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Crispina from Ilium with a very specific reverse scene


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This type used to be considered rare, but now there are 23 specs recorded on RPC and others are also known, including two specs which appeared at auction this year, including this specimen here, which I was able to afford only because the wear and dirt obscured what it actually was:


AE29mm 9g orichalcum multiple, minted ca. 180 at Ilium
Κ[ΡΙϹΠΙΝ]Α ϹƐΒΑϹΤΗ; draped bust of the empress wearing stephane
ΙΛ / ΙƐ /ΩΝ; in field left cult statue of Athena Ilios standing right on podium, wearing kalathos and holding spear in right hand and Palladion in left hand, in field right a cow suspended by her front legs from a tree and being sacrificed by throat-cutting by Ilos(?)
RPC IV.2 131 temp


This is a very interesting issue because it shows a parallel between the myth of the founding of Troy -- with Ilos following a cow until it found a place to rest and then Zeus giving him a sign that it was there that the city had to be built, by offering him a sacred statue of Athena (the Palladion) cf. Homer, Iliad -- and the tradition of sacrificing a cow on New Years to Minerva (Athena) for good health and guidance for the emperor. According to Acta Arvalia such a sacrifice took place in honor of Nero in 58 and was repeated time and again well into the next century. This coinage probably marks such an event, honoring the new Imperial couple of Commodus and Crispina, very early in their rule.

Now the best part of this connection between the ancient city of Troy and Rome is of course the Palladion itself, which was stolen from its shrine after the fall of the city by Odysseus and Diomede and was eventually brought to Rome by Aeneas, where its cult was 'restored' and during the 1st century AD of course it took an Imperial significance with the sacrifice to Minerva for the good health of the emperor.

The city of Ilium in the second century was not of utmost importance in Troas and economically and financially it was greatly overshadowed by Alexandria, but through this coinage depicting very specific scenes, the community at Ilium prided itself with its legendary history and at the same time emphasized an unparalleled connection to Rome.

Edited by seth77
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2 hours ago, LONGINUS said:


Congratulations on your acquisition, @seth77 !

Based on portraits and statues that I’ve seen, Crispina was beautiful.

At 29 mm your coin must be great in hand.


I have two Crispina denarii.





That bust from Christie's with the lion skin is extraordinary and if that is a moderately faithful representation rather than an idealized goddess-like version of her, then she was really a looker.

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Very interesting reverse design, @seth77. Thanks for sharing.  

Here is my Crispina sestertius. I like its large size.  🙂

Crispina Ses02.jpg
Crispina, Augusta. 178-182 AD.
Sestertius. 30mm, 24.64g
Obv: CRISPINA AVGVSTA. Draped bust right.
Rev: LAETITIA / S-C; Laetitia standing front, head to left and holding wreath and anchor.
RIC 669, C.27

Edited by happy_collector
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Here's a provincial of Crispina I've never posted anywhere, even though I purchased it nearly two years ago.

Crispina, AD 178-182.
Roman provincial Æ assarion, 4.46 g, 19.3 mm, 6 h.
Thrace, Philippopolis, AD 180-182.
Obv: ΚΡΙϹΠЄΙΝΑ ϹЄΒΑϹΤΗ, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
Rev: ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ, Athena standing, left, holding patera over altar and spear; beside, shield.
Refs: RPC IV.1, 7627 (temporary); Varbanov 1132; Moushmov 5232; BMC --.

Edited by Roman Collector
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