This is not a baby! A denarius of Julia Mamaea

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Jun 19, 2021.

  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Here is a recent Severan purchase:
    Rom – Julia Mamaea, Denar, Juno.png
    Julia Mamaea, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 225–235 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG; bust of Julia Mamaea, diademed, draped, r. Rev: IVNO AVGVSTAE; Juno, draped, seated l., holding flower in r. hand and palladium in l. hand. 21mm, 2.94g. Ref: RIC IV Severus Alexander 341.

    RIC describes this reverse as "Juno holding flower and swathed infant." This type first appears on a denarius and sestertius of Lucilla (RIC III Marcus Aurelius 770, 1747), features prominently on different coins of Julia Domna and Julia Mamaea, and is finally picked up on two antoniniani of Cornelia Supera (RIC IV Aemilian 31) and Salonina (RIC V Salonina 62).

    Yet the object in Juno's left hand, though impaired by a double-strike, doesn't look like a baby, does it? RIC appears to misdescribe it. A comparison of some well-preserved examples (see this paper) reveals the supposed infant to rather be the palladium, the cult image of Pallas Athena that Aeneas brought from Troy to Rome. This effigy was believed to ensure the safety and protection of the city. Often, the palladium is associated with Vesta, since it was kept by the Vestal Virgins:

    Bildschirmfoto 2021-06-19 um 08.21.04.png
    Julia Mamaea, Roman Empire, AE sestertius, 222–235 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IVLIA MAM[AEA] AVGVSTA; bust of Julia Mamaea, diademed, draped, r. Rev: VES[T]A; Vesta, draped, standing l., holding palladium in r. hand and sceptre in l. hand. 30mm, 24.40g. Ref: RIC IV Severus Alexander 708.

    In her right hand, Juno holds a flower, an attribute usually found on coins depicting Spes (hope):
    Rom – Geta, Denar, Spei Perpetuae, Laodicea, Ric 96.png
    Geta, Roman Empire, AR denarius, 198–200 AD, “Laodicea” mint. Obv: L SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES; bust of Geta, bare-headed, draped, r. Rev: SPEI PERPETVAE; Spes, draped, advancing l., holding flower in r. hand and raising skirt with l. hand. 20mm, 3.19g. RIC IV Geta 96.

    By these two attributes, my denarius emphasizes Juno's role as a protective deity who grants safety and thus hope to the Roman Empire. For an empress who systematically undid the religious "reforms" introduced by her nephew Elagabalus in favor of a return to traditional Roman religion, this depiction as well as the focus on the palladium appear rather fitting.

    Please show your coins of Julia Mamaea or coins depicting Juno!
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  4. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    A coin with Vesta and palladium.

    Julia Mamaea. Augusta AD 225-235. Rome
    Denarius AR 20 mm., 2,26 g.
    RIC IV Severus Alexander 360
    Date Range: AD 225 - AD 235
    Obverse Legend: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG; Type: Bust of Julia Mamaea, diademed, right
    Reverse Legend: VESTA; Type: Vesta, veiled, draped, standing left, holding palladium in right hand and up-right sceptre in left hand
  5. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    A very interesting reverse type, indeed, @Orielensis. I have to disagree with the paper by F. X. Ryan about its iconography, though. He does depict examples of this coin where the baby appears to be the Palladium, but on most coins, it does not resemble a Palladium at all.

    I believe the particular die-engraver erroneously carved a Palladium on the coins illustrated in Ryan's paper. I remain of the opinion that it is intended to be a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths, just as Sulzer, Wiczay, Cohen, Mattingly, and Sear before me.

    The goddess on the reverse is explicitly labeled as Juno. Therefore, she must have Juno's attributes. The object is very unlikely to be the Palladium; the Palladium belongs almost exclusively to Vesta. On those few coins where Juno holds the Palladium, she also holds the scepter, not a flower.

    While Juno has many guises, on this coin she has the attributes of Juno Lucina, who was the protectress of women in childbirth: a flower and a baby.

