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OTD: 3205 years ago Troy falls and is sacked by the Achaeans (Greeks), mass murder, rape and pillaging ensue...Aeneas suspiciously makes it out ok with his family


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"Troy (Greek: Τροία) or Ilion (Greek: Ίλιον) was an ancient city and archaeological site located at Hisarlik in present-day Turkey. It is best known as the setting for the Greek myth of the Trojan War. Troy was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt during its 4000 years of occupation. As a result, the site is divided into nine archaeological layers, each corresponding to a city built on the ruins of the previous. Archaeologists refer to these layers using Roman numerals, Troy I being the earliest and Troy IX being the latest. Troy was first settled around 3600 BC and grew into a small fortified city around 3000 BC (Troy I). Among the early layers, Troy II is notable for its wealth and imposing architecture. During the Late Bronze Age, Troy was called Wilusa and was a vassal of the Hittite Empire. The final layers (Troy VIII-IX) were Greek and Roman cities which served as tourist attractions and religious centers because of their link to mythic tradition. The site was excavated by Heinrich Schliemann and Frank Calvert starting in 1871. Under the ruins of the classical city, they found the remains of numerous earlier settlements. Several of these layers resemble literary depictions of Troy, leading some scholars to conclude that there is a kernel of truth underlying the legends. Subsequent excavations by others have added to the modern understanding of the site, though the exact relationship between myth and reality remains unclear and there is no definitive evidence for a Greek attack on the city.(p725)(ppxiv, 180–812) The archaeological site is open to the public as a tourist destination, and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998."


Some related coins:

Hektor the great hero of Troy and greatest loser of the epic:



A votive of mine, possibly, of Hektor:


Ajax the lesser before turning into a rapist POS:



Aeneas carrying his dad out of Troy:



And after twenty years away Odysseus greets Argos:


Homer writing the greatest story ever told:





Please post any and all coins that you have that have to do with or are from ancient Troy!

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Here's a very rare coin of Priam, king  of Troy. 39mm, 41g. These are seldom seen*.

Obv: ΒAΣΙΛEYΣ ΠΡIAMOΣ. Diademed head of Priamos right.
Rev: View of Troy, with temples and harbor. Shore with Greek soldiers and  galleys.


*Partly because they were made in the mid 16th century AD  by Alessandro Cesati,  but why let that spoil anything.


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Ilion, near the site of ancient Troy.


Troas, Ilion (Troy)
301-281 BCE
AE 9mm 0.81g
Helmeted head of Athena right, wearing crested Attic helmet decorated with a wreath /
IΛ-I; hydria.
Bellinger T3; SNG Cop 346


The Palladion, the possession of which was necessary for Troy to fall.


Argos, Argolis
ca 280-260 BCE
Ae Dichalkon 16.3mm 3.2g
Obv: Head of Hera right wearing stephane inscribed ARGE
Rev: The Palladion standing left holding spear and shield
SNG Cop 57

Philoktetes owned the bow and arrow of Herakles, which were necessary to conquer Troy. He was exiled on the island of Lemnos and it was Odysseus who tricked him into joining them in Troy.


Thessaly, Homolion
ca 350 BCE
AE 20mm 6.6g
Head of Philoktetes right, wearing conical pileos /
ΟΜΟΛ-IEΩN; serpent coiled right, grape bunch above.
Helly, Quelques 25; Rogers 257


Protesilaos was the first to leap ashore in Troy and was therefore fated as the first to die.


Thessaly. Thebai
302-286 BCE
Æ Trichalkon 19.65mm 6.99g
Obverse: Wreathed head of Demeter left
Reverse: ΘHBAIΏN, Protesilaos stepping right from prow of galley, holding sword and shield
Rogers 550


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Gaius Iulius Caesar
Denarius of the Roman Republic Period 48/47 BC; Material: Silver; Diameter: 19mm; Weight: 3.84g; Mint: Military mint in North Africa; Reference: Crawford RRC 458/; Obverse: Head of Venus, right, wearing diadem. Border of dots; Reverse: Aeneas, left, carrying palladium in right hand and Anchises on left shoulder. Border of dots. The Inscription reads: CAESAR for Caesar ([Gaius Iulius] Caesar).



