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L Caesius Denarius with Wonderful Old Cabinet Toning

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This is a new purchase and I fell in love with the toning! 


L. Caesius, 112-111 BCE.
Roman AR denarius, 3.84 g, 19.4 mm, 5 h.
Rome, 112-111 BCE.
Obv: Bust of Vejovis (?) seen from behind, with head turned to left and with thunderbolt in right hand; behind, ROMA monogram.
Rev: Lares praestites seated facing, with dog between, each holding staff in left hand; above, bust of Vulcan with tongs over shoulder; LARE in fields; in exergue, L·CÆSI
Refs: Crawford RRC 298/1; RSC Caesia 1; Sydenham CRR 564; Sear 175.

Edited by Roman Collector
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A beautiful specimen, @Roman Collector, with a great dog! Here's my example:


See https://www.numisforums.com/topic/5657-donnamls-top-9-roman-republican-coins-for-2023/#comment-73962 for my write-up; it's the second coin on the list. I see that you've opted for the "Roma" interpretation of the obverse monogram, rather than "Apollo." It makes more sense to me as well, Crawford's opinion notwithstanding. I can't get past the fact that I see an "M" in there.


Edited by DonnaML
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26 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

But I have to feel sorry for the skinny dog.

Me too. Obviously the Lares haven't been feeding him properly. Of course, they don't look like they eat much themselves!

Edited by DonnaML
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5 hours ago, DonnaML said:

I see that you've opted for the "Roma" interpretation of the obverse monogram, rather than "Apollo." It makes more sense to me as well, Crawford's opinion notwithstanding. I can't get past the fact that I see an "M" in there.

I also think it's more likely the die-engraver meant ROMA here, too, even though it features Apollo. But with the thunderbolt here, is this Vejovis? Are both coins depicting Apollo? Young Jupiter? (Is the goat Amalthea?) Everybody has their own idea. 


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9 hours ago, Roman Collector said:

 But with the thunderbolt here, is this Vejovis? Are both coins depicting Apollo? Young Jupiter? (Is the goat Amalthea?) Everybody has their own idea. 

Indeed! As I stated at much greater length in my writeup linked above:

Identity of Obverse Figure The different authorities identify the youthful deity portrayed on the obverse holding a thunderbolt as, variously, (1) Apollo (see Crawford Vol. I p. 312, RBW Collection p. 234, Albert p. 153) or, given that “the object in his hand is clearly a thunderbolt” (Crawford p. 312), (2) “perhaps” a deity “result[ing] from the assimilation of Apollo and Jupiter” (id.; see also Sear RCV I 175 at p. 106, identifying the figure as “Apollo/Jupiter”), (3) Veiovis (sometimes spelled Vejovis), an “Italian deity of whose cult little is known; he was worshipped at Rome in a temple on the Capitol. His statue there held arrows, and a goat stood by its side” (John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London 1990), entry for “Veiovis” at p. 315); see also Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021), Box 3.3 at p. 146  (Veiovis’s name “is made up of ve- and iovis, which might translate as the ‘harmful Jupiter’ or ‘the youthful Jupiter’”); or (4) Apollo-Veiovis, a deity resulting from the assimilation of those two gods. Sources identifying the obverse figure on this type as Veiovis include Grueber (BMCRR II Italy 585 at p. 290), Sydenham (see Sydenham 564 & 732), and RSC II (Babelon) Caesia 1 (see p. 22, identifying the figure as Vejovis, “a Latin divinity of a destructive nature”). For identifications as Apollo-Veiovis, see the Kölner Münzkabinett auction description; see also T.P. Wiseman, Remembering the Roman People: Essays on Late-Republican Politics and Literature (Oxford 2009), Ch. 2, “Licinius Macer, Juno Moneta, and Veiovis” at pp. 72-78 (pp. available at Google Books; see further discussion below).  

