Versión en español 


GLOSSARY

Festival of Isis coinage
Rome, fourth century A.D.

Vota Publica issues

(Last Civic Coinages are also included)

 

 

GLOSSARY
(Festival of Isis Coinage and Last Civic Coinages)
Alexandria

Personification of the Egyptian city with the same name, under Roman jurisdiction from 80 BC.

Alexandria appears in the Last Civic Coinages as a goddess, reclining left and holding rudder (Latin: gubernaculum).

Anubis

In classical mythology, Anubis (sometimes called Hermanubis) was a god who combined Hermes (Greek mythology) with Anubis (Egyptian mythology). He is the son of Set and Nephthys. Hermes and Anubis's similar responsibilities (they were both conductors of souls) led to the god Hermanubis. He was popular during the period of Roman domination over Egypt. Depicted as having a human body and jackal head, with the sacred caduceus that belonged to the Greek god Hermes, he represented the Egyptian priesthood, engaged in the investigation of truth.

Anubis appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis, holding caduceus or palm and sistrum.

Apollo

Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo.

Apollo appears in the Last Civic Coinages holding patera and lyre.

Caduceus

The caduceus is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.

Anubis appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis, holding caduceus and sistrum.

Ceres

Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres". The Romans saw her as the counterpart of the Greek goddess Demeter, whose mythology was reinterpreted for Ceres in Roman art and literature.

Ceres appears in the Last Civic Coinages veiled and holding grain-ears.

Cornucopia

The cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae) or horn of plenty is a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers, nuts, other edibles, or wealth in some form. The cornucopia became the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities, particularly those associated with the harvest, prosperity, or spiritual abundance. Mythology offers multiple explanations of the origin of the cornucopia. One of the best-known involves the birth and nurturance of the infant Zeus, who had to be hidden from his devouring father Cronus. In a cave on Mount Ida on the island of Crete, baby Zeus was cared for and protected by a number of divine attendants, including the goat Amalthea ("nourishing goddess"), who fed him with her milk. The suckling future king of the gods had unusual abilities and strength, and in playing with his nursemaid accidentally broke off one of her horns, which then had the divine power to provide unending nourishment, as the foster mother had to the god. In another myth, the cornucopia was created when Heracles (Roman Hercules) wrestled with the river god Achelous and wrenched off one of his horns.

The cornucopia appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis and the Last Civic Coinages, in the hands of Isis, Harpocrates, Fortuna and river-god Nilus.

Cupid

In classical mythology, Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus, and is known in Latin also as Amor ("Love"). His Greek counterpart is Eros. Although Eros appears in Classical Greek art as a slender winged youth, during the Hellenistic period, he was increasingly portrayed as a chubby boy. During this time, his iconography acquired the bow and arrow that represent his source of power.

Cupid appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis brandishing whip, standing on back of sea-monster.

Fortuna

Fortuna (equivalent to the Greek goddess Tyche) was the goddess of fortune and personification  of luck in Roman religion. She might bring good luck or bad: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Justice, and came to represent life's capriciousness.

Fortuna appears in the Last Civic Coinages as a protector of Nicomedia, standing left, holding rudder and cornucopia.

Globe
(Orbis)

The globus is an orb, symbol of authority and dominion over the world (the orb). The visual symbolism of holding the world in one's hand was a clear message used since antiquity. Citizens of Rome were familiar with the plain round globe as a representation of the world or universe, represented by Jupiter and thus the emperor's dominion and protectorate over it.

The globe appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis and the Last Civic Coinages, in the hands of Julian II, Jovian, Sarapis and Jupiter.

Harpocrates

In late Greek mythology as developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Harpocrates is the god of silence. Harpocrates was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child god Horus. To the ancient Egyptians, Horus represented the newborn Sun, rising each day at dawn. When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, they transformed the Egyptian Horus into their Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates, a rendering from Egyptian Har-pa-khered or Heru-pa-khered (meaning "Horus the Child").