This denarius, dating from 48 to 47 BC, shows on the reverse a complex scene depicting a myth familiar to contemporary viewers: The Greek hero Aeneas, son of Aphrodite, rescues his father Anchises and the cult image of Athena from burning Troia.

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What a fun write-up, @Ryro!! I'll contribute this Republican denarius featuring Aeneas.

M. Herennius, 108-107 BC.
Roman AR Denarius, 3.41 g, 17.4 mm, 3 h.
Rome, 108-107 BC.
Obv: PIETAS, diademed head of Pietas right.
Rev: M • HERENNI, Aeneas carrying his father Anchises, r.; Control-mark L• in lower right field.
Refs: Crawford RRC 308/1b; Sydenham CRR 567a; RSC I Herennia 1a; RCV 185; BMCRR 1272.

And here's an Imperial with the Palladium.

Septimius Severus, AD 193-211.
Roman AR denarius, 3.10 g, 17.9 mm, 6 h.
Rome, AD 196.
Obv: L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP VIII, laureate head, right.
Rev: P M TR P IIII COS II P P, Minerva standing left, holding transverse spear in right hand and round shield in left hand (i.e., the Palladium).
Refs: RIC 83; BMCRE 139; Cohen 417; Hill 216; RCV --.

And here's Queen Dido of Carthage, who fooled around and fell in love with Aeneas, only to be abandoned by him. Here's her famous lament, from Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas." I had the opportunity to see a live performance of this opera a few months before the pandemic started.


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Enjoyable read and beautiful coins of Aeneas carrying his father.


As an aside (although the Fall of Troy doesn't occur in this work), the Iliad is amazingly readable and has aged incredibly. I read the Lattimore which attempts to resemble the poetic feel of the Ancient Greek as opposed to a prose translation.

I read a Penguin edition of the Aeneid and I thought it was much weaker. I enjoyed the first half with the evacuation and meeting Dido but I think it falls off when Aeneas gets to Italy. Perhaps the prose translation I read wasn't so good though.

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Great post @Ryro  This gives me a chance to post my only coin from Troy (well, Illium) - a three-headed one for Vespasian, with busts of Titus and Domitian on the reverse flanking a statue of Athena:  


Vespasian  Æ 24 Ilium, Troas (69-79 A.D.)  ΑΥΤΟΚ Κ ϹƐΒ[ΑϹ ΟΥƐϹΠΑϹΙΑΝΟϹ], laureate head right / [ΤΙ]ΤΩ ΚΑΙ[ϹΑΡΙ] ΔΟΜ[ΙΤΙΑΝΩ ΚΑΙ...Ι]ΛΙ, laureate heads of Titus left, Domitian right between, statue of Athena Ilias RPC II 893; BMC 46; Bellinger T127; SNG Cop. 392. (7.75 grams / 24 x 19 mm ) eBay April 2023     

Provenance: Roma Numismatics Ltd E-Sale 59; Lot 622; 11.07.2019

Die-Match Obv. & Rev.: Coin no. 12 of RPC II, 893 American Numismatic Society 1944.100.43936

Die-Match Obverse:  Roma Numismatics Ltd E-Sale 108; Lot 719; 13.04.2023 Lot number: 719

It actually has a provenance, sort of.  It was in a Roma Numismatics sale (no sale - it is not very pretty; but most of them are quite worn).  My photo and Roma's: 


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Good idea for a thread, @Ryro. 

