Monday, March 21, 2011

Tertullus at Nicopolis: Doll-like Deities


IV: The coins that look "quaint" and their links 

29 IX 99  AE 26  Nicopolis ad Istrum (Moesia Inferior).  Caracalla.  .AV.K.M AVR   |   [traces of Antoninus].  Reverse: standing divinity or personification pouring offering from a patera.   The tell-tale OOV of Ovinius in Greek can just be made out, and Pick 1518, with same obverse die, confirms deduction that issued under Tertullus.  Not in Pick.
Before I owned scales in grams or accurate calipers, when all I knew of Tertullus was his lovely young Domna, of Pick nos. 1450-1452, and his Caracalla for the variant Apollo Sauroktonos, of Pick no. 1518, I saw and bought this coin on line.  The figure looks like some statuette in a small Franciscan mission in the California West or like those that may be carried in Saint's day processions in rural villages.  She leans on a scepter (it has a knob), veiled, before a flaming altar (I think not a vase of flowers), and holds a forked twig in her right hand.  Though the last is inappropriate, by elimination she must be Hera.  Her simplified garment, shared with Athena and Demeter in this set of reverse dies, is characterized by the trapezoid below the waist; it stands for an overgirt peplos, where the cloth is brought to a length that clears her feet and tied up around the waist, and the overfall is kept manageable by being overgirt.  Familiarity with red-figure vase-paintings provides the evidence (which may have been unknown to this engraver).  Athena leans on her shield, and Demeter has one of those Eleusinian tall torches made, we suppose, of pitchy pine bark and pine needles bound together in stages.
Most of the coins with such reverse types are for Septimius.  Like the Caracalla above, with an obverse die like those in III (b), they use current obverse dies not made expressly for them.  That is, this situation is not like that of the sub-group of anonymous Auspex dies in a style inherited from Commodus.  They do seem to be, however, outliers to the  strongly Greek taste of the most consciously artistic Tertullus dies.

If the lower coin can possibly be the same die pair as the upper one, then they both are HrJ  The dies were worn, and the second coin has a thick patina, but feature for feature, so far as preserved, and letter for letter (and with the reverse legend beginning at noon), they match.  The obverse legend for this die is AV•K•L•SEP•   —   SEVÊROS P (not a ligate PE or PER).  If you look closely, yes, Athena has a helmet.
This beautiful Septimius die, if you study them carefully, is stylistically extremely close to the boy Caracalla of Pick 1518, the Apollo Sauroktonos.

Here, at the top, and a perfect companion to Caracalla's tetrastyle naos, is Caracalla's father with curls, laurel ties, speaking mouth, alert eye, and delicate facial modeling.  We are not dealing with much time here, but the Caracalla of the Sauroktonos coin cannot be placed far from these.  The River, recalling the big sculptural ones as is appropriate for Father Danuvius or Ister, holds wet marsh plants (something like cattails?) and rapid water streams past his figure below, and in a second Herakles and the Nemean Lion (that with a bare bust portrait is in Essay II), the composition is perhaps a bit less formal.
There are also an Homonoia, the aforementioned Demeter, and an eagle on a garlanded altar.  Two others I shall leave for the next essay.

As I said above, the Demeter leans on a tall torch characterized by its rough joints.

The Homonoia is only a little less stiff than the unwontedly stiff doll-like goddesses, and she has, very worn once again, this obverse die.

The Eagle coin, which found me only a year ago, is Pick's no. 1282.  But I failed to submit it early enough for inclusion in HrJ Nicopolis.
It belongs, however, in section 8.14.1.x (the eagle being Zeus's).

It is worthwhile to click on the images in these essays, to make them Zoom.  Where specimens are in mediocre condition, enlarging them helps a lot.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The secondary Caracalla dies of Tertullus


III, (b) Caracalla's Secondary Obverse Die

Pick, AMNG I, 1 no. 1533  HrJ

This coin has a good patina and was properly cleaned.  The legends, while incomplete, are easily restored (by HrJ probably from the specimen, not known to Pick or to me, listed by Mushmov, since Pick had his reading from Mionnet, from the Paris specimen).  The letter forms and, in my opinion, the style overall are alike on the two dies.  The C placed below the  fold of the cloak across the breast, and in line with the other letters, on the obverse is an earmark for this die as are the lank ties of the laurel.  Also the neck is a little heavier in proportion, the nose is straighter, the boy's expression is sleepy rather than sassy, and the folds of the drapery are simplified.  The type is the same as on the portrait I called primary, but the style is different.  On the reverse, the horse is lively and charming, but it looks quite Danubian: it has hints of east-Celtic.  I have allowed myself to fancy a talented but native-Danubian engraver in the atelier to whom the second set of dies was entrusted.  Not that we can know anything of the sort.

