Baths of Licinius Sura (aka Baths of Gordian III)

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sallent, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Here's a print I just purchased for my collection of Roman architecture copper prints. It comes from the 1612 book on Roman architecture by G. Laurus. It matches my previously owned copper plates from 1699, as my later ones are a re-issue of the previous us book published in 1612.


    Two things to note right away.... Gordian III never had any baths built, despite the copper plate saying these are the baths of Gordian III, and second... this looks nothing like a Roman bath complex. So what in effect you have here is what someone in 1612 imagined a Roman bath looked like, and he mistook the baths of Licinius Sura for baths allegedly built by Gordian III. The reality is that Gordian III restored the baths of Licinius Sura, but he did not build a complex of his own.

    Still, a nice tidbit of enlightenment age re-imagining of Roman architecture, and it has a link to Gordian III... even if only marginal.

    Here's a coin of Gordian III still in my collection.


    And here's my other two copper plates from the 1699 re-issue of the book. These images have been cropped to make them look cleaner, but the edges have darkening just like the image of the Baths of Gordian III above.

    7 Colossal statues of Rome in antiquity

    4887-700x700 (1).jpg
    Mausoleum of Augustus

    Feel free to comment or post whatever you want.
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    I hadn't heard of Gordian III restoring any baths. Here's a Gordie in my collection:


  4. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    The artist of the colossal statues obv hadn’t seen any real colossal Roman statues... almost none of them look anywhere near authentic.

    Classic baroque reimagining of antiquity
    Sallent likes this.
  5. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Well, none of it is accurate. If I wanted accuracy I would have put up a modern reconstruction on my walls. For me the charm is that these prints show how people hundreds of years ago imagined the ancient world, which adds an extra bit of special charm to these antique copperplate prints.
    Ryro, Orfew, KIWITI and 1 other person like this.
  6. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    For sure, I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t knocking the pieces.

    It’s very historically interesting to see how perceptions of antiquity have changed over time. I personally find it quite interesting that in an era where a new major discovery was made seemingly every other day, that depictions could still be so inaccurate
  7. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Those are beautiful copper plates, and I see why you like them. Especially the coloration is well executed.

    I assume there still exist numerous complete surviving copies of Laurus' book, but generally speaking, I have mixed feelings about breaking up manuscripts and rare early printed books in order to create wall decor. This article summarizes my reservations against this type of biblioclasm quite well. I see it as somewhat comparable to turning ancient coins into jewelry: often understandable yet in many cases to be lamented. (Just my personal opinion.)

    Here are a Trajan denarius that was minted at about the first consulate of Lucius Licinius Sura (102 AD) as well as another Gordian III:

    Rom – Trajan, denarius, Victoria.png
    Trajan, Roman Empire, denarius, 101/102 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP CAESAR NERVA TRAIAN AUG GERM, laureate head of Trajan right. Rev: PM TRP COS IIII PP, Victory standing facing, holding wreath and palm branch. 18mm, 3.04g. Ref: RIC II, 58.

    Rom – Gordian III, Antoninian, Romae aeternae (klein).png
    Gordian III, Roman Empire, Ar antoninianus, 240 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG; bust of Gordian III, radiate, draped, cuirassed, r. Rev: ROMAE AETERNAE; Roma, helmeted, seated l. on shield, holding Victory in extended r. hand and spear in l. hand. 22.5mm, 4.65g. Ref: RIC IV Gordian III 70.
  8. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    No, I agree. I would never tear a book apart, just like I would never make jewelry out of a coin. That being said, the damage was already done before I ever came across this print, so it wasn't my doing.

    As for your concern, don't worry, there are fortunately copies saved for posterity. I've seen several versions of this book (1612 and 1699 editions) for sale in complete form, plus the book is also saved in the collection of several universities, and a full page by page scan (Albeit a non- hand colored version with just the black and white pages) is available online for posterity.

    Anyway, these prints will be displayed in a windowless room and there will be no alteration done to the pages. They will be professionally displayed in frames with UV blocking glass. I didn't break these books, but I take the task of preserving heritage seriously. My job now is to preserve them as perfect as possible (post damage) so that whomever buys them in 30 or 40 years gets the same enjoyment I did owning them.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
  9. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I like those prints, Sallent. Over the years I've accumulated a few, back when I was collecting early printing.

    Josephus History of the Jews - 1601 Dutch printing - I am not sure what is going on here, perhaps the fall of Jerusalem? Something in Egypt? I can't read Dutch. Obviously there was little effort to show Classical military operations or uniforms - which is part of their charm:

    1601 Josephus Jews Dutch (1).JPG

    Livy's Roman History in German, printed 1533. Something going on with Lucius Aemilius Paullus - conquest of Macedonia, I think.

    1533 Livy Hitory of Rome German (1).JPG

    These had been dismembered before I got them; both books are fairly common printings from what I can tell.

