Featured The Four Seasons

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Roman Collector, May 16, 2020.

  1. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    No, I'm not talking about these guys ...

    ...nor this piece, though it's very nice to listen to while you admire the coins in your collection:

    I'm talking about these little guys on the reverse of this denarius of Julia Domna in my collection:

    Domna FECVNDITAS four seasons denarius.jpg
    Julia Domna, AD 193-217.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.24 gm, 19.8 mm, 1 h.
    Rome mint, AD 207.
    Obv: IVLIA AVGVSTA, bare-headed and draped bust, right.
    Rev: FECVNDITAS, Terra reclining l. under tree, left arm on basket of fruits, right hand set on globe, spangled with stars; in background, four children advancing right, representing the four seasons.
    Refs: RIC 549; BMCRE 21; Cohen/RSC 35; RCV 6579; CRE 389.
    Notes: Ex-FORVM Ancient Coins, item SH08039, Feb. 7, 2004.

    J. C. Rasche,[1] undoubtedly because of the FECVNDITAS legend, considered the reverse type as depicting Julia Domna, her sons Caracalla and Geta, and two unnamed daughters as the four seasons. However satisfying such an interpretation might be, there is no evidence that Julia Domna bore any children apart from her two sons. Rather, an interpretation of the scene as depicting a more general fruitfulness and stability seems to be in order.

    This coin was not the first to depict this scene. Rather, it appears on a bronze medallion, c. A.D. 187, of Commodus, bearing the reverse legend TELLVS STABIL in its exergue.

    Commodus, AD 177-192. Æ Medallion (53.16 g, 12h). Rome mint, AD 186-187. Gnecchi 127 = Cohen 715; MIR 18, 1123-1/37; Banti 389; cf. Grueber 110; cf. Froehner p. 130. CNG Nomos AG, 82, lot 806170.

    CNG, in their notes about this rare medallion,[2] interprets the reverse as follows:

    Deriving, in part, from Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue, the image on this medallion can also find its inspiration in the so-called "Tellus Panel" of the Ara Pacis of Augustus, wherein the figure of Tellus is seated within an arbor of vines, holding two infants. She is thus the symbol of fecundity produced by a long period of peace. The inclusion of the two additional infants, as well as the star-studded globe, complete the allegory. The children represent each of the four seasons, and thus indicate a year or succession of years in which prosperity will continue to flourish.​

    Tellus Panel.jpg
    The Tellus Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 11 August 2011.[3]

    Because the reverse depicts Tellus (Mother Earth) as "stabilized," and akin to the scene on the Ara Pacis, this image can perhaps be viewed as sending the much-needed message that foreign affairs are in the emperor's allegedly capable hands.

    Other coins depict the four seasons as active boys, as symbol of happy times -- FELICIA TEMPORA -- Spring with basket of flowers on his head, Summer with a sickle, Fall with rabbit or kid by the forelegs and plate of fruit, and Winter in hood with a hare or a capon and bird on a stick.

    Caracalla 153 ANS.jpg
    Caracalla AD 198-217. Roman AR Denarius 2.88 g, 19.5 mm. Rome, AD 206 - AD 210. ANS 1944.100.51405.

    We even see echos of Roman coinage on this Renaissance Four-Seasons genre-scene, a copperplate engraving by Virgil Solis produced in 1530-1562, "Die 4 Zeit ds Jars."

    Die 4 Zeit des Jars.jpg
    The British Museum, 1874,0711.1885.

    The four seasons have thus served for centuries as an allegory for fertility (FECVNDITAS), stability on earth (TELLVS STABIL) and happy times (FELICIA TEMPORA), and appropriately so. Whatever happens in the course of human history, the seasons remain unchanged, winter turning to spring, spring to summer, summer to autumn, and autumn to winter, forever and ever, bringing with them fruitfulness and happy times.

    The iconography of these coins reminds me of the words of the Kohelet, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." (Eccl. 3:1-8).

    And this song by The Byrds, of course ...

    Post comments, related coins, or anything you feel is relevant!


    1. Rasche, J. C. Lexicon universae rei nummariae veterum et praecipuie Gracorum et Romanorum. Lipsiae, Gleditsch, 1785 - 1805, T. ii pl l p 932.

    2. "Nomos AG, 82." Classical Numismatic Group, LLC, www.cngcoins.com/Coin.aspx?CoinID=117842.

    3. "The East and West Panels of the Ara Pacis Augustae in Rome. Steve's Genealogy Blog, 12 Jan. 2012, https://stephendanko.com/blog/15105.
    Last edited: May 16, 2020
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  3. furryfrog02

    furryfrog02 Well-Known Member

    I have no coins with the Four Seasons represented but I was always partial to these prints that were created by Alphonse Mucha
    Mucha 4 Seaons.jpg
  4. Inspector43

    Inspector43 72 Year Collector

    Very interesting. Thanks.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Great writeup and coin! The Caracalla type is on my want list. I think you've seen my bronze of the Domna before.

    Julia Domna - AE As ex GG Coll Fecunditas 678.jpg JULIA DOMNA
    AE As. 10.16g, 26.1mm. Rome mint, AD 196-211. RIC 881 (scarce); Cohen 121; BMC 789. O: IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right. R: MATER CASTRORVM, Julia, diademed and veiled, standing front, head to left, sacrificing out of patera over altar with her right hand and holding long caduceus with her left; before her, three standards; S C in exergue.
    Ex G.G. Collection; reportedly ex Robert Friedinger-Pranter Collection, and privately acquired by him from Oberstleutnant Otto Voetter on 29 January 1913 for 6 crowns.

    And the second time this week something by Mucha has been posted, though the two pieces couldn't be more different. Love that print!
  6. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Bought these 2 , winter & spring on an auction a long time ago.
    Cant decipher the autographs, they are hanging on the wall in our living room.

    P1240567 (2).JPG
  7. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Very nice coin @Roman Collector - I have never seen a "four seasons" coin. Sure would like to pick one up. Thanks for the write-up as well.
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  8. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    Very interesting, thanks. That Commodus medallion is stunning too.
    Roman Collector likes this.
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I should hope so, for $75,000!!!
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  10. Ryro

    Ryro You'll never be lovelier than you are now... Supporter

    Wish I haff something to add... great write up and cool coins!
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  11. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..dont feel too lonely... i ain't got one either...(yet)..
    Ryro and Roman Collector like this.
  12. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic

    Lovely coin and great write-up!
    Roman Collector likes this.
  13. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    That's medallions for you. There's a wonderful Hadrian medallion on VCoins at the minute, only £20,000 or so...
    Roman Collector likes this.
  14. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    A lovely coin @Roman Collector!

    Ironic that coins of Caracalla also show the four seasons. I bet the people of Alexandria would think differently!
    Roman Collector likes this.
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