Featured From Lycia to the US Constitution

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Mar 11, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    upload_2020-3-11_20-54-46.png On 21-Feb-1787, The provisional government of the United States, established under the Articles of Confederation, agreed to a resolution to establish a Constitutional Convention:

    “Resolved that in the opinion of Congress it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several states be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the states render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government & the preservation of the Union.”
    -Report of Proceedings in Congress

    The Constitutional Convention
    (Public Domain Image) Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States

    The Convention began deliberations on May 25, 1787, and came to an agreement on the new Constitution which was signed on Tuesday, September 17,1787. The constitution was not agreed without concerns. Benjamin Franklin described it this way:

    “I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus, I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.”
    -Benjamin Franklin, Madison Debates

    The Federalist Papers
    With the signing at the convention, the work was not done, the Constitution still required ratification by all of the states, and this was not guaranteed. Alexander Hamilton, to explain and defend the Constitution, wrote a series of essays with James Madison and John Jay. He published these essays in the New York City newspapers under the pseudonym “Publius”, after Publius Valerius Publicola from 560-503 BC, one of four aristocrats credited with overthrowing the monarchy and establishing the Roman Republic. Today we know these essays as the Federalist Papers.

    In the Federalist papers, the Lycian league is used as a model for federated and representative democracy. Here are two quotes before getting to ancient coins, both from the Federalist papers:
    In the Lycian confederacy, which consisted of 23 cities or republics, the largest were entitled to three votes in the Common Council, those of the middle class to two, and the smallest to one. The Common Council had the appointment of all the judges and magistrates of the respective Cities. This is certainly the most delicate species of interference in their normal administration; for if there be anything that seems exclusively appropriate to the local jurisdictions, it is the appointment of their own officers. Yet Montesquieu, speaking of this association says: “Were I to give a model of an excellent Confederate Republic, it would be that of Lycia”.
    -Hamilton, the Federalist Papers

    Both the Lycian League and Achaean League are mentioned in other letters - here's one more:

    In the Achaean league, it is probable that the federal head had a degree and species of power which gave it a considerable likeness to the government framed by the convention. The Lycian Confederacy, as far as its principles and form are transmitted, must have borne still greater analogy to it.
    -Madison, The Federalist Papers

    If you've hung in this far, you may be wondering if I posted in the wrong forum. Sorry for the long preamble, I thought the context would be useful before sharing the two coins.

    Lycian Hemidrachms
    Finally, the coins – from the Lycian League, Masicytus a mountainous region in Lycia west of Pamphylia on the southern Mediterranean shores of modern Turkey. The mint city is presumed to be Myra. Troxell, “Coinage of the Lycian League” is available online and has a wealth of additional information on the region and the coins. According to Troxell, the latest possible start (terminus ante quem) of the Lycean League is 167 BC.

    Because all roads seem to lead to Sulla, I will add another side note. Masicytus appears to be the name of a district created during Sulla's time as Roman dictator, around 81 BC, to facilitate payment of "contributions" to Rome by "free" Lycia perhaps. These districts are thought to be similar to districts created after the First Mithridatic War for tributes to be paid by Asia in 84 BC. Myra, likely the main city of the Masicytus district, was one of two important port cities in Lycia. Patara is the main city of the other major coin producing district, Cragus.
    Lycian League Masikytes 2.jpg
    Lycian League, Masicytes, circa 48-20 BC, AR hemidrachm, Period IV, Series 4
    Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right; Λ-Y below
    Rev: M-A, cithara (lyre); filleted palm frond in left field, all within incuse square
    Size: 16mm, 1.92 g
    Ref: RPC I 3305; Troxell 107
    Lycian League Masikytes.jpg
    Lycian League, Masicytes, circa 48-20 BC, AR hemidrachm, Period IV, Series 4
    Size: 16mm, 1.78g
    Obv: Head of Apollo right, wearing taenia
    Rev: ΛΥΚΙΩΝ, cithara (lyre); M-A/Σ-I across fields, all within incuse square
    Ref: Troxell 103

    From Troxell, the hemidrachms of Period IV may have been struck for the crews of ships sailing from Myra during the Roman Civil War. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus invaded Lycia. Brutus issued denarii (Crawford 501/1 and 503/1) which are similar to coins of Lycia. Troxell writes, “There can be little doubt that this issue of Brutus and Lycian hemidrachm Period IV, Series 2 are connected in some way.” Although the region was under Roman control, it was not until AD 43, that Rome annexed the region and later Vespasian merged regions to create the province of Lycia et Pamphylia.

