Featured Games of Brotherly Love

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

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Base of a funerary kouros, Athens 510-500 BC, with wrestlers – National Archaeological Museum Greece

    There are coins from Nicaea, Bithynia, showing the games of “Severan Botherly Love” or “CЄOVHPIA ΦIΛAΔЄΛΦЄIA” with prize crowns highlighting “IEPOC AGWN” or “Holy Games” – perhaps wishfully promoting good relations between the two princes. CNG Article here and here. Knowing the end of the story, it is hard to see anything other than irony in games of "Brotherly Love" associated with Caracalla and Geta.

    While my coin, doesn’t explicitly mention the Holy Games or the Severan Games, it is from local Nicean games of Severus celebrating the royal family if not more specifically the elevation of Caracalla and Geta to Augustus and Caesar. The local Severan games were modeled on the Pythian games honoring the emperor and imperial cult in place of Apollo. It is not clear to me if this is the same event or series of events referenced in the coins above.

    This coin attracted my attention for its very clear strike of a prize crown with palm branch.
    Geta Bythinia Nikae.jpg
    Geta, as Caesar, Nicaea, Bithynia, AD 198-209
    Obv: [ΓЄTAC] KAICAP, bare-headed bust right
    Rev: NIKAIЄΩN, prize crown containing single palm branch
    Size: 17mm., 2.55g
    Ref: AsiaMinorCoins 11899; missing from RPC online?

    There are very similar coins issued for (links to ACSearch entries provided):
    as well as later issues for Julia Mamaea (neice to Julia Domna) and her son Severus Alexander.

    One example for Geta includes the additional “CЄOVIPЄIA” (Severan) on the reverse, compared to my coin.

    Honors bestowed (and taken away) by the emperor

    Nicaea was on the losing side at the beginning of Septimius' run for emperor in the year of 5 emperors. The Battle of Nicaea was fought in 193 between the forces of Septimius Severus and his rival, Pescennius Niger. Severus was the victor, and Niger’s bid was ended the next year at Issus. Septimius penalized Nicaea for not supporting him with the removal of their neokoroi, literally a word combining νεώς 'temple' + κορέω 'to sweep', honoring a town with a sacred temple to the Roman emperor. Septimius Severus also rewarded Nicaea’s rival for leading city of Bithynia, Nicomedia, with a second neokoria for their support.

    Caracalla appears to have intervened on behalf of Antioch and Byzantium, to restore them to the good favor of the emperor. He may have also intervened on behalf of Nicaea.

    “It was at his [Caracalla’s] plea, moreover, that their [Byzantium’s] ancient rights were restored to the citizens of Antioch and Byzantium, with whom Severus had become angry because they had given aid to Niger.”
    -Scriptores Historiae Augustae The Life of Antoninus Caracalla 1.7

    When were these games held? (and who attended?)

    The right to host games was another honor that could be bestowed as a sign of favor of the emperor. [Burrell] Nicaea was honored to celebrate agonistic festivals (games festivals) in honor of the Septimius Severus and his two sons.

    “There took place also during those days a gymnastic contest, at which so great a multitude of athletes assembled, under compulsion, that we wondered how the course could contain them all. And in this contest women took part, vying with one another most fiercely, with the result that jokes were made about other very distinguished women as well. Therefore, it was henceforth forbidden for any woman, no matter what her origin, to fight in single combat.”
    -Dio LXXVI.16.1 (referencing games of AD ~200 in Nicaea)

    The games shown on this coin appear to date between AD 198 and 204. This coin could come from the games sponsored to celebrate the brotherly love of Caracalla and Geta and their elevations in 198 to Caesar (Geta) and Augustus (Caracalla). This article, Weiser p121, describes the games of “Severeia Philadelphia” in happening in 204.

    In this thread on forvm, @curtislclay discusses the question:

    “Is it possible that the emperors actually attended these games, on the occasion of a visit to Nicaea in c. summer-autumn 198 when they supervised the construction of siege engines for their second attempt to capture the city of Hatra in Mesopotamia?”


    The hopes of these holy games, Philadelphia (Brotherly love), clearly didn't work out. Septimius Severus, father to Caracalla and Geta, died 4-Feb-211, and within the year, Caracalla had ordered the murder of his brother. Geta died in the arms of his mother, Julia Domna, on 26-Dec-211, killed by the Praetorian guard loyal to Caracalla. Then Caracalla took further actions against any supporters of his brother, and attempted to erase the memory of Geta with damnatio memoriae.