Crawford and other authorities rejecting the Veiovis identification in favor of Apollo have done so on the ground, among others, that Veiovis “sagittas tenet” [holds arrows], not a thunderbolt. See Crawford Vol. I p. 312, citing Aulus Gellius’s work Attic Nights, Book V.xii, lines 11-12; see the Loeb Classical Library at https://www.loebclassics.com/view/gellius-attic_nights/1927/pb_LCL195.415.xml: Simulacrum igitur dei Vediovis, quod est in aede de qua supra dixi, sagittas tenet quae sunt videlicet partae ad nocendum,” translated as “It is for this reason that the statue of the god Vediovis, which is in the temple of which I spoke above, holds arrows, which, as everyone knows, are devised to inflict harm.” (On the other hand, Gellius goes on to say immediately thereafter, as translated – supporting the general idea of an assimilated Veiovis-Apollo -- “For that reason it has often been said that that god is Apollo; and a she-goat is sacrificed to him in the customary fashion, and a representation of that animal stands near his statue.” See  https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Attic_Nights_of_Aulus_Gellius/WnYtAAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22gellius%22+%22attic+nights%22+%22sagittas+tenet%22&pg=PA415. The translator of the 1927 Loeb Classical Library edition, John C. Rolfe, points out in a footnote on the same page, however, that “Some regarded the god as a youthful (little) Jupiter and the she-goat as the one which suckled him in his infancy; others as Apollo, because of the arrows, but the she-goat has no connection with Apollo.”) As Professor Yarrow points out at p. 146 of her book, “even at the end of the Republic the meaning of the name was not fully understood by Romans themselves, even though Veiovis had a prominent temple on the Capitol.” Hence, the confusion even of ancient authors concerning Veiovis’s attributes and symbolism, and whether he should be identified with Jupiter, Apollo, both, or neither!

Of course, none of the foregoing necessarily supports the interpretation of the obverse portrait on the L. Caesius issue as Veiovis or Apollo-Veiovis -- as opposed to Apollo or Apollo-Jupiter -- given the fact that the deity is depicted holding a thunderbolt rather than arrows. Thus, Crawford also cites, at Vol. I p. 312, Ovid’s Fasti Book III at 438 as a basis for rejecting the Veiovis interpretation, given Ovid’s statement that Veiovis “fulmina nulla tenet” – i.e., “holds no thunderbolts.” See the translation of Ovid’s relevant lines at https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/OvidFastiBkThree.php

 “The Nones of March are free of meetings, because it’s thought

 The temple of Veiovis was consecrated today before the two groves.

 When Romulus ringed his grove with a high stone wall,

 He said: ‘Whoever takes refuge here, they will be safe.’

 O from how tenuous a beginning the Romans sprang!

 How little that crowd of old are to be envied!

 But so the strange name won’t confuse you, unknowingly,

 Learn who this god is, and why he is so called.

 He is the young Jupiter: see his youthful face:

 Then see his hand, holding no lightning bolt.”

 (Emphasis added.)

 Nonetheless, despite Crawford’s reliance on Gellius and Ovid, Wiseman’s book Remembering the Roman People, op. cit., argues at pp. 72-76 that the obverse of the L. Caesius issue -- and the similar obverse on the denarius issued by C. Licinius Macer, Crawford 354/1, ca. 84 BCE – were, in fact, intended to represent Veiovis in the form of an assimilation with Apollo:




[Lengthy discussion follows about portion of text which the author reads as referring to "those about to be struck by the thunderbolt of Veiovis," and citing the possible Etruscan origins of Veiovis as one of nine gods who send thunderbolts.]


[Citing passage from Aulus Gellius re Veiovis holding arrows, quoted above.]




Regarding the possibility of identifying the object held by the obverse figure on the L. Caesius denarius not only as a thunderbolt but also as three arrows, Wiseman was certainly not the first to do so. See the 1870 edition of  Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (William Smith, ed., originally published 1849), entry for “Caesia Gens” at p. 557 (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Dictionary_of_Greek_and_Roman_Biography_and_Mythology_(1870)_-_Volume_1.djvu/575), identifying the object on the type as “an arrow or spear with three points,” held by “Apollo Veiovis.”

See also Trevor S. Luke, Ushering in a New Republic: Theologies of Arrival at Rome in the First Century BCE (U. of Michigan 2014) at p. 163 (available at https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ushering_in_a_New_Republic/w0k8BAAAQBAJ?q=&gbpv=1&bsq=caesius#f=false), describing Veiovis as “an Apolline youth bearing arrows or thunderbolts.”

In sum, nobody really knows or knew, now or 2,100 years ago, the precise historical origins or attributes of Veiovis -- even though his temples had been built as recently as 194 and 192 BCE -- and it seems clear that he could be portrayed with attributes also typical of Jupiter and/or Apollo. Thus, it seems to me that it is overly dogmatic for Crawford to insist that the figure on the obverse of the L. Caesius issue (or the similar figure later portrayed on the C. Licinius Macer issue) must be only Apollo or only an assimilation of Apollo with Jupiter, and that it cannot also be seen as an assimilation of Apollo with Veiovis. The lines between different deities and their attributes/portrayals do not appear to have been quite that strictly drawn by the Romans.

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