My inscriptions are longer than yours

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by zumbly, May 16, 2018.

  1. Smojo

    Smojo dreamliner

    Huh, I never really thought about it so I went and looked at my Trajan and Hardrian coins. While this Trajan isn't the longest shown but it is longer than any Hadrian I have.

    Trajan, AD 98-117.
    Æ10, 8.6g, 12h. SYRIA, Cyrrhestica, Cyrrhus.
    Rev.: KYPPHC/TWN in two lines; A below; all within wreath.
    Reference:Butcher 1; BMC 2; SNG Copenhagen 45 var. (B on reverse).
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  3. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    Nice one SA! I knew you'd have a example.

    I was thinking about how much more ridiculously long the titles on my above coin would be if spelled out. Here goes.


    Here's my best attempt at an understandable English translation:

    Emperor, Caesar, Trajan the best Augustus (consecrated one), hammer of the Germans, hammer of the Dacians, the supreme bridge to the gods, holder of the power of a tribune, Consul for the 6th time, father of his country.

    Those of you who speak Latin please feel free to correct any errors ;)
  4. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Sixty-two characters, if you count the denomination, E, in the field:

    Gordian III and Tranquillina Marcianopolis Nemesis.jpg
    Gordian III, AD 238-244, and Tranquillina, AD 241-244.
    Roman provincial Æ pentassarion, 12.34 g, 26.2 mm, 2 h.
    Moesia Inferior, Marcianopolis, legate Tertullius, AD 243-244.
    Obv: ΑVΤ Κ Μ ΓΟΡΔΙΑΝΟC ΑVΓ CЄΒ ΤΡΑΝΚVΛ-ΛЄΙΝΑ, confronted busts.
    Rev: VΠ ΤΕΡΤVΛΛΙΑΝΟC ΜΑΡΚΙΑΝΟΠΟΛI-ΤΩΝ, Nemesis-Aequitas standing left, holding scales and cornucopiae; wheel at feet; E in field, left.
    Refs: Varbanov 2052; Moushmov 834; AMNG (Pick) 1185; SNG Cop 260.
  5. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector


    I think this is my longest
    Roman Empire - Trajan 98-117AD - Denarius


    IMP CAES NER TRAIAN OPTIM AVG GER DAC PARTHICO, laureate draped bust right / P M TR P COS VI P P SPQR, Mars advancing right with trophy & spear. RIC 340 RSC 271
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  6. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    I never can figure out how the Latin works in these legends and epigraphy. It seems that IMPERATOR CAESAR is in the nominative case, while TRAIANO OPTIMO is in the dative case, and then AVGVSTVS GERMANICVS DACICVS PONTIFEX MAXIMUS and CONSVL VI are all nominative, and then TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE seems to be in the ablative, and then PATER PATRIAE is nominative and genitive.

    Your translation seems to be a pretty good idiomatic translation. The only problem might be that OPTIMO AVGVSTVS don't go together since they are in different cases. "To the best Augustus" would be "Optimo Augusto." "To the best [man] Trajan" would make better sense because TRAIANO OPTIMO are in the same case.

    Here's my stab--a very minor variant of yours: "To [the] best [man] Trajan, Emperor, Caesar, Augustus, [victor over the] Germans, [victor over the] Dacians, high priest [lit., bridge], and [with] Tribunician Power, Consul for the 6th time, Father of [his] Country."

    The ablative case often indicates an instrumental idea; e.g., "with" or "by means of" or "in possession of." I'd love to hear another Latinist's parsing.

    I remember going to Rome for the first time. I was a junior in college--a classics major, and I was so excited about the prospect of showing off my ability to read Latin inscriptions (a girl was involved). Anyway, when I got there I was dismayed to learn about epigraphy--the method by which Latin inscriptions are highly abbreviated. Some people spend their entire professional lives studying this art. I was humiliated that I could barely pick out a word here or there.

    Oh well. It worked out ok. The girl married me 25 years ago this June. Here she is in 1990. mea uxor carissima. You might recognize the background.

    Kristy in Rome 1990.jpg
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
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  7. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo Temporarily Away Supporter

    That's fantastic Gavin! Both the explanation on the Latin peculiarities and the overall translation. I can't tell you how jealous I am that you can speak Latin!

    I almost translated OPTIMO AVG into "The best [first citizen], Augustus" since the title he was given by the senate was OPTIMO PRINCEPS if I'm not mistaken. However, I kind of though that would be cheating since an abbreviation for PRINCEPS is nowhere on the coin.

    It would make for a pretty neat thread of its own to have different interesting inscriptions and to have members each take a stab at a translation.

    If you found a girl that is interested enough to be impressed with ancient Roman translation ability then I say you hit a home run either way ;) I am also lucky in that my wife shares my interest in history!

    I thought I would have been better at understanding the inscriptions than I was considering I am familiar with coin inscriptions but anything that wasn't imperial titles had me stumped unfortunately. Still fun to try.


    I do indeed recognize this :) I was fortunate enough on my trip to get to visit both the basement level as well as the top level (which only opened in 2018 and only for 20 person groups with a state archeologist!)

    Most of my good photos of above and below are on my camera which I haven't downloaded yet.
  8. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    Well, I won't claim my gloss is infallible, and I'm basing it on your expansion of the epigraphy, which may be contested. But having a little Latin helps with these things, especially since most reverse coin legends are in the dative case ("to" or "for" the honoree; e.g., SOLI INVICTO instead of the nominative SOL INVICTUS). I'd like to see an epigraphy specialist take a stab at some of those long legends.

    BTW, I like this book on THE LATIN INSCRIPTIONS OF ROME. Each chapter begins with a really engaging description of various sections of Rome, then the chapter carefully translates the inscriptions on the monuments in that section, with some light attention to grammar for those with a bit of Latin or who like languages.

    The only problem is that the book bills itself as a "walking tour guide" of sorts, but it is thick and heavy. It would make a great app or ebook.

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  9. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES! Supporter

    I thought this was a long obverse legend, but at 34 characters, it is downright succinct in comparison to some of these!

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  10. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    It was probably struck at a mint in Wales.

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  11. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Here's a Trajan with a long inscription, requiring both obverse and reverse to contain it. More importantly, enough of the titulature is complete (Traiano, optimo and Parthico) to determine that nearly the entire thing is in the dative case, with the probable exception of tribunicio potestate being in the ablative ("with tribunician power") and patriae being in the genitive ("of the country").


    I reconstruct the legend as IMP[ERATORI] CAES[ARO] NER[VAE] TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG[VSTO] GERM[ANICO] DAC[ICO] PARTHICO P[ONTIFICI] M[AXIMO] TR[IBVNICIO] (abl.) POT[ESTATE] (abl.) XX CO[N]S[VLI] VI P[ATRI] P[ATRIAE] (gen.), meaning "To the Emperor Caesar Nerva Trajan, the best, revered defeater of the Germans, defeater of the Dacians, defeater of the Parthians, highest priest, with tribunician power for the twentieth time, consul for the sixth time, father of the country."
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  12. Gavin Richardson

    Gavin Richardson Well-Known Member

    I think my Latin teacher would accept that. No ruler on the knuckles for you.
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