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First Roman Coin Type with individual depiction of Romulus: You'll never guess when it was!


DonnaML

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I was stunned, frankly.

My apologies for being clickbaity. I couldn't resist.

Hadrian AR Denarius, ca. 130 AD (according to RIC II.3 p. 168: Group 9, “time of the visit to Egypt”), Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, HADRIANVS - AVG COS III P P / Rev. Romulus [or: statue of Romulus in southern exedra of Forum of Augustus], bareheaded, in military dress with cape, advancing right holding transverse spear in right hand and trophy over left shoulder [Spolia Opima: weapons of an enemy defeated in single combat], ROMVLO - CONDITORI [Romulus the Founder]. RIC II.3 Hadrian 1424 & Pl. 29 (Head type A) (2019 edition); old RIC 266 (1926 ed.); RSC II 1316 (rev. ill. p. 154); BMCRE III Hadrian 710 (ill. Pl. 61 No. 2); Sear RCV II 3538 (obv. var. w/drapery on far shoulder); Strack 263 [Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Teil II: Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Hadrian (Stuttgart, 1931)]. 18 mm., 3.10 g., 6 h. Purchased Sep. 2023 from Eric Kondratieff, Bowling Green, KY; ex Heritage Auctions, Oct. 12, 2022 Lot 62255 (“From the Historical Scholar Collection”) (formerly in NGC slab, Cert. No. 6327597-008, Graded XF [see https://www.ngccoin.com/certlookup/6327597-008/NGCAncients/]). *

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If I needed a reminder of how much I dislike the way most ancient coins look in slabs (especially when they're tagged with silly made-up names like the "Historical Scholar Collection"!), this photo of the obverse of the slab provides it:

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I like the slab better this way, after I cracked it open last night:

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*Very surprisingly, this reverse type of Hadrian, issued in the form of aurei, denarii, and sestertii (RIC II.3 1422-1431, 2891-2892, 3180) appears to represent the first instance in ancient Roman numismatics -- whether Republican, Imperial, or Provincial -- of a coin depicting Romulus as an individual figure (i.e., apart from his appearances with Remus in the “she-wolf and twins” grouping), as “Conditori” or otherwise. The indexes to Crawford and BMCRR list no individual Roman Republican examples (unless one counts the C. Memmius type [Crawford 427/2] with an obverse portraying Quirinus, who was sometimes identified with Romulus in his deified aspect; see my example posted as the fourth of four coins at https://www.numisforums.com/topic/2272-romulus-reemus-couldnt-they-have-just-made-ice-cream-together-like-ben-and-jerry/#comment-37898). The same is true for Provincial coinage according to RPC Online, and for Imperial coinage prior to this reverse type of Hadrian, according to OCRE. (Even after Hadrian, Romulus appears individually, as far as I can determine, only on coins of Antoninus Pius and Commodus.) As for the reason why Romulus was never depicted individually on the coinage in the more than 300 years of Roman coin issues prior to Hadrian, I can’t even speculate. Theories are welcome.

Although it has nothing to do with the reason for depicting Romulus individually on the coinage for the first time under Hadrian, I have seen it suggested (including by the person who sold me the coin) that the reverse type either was intended to depict, or was modeled after, the prominent statue of Romulus in the southern exedra of the Forum of Augustus. As noted at https://atouchofrome.com/forum-of-augustus-explained.html, a website discussing the Forum in detail, a “very large statue is displayed in the centre of the back wall” in this area; “this is Romulus holding Spolia Opima (weapons of an enemy defeated in single combat).” See this plan of the Forum at https://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/forumaugplan.jpg, showing the location of the Romulus statue on the upper right:

image.png.1b95e05d28cfb9ddb78b03d172bdf7b4.png

See also this explanation at https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/imperialfora/augustus/exedrae.html :

“Ovid attests that the mythical ancestors of Augustus were placed in the exedrae, hemicycles or semi-circular apses that open behind the colonnade of the porticoes. The back wall of the porticoes and the curved walls of the hemicycles were articulated with engaged columns that framed a series of rectangular niches that held portrait busts representing the dual ancestry of Augustus.

In the northwest exedra were the gens Julia, including a statue of Aeneas in the central niche. The descendent of Venus, he represented pietas or piety. Carrying his aged father and holding the hand of his son, he led them away from burning Troy. On either side are thought to have been his descendants: the legendary kings of Alba Longa, which had been founded by Aeneas' son, and where Romulus and Remus were said to have been born.

