Goats, Beans and Biscotti

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Sep 12, 2021.


Who is on the reverse of this coin?

  1. Cupid

    8 vote(s)
  2. Veiovis

    2 vote(s)
  3. Apollo

    1 vote(s)
  4. little Zeus

    0 vote(s)
  5. winged "genius"

    1 vote(s)
  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Image Source: Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz by Thomé, Otto Wilhelm, 1903

    If you keep asking, "What evidence is there to support this?", researching a coin can take you to unexpected places, related and unrelated to the coin. Researching today’s denarius, I didn’t expect to end up with goats, fava beans and biscotti. RR denarii haven't been easy to come by recently (at a price I am wiling to pay). I am quite pleased with this latest addition.
    M Fonteius goat rider.jpg
    Mn. Fonteius C.f., 85 BC, AR denarius, Rome mint
    Obv: MN FONTEIUS C. f., Laureate head of Vejovis (or Apollo) right; Roma monogram below chin, thunderbolt below head
    Rev: Infant winged Genius or Cupid? seated on goat, standing right; pilei of the Dioscuri above; thyrsus with fillet in exergue; all within laurel wreath
    Ref: Crawford 353/1a; Sydenham 724; Fonteia 9

    Researching this coin followed a meandering path from "the obscure Veiovis" to "evidence for the goat as male or female" to "May as the month of ancestors" to "the Flamen dialis not being allowed to touch beans" to "biscotti in Italy today". The longer writeup with references is on my Notes site. As always comments, additions, corrections are much appreciated.

    There is no shortage of ambiguity about who is on the obverse and reverse of this coin - Apollo, young Jupiter, Veiovis, winged 'genius'? ...following the nicely written 2019 Koinon article recommended by CT member @SeptimusT - this remains indeed obscure to me.

    Post your coins of Mn. Fonteius, coins with goats, Veiovis, or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    The whole issue of the iconography on this issue is an enigma to me. It has a little bit of everything: the pilei of the dioscuri, the thyrsus of Dionysus, maybe Amalthea the goat, some divine baby or other, the laurel wreath of Apollo. It's just bizarre and I can't tie it all together.

    Here's my Fonteius!

    Mn. Fonteius C.f., 85 BC.
    Roman AR Denarius, 3.97 g, 21.0 mm, 5h.
    Rome mint.
    Obv: MN. FONTEI C. F, Laureate head of Apollo-Vejovis right; thunderbolt below; Roma monogram below chin.
    Rev: Infant Genius seated right on goat; pilei of the Dioscuri above; below, filleted thyrsus right; all within wreath.
    Refs: Crawford 353/1a; Sydenham 724; Fonteia 9; BMCRR 2476; RCV 271; Varesi 290.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Oh! I think mine's a double die match to @Sulla80's!
  5. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    a comment on this possibility from T J Luce 1968:
    "...The statue, moreover, was of a she-goat, which Ovid confirms (Fasti 3-443); on the coins a he-goat is pictured..."

    more here on jstor: Luce, T.J. (1968). Political Propaganda on Roman Republican Coins: Circa 92-82 B. C. American Journal of Archaeology,72(1), 25-39. doi:10.2307/501820
    I agree with you!
  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    reverse looks like it could be a match too.
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    My example, recently posted again in the Dioscuri thread in answer to the question about thyrsoi/thyrsa/thyrsi (thanks, @Roman Collector!)

    Roman Republic, Mn. Fonteius C.f., AR Denarius, Rome Mint 85 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo* right, MN. FONTEI behind (MN and NT in monograms), C.F below chin, thunderbolt below neck / Rev. Cupid or winged Infant Genius seated on goat right, caps (pilei) of the Dioscuri above, thyrsus of Bacchus below; all within laurel-wreath. RSC I Fonteia 10 (ill.), Crawford 353/1c, Sydenham 724a, Sear RCV I 271 (ill.), BMCRR Rome 2478. 20 mm, 3.93 g.

