Mary Beard on the value of Roman numismatics

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Bart9349, Dec 2, 2021.

  1. Bart9349

    Bart9349 Junior Member


    (I hope this wasn't discussed before.)

    My favorite classicists are those who combine numismatic study with archaeological and historical knowledge. Both Kenneth Harl and Guy de la Bédoyère are excellent examples of this.

    Mary Beard had some nice things to say about numismatists. She contends, however, that we are now marble-centric in our study of ancient Roman history, while in past generations we were more numismatic-centric. To her credit, she frequently uses numismatic information to enrich her presentations.

    This is an interesting discussion about ancient numismatics during this discussion about Nero between Mary Beard and Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (SEE 14:20 to about 23:45 of the video below).

    Andrew Wallace-Hadrill mentions this interesting quote by the famous Stoic philosopher Epictetus (50-135 AD) from his Discourses. (Epictetus had been a slave to a wealthy freedman and secretary to Nero. I guess he didn't like Nero and possibly his previous owner, either.):

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  3. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Cachecoins and David Atherton like this.
  4. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Nice to see there are other Mary Beard fanboys here!

    BTW, an entire chapter in her new book is devoted to the subject.
  5. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    I watch all her specials when they air. She's a hoot.
  6. ominus1

    ominus1 ...BE SEEING YOU! Supporter

    Mary is a pleasure to watch...informative and entertaining~! :)
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter
    I assume you are aware of her blog. She has no fear of controversy. I recall her pointing out once that ancient sources were colored by the biases of their authors so were not to be accepted at face value. At the same time, she noted that modern writers include their own biased life experience making them similarly flawed. I was once told that no history could be written without biases as long as there was anyone left alive who experienced it first hand. I always believed that the timing was off a bit, at least 5000 years (5 million?). Coins are instruments of propaganda, too. In many cases that makes them more interesting.
    Cachecoins and DonnaML like this.
  8. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    I really like her writing very much and I very much appreciate her use of coins in her videos. Last month I received a signed copy of Twelve CAesasrs from the UK. I will read it of course but her sig is really nice to have.
  9. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    back in grad school I wrote a scathing criticism of a world renowned scholar on Chinese cities. I felt like he was biased and used too much western centric views in his analyses.

    I got torn apart by my professor because he was a real scholar and I wasn’t. Haha
  10. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    While it is probably impossible to purge bias and subjectively from historical narrative . One should always strive for objectivity. This was certainly not the mind set of many if not most ancient writers.

    I have found that when I take up the challenge of doing a deep dive into a subject I know little about, it is easier to remain objective as I have few preconceived notions as opposed to when I write about something I have studied for many years and am passionate about.

    Certainly source analysis is very important. Presenting everything an ancient writer pens as fact makes for great historical fiction like I, Claudius but is not the right way to approach history. The best history is often more citation and source analysis than narrative. It isn't for entertainment. Often you find there is very little that can be said for certain.
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