    Attached Files:

  10. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Thank you for sharing those prints. They are magnificent examples of woodcut printing method, which precedes copperplate as a method of transferring images into paper.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  11. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Erm... nope. :oops:

    Here's a lovely ex Sallent roach now in my collection. :D

    What a fantastic engraving of the baths, I love it!
  12. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coin! One of my best Gordians is of this type as well.
  13. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    That's a beauty. The reverse is exquisite, and the portrait style suggests not having settled into the standard Gordie... probably very early in the issue?
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  14. Orange Julius

    Orange Julius Well-Known Member

    That's what I was thinking. This is as close as I'll probably get to a Gordian as Caesar coin.

    I have a bit of a Gordian "problem"... I have many of them from nice like this one to coins of truly ugly style, in terrible condition ...and I love them all!
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  15. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    I guess you are our new roachmaster then, since Sallent sold off most of his! :D
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  16. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    But @Orange Julius doesn't have the "Baths of Gordianus" hanging on his office wall like I soon will. :p

    Gordian III roaches are great, but with a self-imposed size limit of 200 coins for my collection, I couldn't justify having 20± roaches. It was sad to narrow it down to 5. :drowning: But it had to be done.

    I'm OK with Orange Julius becoming the new Roach Master, though check with @Smojo first as I believe he has quite a collection of Gordian III roaches too . I still love Gordian III though, but I've just learned to manage the addiction n and redirect it elsewhere.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  17. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    PS: for the coin fanatic in me, I also bought this last night...

    Portrait of King Eucratides the Great - 1893 COLOR Lithograph Print


    And the coin which I could never afford to compare against the print

  18. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    This thread really got me excited about my little print collection - thank you, Sallent! A few years ago I lucked into a big batch of 17th century engravings based on gems and seals from Greece and Rome. Here is what they are:

    Leonardo Agonstino Gemmae et sculpturae antiquae depictae, [Amsterdam: Abraham Blooteling, 1685]

    The work consists of "engraved gem illustrations mostly taken from the antique with annotations by Giovanni Bellori, the noted Italian antiquary. the text is little more than a factual explanation of the objects depicted, but the engravings are remarkable for 'relatively little detail' but done in a 'clever, fresh buoyant manner'" (Sinkankas quoting C. W. King, Antique Gems and Rings). The designs in Part I are mainly portraits of one kind or another plus some of animals, the designs in Part II are of gods, heroes and philosophers in various poses and activities plus some animals. All the plates have a title at the top and below the name of the gem on which they are carved (cristallo, onice, lapis lazzali etc). The designs are by Agostini and the engravings by Giovanni Battista

    Galestruzzi. Agostini (1593-1669) was born near Sienna and served as antiquary to Francesco Cardinal Barberini. He was appointed by Pope Alexander VII as superintendent of antiquities in the Papal States, and he directed in Rome the excavations of the Forum and of thermae near the church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna.

    And here are a few examples of things we'd see on ancient coins - Septimius Severus & Julia Domna:

    1685 Agonstino Sept Sev & Julia Dom.JPG

    Bacchus in a biga pulled by panthers - meow!
    1685 Agonstino Panther Biga.JPG

    Faustina the Elder -
    1685 Agonstino Faustina I.JPG

    Isis & Serapis -
    1685 Agonstino Isis & Serapis.JPG

    Asclepius, Hygia & Telesphoros - no offense to the God of Healing, but Telesphoros gives me the creeps:
    1685 Agonstino Asclepius & Gang.JPG

    A trophy and a deer(?) -

    1685 Agonstino Trophy.JPG

    Sabina, wife of Hadrian - 1685 Agonstino Sabina.JPG

    I have a couple dozen of these. They frame nicely - here's an Unknown Poet - Poeta Incognito - good name for an alternative band:

    1685 Agonstino Unknown Poet (1).JPG
  19. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Those are awesome, @Marsyas Mike! :happy:
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  20. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    They are all pretty. Since you are into prints, this is the one other print I've yet to show off...

    • Type of print: Lithograph - Original French antique print.
    • Year of printing: not indicated in the print - actual 1888
    • Publisher: Albert Racinet, Imp. Firmin Didot
    I haven't framed it either, so I'll have to get around to that soon enough.:cool:
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  21. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That is a beautiful litho - there is nothing in color printing compares to a 19th century litho, in my opinion. I only have cigar box labels from that era - I'll have to dig through them and see if I have any with Graeco/Roman themes.

    Meanwhile, here's a couple more bits from my collection - I was framing these like a maniac about 10 years ago, to the point where I ran out of wall -

    1519 edition of Cassius Dio - from the Antoninus Pius section, I believe. Printed by Aldus Mantutis this is the first, or one of the first, uses of italic type:

    1519 Dio Cassius Aldus (2).JPG

    From a 1560 printing of Munster's Cosmography, this shows an Alexander the Great chapter with Porus strolling about on an elephant with a sidesaddle full of troopers (in European Renaissance armor, of course). That is if I'm piecing together the Latin correctly:

    1560 Munster Cosmogrpahy Alex (1).JPG
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