    * RSC I identifies as head of Vejovis; Crawford and Sear disagree and identify head as Apollo.

    Clearly a different obverse die -- and a different subtype entirely -- from the two already posted. A similar reverse, but not the same: the two pilei are on the same level on mine, whereas one is higher than the other on the first two examples.

    Whenever there's a choice between Cupid and a so-called "Infant Genius" (as here and on the Lucretius Trio dolphin denarius), I always vote for Cupid. Who is this Infant Genius anyway, and why have I never heard of him? As for the Vejovis option, I've only seen that for the obverse of this coin before (as in Babelon/RSC I), not for the reverse.

    PS to @Sulla80: Thanks for your fascinating explication of the iconography on this coin at your blog. It's the first time I've really understood who Vejovis is supposed to be, i.e. the "anti-" Jove or Jupiter, associated with the underworld. But why the references on the reverse to the Dioscuri and to Dionysus/Bacchus/Liber?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Genius in general is a concept that I only barely grasp - a mix of spirit, angel, personification, or soul.

    The genius of Apollo Veiovis as described by Babelon, I take to be an aspect of Apollo Veiovis and I still consider that there might be some connection to death or afterlife and Erotes riding goats.

    Liv Mariah Yarrow adds another thought to this with Aphrodite Pandemos, mentioned in her blog, quoting Pausanias.

    "The precinct of the other Aphrodite is surrounded by a wall, and within the precinct has been made a basement, upon which sits a bronze image of Aphrodite upon a bronze he-goat. It is a work of Scopas, and the Aphrodite is named Common. The meaning of the tortoise and of the he-goat I leave to those who care to guess."

    The Dioscuri as reference to Tusculum I can understand, however with the rest I quickly return to "this remains indeed obscure to me."
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Sulla, Interesting thread with lots of symbolism on the coin :happy:. I think the obverse portrait is most likely Apollo. The goat on the reverse adds weight to this idea since Apollo, with his many attributes, is also an important pastoral deity and patron of shepherds. The three Cupids playing with a lyre (an attribute of Apollo) are depicted on this fresco from Herculaneum, adding weight to the idea of Cupid on the reverse.
  10. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    I do linger on possibility of a straight forward answer : Apollo and Dionysus intertwined on the coin, Veiovis the fiercer aspect of Apollo, in opposition to Sullan Venus..... in 85 BC as the threat of his return loomed.
    +VGO.DVCKS, Curtisimo and DonnaML like this.
  11. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    The reverse sure seems to be Cupid to me. With Apollo and his girly locks on the obverse. Though I'm as wrong as I am right as the description I have tells a different story:
    Fonteius. Mn. Fonteius C.F. Denarius. 85 BC. Auxiliary mint of Rome. (Ffc-717). (Craw-353/1a). (Cal-589). Anv.: Laureate head of Vejovis right, mongram (of ROMA?), below chin, thunderbolt below head. MN. FONTEI. C.F. (MN y NTE interlace), behind. Rev.: Infant winged Genius seated on goat right, caps of the Dioscuri above, thyrsus below, all within laurel-wreath. Ag. 3,68 g. Centered struck. Almost VF. Purchased from Tauler & Fau 4/2021
    Alegandron, +VGO.DVCKS, PeteB and 7 others like this.
  12. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I’m a little late to the party but I took some time to read your post over at your blog. It was a very informative write up and I learned a lot about Veiovis. The subterranean gods are interesting and largely left out of the artistic tradition, unfortunately.

    Thank you for the write up. I really enjoy these “what was meant by this depiction” types of research pieces. After looking into it a bit more I think the reverse is probably Cupid on a goat as Crawford suggests. At first I thought this was strange but after doing some research it seems that it is not an unknown iconographic representation of Cupid... who knew? This depiction of Eros riding a goat was found in the temple of Apollo in Cyprus in the mid-19th century.
    It is now in the MET Museum. (Dated 3rd century BC or later)

    This certainly seems to draw a very early connection between this depiction of Eros and Apollo (lost myth?) which would make the argument for the obverse figure to be Apollo that much stronger. This depiction of Cupid seems fairly common to my surprise.

