Like Father, Like Son

L. Valerius Flaccus, the moneyer of this coin, is likely to have been the son of the then or previous Flamen Martialis (priest of Mars):

War was to be waged against Aristonicus in the consulship of Publius Licinius and Lucius Valerius. The people was consulted as to whom it wished to have the management of that war. Crassus, the consul and Pontifex Maximus, threatened to impose a fine upon Flaccus his colleague, the priest of Mars, if he deserted the sacrifices. And though the people remitted the fine, still they ordered the priest to submit to the commands of the pontiff.

The Roman naming customs make it easy to elide the identities of family members. Many of the customs of the Roman state encouraged these associations, especially the Roman funeral.

It is likely that the son succeeded his father in this priesthood. At what date is uncertain. Here’s the entry in Magistrates of the Roman Republic:

Image

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Drummond in that 2008 article I mentioned in the last post raises the possibility already entertained by Broughton that Flaccus the younger is commemorating himself, not his father. BUT, then he pushes the idea even farther saying even if he meant to commemorate his father, it could be interpreted by later audiences as self commemoration (p. 396). This idea is important. It emphasizes that the image makers aren’t in control of the image and much of the reception depends on viewers evolving knowledge and assumptions about what is likely to be on a coin. This reminded me about a point Clare Rowan made in her blog. The ambiguity may be intentional or a fortuitous evolution. Neither Flaccus the elder or Flaccus the younger would be surprised or upset to have their individual accomplishments augment the acclaim of the other.

I selected this specimen as it is easier to see a few key details (rather than the ANS specimens). The face of Mars is in profile. His spear is pointed downwards diagonally behind him. The cape flows behind his nude body and the trophy rests over his left shoulder supported by his hand. This Mars type will be the basis for Augustus’ Romulus statue in his forum and its numerous copies. Like father, like son.

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