AN ESSAY ON THE COINS OF NICOPOLIS AD ISTRUM SIGNED BY TERTULLUS
VI. Notes on some of the smaller unsigned brass and on smaller copper coins comparable with Gentianus and Tertullus signed reverses.
Although to me the little Septimius copper looks perhaps even earlier than Tertullus, I have chosen to discuss only a selection of unsigned small coins:
(a) coins showing Caracalla as Caesar, such coins linked with Domna unsigned coins, and coins for Septimius similarly. These should still be from the governorship of Gentianus.
(b) coins showing Caracalla still childish but as Augustus and showing Septimius (once linked) with portraits that not only look very early as portraits but have lettering comparable with that on the Caracalla Sauroktonos of Tertullus.
(c) coins showing Geta still childish and with the anomalous praenomen, linked with Septimius, himself still looking quite early.
Most of them are not only numbered there for identification but carefully described and even discussed there. Here I want only to select good specimens of the most arguable ones that are necessary to rounding out the discussion of the larger signed coins.
Those that are approximately AE 20 and weigh about 7g and usually preserve the 'dimple' from die preparation, and are triassaria (cf. those for Diadumenian marked with a gamma) are all of brass.
These are not isolated in AMNG or in Varbanov I (Engl. edition) but listed with other anonymous coins for each ruler.
Before Septimius's empress and sons (and Plautilla, but of course only under Gallus) were honored at Nicopolis with full-size AE 26-28 tetrassaria, neither Domna, as we have seen, nor Caracalla before he was Augustus, had issues larger than the triassaria, and Domna had only the one lovely large die issued by Tertullus (but that was spectacular, giving her a Haimos and a Nike driving a Quadriga). Though I would not preclude Caracalla's having had a Haimos, neither have I seen or heard of one for him (he gets his quadriga issued by Gallus). Under Auspex, in fact, neither had Domna or Caracalla as Caesar in Moesia Inferior.
That is why the smaller coins need to be mentioned, even if not all the dating can be proven, as still significant at this date.
(a) Although it is no longer easy to get the obverse as well as the reverse of Caracalla's Pick 1489, M AVR KAI AN TÔNEINOS, Pick emphasizes that it is knabenhaft as well as a bareheaded Caesar. It is a medium-size coin, AE 22, like his mother's, Pick 1468, from the same reverse die.
This is the justly famous issue, which, if Nicopolis used value marking, would be a gamma. Here our Eros has been playing, evidently, with Herakles' cudgel and has fallen asleep on his Nemean lion's skin. The motif of the sleeping Eros, of course, is well known from statuary. The portrait die of Julia Domna on hers is the one with the long, spelled out legend, IOVLIA DOMNA SEBASTÊ, which we also see with Aphrodite in the 'Capitoline' pose on its reverse.
The Aphrodite coin, Pick 1467, AE 21, both reveals the brass metal and preserves the 'dimples' left from preparing the flan for striking, which appear only on the brass coins. Since it is linked with the Sleeping Eros, it should date from 196-198 (the Aphrodite figure herself appeared with Septimius under the preceding governor, Auspex, but this triassarion is evidently Domna's earliest portrait, linked to her son, at Nicopolis ad Istrum). To illustrate what Pick meant by knabenhaft, here is one of the Crescent and Star small coppers—and not even all the coppers for Caracalla as Caesar are as childlike as these.
Recently we have seen a number of the coins of this module with Nemesis for Septimius Severus himself, also brass and with 'dimples', and a very fine portrait, more like those of Gentianus than any of Tertullus, which faces left (the most similar one in Pick's catalogue is no. 1345, but with differences in the legend and the head to r.).
Whether we follow Pick in calling these zweier or follow its metal and the indication of the one of Diadumenian at Marcianopolis, which is marked gamma, is not so important as noticing their distinctiveness, for Pick lists no other AE 22 for Septimius, and we cannot generalize, but only wonder whether the head facing left was meant itself to mark their value as currency.
Pick does list nos. 1465–1473 as AE 21–23, of which we have just posted the Eros, 1468, and the Aphrodite. I can add, in poor condition, no. 1465, which Pick illustrates, Taf. XV, 18, the Athena:
There is also a Nemesis for Domna (HrJ 188.8.131.52, the second one in the middle column), but neither the legend (it seems to spell out SEBASTÊ) nor the style of the head matches any of the foregoing, and Nemesis has no wheel:
A recent entirely new addition, with another Domna portrait, perhaps more like the Tertullus one than the above, is contributed by 'helcaraxe', an unexpected Artemis Huntress for Julia Domna:
Brass (with 'dimples') and AE 21, 7.43g. These drive home the old observation that, in general, the triassaria were for empresses and Caesars.
And, speaking of Caesars, here is a Nemesis for Caracalla as Caesar, a little copper, but Nemesis was not common for Severus's family under Tertullus, so far as we know, and this one also has the childish head:
Like the prettier, green star and crescent posted above, this one seems to be a pre-Tertullian Caracalla Caesar, but star-and-crescent reverses for the whole family persist, though I should doubt that any are later than Gallus.
The coins as shown here are not to scale, and those with objects rather than animals or deities are as small as the anonymous ones for Nicopolis, but even so, and despite its condition, this Caracalla is not quite so babyish as the last.
(b) The first of these two has the manner and attitude of some Tertullus dies, but it is the second one, the Eros proffering his torch, that has the narrow, problematic rib cage that so tellingly resembles the Tertullus Sauroktonos, Pick 1518, and very Tertullian letter forms.
The next two, with these portrait dies, and the same sort of wreath, plainly go with the EYTYXÔS issue
(c) Coins for Geta, with the anomalous praenomen and die-linked to an early-looking Septimius.
From the same die-pair as the others that I have posted, including that for Septimius, both in my Sauroktonos page in Forum Ancient Coins, and collected in the Picasa Album, this is the coin that led me to study coins, and Provincials in particular, when (bidden to identify some coins belonging to an alumnus of my university) I discovered Doug Smith's wonderful web pages . In fact, at the head of that site, in the composite, row three, second from left, you can click on an earlier image of this coin (he took this one just for my studies) and find what I found. But the one above it here also preserves some details better than any of my others. So these two have pride of place here.
Why is this Tertullian? The anomalous praenomen. The letter forms. The similarity (if it isn't indeed the same obverse die) to the portrait on the one with the void wreath, above.
Note: the relevance of Julia's Wreath, Pick 1473, using the SEBASTÊ obverse die of the Aphrodite and Sleeping Eros brasses, HrJ 184.108.40.206, should have been emphasized. HrJ 220.127.116.11 does illustrate Domna's SEBASTÊ obverse with the sleeping Eros, and 18.104.22.168 also shows on the slightly larger module theknabehhaft Caesar portrait so obviously like that used on the coppers