Although quite common, these coins are frequently of naïve style and encountered in very poor condition (those illustrated here are superior specimens, also heavier in weight than average). They are not directly part of our study because, like the various Roman Republican denarii with Cupid motifs, they were issued before the era of Roman provincial coinage that we are concerned with. The Corduban coins circulated locally at the other end of the Roman world and will scarcely have influenced later provincial issues in the Balkans or Asia Minor. The types refer to Venus, patroness of the Julii (and so, indirectly, to Julius Caesar). For a dramatic mosaic of Eros (with Psyche) from Corduba, see Type 54.
The peculiar position of the l. hand is surely a cheeky reference to the famous statue of the “Weary Heracles” by Lysippus, often known as the Heracles Farnese (after the copy probably made by Glycon of Athens for the Baths of Caracalla and now in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples). This shows Heracles resting after his many Labours, leaning on his club, which is covered by the skin of the Nemean Lion, and holding behind his back the Apples of the Hesperides. “Weary Heracles” appears on many Roman and Roman Provincial coins, and there is an online catalogue of this numismatic type on the website of the museum in Kassel, Germany (http://www.antikemuenzen.museum-kassel.de/intro.htm). The coin shown below is the extremely common VIRTVTI AVGVSTI antoninianus of Gordian III:
and here is the same type seen from behind, on a rare coin of Gordian III from Anchialus in Thracia (photos of this coin courtesy of H. D. Rauch):
References to Heracles occur in a number of statuary and numismatic types of Eros. The famous hero was the embodiment of strength and invincibility, but “Love conquers all”.
This attractive type is known from coins of Septimius Severus and his sons struck in Nicopolis ad Istrum and in Philippopolis. Despite the “Weary Heracles” gesture, this Eros, especially the jaunty-looking figure on the Nicopolitan coins, seems far from weary. The fact that in Nicopolis the torch seems to be unlit might, in the context of the double issue of this type for father and son, have dynastic connotations, in the sense that the boy prince is seen as almost (but not quite) sexually mature—Eros is about to set off on his journey, but the torch is not yet lit. There is a variant type of Severus in Philippopolis showing Eros advancing l. with upright, burning torch and an uncertain object (a wreath or bow?) in his l. hand.
Another variant type, known only from coins of Marcus Aurelius in Prusias ad Hypium (Mysia), shows Eros standing with legs crossed.
Eros with upright torch and bow also appears on of Aphrodisias (Caria), and on an a coin of Boeae (Laconia).
Æ 17, 7 h, 3.17 g. Obv. AV ΚAI [?] CΕVΗΡΟC. Laureate bust of Septimius Severus r. Rev. ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΙ ΠΡΟC ΙCΤΡ. Eros standing l., his l. hand held behind his rump and an unlit torch held upwards in his r. hand (the “normal type”).
Æ 18, 8 h, 2.92 g. Obv. AV Κ Μ ΑΥ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΝ. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Caracalla r. Rev. ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΙ ΠΡΟC [ΙCΤΡ]. Normal type (Private collection, photos by permission).
Similar, Æ 17, 8 h, 2.84 g.
Similar, Æ 17, 7 h, 2.14 g.
Æ 17, 2.52 g. Obv. [Λ AVP K] ΓE[TAC]. Bare-headed bust of Geta Caesar r. Rev. ΝΙΚΟΠΟΛΙ ΠΡΟC ΙCΤΡ. Normal type (Private collection, photos by permission).
* Philippopolis in Thracia, coins of Septimius Severus (illustrations) and Caracalla Caesar (illustration).
Æ 19, 7 h, 5.02 g. Obv. AV Κ • Λ • C • CΕVΗΡΟC. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Septimius Severus r. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ. Normal type.
Similar, Æ 18, 7 h, 3.95 g.
Æ 17, 7 h, 3.56 g. Obv. AV Κ Λ C CΕVΗΡΟC. Laureate bust of Septimius Severus r. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΙΤΩΝ. Eros advancing l., with a burning torch held upwards in his r. hand and an uncertain object (a bow? a wreath?) in his l. hand (Private collection, photos by permission).
Similar, Æ 19, 7 h, 3.76 g.
Æ 18, 7 h, 4.45 g. Obv. M AV KAI ΑΝΤΩΝEΙΝOC. Bare-headed, draped bust of Caracalla Caesar r. Rev. ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΠΟΛΕΙΤΩΝ. Normal type (Private collection, photos by permission).
* Boeae in Laconia, coins of Caracalla. Eros is advancing l., holding a bow in his l. hand and a torch in his r. hand.
Reference: Hristova/Jekov 22.214.171.124
References: Pick (AMNG) 1591; Hristova/Jekov 126.96.36.199
Nicopolis ad Istrum / Geta Caesar
Reference: Hristova/Jekov 188.8.131.52
Philippopolis / Septimius Severus
Reference: Varbanov 1290
Reference: Wildwinds (this coin), otherwise previously unpublished?
Reference: Varbanov 1559 (but with wrong obverse legend given)
Reference: Mionnet Supplement IV, 52
References: Waddington, Recueil général, 28; SNG von Aulock 894
Reference: RPC III, 2255