Here we have two specimens of a coin that Pick, no. 1516,  knew only from a single specimen then in the market.  If I can show two, for their combined evidence, both of which appeared only recently (and I owe one of them to a colleague), it only shows that rarity is not immutable.  The reverse die, however, certainly goes with the very similar one for Septimius, which is Pick's no. 1271 and HrJ, where also other specimens are shown of the same die for Septimius, which Caracalla's only closely resembles.  The head of Zeus on these strongly recalls that of the river god on the acclamation issue for Caracalla and Geta shown again here for comparison; Pick knew one in Berlin, and HrJ illustrate the present coin.  To me, these associations suggest (as I said in another context in a previous essay) rather two anvils working at once than two successive issues. 
Similarly, with this obverse die and with a Lysippic Weary Herakles which appeared when HrJ's new Nicopolis had already gone to press (it was unknown to Pick, too).  Again, it is a die that certainly belongs with that for Septimius (paired in the second essay with a quasi-divine bare-bust portrait) but is a different die and a Herakles type previously unrecorded for Caracalla.
Again, and with complete legends, we have the legionary standards flanking a regardant eagle on an altar, Pick's no. 1534 (HrJ,
while a very charming, and not excessively worn Caracalla portrait die, used with an eagle with spread wings, and with Tertullus's name all spelled out on the reverse, seems to be from an unfamiliar die (again, we owe this contribution to a generous friend).

There is one more apparently coherent group of Tertullus coins, those with oddly folkloric types of deities, to which I shall devote the next essay.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sorting Caracalla's dies

Sorting Caracalla's portrait dies


III. Caracalla's Principal Obverse Dies (a)

Pick's AMNG 1518

Six years ago, when I was still using a one-piece Nikon 5700 camera, and using it with pre-set white balance but otherwise in automatic mode, I took one set for Apollo Sauroktonos in grayscale, with a view to hard-copy publication.  This photo shows the coin most faithfully.
I think that this, the Tertullus Sauroktonos, my no.11occupies the place of privilege for the new Augustus as Tertullus's first portrait die for Septimius does for his father.  Both of these portraits have qualities usually seen in Rome sestertii and aurei: the tender modeling of the face, the speaking quality of the mouth, the slightly sassy tilt of the head, the attention given to the folds of drapery in a standard draped over cuirass, as from behind, as on Septimius's.

What I do not understand is why every Sauroktonos of this die pair that has turned up has been very well preserved, while the other reverse-die combinations survive badly worn, or badly corroded (with the usual damage in cleaning before they came on market); some of them, too, show the lovely die in far from pristine condition.
For this reason, and because there is a second die of the same type, it has taken me years to sort them with any confidence.  In this essay I'll post the first kind.

Alternative lighting helps in identifying the obverse die.  The three laurel leaves above his head, the oversize C at the end of Antoneinos (opposite the foreshortened, I think, fold of his cloak, not below it), the lines of the ties of the laurel, and details of the drapery (not least the beaded tassels of the epaulet), all confirm the alert and sassy expression of the face.

HrJ (patina missing on one,  damaged on the other, but the same dies)

It is not only serious corrosion but also the ties of the laurel and the simplified folds of the cloak and the stiff Tyche that make this a secondary die pair.


Here, furthermore, for the obverse die, we have a Septimius so like Caracalla's that it is almost the son given his father's beard, and the reverse is a die match.  The coin-cleaner had a hard time imagining the hip-shot pose of Hermes; Caracalla's bright green one perhaps preserves it best.
The Naos-reverse coins seem also to have primary and secondary dies.  Here are those I regard as primary, i.e., like the obverse at the head of this essay.
Especially like the Sauroktonos obverse, above, because of its fine preserveation

 HrJ (Pick AMNG I, 1, no. 1529 (yet I do not have its mate, with Asklepios, HrJ
The god in this four-column naos is, as Pick said, unidentifiable, since it cannot be an Asklepios or a Serapis, and Zeus is not usually draped down to his calves.  But in the Acclamation set, with Caracalla facing Geta we have a reverse with a nearly frontal Zeus in long clothes, and we have one such for Macrinus and Diadumenian at Marcianopolis, so I am inclined to think that one of that kind is shown in this naos.  
We shall have to consider it also in another context, but the naos for Septimius with Dionysos in it is like these, too.