My most obvious contribution is this one:

Roman Republic, C. Mamilius Limetanus, AR Serrate Denarius, 82 BCE Rome Mint. Obv. Draped bust of Mercury right, wearing petasus with two wings, caduceus over left shoulder, control letter “F” behind* / Rev. Ulysses walking right, wearing mariner’s clothing and pileus, holding staff in left hand and extending right hand towards his dog, Argus, who stands left at Ulysses’ feet with his head raised towards him; C•MAMIL downwards in left field, LIMETAN [TA ligate] upwards in right field. Crawford 362/1. RSC I Mamilia 6, Sear RCV I 282 (ill.), BMCRR 2717 and 2720-2721 [two examples of control letter “F”]. 21 mm., 4.04 g., 9 h.**


*The only known control-letters for this issue are the 11 letters of the alphabet necessary to spell out a version of the moneyer’s name, C LIMETANVS C.F. See Crawford p. 377. There are 100 different obverse dies known for this issue (id. p. 375), meaning that there should be approximately 9 different dies per control-letter, assuming that they were distributed equally. 

**The reverse design alludes to the moneyer’s claim to descent from Telegonus, son of Ulysses and Circe. See Crawford p. 377. See also id. p. 220 (noting in connection with Crawford 149 that the Mamilii were a Tusculan family and claimed descent from Telegonus, Tusculum’s founder, through his daughter Mamilia). The family’s descent from Ulysses through Telegonus also explains the depiction of Mercury -- in legend, the great-grandfather of Ulysses -- on the obverse. Id. p. 377.  For the tale of Ulysses’ encounter with his old dog Argus [Argos in Greek] upon his return to Ithaca, see Homer’s Odyssey, Book 17, lines 290-327.

And here's another Roman Republican denarius, complete with my encyclopedia-length explanation in a footnote -- from the old Coin Talk days; I've never posted the footnote here -- of why I believe that the reverse portrays Aeneas and Anchises escaping Troy, not one of the Catanaean Brothers escaping Aetna with a parent:

Roman Republic, M. Herennius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 108-107 BCE. Obv. Diademed head of Pietas right, wearing single drop earring and pearl necklace, PIETAS (TA ligate) downward to left / Rev. Naked youth (one of the Catanaean brothers, Amphinomous or Anapias) running right and carrying his father on his shoulder to escape from erupting Mt. Etna, or Aeneas carrying his father Anchises to escape from defeated Troy, with his father looking back (towards Mt. Etna or Troy) and raising his right hand; M • HERENNI (HE ligate) downward to left, Control-mark • above C in lower right field.* Crawford 308/1b, RSC I Herennia 1a, Sear RCV I 185 (ill.), BMCRR 1258-1285 [No. 1261 has same control-mark], Sydenham 567a, RBW Collection 1149. 19mm, 4.0g, 7h. Purchased at JAZ Numismatics Auction # 181, Lot 6, April 2021; ex. Frederick B. Shore; ex. Stack’s Public Auction Sale, “A Collection of Ancient Roman Coins,” June 14-15, 1971, Lot 127, at p. 16 [not illustrated in plates] (see catalog at https://nnp.wustl.edu/library/auctionlots?AucCoId=3&AuctionId=516472#search).**


*Crawford 308/1a and RSC Herennia 1 have the control-marks on the obverse; Crawford 308/1b and RSC Herennia 1a have the control-marks on the reverse. Only the letters of the Latin alphabet (right side up, upside down, sideways in each direction, and with dots in various positions around them) were used as control marks for Crawford 308 (both 1a and 1b). See Crawford Vol. I p. 317. According to Crawford, 308/1a has a total of 120/150 different obverse/reverse dies, and 308/1b has 126/158 (id.). There was only one die for each different control mark, with a handful of exceptions not relevant here (id.). Thus, each of the approximately 25 examples of the "• above C" control-mark for this type found at the CRRO Roman Republican Die Project pages for Crawford 308/1b, at http://numismatics.org/archives/ark...399#schaefer_clippings_output_308-1_rev_05_od,  appears to be a reverse die match to my specimen.

