Desultores, Apollo, and Tarentum

So I’m trying to wrap my head around the possibility that the ludi Apollinares were introduced because of a connection between Apollo and Tarentum (cf. Livy 25.1-12).  This idea seems accepted by Santangelo on the basis of Russo 2005.  I really admire the work of the former so want to go along with it, but I am trying connect the dots as it were.  Russo led me back to Evans (yup, good ol’ Sir Arthur):


This article is free on JSTOR (see p. 190-191).  Anyway.  This got me worried we’re in circular logic territory.  Evans is using Republican imagery to argue an Apollo connection back onto the Tarentine evidence (maybe correctly?) and then Russo is pulling that forward to support our interpretation of Apollo’s significance in Rome in 212 BC.  Bah.  So what about Evans’ suggestion that the Roman desultor imagery derives from Tarentum?  He doesn’t tell us which coin he means so I’ve had to guess.  This one has two horses and one rider so is perhaps what he means.

image links to

Two horses yes, but no whip, no felt hat, etc etc.  Not a great parallel.

Here are my older posts on desultores.  (Notice the coin of Suessa has Apollo on the obverse!)

I actually think the strongest evidence for why horse races are part of the ludi Apollinares may actually come from Tacitus as cited by Russo, but has nothing to do with Tarentum!


Here’s Tacitus 14.21:

“Our ancestors,” they said, “were not averse to the attractions of shows on a scale suited to the wealth of their day, and so they introduced actors from the Etruscans and horse-races from Thurii.

The critical point here is that in 212 BC Hannibal had not only taken Tarentum but also Thurii! (see Livy link at top of the post.)










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