In the southeast exedra were the heroes of Rome's past. A statue of Romulus, bearing spolia opima (the arms of a defeated enemy won in single combat), represented virtus or courage, which Augustus now claimed for himself. Filling the niches on either side were the principes and triumphatores of the Republic, whose statues may have continued down the colonnaded porticoes, their deeds and achievements recorded in inscriptions that served as models of conduct for future generations (Suetonius, XXXI.5). By this pedigree, Augustus associated himself with Aeneas and Venus, his divine mother, and with Romulus, the son of Mars and founder of Rome. The pietas of Aeneas is suggested in Augustus having avenged Caesar's death, the virtus of Romulus in his recovering the standards lost to the Parthians and now dedicated in the new temple.

(Emphasis added.) See also https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/imperialfora/augustus/forumaugustum.html:

“Flanking the temple and running the length of the square were two porticoes, which may have served as venues for the courts of justice. Behind this colonnade were two large hemicycles or semi-circular exedrae. Here, says Suetonius, Augustus

‘honoured the memory of the leaders who had raised the estate of the Roman people from obscurity to greatness. Accordingly he restored the works of such men with their original inscriptions, and in the two colonnades of his forum dedicated statues of all of them in triumphal garb, declaring besides in a proclamation: I have contrived this to lead the citizens to require me, while I live, and the rulers of later times as well, to attain the standard set by those worthies of old' (XXXI.5).

One showed Aeneas, the mythical ancestor of the Julian family, fleeing Troy with his father and son; the other, Romulus, the founder of Rome. Each was surrounded by their respective descendants, the Julio-Claudians and the illustres viri of Rome, whose statues had marble plaques recording their deeds to serve as a reminder to all of the standard they had set. Borrowing from Virgil's Aeneid, the decorative program of the forum combined myth and history to construct a new national mythology, one that, instead of looking to the future, was directed from the present back to the past.”

Although I’m not aware that any ancient author described the precise appearance of this statue of Romulus -- the product of one illustrator’s imagination can be seen at https://atouchofrome.com/images/forums/forum-of-augustus-exedra-interior-with-lawcourt-in-year-2-BC.webp -- the depiction on the reverse of my coin certainly fits the general description.  

Please post anything you think is relevant, including other "first examples" of particular iconic types.

Edited by DonnaML
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Excellent and incredibly historically important coin, Donna! Great call setting the old boy free, btw.

And you're right. I would never have guessed it was this late in the game! Are there any others images on ancients with Romulus on his own? And dare I ask for a singular Remus???

Anyways, here are my coins showing Mr Rome, as Mary Beard calls him, with kid brother and future murder victim, Remus:

1220388_1591198370-removebg-preview.png.6b4937d09b4375ddf12a511e5b9888bc.png

Gallienus 253-268. Æ antoninianus (21.3 mm, 2.60 g, 11 h). Antioch mint, Struck A.D. 265-266. GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head left / AETERNITAS AVG, Romulus and Remus suckling from a she-wolf, branch below. Göbl 1628a; RIC 628 var (head right). toned aVF, rough surfaces, silvered specs remain. Rare. Ex: Zeus 

share3898658169054864947.png.dd7421cde4e54d835184e5b71f5cb737.png

Macrinus 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D., Parium, Mysia AE 23, SNG BnF 1503 var. A on rev.BMC Mysia -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Çanakkale -, SNG Tüb -, SNG Hunt -, Weber -, aVF, well centered, some corrosion and light pitting, 6.787g, 22.6mm, 225o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, IMP C M OPE SEV MACRINVS, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse C G I H PA (Colonia Gemella Iulia Hadriana Pariana) curving above, final A in exergue, She-wolf standing right, head left, suckling the twin infants Romulus and Remus ; very rare "In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia, fathered by the god of war, Mars. They were abandoned in the Tiber as infants. Faustulus, a shepherd, found the infants being suckled by the she-wolf (Lupa) at the foot of the Palatine Hill. Their cradle, in which they had been abandoned, was on the shore overturned under a fig tree. Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised the children. Romulus was the first King of Rome." 

Screenshot_20200920-200130_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.d5aae6d03c8611100342ee2095cdbde3.pngCONSTANTINE I THE LUNATIC (306-337)2.2 gr 18 mm Commemorative series. Follis. Kyzikos. Obv: VRBS ROMA. Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Roma left. Rev: SMKE. She-wolf standing left, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus; two stars above. RIC 91. 

