Restitvtori orbis terrarvm = round earth ???

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    A recent survey showed that just 66% of millennials firmly believe that the earth is round !

    Lately this Hadrian Sestertius was for sale :
    Hadrian extending hand to raise turreted woman kneeling, holding globe.
    RIC II 594 a

    My question : do you believe that RESTITVTORI ORBIS TERRARVM on this coin allude to a round planet Earth ? I would be curious to know your opinion on this subject...
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  3. Ken Dorney

    Ken Dorney Yea, I'm Cool That Way...

    Well, sadly (and I will take much criticism here, but statistics dont lie too much), Millennials are often held to what YouTube says. But then again, every generation has its issues with stereotypes, so I cant fault them with that!

    I an certainly no Latin expert, but my interpretation of this inscription has always bee something akin to "restorer of the whole earth". I am sure others can offer various translations.
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  4. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    It is a myth that the ancients thought the world to be flat. In Plato's Phaedo, for example, Socrates states that he believed "that the earth is a round body in the centre of the heavens." Knowledge about the spherical shape of the planet dates back even earlier, and was generally accepted in the Roman period (as well as in the Middle Ages, by the way.) Thus it makes perfect sense that your coin shows a spherical earth.

    Here is another Roman coin featuring a round earth:
    Rome – Caracalla, Denarius (Providentia), older portrait.png
    Caracalla, Roman Empire, denarius, 210–213 AD, Rome mint. Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head of Caracalla r. Rev: PROVIDENTIAE DEORVM, Providence standing l., holding baton and scepter, globe at feet l. 19mm, 3.07g. Ref: RIC IV–1. 227. Ex FSR 106, lot 257.

    If it's any consolation to you: my birthdate says that I am a millennial, and among a couple of other things, I firmly believe that the earth has a round-ish, that is to say ellipsoid, shape.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  5. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    There is this discussion between 2 guys. One is a member of the Flat Earth Society. He’s trying to convince his friend that he is not a marginal person : “you know, we have members all around the world....”
  6. Silverlock

    Silverlock Well-Known Member

    The ancient Greeks knew the earth was round and put forth arguments why it was so. They observed that the mast of a ship appeared first on the horizon, that the shadow of a lunar eclipse was round, and the position of the stars changed the farther north you went. The latter was particularly important for successful navigation at sea.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  7. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Apparently, in learned circles in the ancient world it was known the earth was round. Was this idea generally pervasive enough that a globe on a coin would be recognised as the earth by the average Julius on the street?
  8. Michael Stolt

    Michael Stolt Well-Known Member

    Just 66%?, that's bad. I actually have a friend that is a firm believer of the flat earth theory (he has also delved a bit into the "hollow earth theory", it's fun to debunk all his crazy theories time and again :D

    Here's a recent acquisition of mine, haven't received it yet so you will have to do with the auction houses picture, the lovely Muse of astronomy, Urania :)


    Q. Pomponius Musa. 56 BC. AR Denarius (18.5mm, 4.06 g). Rome mint.

    Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo (or Urania?) right; star of eight rays to left.

    Reverse: Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, wearing long flowing tunic and peplum, standing left, touching with wand held in right hand a globe set on base; Q • POMPONI downward to right, MVSA downward to left.

    Reference: Crawford 410/8

    Provenance: Naville Numismatics Auction 46, (27 January 2019) lot 371. Ex Varesi sale 28, (1998) lot 182.
    galba68, kaparthy, dlhill132 and 9 others like this.
  9. Alegandron

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

    Naw, I firmly believe it was a FRISBEE! Yeah, Hadrian is out walking in the park... a gal was picking up a frisbee that she dropped (her boyfriend is off-flan), and Hadrian was helping her up. Hippies those days kinda wore weird turret hats, but that fad changed... :D

    Ummm...joking of course...

    Republic Frisbee...

