are unanswerable than not, and that truthfulness inheres in knowing what we ought to ask, and understanding why some questions cannot be answered—not now and perhaps never. It is not only that most of what antiquity possessed, both as common knowledge and as material goods, is irretrievably lost. Much that we would so much like to know was not deemed worth recording or, like so many public records (even in our own lifetimes) was lost in fire or flood or siege or simple abandonment if a whole population was reduced to near nothing in a plague or warfare and had to leave its site precipitously. When this has been going on for more than two millennia, and many populations were, besides, less committed to their own archives or less able to maintain them, it seems wonderful that we have what we do.
Look at the Prosopographia Imperii Romani, for instance. Certainly monumental inscriptions give us a lot of names, but the coins where governors and civil magistrates signed them are what hold together the tatters of civic and provincial history. Behind the huge compendia are the labors of R. Münsterburg, Die Beamtennamen auf griechischen Münzen, 1914, and Arthur Stein, Die Legaten von Moesien, Budapest, 1940, for example. For the Renaissance, generally speaking, information of this kind wants only editing, not to be wrung painfully from resistant, fragmentary material.
As for the primary evidence of art and archaeology, what hasn't been found as scrap metal ready to be reforged into tools and weapons (and persons my age can remember the perhaps impractical collection of toys and matrices for stamping phonograph records and plates for printing engravings in a patriotic drive for metal) very often found its way to the lime kiln, besides sometimes being smashed as idolatrous: in our own time, I shall never forget the huge old Buddhas of Bamiyan.
In sum, then:
What can the statuary remains tell us of relevance to interpreting the evidence of the coins?
• As excavation and chance finds continue to yield more replicas and more variants of the sculptural images that people actually could see in cities and sanctuaries (and, if wealthy enough, in palaces and villas) the concept of a Répertoire (like that of Salomon Reinach) comes to seem delusory and futile. Therefore, we cannot assume that the little images on coins, unless they correspond to what Pausanias (preeminently Pausanias) saw at a particular place, can be identified with a specific statue or statuary group. And if they are identifiable they may, or may not, have tried to show the style of the statue, what it looked like, as distinct from what it meant to them. A similarly identifiable statuary type on another city's coins may simply show that fame inspires imitation, usually with variations, rather like a second comedian's aping another's routines or the images representing different visions of the Virgin Mary (in similar aspects) around the Christian world. We have seen how piece molds were useful in making 'new' types of pre-existing statuary images.
• Finds of near-replicas and deliberate variants of the canon of opera nobilia shows how widespread the basic figure types, as well as good replicas and near replicas, were. Tentatively, I would say that, as we move through the 3rd century AC, the demand for, and/or the availability of, close replicas and stylistically faithful evocations yielded gradually but inexorably to alternatives that, to us, start to look "late antique". But, for example, our Trajanic town, Nicopolis ad Istrum, had a decently Praxitelean-looking Eros of its own; it was found in the early excavations and published very well by Filow in 1909:
Once again, you can see it today in Sofia. It makes the style of the best of the coins a little less surprising, though their small scale is a limitation.
• Statues like that Eros also make Behrendt Pick's suggestion that Nicopolis may have had a Sauroktonos less surprising. So might Philippopolis have had one. They needn't have been exactly like each other; they might have been obtained at different times from different ateliers; they might have been of different materials or one of them might have been a statuette. Or not. Nicopolis may even have had made a Caracalla variant, holding a laurel twig low, when, age 10, he was made Augustus. That is NOT to suggest that they had! Only, it wouldn't be surprising. The same holds true for other cities, such as that prosperous colonia, Deultum, and for pictorial reliefs and paintings, such as Haimos in his landscape. Pick, whom I esteem particularly, imagined these possibilities (and emphasized that they are only possibilities) even without knowing half the statuary that we have today. Consider also (as shown at Marcianopolis in Pick, AMNG I, 1, nos. 751 and 783, pl. III, 13–15, Price & Trell, Coins and their Cities, figs. 85 and 499, Varbanov, Greek Imperial Coins, 2005, no. 1220, for illustrations) statuary used on honorary architecture; it need not have been of the highest quality, but it certainly was recognizable. On those coins, we see the statuary changed from one reign to the next; for the emperor, bronze could be melted down and recast: in Rome itself the statues and chariot groups on top of triumphal arches seem to have been of, always salvageable, bronze. After Caracalla's demise (and after that of Macrinus, similarly) we might assume recycling of sculpture perceived as honoring them.
What can a discrete series of coins like those with an Apollo Sauroktonos tell us of relevance to the statuary?
• First, all the differences observable are not significant in the same way. Unfolding and flattening a figure that in statuary was composed turning in space is only a simplification to avoid translating the optics of foreshortening, at a date when optics in art was becoming rare everywhere. Having Apollo hold a leafy twig, instead of raising a dart to throw it, is certainly puzzling, but it has little effect on the figure. The gnarled tree trunk and corresponding figure style of the die shared by Geta and Plautilla suggest an engraver differently trained (reminding us that some engravers probably were itinerant, and we don't know where all of the training centers were), but it is the same statuary type. The excellence of Septimius's 14, which stands alone, being of a different kind from the Antonine ones, as of 13 and 19 which lean forward so noticeably, has no bearing on the identification of the type: after all, the Vatican copy does not lean forward so much, either.
• We cannot conclude that there were numerous statues to explain differences largely due to the necessity of translating the monumental to miniature. Also, though none of those commonly reproduced (see Praxitèle, nos. 9–12) exactly match our Sauroktonoi, and intaglio gems known to me from the Danubian region are not so fine as those, we cannot exclude gems, themselves works of the intaglio engraver's art, as not improbable models. It is fun to fantasize about the rings and other mounts for gems that men like our governors probably owned (note that I said 'fun' and 'fantasy').
• The use of the Sauroktonos type for about three generations in Philippopolis and, above all, in Nicopolis ad Istrum, in Moesia Inferior, and never at other mints in those provinces, strongly suggests that its use was intelligible to many, if not most, of those who used the coins, both as representing a work of art and very possibly, as I believe, to propagandize the succession to the throne. The latter depends on the former; those who handled the coins had to know it was a boy Apollo, already playing at being a powerful defender (whether or not you will allow the lizards to be childhood's Pythons).
• The effect of various engravers' efforts on the exact shape and stance of the figure of Apollo and its relation to the tree trunk only underscore the variability in the larger replicas due, themselves, to workshop practices described in the first post in this group; above all, each replica might have its own tree and reptile. If some do resemble one another it is sometimes due to using one replica to help restore another or to one being, literally, a copy of another.
• On the other hand, certain variations amount to real difference: a Sauroktonos must have something like a tree trunk; Apollo must have something like a lizard or a snake (a lizard, if it has legs, no matter how long it is) to aim at.
Artistically the tie between the boy's gaze and the aim of his right hand needs an object, not only narratively but to help in uniting the composition. That is why the assorted, and very pretty, pastiches of Apollonia ad Rhyndacum are not Sauroktonoi. They rely on the pre-existence of the Apollo Sauroktonos pose (which, after all, is from the 4th century BCE) and are, most of them, earlier than the Severan ones of Nicopolis. Therefore, all else aside, they can neither be variants of the Moesian ones, nor can the true Sauroktonoi of Nicopolis (let alone those of Philippopolis) be derivatives of them.
• Wouldn't I like to know more about Prusa, though!
The 2007 draft, referred to at the head of this post, is:
Sauroktonos as of 2007.pdf
** However, I found it better simply to save it as html and post it as an Addendum post to this one.