As for firsts, here is the first shield to show up on a Macedonian coin, and more than likely the first image of a primate on coin:

115_1_2-removebg-preview.png.43d430cae9dccdacf39fda632514bcc8.png.9bdf4416026ceb354c451893a7ba7ce6.png

THRACO-MACEDONIAN REGION, Uncertain. 5th century BC. AR Tetartemorion (6mm, 0.25 g). Primate crouching left / Pellet or shield within incuse square with slightly rounded corners. Tzamalis 67. Toned, patches of find patina, some granularity. VF. Rare

Edited by Ryro
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11 minutes ago, Ryro said:

Excellent and incredibly historically important coin, Donna! Great call setting the old boy free, btw.

And you're right. I would never have guessed it was this late in the game! Are there any others images on ancients with Romulus on his own? And dare I ask for a singular Remus???

Anyways, here are my coins showing Mr Rome, as Mary Beard calls him, with kid brother and future murder victim, Remus:

1220388_1591198370-removebg-preview.png.6b4937d09b4375ddf12a511e5b9888bc.png

Gallienus 253-268. Æ antoninianus (21.3 mm, 2.60 g, 11 h). Antioch mint, Struck A.D. 265-266. GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head left / AETERNITAS AVG, Romulus and Remus suckling from a she-wolf, branch below. Göbl 1628a; RIC 628 var (head right). toned aVF, rough surfaces, silvered specs remain. Rare. Ex: Zeus 

share3898658169054864947.png.dd7421cde4e54d835184e5b71f5cb737.png

Macrinus 11 April 217 - 8 June 218 A.D., Parium, Mysia AE 23, SNG BnF 1503 var. A on rev.BMC Mysia -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Çanakkale -, SNG Tüb -, SNG Hunt -, Weber -, aVF, well centered, some corrosion and light pitting, 6.787g, 22.6mm, 225o, Parium (Kemer, Canakkale, Turkey) mint, IMP C M OPE SEV MACRINVS, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse C G I H PA (Colonia Gemella Iulia Hadriana Pariana) curving above, final A in exergue, She-wolf standing right, head left, suckling the twin infants Romulus and Remus ; very rare "In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia, fathered by the god of war, Mars. They were abandoned in the Tiber as infants. Faustulus, a shepherd, found the infants being suckled by the she-wolf (Lupa) at the foot of the Palatine Hill. Their cradle, in which they had been abandoned, was on the shore overturned under a fig tree. Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, raised the children. Romulus was the first King of Rome." 

Screenshot_20200920-200130_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.d5aae6d03c8611100342ee2095cdbde3.pngCONSTANTINE I THE LUNATIC (306-337)2.2 gr 18 mm Commemorative series. Follis. Kyzikos. Obv: VRBS ROMA. Helmeted and cuirassed bust of Roma left. Rev: SMKE. She-wolf standing left, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus; two stars above. RIC 91. 

As for firsts, here is the first shield to show up on a Macedonian coin, and more than likely the first image of a primate on coin:

115_1_2-removebg-preview.png.43d430cae9dccdacf39fda632514bcc8.png.9bdf4416026ceb354c451893a7ba7ce6.png

THRACO-MACEDONIAN REGION, Uncertain. 5th century BC. AR Tetartemorion (6mm, 0.25 g). Primate crouching left / Pellet or shield within incuse square with slightly rounded corners. Tzamalis 67. Toned, patches of find patina, some granularity. VF. Rare

Are you sure that isn't a platypus?

No, no different individual types of Romulus other than this one, as far as I know. And although I haven't checked, I think it's pretty safe to say  that there's no individual Remus!

 

 

 

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I suppose I should clarify my post by mentioning that I came across one article (see https://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/reverse_romulus.html ) suggesting that Hadrian's ROMVLO CONDITORI reverse, because it portrays a figure that would ordinarily be interpreted as Mars except for the fact that "the figure is not wearing a helmet, as Mars invariably did, even when posed heroically nude," actually represents "Romulus in the guise of Mars" rather than Romulus qua Romulus.  A distinction without a difference, I think, given the legend's direct reference to "Romulus the Founder," and given that under this theory the statue of Romulus in the Forum of Augustus, which also was known to have carried the attributes of Mars (the trophy and spear), would also have to be interpreted as representing "Romulus in the guise of Mars." Or, perhaps, given its location, Augustus in the guise of Romulus in the guise of Mars! 

The same interpretation would presumably apply to the ROMVLO CONDITORI types issued by Antoninus Pius and Commodus, mentioned in my original post.