 **The moneyer “is presumably M. Herennius, Cos. 93.” Crawford p. 318. (But see Grueber, BMCRR p. 195 n. 2, rejecting that identification.)  He may have been the son or otherwise a descendant of Herennius Siculus [the Latin word for “Sicilian”], a haruspex and friend of Caius Sempronius Gracchus, who was arrested after the latter’s death as part of the persecution of the populares, and famously committed suicide by smashing his head against a doorpost at the prison as a gesture of protest and of loyalty to his friend. See id., Valerius Maximus, ix. 12. § 6; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herennia_gens

The obverse portrayal of Pietas is her very first depiction on a Roman coin. See Crawford Vol. II p. 866 (subject index); http://numismatics.org/crro/results?q=pietas; Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for “Pietas” at p. 243 (“Pietas (in the form of a female head wearing a diadem) first appears on Roman coins c. 108 B.C. on a denarius of M. Herennius”).  As Jones points out, the concept of pietas has “a wider sense than in modern English, covering not only one’s duty towards the gods but also towards the State and one’s family.” Id.  

All authorities agree that the scene on the reverse illustrates pietas, specifically filial pietas. There are, however, two possible identifications of the scene depicted -- namely, one of the Catanaean brothers rescuing his father from an eruption of Mt. Etna, or Aeneas rescuing his father Anchises from Troy.  See, e.g., the Roma Numismatics summary at https://www.numisbids.com/n.php?p=lot&sid=277&lot=379 : “There are two possible interpretations of this reverse design, each with merit. The first is that the moneyer M. Herennius, who perhaps had a connection with Sicily, chose to illustrate a local example of [Pietas]: the brothers Amphinomus and Anapias, who are supposed to have saved their parents from an eruption of Mt Etna by carrying them from danger on their shoulders. The second interpretation reaches back to the mythological founding of Rome; Aeneas, during the fall of Troy, carried his father Anchises from the burning ruins of the city. Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of Rome, through their descendance from him, made Aeneas progenitor of the Roman people. Long before Virgil makes reference to ‘pious Aeneas’ in his Aeneid, the Roman concept of piety was threefold; duty to the gods, to one’s homeland and to one’s family, which neatly links the reverse type with the obverse on this coin.” 

The cases for the two alternatives are summarized in slightly more detail in Clark, Anna J., Divine Qualities, Cult and Community in Republican Rome (Oxford 2007) at pp. 155-156, discussing: 



Although Clark expresses no preference herself as to which interpretation is correct, the Catanaean (sometimes spelled Catanian or Katanian) brothers interpretation has always been the view of the overwhelming majority of authorities since it was first proposed by Jean Foy-Vaillant in 1703. See J. Vaillant, Nummi antiqui familiarum Romanorum (Amsterdam, 1703), pp. 485–486. In agreement in the next century were T. Mommsen, Geschichte des römischen Münzwesens (Berlin, 1860), pp. 565–567; and E. Babelon, Description historique et chronologique des monnaies de la république romaine, vulgairement appelées monnaies consulaires (Paris, 1885), vol. 2, pp. 538–539. More recently, Grueber in BMCRR, RSC, Crawford, and Sear all also identify the scene as showing one of the Catanaean brothers; none even mentions the possibility that Aeneas and Anchises were intended.

Despite this near-unanimity, Clark specifically notes that to the extent the Catanaean brothers interpretation is founded on a proposed association between the Herennia gens and the island of Sicily, an association based in turn on the fact that Herennius Siculus  (with Siculus meaning Sicilian) was possibly the moneyer’s father or other ancestor, such speculation on the moneyer’s Sicilian origins has been “increasingly discredited.” Thus, even Crawford, despite adopting the Catanaean brothers theory, states at Vol. I p. 318 that “[i]t is uncertain whether the moneyer was a descendant of Herennius Siculus the Haruspex and used the story of the Catanaean brothers to recall the loyalty of the Haruspex to C. Gracchus. . . . Herennius Siculus seems in any case despite his cognomen to have been Etruscan by origin . . ., and the type was doubtless chosen not for its Sicilian associations, but because the story of the Catanaean brothers provided a well-known example of pietas in action.” (Boldfaced emphasis added, citations omitted.) Crawford fails, however, to take the next logical step and address the question of why, given the absence of a Sicilian association, the Aeneas/Anchises story could not have served equally well as an example of pietas in action. Especially given that it is rather difficult to ignore the fact that there were two Catanaean brothers and their two parents in that story, but only one son and one parent portrayed on the M. Herennius coin -- just as in the story of Aeneas and his father.

