Venus Cloacina

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Jochen1, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    cloacina-draw.jpg
    Dear Friends of ancient mythology!

    For a long time I have wondered how Venus, goddess of love and beauty, could have this cognomen, which have a special smell. Here I will try an explanation. But first the coin:

    The Coin:
    Roman Republic, L. Mussidius Longus, gens Mussidia
    AR - denarius, 3.73g, 17.5mm
    Rome, 42 BC
    Obv.:Bust of Concordia, veiled and diademed, r.
    behind CONCORDIA
    Rv.:Round platform with balustrade and inscription CLOACIN, on which two female
    figures are standing (probably Cloacina and Venus), resting with l. hand on
    cippus. Left figure holding branch (probably myrtle) in raised r. hand; a small
    stairway on the left side with porticus.
    above L.MVSSIDIVS.LONGVS
    Ref.: Crawford 494/42a; Sydenham 1093; Mussidia 6b; BMCR 4242
    nice VF, bankers mark on obv.
    mussidius_Crawford494.42a.jpg
    The rev. shows the shrine of Venus Cloacina whose fundaments could be seen today on the Forum Romanum in Rome at the South side of the Bsilica Aemilia. This sanctuary is one of the oldest on the Forum. It is so old that even the Romans didn't understand its real meaning and invented myths to explain it. Cloacina probably is derived from the ancient Latin word 'cluere', meaning 'to purify'.

    Mythology:
    After the rape of the Sabin women - look at the article in this series - a war broke out between the Romans and the Sabins. The raped women bravely went between their fathers and their new husbands andso stopped the slaughter. A reconciliation should have been occured at this very place with an expiation and purification (cluere!) ritual, as Plinius reports in his Roman history (NH X, 119-120). There Myrtles had played an important role. It is said that they were found here and they were used for purification because they should have great purification power. Furthermore they were sacred to Venus, the ancestress of the Romans.

    Then at this place Vergina or Virginia, the beautiful daughter of Lucius Virgineus, a plebeian centurio, was killed by him to avoid the shame to become the slave of the tyrannic decemvir Appius Claudius Crassus. Appius Claudius was fallen in love to her and claimed that she was the daughter of a slave who had escaped from him. Due to the rigorous Laws of the Twelve Tables then she too was his property. This murder led to the abolishment of the decemviri (449 BC) and Lucius Virgineus became the first elected tribune. This story probably based on the myth of Lucretia who was raped by the son of king Tarquinius Superbus and because of that commited suicided. This event was the end of the Etruscian kings in Rome and the begin of the Roman Republic.

    Background:
    The sanctuary of Venus Cloacina marks the place where the Cloaca Maxima reaches the Forum and takes the river Velabro. This river was the frontier between the region of the Romans and the Sabins where now the adversary parties have made peace. The sanctuary - known by its depiction on these coins - was not roofed but made by a round embracing wall and two cult statues. Originally it was probably the shrine of Cloacina (Liv. III. 48). The origin of her cult and the erection of her sanctuary probably belongs to the the first period of the history of the Cloaca Maxima, either of the time of its construction or of the time of an important renovation even though the tradition ascribed it to Titus Tatius (Lact. Inst. I. 20.11). In the course of time Cloacina was identified with Venus and called Venus Cloacina. In doing so the fact could have played a role that the myrtles were sacred to Venus. So this myth, the reconciliation of the Romans and the Sabins, could be the attempt to explain these unknown connection.

    Before the Forum Roman became the center of the Roman Empire it was an unsane marsh, full of Malaria mosquitos, only crossed by cattle trails. It could not be populated before it was drained and dewatered by the Cloaca Maxima. The Lacus Curtius reminds on its watery past. The originally open sewer was built by Etruscians the great taskmaster of the Romans. Because of that Cloacina probably was an Etruscian goddess and the Romans - as so often - have absorbed her. So it is explicable that she too is responsible for the wedding bed. The Cloaca Maxima was a great revolutionary invention. It first made Rome habitably. It is not overstated to say 'Rome, that is the Cloaca Maxima'! And to have a goddess for it is well understandable!