The linked article also argues that a reverse type of Severus Alexander from 228 CE (specifically a denarius, RIC IV Severus Alexander 97, with the type also issued in gold and bronze) that also showed a masculine figure with the attributes of Mars except for the absence of a helmet, and bore the legend VIRTVS AVG, represented not Mars (and not Virtus herself), but rather Romulus in the guise of Mars -- or Severus Alexander in the guise of Romulus in the guise of Mars.  See the description of this type in OCRE, at https://numismatics.org/ocre/id/ric.4.sa.97 , as "Severus Alexander (dressed as Romulus?), bare-headed, in military attire, walking right, holding spear in right hand and trophy in left hand." OCRE describes similar VIRTVS AVGG reverses of Gallienus as depicting "Gallienus or Romulus, walking right, holding spear in right hand and trophy in left hand."

 

Edited by DonnaML
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I admit I wasn't aware of a coin showing Romulus alone but after a check I found some with a similar reverse as OP coin. But newer. 

I have (like most of us) several coins with the shewolf feeding the twins, both Imperial and Provincial, but these don't count. 

But I (kind of) have a coin showing Romulus without Remus (I don't think there is a coin showing Remus alone as his importance in Roman history/mythology is minimal)

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28 mm, 17,2 g.

Antoninus Pius 138-161 AD. Ӕ sestertius. Rome. 158-159.

ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P, laureate head right / [AED DIVI - AVG] REST [COS IIII] SC, octastyle temple, containing cult images of Divus Augustus and Diva Livia,  with figure of Divus Augustus between two reclining figures on pediment, quadriga at top of roofline, acroteria (Romulus on left, Aeneas bearing Anchises on right) at bottom of roofline.

RIC III Antoninus Pius 755; Banti 1.

This reverse type was used in a few coins by Pius (different RIC numbers) because the restoration of the Divus Augustus temple in 158 was a major event. It's too bad the coin has a quite advanced wear, but the engravers did not create detailed images anyway so a perfect condition wouldn't help too much. I checked this type and similar types and even if it is generally accepted that the figures on the acroteria are Romulus on the left and Aeneas with Anchises on the right, they are not very clear even on better specimens 

image.png.e55ca47a436f94e614dee210aaac06ec.png

image.png.d80ade159af1630096c75f7ee6c40519.png

image.png.63c95b0e57662bca6f0624c3cf730c8b.png

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On some the image is comical in simplicity 

image.png.72cb68fbf6ac7a57d537eaf9bec5d604.png

 

I only found out that my coin has an image of Romulus after studying these types. 

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@ambr0zie, Remus was, in fact, a crucial character in the myth of Rome's founding. Roman historian T. P. Wiseman wrote an important, book-length treatment on this very topic nearly three decades ago: Remus: A Roman Myth, Cambridge University Press (September 7, 1995). Here is a blurb on the book:

"This is an account of the foundation legend of Rome, how the twins Remus and Romulus were miraculously suckled by a she-wolf, and how Romulus founded Rome and Remus was killed at the moment of the foundation. What does the story mean? Why have a twin, if he has to be killed off? This is the first historical analysis of the origins and development of the myth, and it offers important insights into the nature of pre-imperial Rome and the ways in which myths could be created and elaborated in a nonliterate society."

Along with coin depictions, images of the statue groups of Romulus and Anchises et alii  from the Forum Augustum were found painted on either side of the door of the house of M. Fabius Ululitremulus in Pompeii. If these are accurate depictions, then the coin type of Hadrian (and the same type repeated without the Romulo Conditori legend under Antoninus Pius) may represent a celator's slight modification to more closely assimilate the "Mars striding along with trophy" type that first appeared under the Flavian emperors on sestertii, etc. In any case, these two paintings (the one on the right is a modern artist's capturing of the original as found in the early 20th c.) provide a good idea of what the statues looked like in the Forum Augustum with their applied coloration.

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(quoting from my chapter in Urban Dream & Realities, A. Kemezis, ed., Brill 2014): Figures 11–12. Matching frescoes of Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius-Iulus fleeing Troy, and Romulus carrying spolia opima. Found in the late 19th c. in Pompeii (Pompeii IX.13.5). These images likely represent the statue groups created for the Summi Viri monument in the Forum Augustum, Aeneas standing at the head of the Julian line of ancestors, Romulus at the head of Rome’s triumphators. These images are based on photos originally published in Della Corte (1913) 144–145, figs. 1 and 2, as found in the House of M. Fabius Ululitremulus on the Via dell’ Abondanza.

Also worth noting is that a cointype of Alexander Severus, thought to depict Romulus as Mars, is a dead ringer for the depiction seen above from Pompeii (except for the position of the head facing forward instead of to the right):

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Welcome to the board, @Eric K.

I am sure you understood that what I meant to say was that, as compared to Romulus, Remus is not as important when it comes to symbolistic.

