The Roman Genius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Some recent CoinTalk threads on Diocletian era folles stirred me to take a closer look at the most common reverse type seen on these coins, Genius as a youth standing naked except for a chlamys around his shoulders, holding a patera (sacrificial dish) in one hand and a cornucopia in the other. He is also wearing a modius style headdress ( the modius is an official container of cylindrical shape used for measuring grain). The picture below is a marble head of Genius of the Army wearing a modius, circa 2nd century CE, found in Vindobona, Austria. A Roman military encampment of Marcus Aurelius was in that area.
    -Vindobona_Genius of Army, 2nd Cen. CE.jpg
    So who is Genius? Genius in Latin means "begetter", and he was an attendant spirit of a person, place, or thing associated with men. Women have a counterpart, Juno. Sacred places like volcanoes, mountains, and lakes also had a Genius. He is most often seen as Genius of the Roman people (GENIO POPVLI ROMANI), like the coin below.

    Maximian, Ticinum, 294-295 CE.jpg
    Maximian, circa AD 294-295, Ticinum Mint, Billon follis: 10.53 gm, 27 mm. This is an early issue follis from Diocletian's currency reform of AD 294.

    There are many slight variations of Genius depicted on coins along with different inscriptions, as the coins below illustrate

    Maximinus II, Cyzicus Mint, 9.54 gm..jpg
    Maniminus II as Caesar, AD 305-308, Cyzicus Mint, Officina 3, Billon follis: 9.54 gm, 28 mm. Genius on this coin is emptying the contents of his patera on the ground. The reverse inscription on this coin is different (GENIO AVGG ET CAESARVM NN), translates "Genius of the two Augusti and two Caesars".

    Diocletian, AD 301-303, Lugdunum Mint, Officina 1, Billon follis: 10.15 gm, 28 mm. This coin depicts Genius sacrificing over a fire altar.

    Sear 12346, obv..jpg Sear 12346, rev..jpg
    The inscription on this coin translates "Genius of the Army".

    Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume 4, by David R. Sear
    The 4 coins pictured are from my collection.

    If any CT members have different versions of Genius, especially older coins or coins with different inscriptions, please feel free to post them :). AK
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  3. AdamsCollection

    AdamsCollection Well-Known Member

    Nice write up! Unfortunately I do not have a coin to share, but interesting coins! Maybe I will have to get one!
  4. Alegandron

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


    RR Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus, moneyer. AR Denarius minted in Spain, 76-75 BC. Diademed, draped, bearded bust right of the Genius of the Roman People, scepter over right shoulder. Reverse : Globe between wreathed scepter and rudder. Sear 323; Cornelia 54; Craw. 393/1a.

    RI Hadrian, AD 117-138 Æ Limes Denarius 18mm 3.5mm after AD 125 Genius stndg sacrificing altar cornucopia RIC II 173
    Ex: @John Anthony

    RI Maximinus II Daia 305-308 CE Folles AE30 Trier mint GENIO POPV-LI Genius-Serapis

    RI MARCUS AURELIUS AR Den as Caesar TR POT VI COS II - Genius stg at altar hldg standard

    RI Maximinus II Daia 305-308 CE AE20 GENIO POPVLI Genius stndg bust of Sol cornu star H RIC IV 164b
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  5. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..very interesting & informative write up & coin(s). that head piece is a telltale signature..:)..seems like i have one with him on it..i'll have to lQQk:watching:
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  6. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Apart from the abundant Genius issues of the tetrarchy, this interesting type comes to mind. Here is the Genius of the Illyrian legions with the characteristic modius as well as patera, cornucopia, and a military standard:

    Rom – Trajan Decius, Antoninia, Genius des illyrischen Heers.png
    Trajan Decius, Roman Empire, antoninian, 249–251 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG; bust of Trajan Decius, radiate, draped and cuirassed, r. Obv: GENIUS EXERC ILLVRICIANI; Genius of the Illyrian army standing l., holding patera and cornucopia, modius on head, standard to r. 23mm, 4.67g. Ref: RIC IV Trajan Decius 16.
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  7. Alegandron

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

    i understand the headpiece is a modus, or a measuring tool / vessel for grain.
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  8. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    @Alegandron is really rockin' this Genius motif (i.e. Genius of the army, draped w/ patera and cornucopia). The only earlier one I know of is Trajan (on a denarius). Does anybody have one?

    Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 3.45.12 PM.jpg

    Al, I really like your 1st issue Ticinum. :)
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  9. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

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  10. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ah, have again educated me ole' friend, thanks! :)
  11. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Alegandron, Thanks for posting a nice selection, especially the early examples :D. I like them all ;). The denarius of Marcus Aurelius is a handsome coin & the large follis is a real gem :woot:!
    Alegandron likes this.
  12. Alegandron

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

    Thank you for the kind words.
  13. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Orielensis, That coin is a beauty :jawdrop: & I'm sure a rare issue.
  14. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    S.A., I felt lucky to get my hands on that Ticinum issue 12 years ago :smuggrin:. I like your long necked London issue of Constantius I :). It seems the warrior generals made good use of the Genius design. I'd like to see a Genius issue from Trajan & Septimius Severus too.
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  15. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Spaniard, That's a stunning follis :jawdrop:! The Filius Augustorum title makes this a scarce coin & the GENIO IMPERATORIS inscription is unusual too. The beautiful patina highlights all the details.
  16. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Here is one I should have posted in the original thread. Genius in this issue is wearing the crown of Tyche instead of the usual modius. Also worthy of note, instead of wearing the chlamys over his shoulders Genius is using it to modestly cover his genitals :smuggrin:. This is very unusual for a follis of this period. I noticed the follis posted by Alegandron, Genius is also covering his genitals with the chlamys. Could this be a trait peculiar just with the Trier Mint o_O?

    Constantine I, 27 mm, 9.50 gm, AD 306-7, RARE.jpg
    Constantine I as Caesar, AD 306-7, Trier Mint, Billon follis: 9.50 gm, 27 mm.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  17. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Interesting topic and some great coins. Here is a scruffy pair from Antoninus Pius - Genius of the Roman People and Genius of the Senate. Interesting he is bare headed in both of these - an effort to stay symbolically / politically humble?

    Antoninus Pius - GENIVS ROM POP Nov 018 (0).jpg
    Antoninus Pius Denarius
    (140-143 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P COS III, bare head right / GENIVS POP ROMANI, Genius of the Roman people standing front, holding scepter and cornucopiae.
    RIC 70a.
    (2.90 grams / 17 mm)

    Antoninus Pius - GEN SENATVS Mar 19 (0).jpg

    Antoninus Pius Denarius
    (c. 140-143 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP TR P COS III, bare head right / GENIO SENATVS, Genius of the Senate standing left, holding branch and rod.
    RIC 61a; RSC 398.
    (2.68 grams / 18 mm)
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  18. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    M. Mike, Two great additions ;)! Thanks for posting.
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  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    When a legend ends NN it abbreviates nostrorum, genitive plural of 'our' so your translation would be better if you replaced the 'the' with 'our'.
    Septimius Severus GENIVS PR (people of Rome)

    Clodius Albinus as Augustus GEN LVG COSII Lugdunum - This one is hard to read due to the severe reverse die clash damage.
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  20. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    dougsmit, Thanks for the Latin brush-up, & two excellent additions :D.
  21. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Hugh Cloke has a paper on the "loins draped" variety. Apparently it is derived from issues of Carausius and Allectus, and first appeared on tetrarchal folles occasionally in London - though it's very rare on the big early ones. From there it made the transition to Lugdunum and Trier, as on your example, and became quite common after that. I believe yours is the transitional issue at Trier.

    Besides the draped loins, these also feature military boots.

    I picked up this early Max London follis in a group lot and was excited because it had the LON mintmark. When I showed Hugh (he's doing a die study) he was excited because it has draped loins and military boots. I had no idea! But it is unique as far as he knows and will get a new number in Cloke & Toone - among the earliest London folles before the engravers had settled on the details.

    max lon follis.jpg
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