    The relicts of the shrine were found AD 1899-1901 in front of the Basilica Aemilia. It consists of a round marble base with a diameter of 2.40m, resting on a slab of Travertine and eight courses of various kinds of stone. The character of these courses shows that the foundation was gradually raised as the basilica encroached upon it. The shrine shows two female deities. The left one seems to raise a myrtle branch. This then would be a symbol of purification and of the wedding ritual of passage. The right one seems to be armored and then would be the guardian of the enclosure.

    I have added two pictures:
    (1) The first shows a model of the shrine of Cloacina,
    cloacina-draw.jpg
    (2) the other shows the fundament of the shrine how you can see it today on the Forum Romanum.
    sacrum Cloacinum.jpg

    At the end I would like to recommend the following link to everyone interested in Roman history: http://home.surewest.net/fifi/index50.html Here you can find a nice 3D view of the Forum and naturally the shrine of Cloacina!

    Sources:
    (1) Wikipedia
    (2) Willian Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (online)
    http://www.vroma.org/~jruebel/cloacina.html

    Best regards
     
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  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    For additional information on the importance of Rome's Great Sewer and Venus Cloacina:

    https://www.cointalk.com/threads/ancients-a-deity-worthy-of-respect.251682/

    [​IMG]
    Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome. L. Mussidius Longus, 42 BC. AR denarius, Rome mint. Radiate and draped bust of Sol facing slightly right / Shrine of Venus Cloacina: Circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOAC and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, flight of steps and portico on left; L • MVSSIDIVS • LONGVS around above. Crawford 494/43b; CRI 189a; Sydenham 1094a; Kestner 3758-9 var. (CLOACIN); BMCRR Rome 4252-4; Mussidia 7a. Acquired from a dealer at the 2014 ANA World's Fair of Money, Chicago.

    [​IMG]

    Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome. L. Mussidius Longus. 42 BC. AR denarius, Rome mint. Diademed and veiled head of Concordia right; CONCORDIA upwards behind / Shrine of Venus Cloacina: Circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOACIN and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, flight of steps and portico on left; L • MVSSIDIVS • LONGVS around above. Crawford 494/42a; CRI 188; Sydenham 1093; Kestner 3753-4; BMCRR Rome 4242-3; Mussidia 6b. Acquired from a dealer at the 2014 ANA World's Fair of Money, Chicago.

    [​IMG]

    Moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome
    L. Mussidius Longus, 42 BCE

    AR denarius, Rome mint.
    Obv: Diademed and veiled head of Concordia right; CONCORDIA upwards behind; star in right field below chin
    Rev: Shrine of Venus Cloacina: Circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOACIN and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, flight of steps and portico on left; L • MVSSIDIVS • LONGVS around above.
    Ref: Crawford 494/42b; Bab. 6; BMC 4244; Crawf. 494/42 b; Syd. 1093 a
     
  4. Ryro

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

    Another wonderfully written write up and great coin!
    As always, stunning additions to the thread @TIF!
    My fouree appears to have been fished out of the cloacina:
    0C8F1857-0D8E-4CE5-8BDF-EFB58F98EE23.png
    L. Mussidius Longus
    42 BC. RomeFoureé Denarius AR16mm., 3,02g.
    Radiate and draped bust of Sol facing slightly right / The shrine of Venus Cloacina; a low circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOAC and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, with flight of steps and portico on left; L•MVSSIDIVS•LONGVS around above.
    nearly very fine
    Crawford 494/43b. Former Savoca
     
  5. Alegandron

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

    Nice coin and write up about Potty Central, @Jochen1 .

    I could not access the link of the view of the Forum.

    Here is mine

    [​IMG]
    RR Mussidius Longus 42 BCE AR Den Rad Sol Platform CLOACIN S 494 Cr494-42
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  6. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    From a purely curiosity standpoint, it would be interesting to know just how bad the Roman sewer did smell. They were running a lot of water from the aqueducts through the system and did not have a lot of foul smelling factory waste as found in later times. I imagine they realized the the Purifier was what made it possible to have that many people in a confined space. Of course there is the matter of different standards. Today, those from the rural parts of the US (except those near hog farms, etc.) breathe different spelling air than those in the big cities. In the other direction the rather few wilderness residents could not find many good smelling places in the Eastern half of the US. I imagine Rome smelled worse than most places in the empire but I have no idea how that compared to what we have today.