Harpocrates appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis, setting his right forefinger to his mouth and holding cornucopia, or nursed by his mother, Isis.

Isis

Isis is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers. Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus. Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children. In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him.

Isis is the most representative figure in the issues for the Festival of Isis and appears holding sistrum and sometimes, situla.

Isis Faria

The legend ISIS FARIA, inscribed in the issues for the Festival of Isis, has reference to Isis as protectress of the Pharos islet at Alexandria.

Isis Faria on galley, holding sistrum and sometimes supporting sail, is one of the most representative figure in the issues for the Festival.

Jupiter

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld.

Jupiter appears in the Last Civic Coinages seated on throne and holding globe and sceptre.

Lyre

The lyre is a string instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The lyre of classical antiquity was ordinarily played by being strummed with a plectrum, like a guitar or a zither, rather than being plucked, like a harp. The fingers of the free hand silenced the unwanted strings in the chord. The lyre is similar in appearance to a small harp but with distinct differences.

Apollo appears in the Last Civic Coinages holding lyre and patera.

Mappa

The mappa was the cloth used by the Roman consuls to start the races at the hippodrome. It’s similar to akakia, a cylindrical purple silk roll containing dust, held by the Byzantine emperors during ceremonies, and symbolizing the mortal nature of all men. It possibly developed from the mappa.

Constantius II appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis, holding mappa.

Modius

The modius is a type of flat-topped cylindrical headdress or crown found in ancient Egyptian art and art of the Greco-Roman world. The modius was a Roman unit of measurement and a recipient which was equivalent to roughly 8,75 kilograms of grain.

Sarapis appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis and the Last Civic Coinages, wearing modius on head.

Nephthys

Nephthys or Nebthet is a member of the Great Ennead of Heliopolis in Egyptian mythology, a daughter of Nut and Geb. Nephthys was typically paired with her sister Isis in funerary rites because of their role as protectors of the mummy and the god Osiris and as the sister-wife of Set.

Nephthys appears beside her sister Isis in the issues for the Festival of Isis.

Neptune

Neptune (Latin: Neptunus) was the Roman god of freshwater and the sea in Roman religion. He is the counterpart of the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over the realms of Heaven, our earthly world, and the Underworld, respectively. Amphitrite was his consort.

Neptune appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis, holding trident and dolphin with one foot on a prow.

Patera

patera or phiale is a shallow ceramic or metal libation bowl. It typically has no handles, and no feet.

Apollo appears in the Last Civic Coinages holding patera and lyre.

River-god
Nile

Personification of the Nile river. Nilus, in Greek mythology, was the son of Oceanus and Tethys.

Nilus appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis, reclining left, holding little ship and sometimes reed, resting left arm on an overturned urn from wich waters flow.

Nilus appears in the Last Civic Coinages, reclining left, holding reed and cornucopia, resting on crocodile, hippopotamus or sphinx.

River-god
Orontes

Personification of the Orontes or Asi river, in Western Asia. It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius. The river Orontes flowed into the Meditteranean sea near the city of Antiokhos (Antioch).

Orontes appears in the Last Civic Coinages swimming beneath Tyche of Antioch.

Sarapis

Sarapis or Serapis is a Graeco-Egyptian god. Sarapis was devised during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. The god was depicted as Greek in appearance, but with Egyptian trappings, and combined iconography from a great many cults, signifying both abundance and resurrection. Sarapis continued to increase in popularity during the Roman period, often replacing Osiris as the consort of Isis in temples outside Egypt.

Sarapis appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis and the Last Civic Coinages, wearing modius on head.

Sceptre

A sceptre (or scepter in U.S. English) is a symbolic ornamental staff or wand held in the hand by a ruling monarch as an item of royal or imperial insignia. The Roman sceptre probably derived from the Etruscan. Under the Republic an ivory sceptre (sceptrum eburneum) was a mark of consular rank. It was also used by victorious generals who received the title of imperator, and its use as a symbol of delegated authority to legates apparently was revived in the marshal’s baton. Under the Roman empire the sceptrum Augusti was specially used by the emperors, and was often of ivory tipped with a golden eagle. It is frequently shown on medallions of the later empire. With the advent of Christianity the sceptre was often tipped with a cross instead of with an eagle.

