Commodus Provincial - Apollo Latros? I need help.

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Marsyas Mike, Oct 13, 2019.

  1. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A recent undescribed lot of Roman AEs landed me this little one. It is an AE from Commodus - you have to trust me - the obverse legend is very clearly reading ΚOΜOΔOС on the right, though my photos don't show it. It is 18 mm and weighs 3.18 grams. I'm guessing Moesia? Thrace?

    The reverse puzzles me. It is a nude guy, leaning on a staff with - I think - a serpent around it, with his hand on his hip, looking back over his shoulder. This should be Asklepius, but it just wasn't looking right to me. For one thing, none of them had the god with his non-staff hand on his hip.

    Commodus AE hand on hip Lot Oct 2019d (0).jpg
    Here is my effort to help you see the reverse:

    Commodus AE hand on hip Lot Oct 2019d (0 retouchX).jpg

    At some point in my online searches, I came across a coin on FORVM showing Apollo Latros - yes! Nude guy, with serpent-staff, hand on hip. It was for Caracalla, however.
    Commodus - Apollo Latros - Caracalla but same pose - FORVM pic.jpg
    Can anybody help me figure this one out? Thanks.
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  3. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter

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  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    There's also the possibility of Hermes with a marsupium and caduceus, such as this one from Hadrianopolis sold by Naumann.

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  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you TIF and RC for your help with this. I am having a hard time getting a clear photo of this - a glossy black-green patina and my poor photo skills combine to make it hard to convey electronically.

    Here is another try - I'm hoping this show the leaning-on-a-stick aspect of the reverse, with what looks like a snake's squiggle. The arm looks down to me, not reaching out.

    Now that I look at it, the head seems wrong for Apollo - is that a beard? When looking through gazillions of Provincials online, I saw some Pan examples that were sort of similar. Maybe it is Asclepius.

    Anyway, thanks for the help!

    Commodus AE hand on hip Lot Oct 2019e (5).JPG
    Commodus AE hand on hip Lot Oct 2019e (8).JPG
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  6. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter

    Oh, yes... the new images do help! It does look like his right hand is reaching down near his body and his left hand is on his hip, so that rules out the coins I posted. I think the reverse figure is facing left, FWIW. A Herakles reverse would be fitting for a Commodus coin, given his pretensions. Herakles is often depicted in that pose. Maybe the thing he's leaning on (that we can't discern on your coin) is a club.
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  7. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Yes to Herakles - that weary leaning-on-a-club Farnese look. I just couldn't find one with his hand on his hip in that jaunty devil-may-care way mine seems to have. This is why the Apollo Latros had me so excited - it looked like a plausible match.

    Sorry my lousy initial photos added to your work load - I do appreciate your help.

    Well, if I didn't like unsolvable mysteries, I'd go collect Beanie Babies (or maybe BBs have mysteries too?).
  8. TIF

    TIF Well that didn't last long :D Supporter

    If you can't find any in the usual places, try digging through old catalog books that are online. It gets tedious, especially when the catalogs are in another language, but you might find a match that way. The general look and style may be Thracian, so old catalogs which cover provincials of Thrace may be fruitful.

    One strategy is to find similar coins in ACsearch or CNG and see which references they cite, and maybe you'll get lucky and some of those references will be online as .pdf files.

    I haven't run it through ISEGRIM yet (I can never seem to remember how to enter keywords and it is very persnickety and nonintuitive). Perhaps ISEGRIM would be the next place to check.

    Edited: OH! The Commodus volumes are online at RPC. Have you checked there?
  9. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thanks for those tips, TIF. I was unfamiliar with most of them.

    I did try the online RPC, but quite frankly, I'm apparently a bit too dim and technophobic to really understand how the search apparatus works. I am okay at using OCRE, but RPC just doesn't work for me as well. I'll keep practicing.

    It's only in the past couple years I've developed an interest in Roman Provincials - now I am hooked. So interesting, and yet so confusing. And crummy lots of them are very affordable sometimes on eBay -

    Here is the lot that the OP came from. Top row: an Imperial Trajan as (Spes) and an Antoninus Pius as (Felicitas of some sort, too cruddy to figure entirely out). A Hadrian from Odessos with Theos Megas is in the middle (best of the lot, probably).

    Below, a Thrace Anchialus "city gate" of Sept. Severus and the OP.

    The ones I am still working on is another Odessos maybe, with Sept. Severus and a horseman (overstruck on something else - my first Provincial overstrike). One I'll probably never figure out is Crispina or Faustina II - only the "EINA" part is visible and some goddess.

    Thanks again for your help.

    Lot - 7 Rome Imp & Prov AE Oct 2019 (0).jpg
  10. Topcat7

    Topcat7 Still Learning

    Looking at the hair, face, throat (no Adam's Apple), bust, waist, 'booty', could the person on the reverse be female?
    (Forgive me - at my age, the eyes are not what they used to be.)
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  11. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    You know, that crossed my mind. Maybe I should be looking at all the various Venus types?
  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Lots like this are fun and they can be very educational, because they teach how to look closely at a coin's iconography for clues.

    That's Faustina II. The chignon is small and at the back of the head. Crispina had a larger bun.


    Faustina Jr Venus and column Dupondius.jpg


    Crispina SALVS Sestertius short legend.jpg

    When the bun is larger, that's when distinguishing between the two is hard, because on many of Faustina II's issues -- particularly later in her reign -- she had a big chignon.

    As for the identity of the goddess on the reverse, with a scepter held in this way, Hera seems the most likely possibility.

    Here are some of my coins of Faustina II with Hera on the reverse, the top from Pautalia (which really needs to be re-photographed), the second from Hadrianopolis:

    Faustina Jr Pautalia Hera.jpg

    Faustina Jr Hadrianopolis Hera.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  13. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Thank you RC. I was leaning towards Faustina II just because she is more common than Crispina, and I figured the odds were the common one...hardly a scientific approach.

    So, taking your suggestion, I started trolling Faustina II. Here were my reverse clues:

    *Goddess standing with scepter or long torch. Holding something in her other hand, but mostly missing.

    *Inscription almost all obliterated, except on the far right a definite OC and some upright letters - pi, perhaps.

    On Wildwinds I found a ton of standing goddesses for FII. But this one was the only one that had an "OC" at the end of the inscription:

    Faustina II, Prusias Ad Hypium, Bithynia. AE17.
    ΦAYCTEINA CEBACTH, draped bust right / ΠΡOYCIEΩN ΠΡOC YΠIΩ, Demeter standing left, holding long torch and corn-ears. RecGen. 35; BMC 3; RPC online 4858.

    Using the Wildwinds reference, I managed to find this on RPC online (4858):

    I think it's a match - but willing to be corrected. You are right though, this is fun.

    Thanks for the Faustina II tip - I think it got me going in the right direction.
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  14. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Fun, indeed! Certainly could be Demeter with corn ears and long torch. Good job!
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  15. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

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