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Info needed on Phillip I (The Arab)


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Does anyone have references to comprehensive info on his coins, especially the reverses of Virtvs with female Goddess/deity. I am aware that the term Virtvs was normally attributed to males due to the Vir (latin-Man), but the greek version, Arete, was female and was used to describe excellence. Any references will be gladly received as the research and learning is, to me, as important as collecting. Many thanks in advance

Edited by expat
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Regarding the personification of Virtus herself -- as opposed to the attributes she possesses -- being female, usually with her right breast bared, this is from one of my old posts at Coin Talk. 

I've posted this interesting article in the past about the personification of Virtus being female, with a number of examples: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/reverse_virtus.html. Regarding a VIRTVS legend sometimes being accompanied by a male personage such as Mars or the emperor, the article also addresses that type of image, arising from the tension inherent in having a female personification of the manliest of virtues, i.e., martial valor -- essentially, manliness itself. See https://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/reverse_virtus.html :

"Virtus embodies manly courage and strength of character. There were powerful female figures in Roman culture, but these were generally goddesses like Minerva, not mortals. So, having a female personification of these qualities sometimes presented difficulties to the propagandists. As a result, coins often showed, not Virtus herself, but a soldier or the emperor with a "VIRTVS" legend to indicate that the army, or the emperor, was valorous and manly. In fact, a whole range of characters were brought into play. Here are some. . . ."

The article proceeds to give various examples of coins with a VIRTVS reverse legend accompanied by images not of VIRTVS herself but of the emperor, or a soldier, or Mars.

Here's my own obviously female example of Virtus on this Hadrian dupondius, with her bare right breast (although I think, and RIC II.3 agrees [see quotation below], that the placement of the parazonium is no coincidence, speaking of manliness):


See RIC II.3 Introduction at p. 49, explaining that new messages seen during the 119-121 period include “Honos and Virtus, celebrating the Emperor’s honour and courage. Honos is a relatively rare male personification. The more commonplace Virtus is female but she demonstrates the masculine nature of her message – vir = man in Latin – by holding a parazonium [large dagger in ornamental scabbard with bulbous end] in a distinctly phallic pose.”

Also, here's a page from a 2014 article by Lillian Joyce entitled "Roma and the Virtuous Breast," in the publication "Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome," discussing the similarities between the Amazonian "one bare breast" artistic portrayals of both Roma and Virtus:


An excerpt to the same general effect from the Google Books preview of Myles McDonnell, Roman Manliness - Virtus and the Roman Republic (Cambridge 2006), at p. 149:


Edited by DonnaML
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Latin nouns are gendered, some naturally, others grammatically. If I remember correctly, the addition of the suffix -tus to the male noun vir ("man") creates a new grammatically female noun virtus (literally "manliness"). In practice, however, the word held much deeper meaning. It survives in English as "virtue". The personification Virtus follows the grammar and is therefore depicted as female. On the coins, if the figure is male it is typically described as the emperor displaying virtus. If the figure is female, it should be taken as a depiction of Virtus herself. 

Edited by DLTcoins
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Here is my most recent Virtus which I shared not long ago for another illustration.

Numerian Antoninianus

Obv:– IMP C NVMERIANVS AVG, Radiate, cuirassed bust right
Rev:– VIRTVS AVGG, Virtus standing left holding Vicotry, who is holding a wreath and palm and inverted spear
Mint – Lugdunum (C | _) Emission 9 Officina 3. Summer A.D. 284
Reference(s) – Cohen 103. Bastien 616 (3). RIC 400 Bust Type F.

4.74 g, 23.69 mm. 0 degrees


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