Finally, here is a coin, perfectly useful as recording this Caracalla with the Herakles leaning on his club and (when preserved) holding a bow in his left hand.
See HrJ, this coin and one very worn.  The obverse is damaged past recall, but it may have been from this primary die.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

When Caracalla was first co-Augustus


II. Acclamation of the Augusti

Behrendt Pick in 1898, AMNG I, 1, p. 361, knew that one of the coins with EYTYChÔS TOIS KYRIOIS in a wreath must have been issued by Tertullus, not only because some with Caracalla, now Augustus, and Geta, now Caesar, not only had the acclamation but were signed, but because one for Septimius, Pick's no. 1283, with an eagle reverse had the same obverse as his no. 1344, with the acclamation in a wreath.  I have not seen either of these coins (HrJ shows at least two obverse dies, so is hard to control), but we do now have Septimius's with the combined legends (HrJ 

That is important, because there are die pairs without the governor's name, and there is one actually signed by the next governor, Aurelius Gallus (HrJ, so in defining the "set" we shall want to use only those that can be linked or verified.

Fortunately, Caracalla's with the acclamation (HrJ not only quite obviously goes with his father's, but though worn is extremely similar to the obverse die of his Apollo  Sauroktonos, which has been discussed in an earlier essay under (e).
Septimius is paired with Caracalla on a coin with the governor's name on the circumference as well as the acclamation in a wreath on a coin known to Hristova and Jekov (HrJ but not to Pick as well as on Pick's no. 1449 with Herakles holding a bow (HrJ, where preservation makes it hard to determine the identity of the dies).  They also knew both specimens of this same obverse die, but with Tyche (the figure slightly recalls the statuesque one paired with Septimius's earliest Tertullus obverse die); here is one of them:
The obverse of his coin may have been somewhat damaged in cleaning
Julia Domna is absent from this set; the empress, after all, was not (or not yet) regarded as a ruling member of the Imperial family.  Sharing a single obverse die, however, Varbanov shows one of Caracalla and Geta, with both the acclamation and the signature (p. 208, no. 3169), which I have not seen, but I do have images of the sons facing each other, Caracalla, laureate, to r., all in worn condition but apparently the self-same obverse, with a River, a half-draped standing Zeus, and Septimius (?) in armor, holding a Jovian eagle or a Nike.  These are Pick's nos. 1623, for the river, and possibly nos.1624 and 1622 for the half-draped Zeus and the figure in armor.  In this set of coins, I believe, the obverses with two portraits do not signify a larger denomination but are simply dynastic, even if the introduction of pentassaria was not related to the introduction of the antoninianus at Rome.

A very worn but clean Caracalla with a river-god reverse, signed by Tertullus, Pick's no. 1526 (Copenhagen, SNG 2, no. 273), may well belong here.

Some of the obverses of Septimius looking quasi-divine and with a bare bust are from the same die as the one with both signature and acclamation that headed this essay.  Like Caracalla's (in the next post), when the coins are not well preserved they are not easy to sort by die identity.  It is like the Caracalla with acclamation, above, compared with his Apollo Sauroktonos, which is not only a very fine specimen but seems to have some folds at the edge of the drapery, and in it, which I cannot identify on the acclamation coin.
For Septimius, the best preserved bare bust with a comparable wavy edge at the bottom and, of course, all the legible letters in the right place is that with the Lysippic Weary Herakles to r. on the reverse (HrJ  The slender neck, the proportions of the facial features, the protruding laurel-leaf tip at the top, and the lambda opposite the triangular bow of the laurel tie, all match (and on both of two differently preserved specimens).

The portrait die used with the reverse of Herakles wrestling with the Nemean Lion has, if one may say so, a slightly more assertive expression and kappa nearly opposite the bow of the laurel tie.  The wavy edge at the bottom also is different.  It is not as if one die succeeded the other but two anvils were working at once.

Again, with the same obverse die as the signed acclamation, we have the reverse with Nike alighting to bestow a wreath (HrJ—for the moment identifying the dies only by reference to Hristova and Jekov's Nikopolis, where all of them are illustrated, as also in the Picasa Album.  

By the same criteria, this River God (HrJ, a most generous gift for this project, and also with a less worn portrait) uses the same obverse die, besides preserving the reverse subject without damage done in the effort to 'clarify' it, but the second one, below, is surely from the same die pair.

The portrait die with bare bust, used with Athena (HrJ and with the Emperor in Armor, holding Zeus's Nike (HrJ may match that with Herakles and the Nemean Lion, above; it would help if the legends were better preserved.
Rev, die may be that used with Caracalla >< Geta, above

The decision to lay out these dies and types without numbering the dies or reaching final decisions is, of course, tentative.  There are other dies, too, whose affiliation is more difficult.  A subsequent essay does not imply that the dies are later.  Indeed, I shall begin next by trying to identify and sort Caracalla dies with reference to his own solo acclamation coin, above.