Mithridates on the Republican Coin Series?

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A page of my image notes from my pre-blog days. The images are all from the ANS. Click to be taken to ANS collection of RRC 405/5 specimens. Or click on the title of this post to see all the images at a higher resolution within the post itself.

It may not be immediately obvious but this little spate of blog posts are all coming out of my efforts to wrap my head around representations of Monarchy on the Republican Coin Series, a topic I’m attempting to work up for a conference paper submission today.

Gem scholars have long recognized the stylistic connection between Mithridates Tetradrachms and this republican coin type. Cf. Vermeule 1970: 206.

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Crawford proposed Mercury as an other possible identification of the intended deity.  The iconographic parallel is striking but I find myself ambivalent about whether it is just an artistic choice of style or an intended reference to the Pontic king.  It’s part of a complicated series perhaps alluding the the cult of Fortuna at Praeneste and/or other Italic cults.  How it fits into the series as a whole has alluded explanation.

I would just note that with the new dating based on the Messange Hoard of RRC 405 to 58 BC, this potential regal allusion comes in the midst of a spate of such allusions to foreign kings on the reverses of the series:

  • Perseus of Macedon (reverse of RRC 415/1; 62 BC)
  • Aretas of Nabataea (reverse of RRC 422/1; 58 BC)
  • Ptolemy V of Egypt (reverse of RRC 419/2; 58 BC)
  • Bocchus of Mauritania and Jugurtha of Numidia (reverse of RRC 426/1; 56 BC)
  • Bacchius of Judaea (reverse of RRC 431/1; 55 (or 54?) BC)
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