• sulla80

12 Olympians

Updated: Nov 2


Walters Art Gallery, Twelve Gods Relief, 1st Century BC - 1st Century AD (Public Domain Image)


The twelve Olympians were the major deities of the Greek pantheon who lived on Mt. Olympus. Here are 12 Roman Republican denarii, with the 12 Roman counterparts of these Greek Gods. I included a coin of Cn. Blasio (Crawford 296/1) as the representative of Mars, and because there is some, lingering doubt of whether it is Mars, Scipio Africanus, or a relative of Cn. Blasio depicted on the coin of Mars, I have included an alternate from 137 BC of Ti. Veturius.

Michael Crawford in Roman Republican Coins, 1974, is unambiguous in his conclusions on the coin of Blasio (Mars Above): "There are no grounds for supposing that the obverse of 1 bears a portrait of P Scipio Africanus (contra M L Vollenweider, 1958)."


Reading through both discussions of the topic in RRC and in Mary Louise Vollenweider is an interesting illustration of how these cases are made. Vollenweider offers several arguments based on portraits, dieties (signature trio of Scipio), and time periods (parallel between battle with Jugurtha and battle of Zama), that the image is based on portraits from the time of the Asian campaign, 190 BC, in which Scipio was portrayed like a Greek strategist with a helmet. Her conclusion, in 1958, is "there is no longer any doubt that the two coin series and the ring portrait reflect one and the same personality, namely Scipio Africanus." She notes that Mattingly, Robinson, and Scullard all had their doubts about Scipio, and a potential Blasio relative was another suggestion. I have not read these additional arguments.


I usually show coins in chronological order or one coin at a time. I like the look of this set in a "virtual tray" I will probably experiment with other sets. Like this post or comment to encourage more experiments along these lines.

References

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