    Back to 1787 and the US Constitution: although five states ratified quickly, others struggled. Only after an agreement to enact amendments was reached, did they agree to ratify the new Constitution. The new Constitution took effect March 4, 1789, and September 25, 1789, 12 amendments were adopted and, eventually, 10 were ratified by the states in 1791. Rhode Island was the last to ratify the Constitution in May 29, 1790.

    Corrections and observations are always appreciated. Post anything you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2020
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  3. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Very interesting post! Thank you for sharing!!

    Olympos, Lycia
    Pseudo issue of the Lycian League
    Period II, Series 2, circa 88-84 BC
    AR Drachm

    Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo to right, bow behind neck.
    Reverse: Lyre, OΛYM above, torch to left, sword and shield to right.
    References: Troxell Lycian League 51, BMC 1, SNG Von Aulock 4374
    Size: - - mm, 2.37g
    cf: Savoca Numismatik Auction 15, Lot 273 (5-28- 2017)
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  4. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Interesting write up @Sulla80 - thank you. I was not aware of Troxell being online and will study it. This series is full of interest, with different styles of Apollo and variations in the lyre on the reverse. Some of mine :

    Lykian League, Kragos AR Hemidrachm. Circa 35-30 BC.

    Head of Apollo right, wearing taenia / Kithara of four strings, ΛYKIΩN above, K-P across upper fields, A-Γ across lower fields; all within shallow incuse square.

    Troxell, Lycia, Period IV, Series 4, 102; RPC 3304

    Lykian League, Masikytes AR Drachm. Circa 39-35 BC.

    Laureate head of Apollo right / Kithara of three strings, M-A across upper fields, serpent coiled around omphalos in left field; all within shallow incuse square

    . Troxell, Lycia, Series 3, 97; RPC 3303

    Lykian League, Masikytes AR Hemidrachm. Circa 48-42 BC.

    Laureate head of Apollo right; Λ behind, Y in front

    Kithara of four strings, M-A across lower fields, plectrum below on left; all within shallow incuse square.

    Troxell, Lycia, Period IV, Series 1, 87

    LYCIAN LEAGUE. Patara. 167-81 BC.

    Drachm (Silver, 15 mm, 2.57 g, 12 h).

    Laureate head of Apollo to right, with bow and quiver over his shoulder. Rev. ΛYKIΩΝ / Π-ΑY Kithara within incuse square; below left, 8-rayed star.

    Troxell, Lycian League, 20.4 (this obverse die).
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  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    thanks for sharing your Olympos (Period II, 57)! already 4 cities represented between your post and @eparch's (or 2 cities and two regions).

    All amazing coins - I particularly like the portrait style on your third coin (second Masikytes: Period IV, Series 1, 87).
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  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Excellent write-up and fantastic tie-in from Ancient to Modern Histories, @Sulla80. Well done, and wonderful coins to offer! Thank you, I enjoy this.

    I regret that I do not have any from the Lycian League, nor the Achaean League (Greece is not a real focus for me.)

    I can tie into the Birth of the Roman Republic (yeah, about the time Athens was unsuccessfully experimenting with a Democracy).... I will honor your post with another long write-up, but it ties together with yours:

    (I have posted this before)

    Rome had been ruled by Kings traditionally since 753 BCE. However, her last King, after many offenses and excesses at the expense of the Roman people... Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was deposed in 509 BCE. The Monarchy was replaced by a Republic.

    Instrumental in the overthrow of the monarchy, one of the first two Consuls of Rome in 509BCE, was Lucius Junius Brutus. He was consul with Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus and later Publius Valerius Publicola. According to Livy, one of Brutus' first acts as a Consul was to have the Roman citizens swear an oath to never allow a King of Rome. Even when his own two sons were caught in a conspiracy to restore the monarchy, under orders of the Consuls, he stoically witnessed their execution... Tough love...