 Nor does Grueber provide any strong evidence for the Sicilian association underlying the Catanaean brothers interpretation. See Grueber, BMCRR Vol. I p. 195 n. 2: “The Herennia gens appears to have been engaged in commerce, especially in the Sicilian and African trade and in the exportation of the silphium. It is not improbable that the family name originally came from Sicily.” “Not improbable” is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

 The most detailed presentation I have found in English in the secondary literature advocating the Aeneas/Anchises interpretation of the M. Herennius denarius (including the evidence that the moneyer was of Etruscan, not Sicilian origin) is made in a book by Jane DeRose Evans entitled The Art of Persuasion: Political Propaganda from Aeneas to Brutus (The University of Michigan Press, 1992) at pp. 35 and 37-39. Rather than attempt to summarize her arguments, I will reproduce the relevant portions of pp. 37-39 here.




It is certainly worthy of note that the American Journal of Numismatics review of Evans’s book, by William Metcalf, agrees with her interpretation: 


American Journal of Numismatics 5-6, 1993-1994, Second Series (1995) at p. 251:

Book Review, William E. Metcalf, The American Numismatic Society p. 253:

 “Evans is quite correct to point out that scholars have too frequently conferred
genealogies on moneyers without considering that a coin image using
figures from the early history of Rome might be more easily understood
as a social or political statement.

The bulk of Evans’ book consists of a series of chapters that group
various images from monuments and coins around such general themes
as Aeneas, the she-wolf and twins, Romulus, the Forum Augustum, the
Sabines and Rome, Numa Pompilius and Ancus Marcius, and Brutus. In
each chapter, Evans summarizes Republican and Augustan images asso-
ciated with the particular figure or legend and suggests possible reasons
for using the theme. I believe that Evans is correct in identifying the
scene on the reverse of a denarius of M. Herennius (Crawford 308/1) as
Aeneas carrying Anchises rather than one of the brothers from Catana
who carried their parents away from the dangers of Mt. Etna in erup-
tion. Both stories are exempla of Pietas, the deity depicted on the
coin’s obverse, but showing only one man carrying a parent is more
likely to bring to mind the story of Aeneas than that of the Sicilian
brothers. Although the coin type is a little different from the one tradi-
tionally associated with Aeneas and Anchises, Evans’ plates demon-
strate graphically that it is almost identical with two later types more
securely connected with the Aeneas story. Although scholars have tra-
ditionally identified the legend represented on Herennius’s coins as that
of the Sicilian brothers and rejected any link with Aeneas, I think they
have placed too much weight on the possible connection between the 

moneyer and a M. Herennius Siculus.” (Emphasis added)

 In a 2014 blog post, Prof. Liv Mariah Yarrow also mentions the M. Herennius denarius and Jane DeRose Evans’s argument that it portrays Aeneas and Anchises rather than the generally-accepted view that it illustrates the Catanaean brothers story. See https://livyarrow.org/2014/02/07/catanaean-brothers/:

“I’m trying to make up my mind whether I think RRC 308/1 represents one of the Catanaean Brothers as most scholars think or if I am swayed at all by Evans’ claim that it is really Aeneas. Above is a coin of Catana showing the brothers.  Here is the Republican coin: [photos omitted] [Extended quotations follow from the ancient sources for the Catanaean brothers story, including Hyginus’s list of “Those Who Were Exceptionally Dutiful” -- including both Aeneas and the Catanaean brothers -- and the anonymous poem Aetna] . . .