    The flower recalls the circumstances by which Juno conceived Mars. Ovid relates the story that Juno, angry that her husband Jupiter had given birth to Minerva on his own, decided to do the same thing herself and become pregnant without her husband. She consulted with the goddess Flora, who touched Juno with a flower from the fields of Olenus. Juno thus conceived and gave birth to Mars.

    Coins unequivocally depicting Juno Lucina have the exact same iconography as your denarius of Julia Mamaea. Here are a denarius of Lucilla and a sestertius of Julia Domna, for example:

    Lucilla IVNONI LVCINAE seated Denarius.jpg
    Domna IVNONI LVCINAE S C Sestertius.jpg
    The Mamaea coin must therefore depict Juno Lucina as well.

    I have the denarius and sestertius versions of your coin. Pace F. X. Ryan, but there is no Palladium on these coins:

    Mamaea IVNO AVGVSTAE denarius.JPG
    Mamaea IVNO AVGVSTAE sestertius.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
  6. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Julia Mamaea (222 - 235 A.D.)
    AR Denarius
    O: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, Diademed and draped bust right.
    R:VENVS GENETRIX, Venus standing left, head left, holding scepter and apple; at feet to left, Cupid standing right with hands raised.
    RIC 355 (Severus Alexander), RSC 072
  7. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That's a good argument, and I'm nearly convinced that you are right. This thread might have to be retitled to "That's no way to hold a baby!"

    Yet looking at the coins in OCRE (see here), I'm still a bit confused. On some of them, the attribute can be read as a baby, On some it's just a stick-like object, and on others, like this British Museum example, it quite clearly appears to be the palladium:

    If that's an engraver's error, it at least appears to have been a rather frequent one.

    Edit: And on this example (from here) of the sestertius version, the "infant" looks rather like the short sceptre that Juno Lucinae according to RIC holds on RIC III Antoninus Pius 391A (picture from here below). Maybe the engravers were unequivocal about what they were supposed to depict?


    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
  8. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    I know. I almost found Ryan's article convincing, but just can't let go of the Juno Lucina notion.
    Aestimare and Orielensis like this.
  9. Alegandron

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

    Campania CAPUA
    AE Semuncia
    216-211 BCE
    Hannibal capital Italia

    Julia Mamaea
    AR Denarius
    Pietas incense altar perfume
    Seaby 48
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2021
  10. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    A very interesting discussion. Here is my Julia Mamaea Juno Augustae - I don't know what it is - neither baby nor sceptre nor Palladium really stands out on this one as a solution:
    Julia Mamaea - Den. Juno RIC 341 Jul 2017.JPG (0).jpg
    Julia Mamaea Denarius
    (222-235 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, diademed & draped bust right / IVNO AVGVSTAE, Juno seated left, holding flower and short scepter (Palladium or swaddled baby?).
    RIC 341; RSC 32; Sear 8211.
    (2.79 grams / 20 mm)

    I can see why a Palladium is suggested - my example has what could be its shield. Or it could be a short torch or a thunderbolt or a tulip or a big pair of vise-grips. ;)
    Julia Mamaea - Den. Juno RIC 341 Jul 2017.JPG (0det).jpg

    I have two of Mamaea's VESTA types and they both clearly show a Palladium - so the celators clearly knew how to engrave 'em:
    Julia Mamaea - Den. VESTA Feb 2017 (0).jpg
    Julia Mamaea - Den. Vesta RIC 360 Jul 2017 (0).jpg

    Finally, here is a Lucilla sestertius with Juno Lucina seated, rather stiffly holding an infant:
    Lucilla Sest. IVNO Apr 2019 (0).jpg
    Lucilla Æ Sestertius
    (wife of Lucius Verus)
    (164-167 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    [LVCILLA] AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust right / IVN[ONI LVCINAE] S-C,
    Juno seated left, holding flower & infant.
    RIC 1747; BMC 1154.
    (27.53 grams / 29 mm)
  11. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin @Orielensis and very interesting debate about that reverse type.

