Type vs Specimen

I’ve stared at this particular specimen of this particular type so much that when I came across an image of a different specimen in a book this morning part of me wanted to say oh that’s not the right image.  This can happen with famous or just easily accessible specimens of types.  The historian or student can start to think the one illustrative example IS the type.  This leads to some unfortunate readings.

Silver coin.

Some of my favorite Roman historians have used the above image to argue that the Italic Bull is raping the Roman Wolf. [No, no I’m not going to give you a page reference for this.  I don’t really want to be bitchy about it.] I’ve even read it on student exams.  But other specimens make clear that only significant penetration on this type is an old fashioned goring with the horns:

Reverse Image

The lesson is that unless one has seen as many specimens of a type as possible its really very dangerous to start generalizing.  A lazy die cutting can turn into a whole (sexualized!?) reading.

There are ten Flamininus specimens according to C. Botrè, “Lo statere d’oro di Tito Quinzio Flaminino: una coniazione straordinaria,” RIN 96 (1994/1995): four in museums: Athens, Berlin [??], London and Paris; and six in private hands including: WAW, 109 = Hunt I, 111, the Ley collection piece = Triton III; 30 November 1999, 815; LEU 81, 187NAC 39 (16.05.2007), 85.  His face may be fatter or thinner, rougher or smoother, hair wilder or sedate based on the specimen.  The controversy over how this image fits into Hellenistic portraiture traditions and/or Roman aesthetic conventions is not going to be resolved soon, but any discussion should be based on the examination of all possible specimens.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Type vs Specimen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s