Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by biohc, Aug 11, 2020.
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Struck 312-313 AD
Obverse: IMP C CONSTANTINVS PF AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Reverse: IOVI CONSERVATORI AVGG NN
Mintmark dot TS dot E dot
Minted in Thessalonica
Here is a challenge for ff02 and anyone else who wants to play trivia. The above coin is from the last issue shown in RIC volume VI. The first issue in volume VII has differences that are distinguished by the fact that coins with them were not known in the name of Maximinus II. The question for those who want to play is why there were none for Maximinus II to match those for Constantine and Licinius.
Is that an E or an epsilon?
It looks like an epsilon to me. I couldn’t find one on wildwinds with an epsilon so I went with the closest match they had. I’ve seen them interchange gamma with the symbol and episilon with an E before so I’m not 100% sure which is correct.
@dougsmit. I'm afraid that is way out of my limited knowledge base.
E and epsilon are the same thing. We today have thousands of fonts available on our computers but ancient people did not always form their letters in the same way across time and place. Curved or square and E is an epsilon. At the time of this coin, convention favored curved E for Greek letters and squared for Latin but half a century earlier we often see squared E's as number 5 and in the regular legends as on this Philip II 5 assaria of Marcianopolis. Notice also that this coin rendered the Sigma in a squared version of what we sometimes call 'lunate' sigma (C). Then as now, language changed more than people who live for rules are happy to admit. Then as now, I suspect young people talked to their peers and grandparents in slightly different ways.
The vowels in the Ancient Greek alphabet do not have a one to one relationship with those in English.
They had separate ways of writing what we call long O (Ω - omega) and short O (o - omicron). A (alpha) was a short sound as were E (epsilon) and I (iota) but the long versions of those sounds were handled by H (eta - which we pronounce with the e like the a in hay). They also made great use of diphthongs that we sometimes see on coins. Commonly we see the I in Antoninos written as EI. I remember having trouble learning to pronounce EU (EY) to the satisfaction of my professor when reading 5th century BC poetry. That same man was fluent in modern Greek but really hated the way that language had replaced other vowel sounds with short I's. He never had anything nice to say about the Greek of the New Testament or later Roman period.
One of the first things we learn about languages is that it is not always possible to translate everything simply without loss of finesse or precision that is the basis of the beauty of the language. Unfortunately this extends to the alphabet. We here on Coin Talk have members whose English vocabulary that varies from what I'd guess to be a thousand words to over 50,000. That last figure is perhaps a tenth of what is found in the largest dictionaries. I believe I heard that we have under 50,000 words in Classical Latin but I suspect that as many have been lost to time as survived. Do we have any scholars here that can straighten me out here? Does anyone know how many words survived from Classical Greek or even New Testament Greek? I'm sure that last number is much smaller than the street Greek of the Roman period.
Separate names with a comma.