    Julia Mamaea, AE Sestertius (30mm., 20.27g.), Draped bust r., wearing stephane./ Rev. Felicitas standing l., holding caduceus and leaning on column. RIC 676.
  12. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Julia Mamaea 1.jpg
    JULIA MAMAEA AR Denarius OBVERSE: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, draped bust right
    REVERSE: IVNO CONSERVATRIX, Juno standing left, holding patera & scepter, peacock at feet left
    Struck at Rome, 222 AD
    3.3g, 20mm
    RIC 343

    Julia Mamaea 3.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, diademed and draped bust right
    REVERSE: VESTA, Vesta standing half-left, holding palladium & scepter
    Struck at Rome, 225-8 AD
    2.5g, 20mm
    RIC 360, RSC 81, BMC 381

    Julia Mamaea 2.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, diademed and draped bust right
    REVERSE: FELICITAS PVBLICA, Felicity seated left, holding caduceus and cornucopia
    Struck at Rome, 230 AD
    2.9g, 21mm
    RIC 338

    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Head of Juno Sospita wearing goat-skin headdress, acronym I. S. M. R. behind.
    REVERSE: Bull charging right, F. above, L THORIVS below, BALBVS in exergue
    Struck at Rome 105 BC
    3.92g, 19mm
    Cr 316/1, Sydenham 598, Thoria 1
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Bust of Jupiter right, SC behind
    REVERSE: L PROCILI F, Juno Sospita advancing right with sheild, spear aloft and serpent before
    Struck at Rome 80 BC
    3.7g, 19mm
    Cr379/1, Syd 771, Procilia 1
    AR Serrate Denarius
    OBVERSE: Head of Juno Sospita in goat skin, L ROSCI below, Jug to left
    REVERSE: Girl standing right feeding serpent before, Unknown control mark (?) to left, FABATI in ex.
    Rome 59 BC
    3.7g, 18mm
    Cr 412/1; Syd 915
  13. Jims Coins

    Jims Coins Supporter! Supporter

    Silver Coin (AR Denarius) minted for JULIA MAMAEA, DGM-156 OBV.jpg DGM-156 REV.jpg mother of SEVERUS ALEXANDER, between 222 - 235 A.D. Obv. IVLIA.MAMAEA.AVG.: bust dr. r. wearing diadem. Rev. VESTA.: Vesta veiled, standing half-left, holding palladium and upright sceptre. RCS #2315. RSCIII #81. RICIV #360. DVM #11/1.
  14. Jims Coins

    Jims Coins Supporter! Supporter

    Silver coin (AR Denarius) minted at Rome for JULIA DOMNA, Wife of SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS, Between 196 - 211 A.D. Obv. IVLIA.AVGVSTA.: dr. bust r. Rev. IVNO.: Juno stg. half left, holding patera sceptre; in front, peacock stg. l., head turned back. RSCIII #82. RICIV #S559. DVM #26. DAWA-205 OBV.jpg DAWA-205 REV.jpg
  15. Jims Coins

    Jims Coins Supporter! Supporter

    - Silver coin (AR Antoninianus) minted at Milan during the reign of TREBONIANUS GALLUS between 251 - 253 A.D. Obv. IMP.C.C.VIB.TREB.GALLVS.AVG.: Bust, rad., dr., cuir., r. Rev. IVNO.MARTIALIS.: Juno seated l., holding corn-ears and sceptre. (Juno Martialis was a patron goddess of Perusia. This type refers to public rituals seeking a divine remedy to the plaque.) RCS #2783. RSCIV #46. RICIV #69. DVM #15.

    ENA-283 OBV.jpg ENA-283 REV.jpg
  16. Aestimare

    Aestimare Active Member

    A few years ago:muted:, I noticed the Palladium appeared sometimes, and I quickly understand why (Wikipedia was enough to!). My truth is not necessarily the truth, but I was very happy with this idea. And I’m sure some of you will share the idea.

