The Crepereii’ Goddess


So, this just came up in a database search for something else entirely.  Image links to entry.  This is a section from plate “K: Histoire égyptienne”

I’ve blogged very briefly about connections between RRC 399/1 and intaglios before.

I, however, talked a great deal about this parallel in Tacoma last May.  Here’s what I said and the slides that go with it.  I’m making this post so all the material on this topic is together  on the blog when (if) I come back to the coin type.

Excerpt from my lecture: ‘Mass Production and Markers of Identity: A Prolegomenon to the Study of Glass Pastes in the Roman Republic’


The reasons for these marine types have been the matter of intense speculation in the 20th century.  Suggestions have included Rome’s conflict with Sertorius or the pirates, and the mythical foundation of the gens from a union of Neptune and some nymph or mortal woman. The most enduring theory has been that Hellenistic depictions of sea gods are appropriate for the Creperii because other members of the same gens are known to have been active in the trade on both Delos and Athens in the late republic.  The later point was loosely tied to the existence of known precious gems by Crawford, like this small Cornelian.  I would note that this particular precious gemstone intaglio just happens to be the same diameter as a the dies used to strike denarii.


What I find more historically significant than the connection between the precious gems and the coins alone is that this design is found in remarkable abundance in glass.  Of these, six come from the British Museum and one from the Met.  These are just the ones I’ve stumbled upon in my initial survey of the material, and by no means represent the sum total of the surviving glass pastes of this type.  Based on this, I would anticipate finding dozens more in a thorough survey of extant specimens.   They are clearly not all made from the same mold, although at least two are.

These mold-made glass pastes would not have been desirable objects for the most successful Roman negotiatores in the Greek East, such as we know some members of the gens Crepereii to be.  We even find other Crepereii as negotiatores in Gallia Narbonensis in the 1st century BCE.  So who was using these imitation gems?  Specifically the clients or agents of the Crepereii?  Or just any sailor seeking a little extra divine protection at sea?  Is it a recognizable family symbol or just popular representation of a popular patron deity?  Regardless the coin type now seems less the artistic fancy of a young equestrian hoping to join the cursus honorum and more an explicit attempt to associate the moneyer with a well-known, popular piece of iconography

9 plateaux d’une boîte de 1540 moulages en soufre rouge, accompagnée d’un catalogue manuscrit. La classification thématique suit le schéma de Winckelmann; elle comprend 18 séries, répertoriées de A à S. Seuls les plateaux 10 à 18 sont conservés (séries K à S)
A à G : Mythologie
A : Saturne, Jupiter et Isis (71 soufres)
B : Cérès, Neptune et Minerve (64)
C : Hercule, Iole et Déjanire (73)
D : Bachhus, Bacchantes et Bacchanales (76)
E : Apollo, Diane et ? (80)
F : Esculape, Minerve et Sacrifices (79)
G : Mars, Vénus et amours (100)
H : philosophes, poètes et orateurs (99)
I : Rois de Macédoine, Syrie et Egypte (75)
– K : Histoire égyptienne (81)
– L : Histoire grecque et troyenne (93)
– M : Histoire Romaine (76)
– N : Rois et consuls romains (98)
-O, P, Q : Empereurs et impératrices (223)
-R : Masques et Chimères(72) ; vases(22); sphinx(9)
-S : animaux (72); Priapes (55)
Seules les séries de K à S sont conservées, c’est-à dire plateaux 10 à 18
Pour chaque pièce est donnée l’indication du sujet, de la matière de la pierre originale; dans quelque cas, mention du lieu de conservation (notamment Cabinet de Florence, du roi de Naples, du baron de Stosch, les cabinets de France et de Vienne, des collections privées romaines, comme Strozzi, Albani, Capponi, Altieri, Odescalchi, Barberini, Molinari, l’abbé Franchini à Sienne, Mylord Carlisle, le duc de Devonshire, le duc de Leeds.
Série proche de celles de Christian Dehn (1697-1770) mais le système de classification ne correspond pas au catalogue de Dolce.

Later addendum same day:


Information here.


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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