Of course, any person who has the ultra basic knowledge in mythology knows about Romulus AND Remus. The twins as babies are depicted in A LOT of coins, including provincials. The question was - is there a coin showing Remus alone? I would be delighted to see an example, but I am pretty sure the answer is no. And the reason is that the importance of Remus (alone, without Romulus) is not enough to have a reverse image on a coin. Reverses were the symbolic part on coins and they have a meaning. As a mythology fan, I am not saying that Remus was a character to be ignored, but it's difficult to find a reason to add him on a coin. 

Again, I would be happy to see an example.  

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Welcome, @Eric K.! For anyone who didn't put 2 + 2 together, Eric is the person who sold me the Hadrian/Romulus denarius. He happens to be not only an ancient coin collector but also an academic, a professor of Greek and Roman History at a university in Kentucky. 

It seems to me that the painting of Romulus carrying the spolia opima, found in Pompeii together with one of Aeneas and Anchises --  images that "likely represent the statue groups created for the Summi Viri monument in the Forum Augustum, Aeneas standing at the head of the Julian line of ancestors, Romulus at the head of Rome’s triumphators" -- constitutes rather strong evidence that the depiction of Romulus on the Hadrian denarius (and several later types) was modeled on the Romulus statue. If the statue was reproduced in the form of a painting in Pompeii, I think it's safe to say it was reproduced elsewhere in the Empire and in Rome itself, and would presumably have been a familiar image. It's a rather close match to the coin, except that Romulus is shown advancing on the coin as opposed to standing in the painting.

In any event, @Eric K. seems to have been the first to notice the connection, and I'm grateful to him for pointing it out. Here is a black-and-white reproduction of the entire relevant page from his book chapter, with the applicable quotation from Ovid at the top, and images of two aurei of Antoninus Pius, respectively depicting Romulus and Aeneas with Anchises:image.png.b3bb61f20bf1c1c02bc41d9bfdaca462.png

And here's a color image, from acsearch, of the spectacular CNG example of the Antoninus Pius aureus depicting Romulus (clearly not Mars because the figure is bareheaded; see the article cited in my previous comment), which sold in 2012 for $22,838:

image.png.686843fe8f1edcfe7481164ac17e20f9.png

 

Edited by DonnaML
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4 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

Welcome to the board, @Eric K.

I am sure you understood that what I meant to say was that, as compared to Romulus, Remus is not as important when it comes to symbolis[m]. . . .

Again, I would be happy to see an example.  

I doubt that @Eric K. was suggesting that any Roman coin ever depicted Remus individually, apart from the she-wolf and twins. I'm pretty confident that no such coin exists. There's certainly none listed on OCRE or anywhere else as far as I know.

But here's an original photo of the two from Wikipedia, taken when they were adults. Obviously they weren't identical twins!

Steve_Reeves_e_Gordon_Scott_in_Romolo_e_Remo.jpg

 

Edited by DonnaML
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20 hours ago, DonnaML said:

I was stunned, frankly.

My apologies for being clickbaity. I couldn't resist.

Hadrian AR Denarius, ca. 130 AD (according to RIC II.3 p. 168: Group 9, “time of the visit to Egypt”), Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head right, HADRIANVS - AVG COS III P P / Rev. Romulus [or: statue of Romulus in southern exedra of Forum of Augustus], bareheaded, in military dress with cape, advancing right holding transverse spear in right hand and trophy over left shoulder [Spolia Opima: weapons of an enemy defeated in single combat], ROMVLO - CONDITORI [Romulus the Founder]. RIC II.3 Hadrian 1424 & Pl. 29 (Head type A) (2019 edition); old RIC 266 (1926 ed.); RSC II 1316 (rev. ill. p. 154); BMCRE III Hadrian 710 (ill. Pl. 61 No. 2); Sear RCV II 3538 (obv. var. w/drapery on far shoulder); Strack 263 [Strack, Paul L., Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Teil II: Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit des Hadrian (Stuttgart, 1931)]. 18 mm., 3.10 g., 6 h. Purchased Sep. 2023 from Eric Kondratieff, Bowling Green, KY; ex Heritage Auctions, Oct. 12, 2022 Lot 62255 (“From the Historical Scholar Collection”) (formerly in NGC slab, Cert. No. 6327597-008, Graded XF [see https://www.ngccoin.com/certlookup/6327597-008/NGCAncients/]). *

image.png.d77c464761c5e8a4629b56448e6acd27.png

If I needed a reminder of how much I dislike the way most ancient coins look in slabs (especially when they're tagged with silly made-up names like the "Historical Scholar Collection"!), this photo of the obverse of the slab provides it:

image.png.1877ed13633a40aed00d3df071b7d6e2.png

I like the slab better this way, after I cracked it open last night:

image.png.534e22f25aa835af68b80da8f0b4ef37.png

*Very surprisingly, this reverse type of Hadrian, issued in the form of aurei, denarii, and sestertii (RIC II.3 1422-1431, 2891-2892, 3180) appears to represent the first instance in ancient Roman numismatics -- whether Republican, Imperial, or Provincial -- of a coin depicting Romulus as an individual figure (i.e., apart from his appearances with Remus in the “she-wolf and twins” grouping), as “Conditori” or otherwise. The indexes to Crawford and BMCRR list no individual Roman Republican examples (unless one counts the C. Memmius type [Crawford 427/2] with an obverse portraying Quirinus, who was sometimes identified with Romulus in his deified aspect; see my example posted as the fourth of four coins at https://www.numisforums.com/topic/2272-romulus-reemus-couldnt-they-have-just-made-ice-cream-together-like-ben-and-jerry/#comment-37898). The same is true for Provincial coinage according to RPC Online, and for Imperial coinage prior to this reverse type of Hadrian, according to OCRE. (Even after Hadrian, Romulus appears individually, as far as I can determine, only on coins of Antoninus Pius and Commodus.) As for the reason why Romulus was never depicted individually on the coinage in the more than 300 years of Roman coin issues prior to Hadrian, I can’t even speculate. Theories are welcome.

Although it has nothing to do with the reason for depicting Romulus individually on the coinage for the first time under Hadrian, I have seen it suggested (including by the person who sold me the coin) that the reverse type either was intended to depict, or was modeled after, the prominent statue of Romulus in the southern exedra of the Forum of Augustus. As noted at https://atouchofrome.com/forum-of-augustus-explained.html, a website discussing the Forum in detail, a “very large statue is displayed in the centre of the back wall” in this area; “this is Romulus holding Spolia Opima (weapons of an enemy defeated in single combat).” See this plan of the Forum at https://www.vroma.org/images/mcmanus_images/forumaugplan.jpg, showing the location of the Romulus statue on the upper right:

image.png.1b95e05d28cfb9ddb78b03d172bdf7b4.png

See also this explanation at https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/imperialfora/augustus/exedrae.html :

“Ovid attests that the mythical ancestors of Augustus were placed in the exedrae, hemicycles or semi-circular apses that open behind the colonnade of the porticoes. The back wall of the porticoes and the curved walls of the hemicycles were articulated with engaged columns that framed a series of rectangular niches that held portrait busts representing the dual ancestry of Augustus.

In the northwest exedra were the gens Julia, including a statue of Aeneas in the central niche. The descendent of Venus, he represented pietas or piety. Carrying his aged father and holding the hand of his son, he led them away from burning Troy. On either side are thought to have been his descendants: the legendary kings of Alba Longa, which had been founded by Aeneas' son, and where Romulus and Remus were said to have been born.

In the southeast exedra were the heroes of Rome's past. A statue of Romulus, bearing spolia opima (the arms of a defeated enemy won in single combat), represented virtus or courage, which Augustus now claimed for himself. Filling the niches on either side were the principes and triumphatores of the Republic, whose statues may have continued down the colonnaded porticoes, their deeds and achievements recorded in inscriptions that served as models of conduct for future generations (Suetonius, XXXI.5). By this pedigree, Augustus associated himself with Aeneas and Venus, his divine mother, and with Romulus, the son of Mars and founder of Rome. The pietas of Aeneas is suggested in Augustus having avenged Caesar's death, the virtus of Romulus in his recovering the standards lost to the Parthians and now dedicated in the new temple.

(Emphasis added.) See also https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/imperialfora/augustus/forumaugustum.html:

“Flanking the temple and running the length of the square were two porticoes, which may have served as venues for the courts of justice. Behind this colonnade were two large hemicycles or semi-circular exedrae. Here, says Suetonius, Augustus

‘honoured the memory of the leaders who had raised the estate of the Roman people from obscurity to greatness. Accordingly he restored the works of such men with their original inscriptions, and in the two colonnades of his forum dedicated statues of all of them in triumphal garb, declaring besides in a proclamation: I have contrived this to lead the citizens to require me, while I live, and the rulers of later times as well, to attain the standard set by those worthies of old' (XXXI.5).

One showed Aeneas, the mythical ancestor of the Julian family, fleeing Troy with his father and son; the other, Romulus, the founder of Rome. Each was surrounded by their respective descendants, the Julio-Claudians and the illustres viri of Rome, whose statues had marble plaques recording their deeds to serve as a reminder to all of the standard they had set. Borrowing from Virgil's Aeneid, the decorative program of the forum combined myth and history to construct a new national mythology, one that, instead of looking to the future, was directed from the present back to the past.”