    Additions, correction, and comments are always appreciated. Post your coins of Greek and Roman athletic events, prize crowns, Severan princes or anything else that you find interesting or entertaining.

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That's a great little coin, @Sulla80 ! Fantastic strike on that reverse type and an interesting and very informative write-up! I hope it's featured!

    I like these agonistic prize coins and I will probably add a few more to my collection as they come up. My favorite athletic coins are these. This one honors the Pythian games and one of the prizes awarded there were apples from the sacred grove of Apollo. These are depicted on the reverse of this coin.

    Gordian III, AD 238-244.
    Roman provincial Æ 25.6 mm, 10.61 g, 2 h.
    Macedon, Thessalonica, AD 238-244.
    Obv: AVT K M ANT ΓΟΡΔIANOC, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
    Rev: ΘЄCCAΛΟΝΙΚЄΩΝ ΝЄ, tripod surmounted by five apples; Π-V/Θ-Ι/Α across field.
    Refs: Touratsoglou, Thessaloniki 80; Varbanov 4523; Moushmov 6815.

    This one depicts an athlete holding his prizes -- the palm branch of Nike and a crown.

    Gordian III, AD 238-244.
    Roman provincial Æ Pentassarion, 13.30 g, 27.1 mm, 7 h.
    Thrace, Anchialus, AD 238-244.
    Obv: ΑVΤ Κ Μ ΑΝΤ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟC ΑVΓ, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
    Rev: ΟVΛΠΙΑΝWΝ ΑΓΧΙΑΛΕWΝ, Nude athlete standing facing, head right, holding palm branch and wreath.
    Refs: AMNG II, 632.3, p. 276; Mionnet Suppl. 2, 136; Corpus Nummorum Thracorum 21318; RPC VII.2, — (unassigned; ID 48982).
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  4. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    It's interesting to see the values and some of the clash of values between Greek and Roman views on athleticism and athletic events and their impact still today. I've been enjoying (slowly) Thomas Scanlon's two collections of essays on Greek and Roman sports. I enjoyed your Pythian games thread when it was posted - there are quite a few coins from athletic games that I would be happy to own. Thank you for the correction - I edited the OP to show the correct relationship.
  5. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Wonderful coin and write up! That reverse is really something:artist:
    I recently picked up this Koinon partly for the style of the prizes:

    And I sure do like coins that celebrate athletics and games:
    20190326_135916_6CF2B5C0-6409-4E0F-BB33-75B26F42E13A-406-000000AEC9E65CFA.png 20190326_150621_3F129937-05E2-413D-BE0D-2A8B7C6C50D5-406-000000C226694718.png

    Yeah the irony certainly is thick that the games were celebrating the love of the brothers Severus:facepalm:
    But wait, here's s coin with both of them. You can't be on a coin with someone and dislike them;)
  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks for sharing your coins! Those are some spiky Macedonian prize urns and a nice looking patina, @Ryro. Agonistic urns on coins seemed to have spiked in the 3rd century - curious to know if they appeared much earlier or later. Edit: a good summary answer for this question can be found in Chris Howego's book "Coinage and Identity" on p.128-9 (essay by Dietrich Klose) which describes large prize crowns first appearing under Commodus, and has a coin of Pergamum from AD 136–8 referencing festivals for the city’s neocorate temples. A great source for information on coins and agonistic festivals.

    Third coin looks interesting - where is that from? Your coin of the brothers looks more like a face-off than a gaze of brotherly love, probably just my imagination. Here's my unusual (unique?) AE variation on your AR coin.
    Stater of Pamphylia AE.jpg
    Pamphylia, Aspendus, circa 400-380 BC, AE stater (9.47g, 22.5mm)
    Obv: Two naked wrestlers grappling
    Rev: ΕΣΤFEΔΙΙΥΣ, Slinger in throwing stance right, drawing sling taut over head, triskeles in field before, all within dotted square within square
    Ref: Tekin Series 3; AMC 2959
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  7. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    I've got this interesting SA coin with a striking error:

    Severus Alexander, Ruled 222-235 AD
    AE Diassarion, Bithynia, Nicaea

    Obverse: [M AYP] CEYH AΛEΞAN[ΔPOC AY], Laureate head right.
    Reverse: NI-[KA-IE]-ΩN, Agonistic urn, containing palm frond.
    References: RG 620 var. (bust draped); SNG von Aulock -; SNG Copenhagen -; Weiser –
    Notes: Nearly a 180 degree AND flipped double strike (obv and rev apparent on both sides).
    Similar type as: https://www.acsearch.info/search.html?id=3335634
  8. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I am sure I have shown all these before but they seem to pertain to some degree. First are the Septimius and Domna versions of the OP coin.
    pi0820bb1948.jpg pk1100bb2311.jpg

