Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Type 13: The Eros of Parium

The Eros by Praxiteles in Parium (Mysia) was one of the most admired artworks of the ancient world, and almost as renowned as the same artist’s statue of Eros in Thespiae. Pliny the Elder in his Natural History recounts how a Rhodian man named Alcetas was so besotted with the statue that he subjected it to indecent assaulta fate supposedly also once suffered by the artist’s even more famous Cnidian Aphrodite. No reliable copy has survived (was the statue so homoerotically sensual that its copies attracted particularly destructive attention from the early Christians?), though the Eros Borghese in the Louvre, Paris, and the Eros from Nicopolis ad Istrum (illustration), now in the Sofia Archaeological Museum, may be related variants. We can safely assume that the Eros displayed on coins of Parium and (unusually) also named on the coins (DEO CUPIDINI) is intended to represent the city’s most treasured possession. The epigram by Palladas (in the Greek Anthology) on a statue of Eros shown holding a flower and a dolphin, perhaps symbolising his power over both land and sea, presumably refers to a different statue. 

* Parium in Mysia, coins of Antoninus Pius (small module), also large module (not illustrated), Commodus, Caracalla, Severus Alexander, Otacilia Severa (not illustrated), Aemilian, Cornelia Supera, Gallienus (not illustrated) and Salonina (not illustrated); Philip II, known only from Mionnet, is less certain. 
Eros stands facing, but with his head turned upwards and backwards (in erotic yearning”, as the Realencyclopädie puts it!), with a chlamys over his l. shoulder or l. arm, his r. hand extended over a small herm, and his l. held against his hip. The type is clearest on coins of Commodus, and we have included two specimens once in major private collections (Righetti, Lindgren), plus a rare variant where Eros’s hand is extended not over a herm, but a prow or prow-shaped altar (illustration). 
Inspired by Pliny’s comment that the marble statue was naked, earlier scholars such as the author of the article in Roscher’s Lexikon (I, 1884-86) described the chlamys as a supporting column. But the coins seem to contradict this interpretation (and the chlamys on the statue may have hidden a support not shown on the coins). 
The Latin legends are often rendered inaccurately, as though the die-cutters were not fully familiar with the language.



Æ 16 (small module), 6 h, 2.32 g. Obv. AVG… ANTONINVS AVG. Laureate head of Antoninus Pius r. Rev. [C G] I H P. Eros facing, with a chlamys over his l. shoulder and a small herm to the l. at his feet. 



Æ 24, 7 h, 9.22 g. Obv. IMP CA[E] Λ [Greek letter] AV COMODVS [sic]. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Commodus r. Rev. DEO CVPIDINI COLON IVL HAD PA. Eros standing facing, looking back, with a chlamys over his l. shoulder, his r. hand extended over a small herm at his feet and his l. held against his hip.








Æ 25, 7 h, 5.83 g. Similar.








Æ 25, 6 h, 9.39 g. Similar (Private collection, photos by permission).






Æ 24, 7.61 g. Similar, but prow or prow-shaped altar instead of the herm  (Photos courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., www.cngcoins.com). 




Æ 23, 1 h, 8.36 g. Obv. ANTONIN-VS PIVS AV. Laureate bust of Caracalla draped and cuirassed r. Rev. DEO CVPIDINI COL G IVL H PA. Standard type with herm.   




Æ 21, 2 h, 5.94 g. Obv. IMP SEV ALEXANDER AVG. Radiate bust of Severus Alexander r. Rev. DEO CUPIDINI COL.... Similar.







6.08 g. Obv. IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG. Laureate bust of Severus Alexander r. Rev. DEO CUPIDINI COL IC IVL RIA. Similar (Photos courtesy of Lübke & Wiedemann KG) .




Æ 21, 8.14 g. Obv. IMP C M AVR SEV ALEXAND AVG. Laureate bust of Severus Alexander r. Rev. DEO CUPIDININ (N reversed) COL IC IVL [?] PA. Similar (Photos courtesy of Numismatik Naumann GmbH)





 


Æ 21, 2 h, 5.65 g. Obv. IMP CAES L SEV SEV ALEXANDER (the S is written in reverse). Laureate, cuirassed bust of Severus Alexander r. Rev. DEO CUPISINI C G I A PAR. 








Æ 25, 6.37 g. Similar (Photos courtesy of Numismatik Naumann GmbH). 




Æ 21, 6 h, 4.61 g. Obv. [IMP?] ∙ M ∙ AEM ∙ AEMILIANVS ∙ [?]. Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Aemilian r. Rev. C G I H P. Similar reverse type (Photos courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., www.cngcoins.com).





Æ 21, 5 g. Obv. CORN ∙ SVPERA AVG. Diademed and draped bust of Cornelia Supera r. Rev. C G I H PAR. Similar (Photos courtesy of Numismatik Naumann GmbH).






CATALOGUE

Parium / Antoninus Pius (small module)
Reference: RPC IV, 627
Rarity: Scarce

Parium / Antoninus Pius (large module)
Reference: RPC IV, 9179
Rarity: RRR

Parium / Commodus (with herm)
References: RPC IV, 3151, 10921
Rarity: Common

Parium / Commodus (with prow)
Ex-Classical Numismatic Group; otherwise previously unpublished?
Rarity: RRR

Parium / Caracalla
Reference: Mionnet Supplement V, 760
Rarity: RRR

Parium / Severus Alexander (with radiate bust)
Ex-Numismatik Naumann, auction 44, 572; otherwise previously unpublished?
Rarity: RRR

Parium / Severus Alexander (with laureate bust) 
Ex-Gorny & Mosch, auction 241, 1881; otherwise previously unpublished?
Rarity: RR

Parium / Severus Alexander (with laureate, cuirassed bust)
Ex-Classical Numismatic Group and Numismatik Naumann auctions; otherwise previously unpublished?
Rarity: Scarce

Parium / Otacilia Severa
References: SNG Copenhagen 301; ANS 1998.18.49; Lindgren III, 267
Rarity: R

Parium / Philip II  [?]
Reference: Mionnet Supplement V, 774
Rarity: RRR (if genuine)

Parium / Aemilian
Reference: RPC IX, 377
Rarity: Scarce

Parium / Cornelia Supera
Ex-Pecunem, auction 42, 441; otherwise previously unpublished?
Rarity: RRR

Parium / Gallienus
Reference: ISEGRIM
Rarity: RRR

Parium / Salonina
Reference: Lindgren I, 282
Rarity: RRR


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