Although I’m not aware that any ancient author described the precise appearance of this statue of Romulus -- the product of one illustrator’s imagination can be seen at https://atouchofrome.com/images/forums/forum-of-augustus-exedra-interior-with-lawcourt-in-year-2-BC.webp -- the depiction on the reverse of my coin certainly fits the general description.  

Please post anything you think is relevant, including other "first examples" of particular iconic types.

Donna, just like to say I enjoy your informative posts

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I suppose it is arguable that Quirinus is the same as Romulus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quirinus) and he is depicted on Cr. 427/2.

Gens: Memmia
Moneyer: C. Memmius C.f.
Coin: Silver Denarius
QVIRINVS / C·MEMMI·C·F - Laureate head of Quirinus right
MEMMIVS· AED·CERIALIA·PREIMVS·FECIT - Ceres seated right, holding torch in left hand and corn-ears in right hand; before, snake
Mint: Rome (56 BC)
Wt./Size/Axis: 3.95g / - / -
References:
  • RSC 9 (Memmia)
  • Sydenham 921
  • Crawford 427/2
  • RBW 1532
  • BMCRR Rome 3940
Acquisition: Numismatica Ars Classica Online Auction Auction 114 Part I #462 7-May-2019

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ATB,
Aidan.

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1 hour ago, akeady said:

I suppose it is arguable that Quirinus is the same as Romulus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quirinus) and he is depicted on Cr. 427/2.

Gens: Memmia
Moneyer: C. Memmius C.f.
Coin: Silver Denarius
QVIRINVS / C·MEMMI·C·F - Laureate head of Quirinus right
MEMMIVS· AED·CERIALIA·PREIMVS·FECIT - Ceres seated right, holding torch in left hand and corn-ears in right hand; before, snake
Mint: Rome (56 BC)
Wt./Size/Axis: 3.95g / - / -
References:
  • RSC 9 (Memmia)
  • Sydenham 921
  • Crawford 427/2
  • RBW 1532
  • BMCRR Rome 3940
Acquisition: Numismatica Ars Classica Online Auction Auction 114 Part I #462 7-May-2019

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ATB,
Aidan.

An absolutely gorgeous specimen, @akeady. My own example and its writeup can be found as the last of the four coins and writeups I posted at  https://www.numisforums.com/topic/2272-romulus-reemus-couldnt-they-have-just-made-ice-cream-together-like-ben-and-jerry/#comment-37898. I discuss the "Quirinus = Romulus" question at length. As usual!

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@ambr0zie Yes, I did understand your meaning, that Remus was less important to the extent that there are no (known) depictions of him individually... I didn't mean to imply that you didn't know he was fundamental to the foundation myth (although rereading what I wrote too early in the morning, I can see how you would think that's what I meant; apologies).

So, to clarify, what I meant to say is that while Remus doesn't get the individual treatment in art and coinage, and therefore seems less important (your point, on which I agree), Wiseman managed to make a strong case  in his book for how Remus became much more important in 1st c. BCE literature (at least) as a launching point for discussing / understanding the sort of internecine strife between Romans and Romans in the civil wars, and Romans and their Italian allies in the Social War (and the subsequent tensions / PTSD fallout down to the end of the 1st c BCE.... if I remember correctly)... among many other good ideas that he discusses therein.

On a related note, retired FSU Classics prof., John Marincola,  at one point (early 2000s) was working on similar ideas with respect to Vergil's treatment of the conflict between Aeneas and the Trojans (ancestors of the Romans) and Italians (represented esp. by Turnus) and the tragedy / futility of that conflict (esp. in Aeneid book 12) and how it was a way to talk about the still palpable fallout from the Social War in an oblique way (as an allegorical precursor; note that in his earlier poetry he talks about losing family property in the triumviral appropriations to satisfy land-hungry veterans of the civil wars of the 40s). I hope this makes sense; or, at least more sense than my initial, too-early-in-the-morning, pre-caffeinated response.

Edited by Eric K.
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11 hours ago, DonnaML said:

Welcome, @Eric K.! For anyone who didn't put 2 + 2 together, Eric is the person who sold me the Hadrian/Romulus denarius. He happens to be not only an ancient coin collector but also an academic, a professor of Greek and Roman History at a university in Kentucky. 

