Look both ways before you set sail on a tiny boat with three miniature oarsmen

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sallent, May 20, 2019.

  1. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    The Romans were not the greatest of sailors, preferring to hug the coasts of the Mediterranean rather than crossing the open seas. I can't say I blame them either. Considering there were no weather satellites, no GPS, no flotation vests, no emergency beacons, and no helicopter to come pull you out of the water in the event of a tragedy, I'd be terrified too if I was a Roman sailor and had to cross the Mediterranean sea in a fragile transport vessel laden with heavy cargo.


    Which is why I found this Roman Republic denarius rather amusing. It features the Dioscuri brothers, but in the form of Janus. The Dioscuri brothers, featured prominently in the story of Jason and the Argonauts, were considered the patron figures of Roman sailors, and so it would not have been out of place to find an altar to the Dioscuri brothers aboard a Roman ship. But even more interesting is that they are depicted back to back, as a two-faced deity which is the form often associated with the god Janus, who was seen as responsible for the safe completion of journeys. In essence what you have here is talisman for nervous Roman sailors, depicting both of their patron figures in the guise of the god of safe ends to journeys. I can imagine when this denarius came out, every superstitious Roman sailor went out of his way to make sure he had this denarius on his coin pouch or around his neck prior to departure.

    CAz2x8jY7YNypG4r65wX6SWokiW3kJ.jpg C. Fonteius, Rome, 114-113 BC. AR Denarius (20mm, 3.93g, 5h). Laureate, janiform heads of the Dioscuri; I to l. R/ Galley l. with three rowers, gubernator at stern. Crawford 290/1; RBW 1120; RSC Fonteia 1.

    If I was the gubernator (captain) aboard this ship, I'd be nervous too if my crew was comprised of three tiny rowers and a ship so tiny it looks like some sort of fancy decorated bathtub. I can see why he would want the Dioscuri looking out in both directions to try to spot trouble before it becomes serious. :p

    Post anything relevant.
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  3. Alegandron

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

    Nice RR Denarius @Sallent ! I have always wanted to get one of these.

    Since I do not have this Fonteius, here is another LATER RR Fonteius Dioscuri (Pilei above the Goat) to toss in:

    RR Fonteius 85 BC AR Den Apollo tbolt Cupid Goat Pilei Wreath Sear 271 Craw 353-1a.jpg
    RR Fonteius 85 BC AR Den Apollo tbolt Cupid Goat Pilei Wreath Sear 271 Craw 353-1a
    NLL, Theodosius, ominus1 and 7 others like this.
  4. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    Very nice. The Cupid riding a goat reverse is one of my favorites. That type was one of my earliest RR denarii. Here's mine.

    M. Fonteius AR Denarius.jpg
    M. Fonteius. 87 B.C. AR denarius (19.87 mm, 3.93 g, 5 h). M· FONTEI C·F, laureate head of Apollo Vejovis right; monogram below chin, AP monogram below chin / Eros (or infant winged Genius) seated on goat right; caps of the Dioscuri above; filleted thyrsos below; all within laurel wreath. Crawford 353/1a; Sydenham 724; RSC Fonteia 9. Toned EF, Minor reverse die break.
    NLL, ominus1, Alegandron and 4 others like this.
  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The ship on my Fonteius is considerably more menacing.
    Cucumbor, lordmarcovan, NLL and 11 others like this.
  6. Sallent

    Sallent Live long and prosper

    I love the attempt at 3-d perspective on yours. Almost looks like it's coming at the viewer at an angle.
  7. jb_depew

    jb_depew Well-Known Member

    Nice coins! Here's my example:

  8. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  9. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    This one has the head of Roma affixed onto the prow.

    RR - Q Lutatius Cerco Galley.jpg ROMAN REPUBLIC
    AR Denarius. 3.88g, 19.6mm. Rome mint, 109-108 BC. Q. Lutatius Cerco, moneyer. Crawford 305/1; Sydenham 559; Lutatia 2. O: Helmeted head of Roma (or Mars) right; mark of value to left, ROMA above head, CERCO below chin. R: Galley right with head of Roma on prow; Q.[LVTATI]/Q in two lines above; all within oak wreath.
    Ex Estate of Thomas Bentley Cederlind, purchased from Kirk Davis
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  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

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  11. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Nice acquisition @Sallent, and a type I would like to add to my RR series some day

    Another galley you might be more confident to put your feet on

    ROMAN IMPERATORS, Sextus Pompeius and Q. Nasidius, Denarius Mint moving with Sextus Pompeius, Sicily, 42-39 BC
    NEPTVNI, head of Pompey the great right, trident before head, dolphin below
    Q.NASIDIVS at exergue, galley sailing right, star in upper field
    3.92 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 235, RCV # 1390, Crawford # 483/2, Sydenham # 1350, Cohen # 20
    Ex Freeman & Sear, Ex Barry Feirstein collection (NAC auction # 42/279), Ex Roma Numismatics

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  12. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Ow! Ow! My eyes hurt now!

    Cucumbor likes this.
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