Can you represent just one Catanaean brother? There are other coins of Catana that show just one brother and parent per side, but they are still both there . . . . What would the contemporary Roman have seen?  Perhaps either narrative?  I’m not willing to follow Evans wholeheartedly but some doubt seems warranted.”

 Although it has been argued (see the Berdowski chapter quoted below, etc.) that the M. Herennius coin cannot have been intended to portray Aeneas because he was never portrayed as nude when carrying Anchises on art produced before the coin, such as on Greek vases, the fact that he was portrayed nude on later Roman coins generally accepted as portraying Aeneas would certainly seem to refute any notion that a nude portrayal of Aeneas was culturally out of place. See these examples (not mine) of Crawford 458 (Julius Caesar denarius) and Crawford 494/3b (Octavian aureus), both with reverses identified by Crawford as showing Aeneas and Anchises:



Note the especially strong resemblance between the design of the reverse on the Octavian aureus and the design of the M. Herennius coin, with both showing a father sitting on a nude son’s left shoulder, looking back towards the departed home. By contrast, the Sextus Pompeius coin indisputably portraying the Catanaean brothers (Crawford 511) shows both brothers and both parents, with Pater pointing at Mater rather than at Mt. Etna!


But see Claire Rowan, From Caesar to Augustus (c. 49 BC - AD 14), Using Coins as Sources (Cambridge 2019) at p. 76, which, if accepted, would completely negate the impact of the resemblance between the Octavian and M. Herennius coins: she argues that the Octavian coin, in fact, also portrays one of the Catanaean brothers rather than Aeneas:


However, this identification has certainly not been generally accepted. It not only ignores the fact that the Sextus Pompeius coin shows both brothers, but uses an assumption that the M. Herennius coin illustrates the Catanaean brothers story as supposed evidence that the Octavian coin also does so. To then turn around and use the latter identification as evidence of the former would seem somewhat circular.

 The most extended “post-Evans” attempt to present the case for the Catanaean brothers interpretation that I have found (at least in English) is the chapter by Piotr Berdowski of Rzeszów in Poland, entitled “Pietas erga patriam: ideology and politics in Rome in the early first century BC.

The evidence from coins and glandes inscriptae,” published as part of the book Within the Circle of Ancient Ideas and Virtues, Studies in Honour of Professor Maria Dzielska (Krakow 2014), at pp. 143-160, with the discussion of the M. Herennius denarius at pp. 145-150.. Here are the most relevant portions, with the numerous footnotes omitted except where indicated:

 “The belief that the reverse of the denarius of M. Herennius displays one of the Ca‑ tanian Brothers is commonly accepted by scholars, though there is also an alternative interpretation, whose supporters see on the Herennius’ coin Aeneas with his father An‑ chises. In my opinion there is no reason to question the traditional interpretation. The arguments doubly weigh in favour of the Catanian Brothers. Firstly, the iconographic analysis of the scene from the coin as well as its comparison to representations of the Catanian Brothers and Aeneas in the art and coinage of the previous periods point to the identification of Amphinomos and Anapias. Secondly, the political context for the use of Pietas on the obverse of Herennius’ coin and image of the young man with his parent on the reverse favours one of the Catanian Brothers instead of Aeneas.