    I do not have the other obverse.
    r28070fd2409.jpg
     
  7. Orielensis

    Orielensis Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up and coins, @Jochen1! There is some tranquility in pondering that in 42 BC, in the midst of a merciless civil war and facing the downfall of the Republic, some Romans apparently considered it worthwhile to celebrate the merits of proper fecal sludge management on their coins.

    Here is my sewer goddess:
    Römische Republik – Denar, Mussius Longus, Concordia und Venus Cloacina.png
    Roman Republic, moneyer: L. Mussidius Longus, AR denarius, 42 BC, Rome mint. Obv: Head of Concordia r., wearing veil; behind, CONCORDIA upwards. Rev: Shrine of Venus Cloacina with two statues, inscribed CLOACIN; above, L M[VSSID]IVS LONGVS. 17.5mm, 3.68g. Ref: RRC 494/42a.
     
  8. Jochen1

    Jochen1 Well-Known Member

    Sorry, the link seems to be dead. I should have tested him again first.

    Jochen
     
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  9. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    I'm not sure which exact 3D rendering your dead link went to but perhaps it was similar to something below.

    Here's a screen shot of a video of one such product, with the shrine of Venus Cloacina visible at the bottom right:

    RomeRebornScreenshot-Cloacina.jpg
    The video is from the Rome Reborn project and they have 3D virtual tour products. They charge for those products and I didn't pay $20 to download the app.

    In the writeup I linked in the second post of this thread there is a link to a recent satellite view of the area, with a red pin marking the Sacrum Cloacina ruins.

    Here's another interactive modern image, a 360 degree view of the Forum. You can see remains of the Sacrum Cloacina if you know where to look. It's in the distance, close to the fence.
     
  10. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    Great info & great coins all. :)
    I've got one at home but never got around to taking a good photo or making an accurate label. I placed it on my map of Rome & never got back to it..... Now you're forcing me to revisit the coin & share here. (I admit that I have not given the coin as much love as it truly deserves). Your examples are much nicer but I'll add a photo tonight.:)
     
  11. Collect89

    Collect89 Coin Collector

    Here are the fresh photos.
    232CBD76-4E07-44D7-B648-E332EAEEDCA1.jpeg
    17605184-840A-48E9-A64B-B20F766CE901.jpeg
    Now giving this coin the love it deserves.
    The seller’s tag is attached if you would like to read it.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  12. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    L Mussidius Longus Sol 494-43a NAC 2016.jpg

    L. Mussidius Longus. Denarius 42, AR (3.64, 18.4g, 3h). Radiate and draped bust of Sol facing three-quarters r. Rev. L·MVSSIDIVS· LONGVS Shrine of Venus Cloacina, the platform inscribed CLOACIN. Babelon Mussidia 7. Sydenham 1094. Sear Imperators 189. RBW 1747. Crawford 494/43a.

    Provenance:

    Adolph Hess Nach Sale 211, Percy H. Webb Esq Collection, May 9, 1932 Lot 1809 (est 30 Marks)


    L Mussidius Longus 494-42c Kuenker 2017.jpg

    L. Mussidius Longus. 42 BC. Rome. AR Denarius (3.88g, 17.3mm, 10h). Rome mint. Diademed and veiled head of Concordia right; crescent below chin; CONCORDIA upward behind / Shrine of Venus Cloacina: Circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOACIN and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, flight of steps and portico on left; L • MVSSIDIVS • LONGVS around above. Crawford 494/42c; CRI 188b; Sydenham 1093b; Mussidia 6; Kestner 3756-7; BMCRR Rome 4246-7; RBW 1746.

    Provenance:

    Sternberg Auction XI November 20-21, 1981 Lot 536. Sold to Gitbud

    Soethby's Important Greek Roman & English Coins from the Collection of Westminster School, London May 26-27, 1976 Lot 207.
     
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  13. Bernard Frischer

    Bernard Frischer New Member

    Hi, everyone,
    Rome Reborn offers a FREE trial version of the Roman Forum application, which runs on PCs (Mac, Windows 10) and VR headsets (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive). It includes a stop in the middle of the Forum plaza from which point you can get a good look at Venus Cloacina and many other features in and around the Forum.

    Here is the link for the download:

    https://romereborn.org/content/survey-free-trial-version


     
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