    @Roman Collector, think to your assertion, and think to the preceding reign… you won’t jump for joy… but… maybe...;)
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  17. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Interesting thread and lovely coins posted....
    I only have one here she is....
    Julia Mamaea. Augusta, 222-235 AD. AR Denarius (2,81 gm, 19mm). Rome mint. Struck 222 AD.
    Obverse: IVLIA MAMAEA AVG, bare headed, draped bust right.
    Reverse: IVNO CONS-E-RVATRIX, Juno standing slightly left, holding patera and scepter; to left, peacock standing left.
    RIC IV 343 (Severus Alexander); BMCRRE 43-5 (Severus Alexander); RSC 35.
  18. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    I prepared a post with Vesta coins before realizing that the thread is about Juno.

    Here is my first Juno coin, very rough but with decent details and a nice portrait


    Faustina II AD 147-175. From the Tareq Hani collection. Rome
    Denarius AR
    18 mm., 3,34 g.
    RIC III Marcus Aurelius 696 ; RSC 139a
    Date Range: AD 161 - AD 176
    Obverse Legend: FAVSTINA AVGVSTA
    Type: Bust of Faustina II, wearing circlet of pearls, hair waved and fastened in a bun on back of head, draped, right
    Reverse Legend: IVNONI REGINAE
    Type: Juno, veiled, draped, standing left, holding patera in extended right hand and sceptre in left hand; at left, peacock

    It was my first Faustina II denarius and my first coin with a clear provenance - Tareq Hani. Does anybody know who is Tareq Hani, as I saw quite a lot of coins in auctions listed as "from the Tareq Hani collection" but I wasn't able to get more details?
  19. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I see the silver and bronzes as inconclusive. Gold anyone?

    This fourree does nothing to answer the matter but the item in her left arm hardly seems like a baby.
  20. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

  21. Aestimare

    Aestimare Active Member

    Wikipedia, about Elagabalus :
    “The most sacred relics from the Roman religion were transferred from their respective shrines to the Elagabalium, including the emblem of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the Shields of the Salii, and the Palladium, so that no other god could be worshipped except in association with Elagabal.”
    Juno and the Palladium in the same soon syncretic temple (admittedly in favour of Elagabalus, but what an easy way for other divinities syncretisms -I’m happy not to have to pronounce this word !-).

    I think both types do exist : with infant or with Palladium.
    We are in the presence of a new religious syncretism.

    Spes – flower – Juno
    Lucilla ... on denarii and sestertii,
    Julia Domna ... on sestertii, dupondii and asses under Septimius Severus, and sestertii under Caracalla,
    Julia Mamaea ... on denarii, sestertii and asses, and laterly,
    Cornelia Supera ... on antoniniani,
    Salonina ... on Milano antoniniani, displayed Juno with Spes’ flower. Spes presided over the changes, births and marriages for ex., and Juno protected women, marriages too, and presided over fertility. No surprises then, if a syncretism assembled them. What are the intentions of the responsible of this association ? …

    Palladium – Juno
    But the Palladium is a new attribute for Juno, maybe expressing the same meaning, then accentuating it. Julia Soaemias (on undated coins, approximately 218-220) initiated it :
    This statue, (built by Athena, after she incidentally killed Pallas, her companion in play), symbol of a city protection, Troy first (the way it arrived here varies), then Rome, the flower and Juno clearly indicate that Rome destinies fall under women’s aptitude, giving birth to emperors/city rulers. The syrian empresses are well known to be deeply invested in political life1 and even ambitious. I believe this iconography, more than a recognition’s desire testimony, reflects a political aspiration. Maesa was maybe partly responsive of Elagabalus and Soaemias’ murders. Mamaea after Obiana’s repudiation, was alone to rule with her son in 227 when he was just nearly 19 years old.
    Soaemias and Mamaea’s Palladium reverses reveal their clear own promotion.

    If one of the two Mamaea’s Palladium/infant different types precedes or succeeds the other, a political change is implied. If they’re concomitant, they’re, according to me, of less interest.

    I believe Faustina II coins with FORTVNAE MVLIEBRI revealed a comparable message.

    Personal statistics (sestertii) :
    Palladium : circa 15%
    Infant : circa 85 %

    1/ Babelon, Jean, Impératrices syriennes, Paris, 1957. (15% are clear)
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