 Claudia Perassi presented an in­‑depth analysis of the iconography of the reverse of M. Herennius’ coin in her article [in Italian] published in 1994. It remains the fullest treatment of the scene with the naked young man on Herennius’ denarius. She compared the coin with Catanian coinage (where the scenes of Amphinomos and Anapias together with their parents were popular) and with Greek and Etruscan vase painting of the same subject. Perassi’s findings unequivocally support the traditional identification.The figural scene from Herennius’ denarius (including the gesture of the raised hand by the carried parent) recalls those known from the coins struck in Catana in the third and second century. The inspiration for the Roman moneyer might have come not only from Catanian mints but also from two Hellenistic statues erected in Catania in the place where allegedly lava streams miraculously parted and saved Amphinomos and Anapias with their parents during the Etna eruption. The place was named Χῶρος Εὐσεβῶν (Campus Piorum). The analysis of the scenes with Aeneas and Anchises on Greek and Etruscan vase paintings and other objects also do not present arguments that favour the candidacy of Aeneas as the naked young man. Depictions of naked Aeneas are rare, and — as Perassi stresses — the hero is equipped with some sort of attribute that underlines his status as a warrior. This could be for example a shield, helmet or sword. If the young man on Herennius’ coin was Aeneas the scene would be unique, even in the context of the later coins. [Fn. 18: “Right away I must forestall any possible reservations by reason of the naked Aeneas bearing his father Anchises displayed in the coin minted by Caesar in 47 (RRC 458/1), since Aeneas carries the palladion, and is not deprived of one of his usual attributes.”]  In addition, it is worth referring to the study of Karl Galinsky, which shows that representations of Aeneas with Anchises were rare in the “pre­Vergilian époque” (which contrasts with the common representations of the Catanian Brothers), and those which are preserved do not necessarily emphasize the context of pietas erga parentem. As a result, the iconographic analysis is weighted against the identification of Aeneas.

 The identification of the young man from Herennius’ coin must take into consideration the moneyer himself as well. It was probably Marcus Herennius (cos. 93), who, according to Elizabeth Deniaux, sympathized with the populares. Friedrich Münzer thought that he was the son of Herennius Siculus. Information preserved in Valerius Maximus (9.12.6), tells us that Herennius Siculus was a haruspex and a friend of Caius Sempronius Gracchus. After the latter’s death the elder Herennius was arrested as a supporter of the populares during the persecution organized by L. Opimius (App., BC, 1.25–26; Plut., CG, 13). While being conducted to prison he smashed his head against the doorpost in a gesture of protest and died immediately. This self­destructive act was a sign of devotion to his friend but at the same time the most expressive gesture possible against the prosecution of his faction and the anarchy in Rome. If Herennius Siculus was the father of M. Herennius who minted the coin, then the presence of Pietas and Amphinomos (or Anapias) on his denarius underlined the commemoration of the heroic deed of his father by the son. Thus we deal here with the pietas erga parentem of M. Herennius towards his father. To stress this filial piety Herennius appealed to the Catanian Brothers. Because the tradition of the Catanian Brothers was universal, it fit‑ marted perfectly into Herennius’ purpose, regardless of whether the Herenni had any con‑ nections to Sicily or not. One can argue that the scene of Aeneas with Anchises might serve the same purpose. Theoretically it could, but the arguments presented above show that it is unlikely. Above all, it is hard to see any reason why M. Herennius might have chosen Aeneas. Even if the link between the gens Herennia and Sicily is — at worst — fragile, one can see no connection with the Trojan tradition of Aeneas at all. . . .

One should also mention the idea of Jane DeRose Evans, who supports the presence on Herennius’ coin of Aeneas instead of the Catanian Brothers. She sees a link between Herennius’ coin and the events of bellum sociale:

[Quotation from Evans]:

 ‘By portraying pietas on his coin’s obverse, Herennius may not only have been stress ing Aeneas’ act, but also alluding to the impiety of attempts to break alliances with Rome, as Fregellae did soon after the coins were minted. Aeneas would be a figure of

unity to the Italian peoples, because Aeneas founded Alba Longa, the Italian city that eventually combined its peoples with those of Rome.’

The part of this interpretation having to do with the use of the image of Aeneas is not convincing, even if the notion of piety works for either of the figural identification. Evans herself admits that it is hard to make any link between the gens Herennia and Aeneas (she thinks that M. Herennius chose Aeneas because of the universal overtone of pietas associated with this Greco‑Roman hero). Yet, it is hard to see as many con‑ vincingly political and ideological reasons for the use of Aeneas by Herennius as the Catanian Brothers have much richer association with the various kinds of pietas.”