The sceptre appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis and the Last Civic Coinages, in the hands of Constantius II, Jovian, Sarapis, Isis and Jupiter.

Sistrum

sistrum is a musical instrument of the percussion family, chiefly associated with ancient Iraq and Egypt. It consists of a handle and a U-shaped metal frame, made of brass or bronze and between 76 and 30 cm in width. When shaken the small rings or loops of thin metal on its movable crossbars produce a sound that can be from a soft clank to a loud jangling. The name derives from the Greek verb seio, to shake, and seistron, "that which is being shaken". The sistrum was a sacred instrument in ancient Egypt. Perhaps originating in the worship of Bastet, it was used in dances and religious ceremonies.

Isis and Anubis appear in the issues for the Festival of Isis holding sistrum.

Situla

Situla, from the Latin for bucket or pail, is a term for a variety of elaborate bucket-shaped vessels from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, usually with a handle at the top. All types may be highly decorated with reliefs in bands or friezes running round the vessel. The term is also used for pails carried by figures in other art forms; according to Plutarch and other sources this was a sign of a devotee of Isis, who herself is often shown carrying one (containing water from the sacred Nile), of a rather different shape, with a rounded bottom, and sometimes lidded. This rounded shape, often with a "nipple" at the bottom, is believed to have represented the female breast. These were also donated to temples as votive offerings by devotees.

Isis appears in the issues for the Festival of Isis holding sistrum and situla.

Sol-Sarapis

Sol-Sarapis is the equivalent to the Greek god Helios-Sarapis

Sol-Sarapis appears with radiate head in the issues for the Festival of Isis

Sothis dog

Sothis is the greek name for the brightest star, Sirius (Canis Major constellation, the Great Dog). In Egyptian mythology, Sopdet was the deification of the star Sothis. Sopdet was identified as a goddess of the fertility of the soil, which was brought to it by the Nile's flooding. Sopdet is the consort of Sah, the constellation of Orion, near which Sirius appears, and the god Sopdu was said to be their child.

Sothis appears beside Isis in the issues for the Festival of Isis.

Sphinx

A sphinx is a mythical creature with, as a minimum, the body of a lion and a human head. In Greek tradition, it has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and the face of a woman. She is mythicised as treacherous and merciless.

We can see sphinxes in the issues for the Festival of Isis.

Tyche of Antioch

Tyche (from Greek, meaning "luck") was the presiding tutelary deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city, its destiny. She is the daughter of  Aphrodite and Zeus or Hermes.

Increasingly during the Hellenistic period, cities venerated their own specific iconic version of Tyche, wearing a mural crown.

Tyche appears in the Last Civic Coinages as a protector of Antioch, seated on rocks and river god Orontes swimming below.

Uraeus
snake

Uraeus is the symbol for the goddess Wadjet, who was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and who often was depicted as a cobra. Wadjet was said to be the patron and protector of Lower Egypt and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt with the "goddess" of Upper Egypt. The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. She was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth. As the patron goddess, she was associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman or a snake, usually an Egyptian cobra, a venomous snake common to the region; sometimes she was depicted as a woman with two snake heads and, at other times, a snake with a woman's head.

Uraeus appears emerging from sacred vessel in the issues for the Festival of Isis.

Victoria

In ancient Roman religion, Victoria / Victory was the personified goddess of victory. She is the Roman equivalent of the Greek goddess Nike.

Victoria appears in the Last Civic Coinages holding wreath and palm branch.

 

 

 

FESTIVAL OF ISIS COINAGE
Introduction Anonymous obverses Types of reverses Imperial obverses

 

Provenance of the coins Last Civic Coinages Bibliography & Links

 

      M. Pina   -  Javi