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The cornu-copia in her hand is a type of her fruitfulness, as in the speech she makes to Jupiter.
Hosne mihi fructus, hunc fertilitatis honorem,
So much for the designing part of the medal; as for the thought of it, the antiquaries are divided upon it. For my part I cannot doubt but it was made as a compliment to Commodus on his skill in the chariot race. It is supposed that the same occasion furnished Lucan with the same thought in his address to Nero.
Seu te flammigeros Phæbi conscendere currus,
Luc. lib. 1. ad Neronem.
This is so natural an allusion, that we find the course of the sun described in the poets by metaphors borrowed from the Circus.
Quum suspensus eat Phæbus, currumque reflectat
MANIL, lib. 1.
Idem, However it be, we are sure in general it is a comparing of Commodus to the sun, which is a siinile of as long standing as poetry, I had almost said, as the sun itself. Vol. V.
I believe, says Cynthio, there is scarce a great man he ever shone upon that has not been compared to him. I look on similes as a part of his productions. I do not know whether he raises fruits or flowers in greater number. Horace has turned this comparison into ridicule seventeen hundred years ago.
Laudat Brutum, laudatque cohortem,
Hor. Sat. 7. lib. 1.
You have now shown us persons under the disguise of stars, moons, and suns. I suppose we have at last done with the celestial bodies.
The next figure you see*, says Philander, had once a place in the heavens, if you will believe ecclesiastical story. It is the sign that is said to have appeared to Constantine before the battle with Maxentius. We are told by a Christian poet, that he caused it to be wrought on the military ensign that the Romans call their Labarum. And it is on this ensign that we find it in the present medal.
Christus purpureum gemmanti textus in auro
That gold embroiders, and that gems adorn. By the word Christus he means, without doubt, the present figure, which is composed out of the two initial letters of the name.
He bore the same sign in his standards, as you may see in the following medal and versest.
Agnoscus, regina, libens mea signa necesse est:
Constantinus Romam alloquitur. Ibid.
+ Fig. 14.
There rich in gems; but on my quiy'ring spears
The emperor of all the world adores. But to return to our Labarum*; if you have a mind to see it in a state of paganism, you have iton a coin of Tiberius. It stands between two other ensigns, and is the mark of a Roman colony where the medal was stamped. By the way, you must observe, that wherever the Romans fixed their standards, they looked on that place as their country, and thought themselves obliged to defend it with their lives. For this reason their standards were always carried before them when they went to settle themselves in a colony. This gives the meaning of a couple of verses in Silius Italicus, that make a very far-fetched compliment to Fabius.
Ocyus huc Aquilas servataque signa referte,
Sil. It. lib. 7. The following medal was stamped on Trajan's victory over the Dacit. You see on it the figure of Trajan presenting a little Victory to Rome. Between them lies the conquered province of Dacia. be worth while to observe the particularities in each figure. We see abundance of persons on old coins that hold a little Victory in one hand, like this of Trajan, which is always the sign of a conquest. I have sometimes fancied Virgil alludes to this custom in a verse that Turnus speaks.
Non adeo has exosa manus victoria fugit. VIRG. Æn. lib. 11.
Mr. DRYDEN. The emperor's standing in a gown, and making a present of his Dacian victory to the city of Romé, agrees very well with Claudian's character of him.
* Fig. 15.
+ Fig. 16.
CLAUD, de 410. Cons. Honor.
But for thy mildness to thy country shown, The city of Rome carries the wand in her hand that is the symbol of her divinity.
Delubrum Romãe (colitur nam sanguine et ipsa
Prudent. cont. Sym. lib. 1.
With victims stain'd, and sought with rights divine. As the globe under her feet betokens her dominion over all the nations of the earth.
Terrarum dea, gentiumque Roma;
Rome, thou goddess of the earth!
Nor second e'er shall rise, The heap of arms she sits on signifies the peace that the emperor had procure
had procured her. On old coins we often see an emperor, a victory, the city of Rome, or a slave, sitting on a heap of arms, which always marks out the peace that arose from such an action as gave occasion to the medal. I think we cannot doubt but Virgil copied out this circumstance from the ancient sculptors, in that inimitable description he has given us of Military Fury shut up in the temple of Janus, and loaden with chains.
Claudentur belli portæ: Furor impius intus
VIRG, Æn, lib. 1.
Janus himself before his fane shall wait,
We are told by the old scholiast, says Eugenius, that there was actually such a statue in the temple of Janus as that Virgil has here described, which I am almost apt to believe, since you assure us that this part of the design is so often met with on ancient medals. But have you nothing to remark on the figure of the province? Her posture, says Philander, is what we often meet with in the slaves and captives of old coins: among the poets too, sitting on the ground is a mark of misery or captivity.
Multos illa dies incomtis mæsta cupillis
PROPERT. lib. 1.
O utinam ante tuos sedeam captiva penates.
Id. lib. 4. O might I sit a captive at thy gate! You have the same posture in an old coin* that ce-, lebrates a victory of Lucius Verus over the Parthians. The captive's hands are here bound behind him, as a farther instance of his slavery.
Ecce manus juvenem interea post terga revinctum,
Ov. de Fast. Cum rudis urgenti brachia victa dedi. PROPERT, lib. 4, We may learn from Ovid that it was sometimes the
* Fig. 17.