    Later, in 439 BCE Republican Rome was gripped in a severe famine; people starving, suffering abounded. Enter Spurius Maelius, a wealthy Plebeian, who saw an opportunity to seize Rome... He purchased a large amount of wheat to distribute - at a low price - to the starving people of Rome. However, his ulterior motive was to foster support to usurp the fledgling Republic and proclaim himself Rex (King). A hated word in Roman vocabulary! The cry of the people arose and Maelius was to appear before the aging Cincinnatus, (the elected Dictator during this crisis.) Enter Gaius Servilius Ahala, Magister Equitum (Master of the Horse). Maelius refused to appear, and was hunted down and killed by Ahala. Ahala then razed his home to the ground and distributed the withheld wheat to the starving people.

    Fast forward to 54 BCE: Long descendant of the two early Republic Heroes, Marcius Junius Brutus, (also known as Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus), new to politics at 31 years old, enters the membership of the vigintisexvirate (the three Moneyers authorized to mint coinage). This was the first step on the cursus honorum - the road to political office in the Republic. Because of his deep-rooted love for the Res Publica, he honors his ancestral heritage by placing the busts of both great family forefathers, Brutus and Ahala, on the obverse and reverse of the denarius issue of 54BCE.

    You all know the rest of the story as Senator Brutus, who on the Idus Martiae, 15-Mar-44 BCE, delivered the killing blow to the Tyrant Gaius Iulius Caesar, usurper of the Res Publica...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Roman Republic 54 BCE
    AR Denarius, 18.3mm, 3.7g
    Moneyer: Marcus Iunius Brutus (aka Quintus Servillius Caepio Brutus)
    Obv: Bare hd of L. Iunius Brutus (Consul 509 BCE), Bearded r, BRVTVS behind
    Rev: Bare hd of C. Servilius Ahala (Master of the Horse 439 BCE), bearded r, AHALA behind
    Ref: Sear 398, Crawford 433/2, from collection W. Esty CKXSUB 613

    Here is the Imperator @Sulla80 refers to occupying Greece...

    Athens AE19 c 87-86 BCE Time of SULLA Athena Zeus Sear Grk 2567.JPG
    c 87-86 BCE Time of SULLA -
    Sear Grk 2567
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  7. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    This rare denarius of Brutus (Crawford 503/1), struck in Smyrna in 42 BC, clearly shares an engraver with some of the Lycian League coins struck at the same time:

    Phil (155).JPG

    Compare that coin for instance to this Lycian League hemidrachm (Troxell 92, Gemini 14, lot 233):


    Phil Davis
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  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    great to see, no doubt about the shared engraver and your examples are stunning especially the Brutus.
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  9. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I added another Lycian coin this week - a welcome distraction from the global and local turbulence and disruption of COVID-19. It is my first from Cragus (Roman district, mint: Patara) or Kragos (as seen with the K - P on reverse). I am not 100% certain, with low image quality, but this looks like it is the plate coin for 84.16 from Troxell which would be an unexpected bonus:
    Lycia Krasus.jpg
    Roman Provincial, Lycian League, Hemidrachm, Cragus (Period IV, Series 1: circa 48-42 BC)
    Obv: Λ - Y, Laureate head of Apollo right.
    Rev: K - P, Lyre within incuse square.
    Ref: Troxell Plate 15 84.16 (this coin?)
    Troxell proposes that this series was struck under the over-lordship of Julius Caesar citing the weight alignment with the Roman quinarius, Caesar's role in provincial administration, tax system reform, and implementation of a fixed tribute.
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  10. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Great article. And nice tie-in to the Federalist Papers. Excellent.

    In the words of Hyla Troxell: "The start of the League has often especially in numismatic circles been taken as 167 BC. This date was based not only on the obvious fact that in 167 Lycia became free, but also on the BMC's dating of the League coinage. Head in Historia Numorum has followed the BMC in calling 167 the start both of the coinage alld of the League itself."

    However, the roots of the League go back 300 years, according to Trevor Bryce, who wrote: "Certainly, the network of dynastic alliances which developed in the wake of fhe Persian conquest gave the country the semblance of a relatively united and coherent political structure in the 5th and 4th centuries. But political coherence was, I believe, an artificial, Persian-inspired development, rather than a natural one, and depended for its maintenance the Persian-backed dynasts based at Xanthos."