People can draw their own conclusions. But a few things occur to me about Berdowski’s argument. First, he dismisses the naked Aeneas on the Julius Caesar coin because Aeneas holds an identifying Palladium, but ignores the naked Aeneas on the Octavian aureus, who holds nothing but his father. Second, I’m not sure I agree with Berdowski’s statement that an “iconographic analysis of the scene from the coin as well as its comparison to representations of the Catanian Brothers and Aeneas in the art and coinage of the previous periods point to the identification of Amphinomos and Anapias.” In terms of the coinage of previous periods, he ignores the fact that there are no Catanian coins portraying only one brother instead of two; it is Herennius’s coin that would be unique in that respect if it were intended to represent the Catanaean brothers.  (See Prof. Yarrow’s comment above.) For example, each of these two Catanian coins from Wildwinds (both of which significantly pre-date the Herennius coin), portrays both brothers, albeit one on each side for one of them:



Also, I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate or reasonable to conclude that “representations of Aeneas with Anchises were rare in the ‘pre­Vergilian époque,’” (at least for art outside the numismatic context) and that “it is hard to make any link between the gens Herennia and Aeneas” or to think of a reason why the moneyer might have used the Aeneas/Anchises story on his denarius. Berdowski seems to have disregarded the significance of the fact that not only was the family Etruscan, but that Herennius Siculus was apparently a haruspex, i.e., a diviner -- a quintessentially Etruscan occupation. And seems to ignore the specific significance of Aeneas to the Etruscans as a “founder hero,” long before he had that role in Roman mythology. See, e.g., Aeneas before Virgil: Early Greek sources about the Trojan hero, at https://www.ancientworldmagazine.com/articles/aeneas-before-virgil-early-greek-sources-trojan-hero/:

 “From the second half of the sixth century, there are a considerable amount of Attic black-figure vases that depict Aeneas carrying his father Anchises to safety. Sometimes a child is also present; one assumes it must be Ascanius. A woman is often present, leading the way; perhaps she is to be identified as Creusa, Aeneas’ wife. Creusa was also a daughter of Priam and Hecuba (and therefore destined to die at Troy). It should be noted that most of these black-figure vases were found in Etruria and were perhaps deliberatedly made for the Etruscan market, for example if the Etruscans already considered Aeneas a founder hero.” (Emphasis added.)

 See also, e.g., https://www.ascs.org.au/news/ascs32/Mountford.pdf  (“This paper establishes that there existed a considerable interest in the story of the escape of Aeneas and Anchises from Troy in southern Etruria in the last two decades of the sixth century B.C. It considers the Attic vases and Etruscan clay figurines which support this view”); https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/s3-euw1-ap-pe-ws4-cws-documents.ri-prod/9781138776685/The%20Image%20of%20Aeneas.pdf.

 I present one example of such a vase, an Attic black-figure cup showing Aeneas & Anchises, manufactured ca. 520 BCE, displayed at the Louvre, Dept. of Greek, Etruscan &  Roman Antiquities, Sully, 1st floor, room 42, case 13:


Where was it found? In Vulci, “a rich and important Etruscan city.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulci.)  Yes, Aeneas is wearing armor, and yes, his son is partly visible behind him, but see how closely the figure of Anchises resembles the father on the M. Herennius denarius -- including his clothing and, most importantly, in the “gesture of the raised hand by the carried parent” as he gazes back at Troy, which Berdowski presents as signaling the Catanian brothers story. Not necessarily -- especially with one, not two, parents portrayed.

I am sure it will never be certain which story is portrayed on the reverse of the M. Herennius denarius, but from reviewing as much secondary literature as I could find, I tend to doubt that the case weighs as strongly in favor of the Catanaean brothers as many scholars believe. In fact, I'm reasonably convinced that it portrays Aeneas and Anchises.


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