It seems to me that the painting of Romulus carrying the spolia opima, found in Pompeii together with one of Aeneas and Anchises --  images that "likely represent the statue groups created for the Summi Viri monument in the Forum Augustum, Aeneas standing at the head of the Julian line of ancestors, Romulus at the head of Rome’s triumphators" -- constitutes rather strong evidence that the depiction of Romulus on the Hadrian denarius (and several later types) was modeled on the Romulus statue. If the statue was reproduced in the form of a painting in Pompeii, I think it's safe to say it was reproduced elsewhere in the Empire and in Rome itself, and would presumably have been a familiar image. It's a rather close match to the coin, except that Romulus is shown advancing on the coin as opposed to standing in the painting.

In any event, @Eric K. seems to have been the first to notice the connection, and I'm grateful to him for pointing it out. Here is a black-and-white reproduction of the entire relevant page from his book chapter, with the applicable quotation from Ovid at the top, and images of two aurei of Antoninus Pius, respectively depicting Romulus and Aeneas with Anchises:image.png.b3bb61f20bf1c1c02bc41d9bfdaca462.png

And here's a color image, from acsearch, of the spectacular CNG example of the Antoninus Pius aureus depicting Romulus (clearly not Mars because the figure is bareheaded; see the article cited in my previous comment), which sold in 2012 for $22,838:

image.png.686843fe8f1edcfe7481164ac17e20f9.png

 

I can't believe that was 11 years ago already... that's my aureus (and profile picture), although I paid quite a bit more for it at NGSA (maybe that was the estimate? I believe I paid 34K CHF hammer).

It's also from the Biaggi collection but I otherwise haven't been able to find where it was residing between Biaggi and 2011:

image.jpeg.86c09b67dfaadf4a373d1b2eb3ac9b02.jpeg

 

Edited by AncientJoe
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On 10/5/2023 at 9:33 AM, Eric K. said:

@ambr0zie, Remus was, in fact, a crucial character in the myth of Rome's founding. Roman historian T. P. Wiseman wrote an important, book-length treatment on this very topic nearly three decades ago: Remus: A Roman Myth, Cambridge University Press (September 7, 1995). Here is a blurb on the book:

"This is an account of the foundation legend of Rome, how the twins Remus and Romulus were miraculously suckled by a she-wolf, and how Romulus founded Rome and Remus was killed at the moment of the foundation. What does the story mean? Why have a twin, if he has to be killed off? This is the first historical analysis of the origins and development of the myth, and it offers important insights into the nature of pre-imperial Rome and the ways in which myths could be created and elaborated in a nonliterate society."

Along with coin depictions, images of the statue groups of Romulus and Anchises et alii  from the Forum Augustum were found painted on either side of the door of the house of M. Fabius Ululitremulus in Pompeii. If these are accurate depictions, then the coin type of Hadrian (and the same type repeated without the Romulo Conditori legend under Antoninus Pius) may represent a celator's slight modification to more closely assimilate the "Mars striding along with trophy" type that first appeared under the Flavian emperors on sestertii, etc. In any case, these two paintings (the one on the right is a modern artist's capturing of the original as found in the early 20th c.) provide a good idea of what the statues looked like in the Forum Augustum with their applied coloration.

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(quoting from my chapter in Urban Dream & Realities, A. Kemezis, ed., Brill 2014): Figures 11–12. Matching frescoes of Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius-Iulus fleeing Troy, and Romulus carrying spolia opima. Found in the late 19th c. in Pompeii (Pompeii IX.13.5). These images likely represent the statue groups created for the Summi Viri monument in the Forum Augustum, Aeneas standing at the head of the Julian line of ancestors, Romulus at the head of Rome’s triumphators. These images are based on photos originally published in Della Corte (1913) 144–145, figs. 1 and 2, as found in the House of M. Fabius Ululitremulus on the Via dell’ Abondanza.

Also worth noting is that a cointype of Alexander Severus, thought to depict Romulus as Mars, is a dead ringer for the depiction seen above from Pompeii (except for the position of the head facing forward instead of to the right):

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Welcome and great to see your post, @Eric K.  👍 🏛️ !

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I can't believe I didn't think to look before today, but the introduction to the revised 2019 edition of RIC II.3, the Hadrian volume, contains a discussion of the ROMVLO CONDITORI type at p. 55 that provides additional insight regarding its meaning -- among other things, a meaning specific to its year of issue (AD 130), when Hadrian himself was a "founder" of two cities that were important for different reasons:

image.png.a1b116d3d394041b3f7524345e851a6d.png

Footnote 291 cites the Antoninus Pius and Commodus types mentioned above in this thread, as well as stating (see @Eric K.'s October 5 comment above) that after Commodus, "Romulus may well continue to appear in the (unlabelled) striding 'Emperor' types of the third century such as RIC Severus Alexander 85 etc. 

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