    RR Cornelius Lentulus 76-75 BCE AR Den Questor Pompey Genius -Globe / FRISBEE - Scepter Rudder S 323 Cr 393-1a

    And to your ORIGINAL question: yes, folks believed the Earth was round in those days. Contrary to some bozos today...
  10. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    The brilliant Greek mathematician, Eratosthenes of Cyrene, first calculated (with surprising accuracy) the circumference of the earth around 240 BC (?) or so:

    Apparently, humanity has been getting dumber since that time, as can be conclusively proved by the observation that Adam Sandler can make a living doing movies. ;-)
  11. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Cogito Ergo Sum

    I always thought that the globus cruciger was a symbol for a round earth. Claudius Ptolemy also spoke of a round earth, as did several other Greek scientists and mathematicians. Not sure why (if at all) folks considered the earth flat by the time of Cristobal Colon (Columbus), or perhaps this is just an urban legend.
  12. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Surely ORBIS TERRARVM means the inhabited world. But there is another type of globe depicted on Roman coins, showing dots and lines. This type probably means the celestial globe. Here are 2 examples:

    (1) Constantine I, Trier 303, and
    (2) Gratian, Alexandria 50(b)
  13. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    The concept of a flat earth possibly is originated from the Gospel of Matthew. In chapter 4 the 3rd temptation of Christ is depicted: "For the final temptation, the devil takes Jesus to a high place, which Matthew explicitly identifies as a very high mountain, where all the kingdoms of the world can be seen."
    This is only possible if the earth is flat!
  14. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    The word orbis in Latin can mean either circle or sphere. When written as "orbis terrarum" it is stating " the circle of all the lands or territories" , or the whole world. Aside from the meaning of orbis, the ancients certainly did believe the earth was a round sphere.
    Alegandron likes this.
  15. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    It's worth pointing out that the statistics specifically apply to America, and that I am fairly confident that the figures would be very different in practically any other country.

    As a millennial, or possibly just outside of that classification (born in 1983), and a heavy YouTube user, my experiences and those of my peers in England, are very far removed from this.
  16. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    In the survey, note the "other/not sure" category. We can hope that some millennials were simply being pedants in answering "I have always believed the earth was round," either because it is ellipsoid or because they didn't believe it when they were 3 years old. :)

    @Jochen, that celestial orb on your Constantine is remarkable! Great coin!

    Here is a more typical example:
    Screen Shot 2019-02-12 at 11.40.09 AM.jpg
  17. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

  18. lehmansterms

    lehmansterms Many view intelligence as a hideous deformity

    I'm pretty certain our prehistoric ancestors were perfectly capable of seeing that the moon was a sphere and realizing by association, so must the Earth be. Be that as it may - things that folks believed in prehistory being famously difficult to prove - the Earth has been known by the educated to be a sphere continuously, at least as long as there has been writing by which that knowledge has been preserved.
    Similarly, there has always been a certain percentage of morons who either never got the message (illiteracy being more common in some earlier days, although we've been giving those times a real run for their money recently) or for whatever delusional reasons have convinced themselves the earth is flat (read some of their "proofs" sometime if you want a real good laugh). With all the other higher-level weirdness and stupidity abroad in the land, I guess it's harmless enough of a belief to be held those not in any position to make any decisions affecting others' lives based on their "beliefs". eg: one would hope no flat-earthers have managed to become air traffic controllers, etc, although I suspect some of the TSA agents in the airports may not have gotten the news just yet.
    octavius and Marsman like this.
  19. Marsman

    Marsman Well-Known Member

    I went to Samos last summer (a beautiful island btw !) and read some articles about Pythagoras on the beach. Pythagoras was born on Samos. Pythagoras' idea was that the earth must be round cause a circle is the most harmonic geometric form. He had no further scientific proof for it. He must have been one of the firsts around that came up with this thought....

    This is my coin :)
    Providentia is pointing at a globe (earth ?) with her wand.

    Marcus Aurelius.jpg

    Marcus Aurelius, sestertius
    32 mm, 25.73 g, Rome
    Obv. M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG ARMENIACVS P M, head of Marcus Aurelius, laureate, right
    Rev. TR POT XX IMP III COS III S C, Providentia, draped, standing left, pointing wand in right hand at globe at her feet and holding vertical sceptre in left hand
    RIC III 923.


    This is a (nice) statue of Pythagoras at the harbour of Pythagorian in Samos, pointing at the sky with a triangle in his hand......
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
  20. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    The force of gravity must have agreed with Pythagoras, since it does have the last word and therefor the earth could not possibly be anything else but a sphere.
    By the way, I love your sestertius!
    Marsman likes this.
  21. Agricantus

    Agricantus Allium aflatunense

    Coming late to the party. Here’s the coin from the OP together with its elder and slightly bigger brother. I love the propaganda and the globes. Hope to get soon better pictures.

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