Where's Joseph Campbell when you need him? The iconography of this Roman Republican denarius of Manius Fonteius, son of Caius Fonteius, is quite complex and I'm at a loss to put it all together. Can anyone shed some light on this? Thanks! Please feel free to post anything you feel is relevant -- similar coins, comments, etc. 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. About the obverse: Most numismatists believe the portrait depicts Apollo-Vejovis. The thunderbolt under his head is consistent with this interpretation. Vejovis was an old Roman god associated with healing, and often conflated with Apollo. He is typically depicted as a young man, holding a bunch of arrows, pilum, or lightning bolts in his hand, and is accompanied by a goat. He had temples on the Capitoline Hill and on the Tiber Island. His name may be connected with that of Jupiter (Jovis), but there is little agreement as to its meaning: he may be a "little Jupiter" or a "sinister Jupiter" or "the opposite of Jupiter" (i.e., a chthonic, or underworld, god). The editors of the Encyclopedia Brittanica think the last interpretation is most likely, since his offering was a she-goat humano ritu; the term humano ritu has been defined both as on behalf of the dead and as a substitute for a human sacrifice. About the reverse: The goat is the most prominent feature of the reverse. She-goats were sacrificed to Vejovis, but I don't think that's enough to fully explain the iconography of the reverse. Joe Sermarini at Forum Ancient Coins believes the reverse most likely depicts a statue that was beside the statue of Vejovis in the temple of that god on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. If anyone has a reference documenting this assertion, I'd love to know. The goat is ridden by a winged infant. Now, some numismatists describe this figure as Cupid, whereas other numismatists believe the figure is a winged genius. Unless these winged children depict a bow or arrows, most take such figures to be genii. Some numismatists -- and I see no reason to disagree -- believe the figure on the goat represents the genius of Jupiter Crescens ("Jupiter growing"), seated on the back of Amalthaea, the she-goat who nursed him in his infancy. Indeed, there is a striking similarity to the iconography on this antoninianus of Valerian II, which specifically identifies the reverse figure as Jupiter Crescens with its inscription, IOVI CRESCENTI, an appropriate type for an imperial successor: Göbl 907e. Photo courtesy of the Gallienus and Family webpage. So, we have Vejovis, the "anti-Jove" with his thunderbolt, to whom she-goats were sacrificed on the obverse and the genius of the baby Jove riding a she-goat on the reverse. Is there a deeper relationship than this in terms of the mythology or iconography? Am I missing something? The second most prominent feature of the reverse are the two pilei surmounted by stars. This is obviously a reference to the two Dioscuri, the twin half-brothers, Castor and Pollux. Their relationship to Jupiter is filial: Pollux was conceived when Jupiter, in the guise of a swan, raped their mother Leda. Castor was conceived by Leda's husband. But what are the Dioscuri doing on this coin? Is there some sort of connection with Vejovis? The presence of the caps and stars of the Dioscuri here may be unrelated to the rest of the iconography. Hill notes that Cavedoni is of the opinion that the presence of the pilei here may be merely a reference to the moneyer's city of origin. This may well be the case because the Dioscuri feature prominently on other denarii issued by this moneyer, such as this one from the British Museum collection, which depicts the Dioscuri and their associated stars on the obverse: Crawford, RRC 307/1b There are other features of the reverse that bear discussion and which I find confusing. Note the presence of the filleted thyrsus in the exergue. The thyrsus is strongly associated with Dionysus. What's an attribute of Dionysus doing on this coin? How is that god tied in with Vejovis, the genius of baby Jove atop Amalthea, and the Dioscuri? Confusing, isn't it? Lastly, the whole design is surrounded by a wreath. Hill describes it as a myrtle garland. Joe Sermarini describes it as a laurel wreath. Which is it? It makes a difference. In Greek mythology and ritual the myrtle was sacred to the goddesses Aphrodite and Demeter, whereas the laurel is the sacred tree of Apollo. Now, I don't know anything about botany and can't tell you whether the leaves on the coin best resemble myrtle or laurel, but it seems far more likely, given that Vejovis is commonly conflated with Apollo, that a wreath made of branches from Apollo's sacred tree is intended here. Thoughts?