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Odysseus and Argus, a denarius of C Mamilius Limetanus


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Here's a coin I've had for a few months but neglected to post to the usual forums. I've wanted this type for a while but lately even ho-hum examples have been outside my reach, so I was happy to work out a private deal with Edgar L Owen for this coin from his personal collection. From the description of a similar coin in a Goldberg auction:

The types on this coin allude to the moneyer's claim to descent from Telegonus, son of Ulysses and Circe, and hence from the god Mercury. The reverse features a sadly endearing scene from the Odyssey, when Odyseeus returns home after twenty years disguised as a beggar and his old dog, who had been neglected, recognizes him: "So they spoke. And a dog, lying there, lifted its head and pricked up its ears. Argus was the hound of noble Odysseus, who had bred him himself, though he sailed to sacred Ilium before he could enjoy his company. Once the young men used to take the dog out after wild goat, deer and hare, but with his master gone he lay neglected by the gate, among the heaps of mule and cattle dung that Odysseus' men would later use to manure the fields. There, plagued by ticks, lay Argus the hound. But suddenly aware of Odysseus' presence, he wagged his tail and flattened his ears, though no longer strong enough to crawl to his master. Odysseus turned his face aside and hiding it from Eumaeus wiped away a tear then quickly said: 'Eumaeus, it's strange indeed to see this dog lying in the dung. He's finely built, but I can't tell if he had speed to match or was only a dog fed from the table, kept by his master for show.'"Then, Eumaeus, the swineherd, you replied: 'Yes this dog belongs to a man who has died far away. If he had the form and vigour he had when Odysseus left for Troy you'd be amazed by the speed and power. He was keen-scented on the trail, and no creature he started in the depths of the densest wood escaped him. But now he is in a sad state, and his master has died far from his own country, and the thoughtless women neglect him. When their masters aren't there to command them, servants don't care about the quality of their work. Far-voiced Zeus takes half the good out of them, the day they become slaves.'"With this he entered the stately house and walking straight into the hall joined the crowd of noble suitors. As for Argus, seeing Odysseus again in this twentieth year, the hand of dark death seized him."(Homer, Od. XVII.290-327).362.1.jpeg.d63344f4c5587cdf9c3e2c3c3d430f9e.jpeg


Roman Republic AR Denarius serratus(3.72g), 82 BC, Rome mint. C Mamilius Limetanus, moneyer. Draped bust of Mercury right, wearing winged petasus; caduceus over left shoulder and behind, control-mark I / C·MAMIL – LIMETAN; Ulysses standing right, holding staff and extending his right hand to his dog, Argus. Crawford 362/1

Privately purchased from the personal collection of Edgar L. Owen 31 January 2022, ex Numismatica Ars Classica 64, 17 May 2012, 2304

ANS SITNAM f7a7310d

By the way, Edgar L Owen's personal collection is apparently for sale and he is entertaining offers for all coins not marked as "sold", even though not obvious on all pages of his website. A few pages even say the coins are "not for sale", including the one I bought this coin from. It doesn't benefit me in any way if you buy anything from him, but I think it's worth taking a look and making an offer if you you're interested. I felt the prices were very fair on the coins I bought.

Edited by red_spork
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  • red_spork changed the title to Odysseus and Argus, a denarius of C Mamilius Limetanus

This is such a touching story! I didnt cry, trust me. No, I didnt! You don't believe me? Well... maybe. But only a tiny bit.

Being away from home and my sweet little cats, this is somehow relatable. Hope they won't die of excitement when I get back! 

Thanks for sharing this interesting story behind this fabulous coin 😀

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@red_spork, that is a truly beautiful example. Congratulations! Here's mine:

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.*

Mamilius Limetanus (Mercury - Ulysses & dog) jpg version.jpg

*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.


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