Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Type 20: Two Erotes Playing Astragaloi

The type of two seated Erotes playing astragaloi (knucklebones) was struck only in Aphrodisias in Caria, though it is analogous to similar issues (with children who are not, however, winged) from Ephesus and Samos in Ionia, Hypaepa in Lydia, and Hierapolis in Phrygia. 

Asclepiades (third century B.C.) writes, I am not yet two and twenty, and life is a burden to me. Ye Loves, why thus maltreat me; why set me afire? For if I perish, what will you do? Clearly, Loves, you will play, silly children, at your knuckle-bones as before [12.46]. Meleager describes how, Still in his mother’s lap, the child Eros, playing with knuckle-bones in the morning, gambled my life away [12.47, transl. Peter Jay]. For Anacreon, The dice of Love are madness and uproar. See also Apollonius Rhodius 3.114ff. and Antipater of Sidon 7.427. In his commentary on Meleager, Jerry Clack writes, Dice are an appropriate symbol for love (p.63).

On the left is the famous Roman statue of the girl playing knucklebones from Berlin.




* Aphrodisias in Caria, small coins (illustration) with obverse bust of Boulé draped r. and reverse as described. Despite the comparatively large number of specimens recorded by MacDonald in The Coinage of Aphrodisias, most of them in major public collections, this coin is in my experience very much rarer than (for example) the similar type from Ephesus with non-winged children.
Note: I made no record of the origin of the above photograph of the reverse of one of these coins. If the owner of the image or of the coin would be so kind as to contact me, I'd be happy to add an appropriate acknowledgement (or delete the image if required).


Corpus

Aphrodisias / Boulé
Reference: MacDonald, The Coinage of Aphrodisias, type 123
Rarity: Common (but see text above)

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