Roman Collector Posted February 18 · Patron Share Posted February 18 (edited) Coins don't have to be expensive or rare to be interesting. Sometimes one comes across a type that proves to be very educational with a little bit of research. Such was the case with this common dual-portrait coin of Gordian III and his wife Tranquillina from Mesembria. Gordian III (238-244 CE) with wife Tranquillina (241-244 CE). Roman provincial AE 25.8 mm, 11.44 g. Thrace, Mesembria, 241-244 CE. Obv: ΑVΤ Κ Μ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟC ΑVΓ CΕΒ-ΤΡΑΝΚVΛΛΙΝ, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Gordian and draped bust of Tranquillina, wearing stephane, confronted. Rev: ΜΕCΑΜΒΡΙΑΝΩΝ, Apollo Musagetes in long robe, standing left, holding plectrum in outstretched right hand and resting left on lyre set on column. Refs: RPC VII.2, 1226; BMC 3.133,15; Moushmov 3998; Varbanov 4175-4176. There is a lot to learn from this coin, from the technical aspects of the lathe-dimple and compass dot on the obverse to the iconography of the figure of Apollo on its reverse. This post concerns the reverse type. I consulted BMC Greek vol. 3 in the course of attributing the coin. There, Head and Gardner describe the reverse figure as Apollo Musagetes. I thought that was an interesting epithet for the god and set out to learn more about Apollo in his role as Musagetes. Musagetes means "leader of the Muses" and refers to his role as protector and supporter of the Muses. As such, he is depicted with plectrum and lyre. Apollo has a similar epithet, Citharoedus (lyre-player), and scholars of classical antiquity often use Musagetes and Citharoedus interchangeably when writing about artifacts depicting Apollo with a lyre, such as websites here, here, and here, which all describe the same marble statue in the Pio-Clementino Museum in Vatican City. This statuette attributed to Massimiliano (Benzi) Soldani (Italian, 1656–1740) has similar iconography to the coin from Mesembria. Apollo Musagetes is also the subject of a dreadful poem by 19th Century English poet, Matthew Arnold, as well as a 1928 ballet by Igor Stravinsky. I have long maintained that reading about the history and iconography in one's ancient coin collection is equivalent to a bachelor's degree in classics. I enjoyed this little excursion into mythology, art history, poetry, dance, and music and I hope you did too! Post your coins of Apollo with his lyre! Edited February 18 by Roman Collector Grievous crimes against the comma. 11 1 1 4 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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