    Therefore my money is on Apollo / Cupid. Though I do admit that the iconography on this coin is all over the place. What is the thunderbolt about???

    Great thread @Sulla80 as always! I enjoy these reads that make me have to think. :bookworm::D

    In the spirit of the thread I will post a coin that I also have doubts about the popular attribution to Apollo.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
    Alegandron, +VGO.DVCKS, Bing and 5 others like this.
  13. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    I note only one is winged. Curious.
    Sulla80 and +VGO.DVCKS like this.
  14. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Cupid works for me. I'd never heard of a baby genius, but there's so much I've never heard of.

    You had me at the "Goats, Beans and Biscotti" title. :)
    +VGO.DVCKS and Sulla80 like this.
  15. +VGO.DVCKS

    +VGO.DVCKS Well-Known Member

    Many thanks, @Sulla80, and everyone else, for starting a progressively enlightening thread.
    This is one reason to love this forum, even from the peripheries of the community (in my case, medieval, especially c. 10th -earlier 13th centuries). You get to find out that, where the phenomenon of ongoing research is concerned, You Are Not Alone!
    With earlier medieval, you really have to live with an ongoing dimension of sheer mystery. The relative paucity, both of primary and secondary material (the latter of which, as for earlier periods, seems to be getting better --for one, more intentionally multidisciplinary-- all the time), effectively makes this a structural imperative. By contrast, it can be easy to envy the sheer amount of scholarship that's been done on Classical issues.
    I've yammered about this here already, somewhere ('Long Covid Brain' --no, there's no copyright on that), but it's (Cicero alert: ) educational and fun (no, I promise, Not entirely along the lines of Schadenfreude) to be reminded that for ancients --even the usual suspects, where whole series are concerned-- you folks are dealing with the same dynamics.
    ...Are we in the same boat, or in ones right next to eachother, in the (quasi-literal) wake of the Titanic? You Decide....
    @lordmarcovan, I'm proud to second your motion. Not sure I'd want all of it on the same plate (...except, really, Why Not?), but the title of the thread was a Serious Rhetorical Coup.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
    Sulla80, Curtisimo and lordmarcovan like this.
  16. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Aha! I had seen this cupid in Liz Yarrow's blog, and then at the MET, but I had missed the Apollo connection - hidden in MET's provenance: "Said to be from the temple of Apollo Hylates at Kourion" - thanks for the thoughtful comments and another useful clue.

    I am not positive, but I think there are other wings lurking in the shadows of repairs and under cloaks.
    "progressively enlightening thread" does describe it well. Medieval or ancient, good company is, well, good company. Thought of "the same plate" will bring a smile more than once this week, and I will be adding SRC to my repertoire of texting acronyms.:)
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
    PeteB, +VGO.DVCKS and Curtisimo like this.
  17. Alegandron

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


    RR Fonteius 85 BC AR Den Apollo tbolt Cupid Goat Pilei Wreath Sear 271 Craw 353-1a

    RR AR Denarius 3.88g L Pomponius Molo 97 BCE Rome Apollo Numa Pompilius stdng Lituus alter sacrificing goat Cr 334-1 Syd 607


    RR Hd Juno Sospita R goat skin hddrss She-wolf R placing stick on fire eagle stndng fanning flames 45 BCE 19.0mm 4.07g Cr 472-1

    RR L Papius serratus 79 BCE Juno Sospita goat skin JUG Griffon Sear 311 Craw 384-1

    RR L Thorius Balbus 105 BCE AR Denarius Juno Sospita goat skin Bull charging Sear 192 Craw 316-1
    DonnaML, Sulla80, PeteB and 4 others like this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page