Featured The Catanian Brothers

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Oct 5, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    Once again a typical Roman legend: The story of the pious brothers of Catania. And an introduction into the meaning of Roman pietas.

    The coin:
    AR - Denarius, 3.91g, 19.22mm, 0°
    Rome, ca. 108-107 B.C.
    Obv.: Head of Pietas, diademed and with necklace, n.r.
    under the chin .X (control mark)
    behind PIETAS (AT ligated)
    Rev.: One of the Catanian brothers (Anapias or Amphinomus), naked, walking r., wearing his father on his shoulders; he, in himation, has raised his right hand and looks back.
    in ex. M.HERENNI (HE ligated)
    Ref.: Crawford 308/1a; Sydenham 567; Herennia 1; RCTV 185
    About EF
    The Herennia were an Oscan family. Herennius is the Latinized form of the Oscan first name heirens. For example, the Samnite commander who defeated the Roman army at Caudium in 321 BC was called Heirens. In 121 B.C. the Haruspex Herennius Siculus was imprisoned for his friendship with Gaius Sempronius Gracchus and took his own life there. It is possible that the Pietas depicted on the coin of Marcus Herennius alludes to him.

    This coin shows the iconography of the famous myth of the Sicilian brothers (later called Amphinomus and Anapias in sources). In its oldest version, written by the Greek rhetor Lycurgos (In Leocr. 95 s.), no names are mentioned yet, and moreover it is here only one pious hero, a fact that does not coincide with the classification of the 'eusebon choros = place of the pious (Plural)', under which name the place where these events took place later became known. The same event was also the inspiration for the digression at the end of the pseudo-vergil poem 'Aetna'. Lycurgos tells the story this way: "It is said that in Sicily, once during an eruption of Etna, a stream of fire broke out which flowed through the area and especially towards a nearby town. Everyone tried to flee to save himself, but a young man who saw that his old father could not flee alone from the lava flow that had almost reached him, lifted the old man on his shoulders and carried him away. Depressed by his load, I believe, the lava flow will have swallowed him up as well. Here, however, one can observe the benevolence of the gods towards virtuous people: The story tells that the fire surrounded the whole area and that only they were saved by all. As a result this place was called 'seat of the devout', a name that has been preserved until now. But the others, who in their haste had forgotten to flee their parents, all died an agonizing death."

    Pausanias X, 28, 4 says:

    For the ancients held their parents in the highest honour, as one can also gather in Katane from the so-called "pious", who, when the fire flowed from Aitna to Katane, paid no attention to gold and silver for nothing, but fled, one carrying his mother, the other his father. Since they had difficulty moving forward, they reached the fire with its flames, and since they had not yet set their parents down, the river was said to have split into two parts, and the fire flowed past the young men themselves and with them past their parents, without harming them. Now they are still worshipped by the Katanians.

    The Kleine Pauly writes:
    Amphinomos and Anapias, a pious pair of brothers from Katane(?), who carried their parents out of the flames when Etna erupted and were miraculously rescued. The place where also stone pictures of the young men stood was called Eusebon choros. The story is often mentioned in ancient literature, where the names change, e.g. Paus. 10, 28, 4, first Lykurg. Leokr. 95, who speaks only of one young man who saves his father. Hygin., Stob. and Solin. give them different names. The place near Katane, where their statues stood, was called 'place of the pious', and another late inscription calls Katana 'the famous city of the pious' because of them. Her statues appear on gems and even on Roman coins as symbols of the Roman pietas.

    By Pietas the Romans did not simply understand piety, but the dutiful behavior against God and humans. As iustitia adversos deos replaceable by the almost synonymous religio, pietas especially described the human realm: the attitude of fulfilling one's duty against relatives, deceased as well as living, especially one's parents; also against the fatherland. In its family-social sense, which of course can hardly be separated from the religious sense, pietas was personified and, like Fides, Virtus and other divine values, which are necessary in order to maintain the social order, were cultically elevated, as in the temple in foro holitorio consecrated to it in 180 B.C., in whose place the history of Cimon is said to have taken place. Valerius Maximus tells that the philosopher Cimon had been condemned to death by starvation. Only his daughter Pero was allowed to visit him. When his death did not occur, however, it came out that she had fed him with her breast milk. The judges were touched by this mercy of the daughter, who out of love had even crossed taboos to pardon him. This example of Caritas Romana also became a symbol of Christian charity and often appears as a motif in paintings in the 15th century and later.

    The close relationship of the family to the state made the pietas one of the great Roman virtues and thus politically significant: "Pius" as cognomen and coins with the pietas - also with the stork (which nourishes its parents in old age) as a symbol - can already be found in republican times. Especially, however, the programmatic use evoking all sides of the ancient Roman pietas (embodied in "pius Aeneas" Vergils) by Augustus and, proceeding from this, the "Pietas Augusta" was celebrated as the imperial virtue.

    I have added 2 pictures:

    (1) A picture of the fresco of Rosso Fiorentino (c. 1495-1540), The Catanian Twins, Anapias and Amphinomos, at the Sacrificial Altar, 1535. It is located in Fontainebleau, France

    (2) A Picture of Peter Paul Rubens' painting Cimon and Pero, c. 1612, today in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg, Russia.
    Cimon und Pero_Rubens.jpg


    (1) Pausanias, Travels through Greece, Book X
    (2) Valerius Maximus, Factorum et dictorum memorabilium V, 4
    (3) Kleiner Pauly
    (4) CNG
    (5) Numiswiki

    Best regards
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2019
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Enjoyed your post @Jochen1. Nice coin as well.
  4. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    Another interesting post and nice coin, @Jochen1. I've always like this type.

    M Herennius 308-1a Peus 2017.jpg
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  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    M Herennius.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: PIETAS, diademed head of Pietas right
    REVERSE: M•HERENNI, Amphinomus carrying his father right, control letter in right field (Dot over sideways D)
    Struck at Rome 108-109 BC
    3.8g, 18mm
    Cr308/1b; Syd 567a
    galba68, Sulla80, Alegandron and 7 others like this.
  6. Jwt708

    Jwt708 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting!
  7. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    The 2nd known example of an unpublished variety without control letter on either side. Can't say more right now; I have a brief write-up in Koinon II and I don't want to spoil the suspense! Heh.

    Phil Davis

  8. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Denarius of Sextus Pompey 42-40 B.C.. Obv head of Pompey the Great right. rv. Neptune stg left flanked by the Catanean brothers Cr. 511/3a CRI 334 3.89 grms 18 mm 511-c.jpg
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  9. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

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  10. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Whenever I see the reverse of this coin I think of an American Indian doing a war dance. Great example @Terence Cheesman
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  11. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

  12. arnoldoe

    arnoldoe Well-Known Member

    Nice, i have one..
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  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    @Jochen, an enjoyable post, thank you. Here are my two of this type - with Phil's post it seems I am missing a third variant ;)
    M Herenni 308-1a Blu.jpg
    M. Herennius, 108-107 BC. AR Denarius, Rome mint
    Obv: Diademed head of Pietas right; K below chin
    Rev: Amphinomus carrying his father right
    Ref: Crawford 308/1a; Sydenham 567; Herennia 1
    M Herenni 308-1b Blu.jpg
    M. Herennius, 108-107 BC. AR Denarius, Rome mint
    Obv: Diademed head of Pietas right
    Rev: Amphinomus running right, carrying his father on his shoulder; M• to right
    Ref: Crawford 308/1b; Sydenham 567a; Herennia 1a
    Carthago, Johndakerftw and Volodya like this.
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