    "Lycian League Issued Interesting Series of Coinage"
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  11. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks, Michael - link to your Celator article is much appreciated (useful tech tip: #page=8 added to the end of the URL goes straight to the page of interest). I pulled up the Trevor Bryce book on SCRIBD as well.
  12. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    A very interesting write up, thanks!

    This is my only Lycian League coin:
    Masikytes, Lycia Hemidrachm - Lycian League (48–23 B.C.)
    Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo right.
    Reverse: M-A, Kithara/Lyre; serpent coiled around omphalos lower left; all within incuse square.
    Reference: BMC 19.63.4, vgl.Troxell 97.
    1.48g; 14mm
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  13. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    I found this in the garage today. Then I read about Sir Charles Fellows in Wikipedia. The work is apparently from 1838.

    Lycia Fellows Chicago.jpeg
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  14. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Great thread! I will only add that in my estimation, the strength of the US Constitution lies in the fact that it does not try to impose a utopia, but rather acknowledges the inherent corruption of all human beings, and sets up a system of institutional checks and balances that (when they work) keep us from destroying each other. The ancient cult of personality is severely curbed.

    Also, to any of you familiar with Greek coins that are scratching your head at some of the letters on Lycian issues, they had their own alphabet - based on the Greek alphabet, but adding about half a dozen extra letters for sounds not found in Greek.
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  15. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    How long has your garage been there? I think this is an electronic copy.
  16. kaparthy

    kaparthy Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks! I caputured screenshots of the original title page and Sir Charles's nice color map. I will tip them into my copy. The imprint OI stands for Obol International of Chicago. They did a lot of reprinting of otherwise hard-to-find works in numismatics.
    That was before Sanford J. Durst. I think I bought this from the late John Burns. It did not help much with the article for The Celator, but it was nice to have.

    Also, on the subject of the Lycian League, do you have any insight into how Hamilton, Jay, and Madison might have known about it? The Federalist cites Montesquieu, but he must have relied on an earlier history. I checked Herodutus, Plutarch, and Gibbons and did not find a reference to their League. In fact, the spadework of Fellows brought a lot to light, but in the 1830s, long after the 1770s.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  17. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Sorry for not responding sooner, I am just noticing your post today. I believe that Strabo was the source for Montesquieu - here's at least one reference Geography XIV.3.3. Related you may enjoy this paper: Wolfe, C. (1977). The Confederate Republic in Montesquieu. Polity, 9(4), 427-445.
    "As it turns out, Strabo, Montesquieu's source on Lycia, probably does not say that the common council names the magistrates and judges of the cities. He says "thus judges and magistrates are elected according to the proportion of the number of votes belonging to each city." Previously, however, he had referred to election by the common council of the "lyciarch" and "other officers of the body" (that is, of the common council), and of "public tribunals," appointed for the administration of justice. The reference to the election of magistrates and judges, then, would seem to refer to those of the confederation, not of the members, and is repeated only to specify that the voting proportion is the same. Either Montesquieu misread Strabo, or he deliberately misstated him for a purpose."
    - Wolfe (1977) p.433
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  18. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Sadly, the Troxell plate coin that I posted above was a victim of "COVID-mail syndrome" or the "curse of posting before it arrives". Maybe it will show up in an auction again some time. But I did finally add a coin from Kragos 48-23 BC to my little Lycian set:
    Lycia Kragos Hemi2.jpg
    Lycian League, Kragos, AR Hemidrachm, circa 48-23 BC
    Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right; [Λ] behind, Y in front
    Rev: Kithara of five strings, K-P across upper fields, branch in lower right field; all within shallow incuse square
    Ref: Troxell, Lycia, Period IV, 89.5
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  19. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    LYCIA, Pseudo-Lycian League, Phaselis. after 168 BC. AR Drachm (13mm, 2.8 gm, 2h). Obv: Laureate head of Apollo, r. Rev: ΦΑΣΗΛ(Ι) above Lyre in shallow incuse square, thunderbolt to left and torch on the right. Troxell S. 63. 53. Toned. Magnificent art work. Far superior than normal for this mint during this period.
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