    Two rather similar coins of Anchialus celebrating the games in honor of Caracalla's wedding.
    pm1280bb1966.jpg pm1290bb2312.jpg

    An AE39 of Perinthus celebrating the successes of the city at the Actian and Pythian games (reverse left and right). My coin is low grade but this type would be spectacular in EF. Obviously the one sold by CNG was better (and, appropriately, sold for 45 times what I paid).

    Again my specimen of the Domna AE29 from Sardes is outshown by the CNG coin:
    BUT I will never understand how they got their reading of the first line under the urn. I see Chrisanthina or "Golden flowered" describing the city and its two Neokourate temples described in the following two lines. pk1120bb1971.jpg

    Perhaps the ultimate 'brotherly love' coin is the Stratonicaea AE34 issued while the brothers were young but 'modified' when the city interpreted Caracalla's edit that the memory of Geta to be erased to include scraping his face from the coins. This on has the Hecate reverse and is ex. PeteB. pm1418fd0061.jpg
    Finally is the coin of those in my collection that I consider most valuable in interest and possibly in cost since to get it I had to buy a large lot of other coins for more than I ever pay for coins. The Alexandrian tetradrachm of Domna shows Caracalla and Geta shaking hands and is dated LK, year 20, placing it after Septimius died in 211. I suspect production of the coin would have 'bothered' Caracalla and certainly would have stopped when Geta was murdered. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only coin from any city showing the two together after the death of their father. Several cities issued coins of the pair when Septimius was alive and encouraging their 'brotherly love'. I have to wonder what the mintmaster in Alexandria was thinking and whether he suffered any punishment for this error. This is my favorite coin obtained in the last 50 years.
  9. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin and write-up. This one is my favorite games-related coin.

    Pamphylia, Aspendos. AR Stater (22 mm, 10.65g). Circa 380-325 BC.
    Two nude wrestlers, standing and grappling with each other; between them, AK./ Rev. Slinger standing right; to right, triskeles running left; all within dotted square border. Tekin Series 4.
  10. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Amazing collection - I had not seen any Septimius version of this coin before yours, and the Tetradrachm of the loving brothers (after Feb 211) is just stunning!
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  11. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    That's such an odd crown, it just doesn't "fit" in with the rest of Greek art.

    Here's a famous hoax, the Tiara of Saitaferne.
    In 1896, the Louvre bought the solid gold tiara for a staggering 200,000 gold francs.

    Later proven to be a fake, this at least looks reasonably close to the original if you compare it against those coin reverses.
  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..its a darn good reproduction..:D
    Sulla80 likes this.
  13. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Amen-Ra-Hotep

    Nice write-up - thank you.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  14. Alegandron

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

    Nice write-up and great coin, @Sulla80 . Thanks.

    Sorry, I have nary to offer.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  15. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Revisiting this thread to add another coin - this one from Commodus. I think this is the earliest coin showing an agonistic crown - anyone know of earlier examples?
    Commodus Agonistic Urn.jpg
    Cilicia Pedias, Tarsus, Commodus, 177-192 AD, Æ 27mm (12.64, 7h)
    Obv: [ΑVΤ ΚΑΙ(Ϲ) ΑVΡ ΚΟΜΟΔΟϹ ϹƐΒ] Mantled bust right, wearing demiourgic crown; club of Hercules in left field
    Rev: ΑΔΡ ΚΟΜ ΤΑΡ ΜΗ Β ΝƐⲰΚΟ (twice Neokorie), agonistic crown inscribed ΚΟΜΟΔƐ (Kommodeios); above, ΟΙΚΟ/VΜƐ (worldwide).
    Expanded Legend: HADRianeia, KOMmodeios - TARsos MEtropolis
    Ref: RPC IV.3 5845 (temporary)
    Notes: Tarsos was the first city in Cilicia to receive the title Neokoros and a temple dedicated to the cult of Hadrian, during the reign of Hadrian circa AD 130. A second temple was dedicated to Commodus during his reign, before August 191. The Kommodeios Isolympic Worldwide Festival was held in honor of this temple. Commodus, as reincarnated Hercules, probably honored Tarsos because its city god was Hercules.[*]
    Johndakerftw and Bing like this.
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