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Italo-Greek coins of southern Italy online

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17 & 18' Piccadilly, London, W.







One of the great advantages offered by the study of this series
of Itahan coins is the attainment of a clear perception of tlie relation-
ship of the Roman coinage to that of ancient Greece.

Many students of Roman coins neglect the literature connected
with Greek coinage and thus miss the pleasure of tracing the steps
by which the Roman coinage was evolved from that of the more
ancient and artistic civilization of Greece.

In this somewhat neglected corner of the numismatic field the
student will not only find problems still unsolved but also many
side lights which help to make more clear a somewhat dark and
difficult page of historv. To students and collectors whose means are
limited this series offers the further advantage of a large number of
coins which cost little money, and are easily obtained ; moreover it
is in connection with the types of the common coins that some of
these interesting problems arise, and the relation between the Greek
and Roman series may best be illustrated.

This series of coins throws much light on the deeply interesting
subject of the gradual manner in which the Romans were brought
into contact with the Greeks through their wars with the races ot
Southern Italv.

The chapters concerning the weight standards of ancient Italy
are compiled from the works of D"" Haeberlin, of Frankfort, to whom
I am greatly indebted for several valuable letters concerning the
arrangement of the information here given.



It is with tlie hope that the work will prove interesting, not only
to students and collectors of the coins of Southern Italy, but also to
readers of Livy and the other authors, who record the wars of the
Romans with these tribes, that these chapters are now published in
book form.




In order that the student of this series may read the legends on
the coins it will be necessary to learn the forms ot the letters
adopted by the Oscan citizens of Southern Campania and by the
Sabine citizens of the northern parts.

The most striking in their pecularity are the letters for a, d, r,
and ph, N ^ < and 8.

The following alphabet will be found useful.


N, fl.


V, J, P.


a, B.


]M W, M, III

c- g-

>, D, C.


H, N, r, v\.






3, E.


n, r, 1.


D, 3, t.


a, d, D, l.

We find almost all the varied forms of the letters here given on the
coins of Campania, as for instance, on those of Hyria we have all three
forms of '' n ", N H Vi and also of" r " Q . On the coins of Nuceria and
Capua we find both forms of "' f " D ^.

Hands. i

— 1 —

The points or dots in some examples of the letters V, as in the name
Hyria, suggest that the pronunciation of the first syllable was like
that of U with an O sound, for Strabo calls that city Oup sicv, and the

dot over I may have signified a sound intermediate between
I and E.

This Oscan alphabet was also used by the Italian mints during
the Social war.

Some legends are partly written in Oscan and partly in Greek
letters, as for instance NEOPOUTE^, and others all in Greek, as

The people who used this form of alphabet were a native Italian
race called by Strabo and other Greek wTiters the "O~iv.oi, and by
the Latin writers Opici. The original form is preserved by Ennius
who called them Opsci. They dwelt on the western side of the
Appenines, in the country bounded on the South by the CEnotrian
territory, and on the North by that of the Samnites.

Their language was closely related to the Latin, of w'hich it is an
older and less mixed form. The ablative termination " d ", seen
on the coin legends, is also found in the Duilian and other old
Latin inscriptions. The Samnites or Sabines or Sabellians, who
conquered and mixed with the Oscans, adopted their speech, as we
see in the story told by Livy (X, 20), of how Volumnius overcame
a victorious army of Samnites on the banks of the Vulturnus when
laden with spoils of Campania. He sent spies who could speak the
Oscan language into their camp to learn their proposed move-

The Samnites were of Sabine origin, as the Greek form of their
name ^xjvX-cc. implies, the letter b in the word Sabine being
changed into v, Savnii^e or Safnitie.

The coinage of the Sabine cities bears witness to their readiness
to receive Greek traditions and art. Livy records their love ot
decorated weapons and bright uniforms for their armies. They were
not simple mountaineers conquered by the armies of a cultured
city, but rather they themselves were the cultured luxurious citizens
conquered by the more simple and warUke Romans. As early as
the year 400 B.C., or about that time, the Samnites had already
settled in Cuma; and Palaeopolis, the old part of Neapolis, and
issued didrachms, wrought by Greek craftsmen ; whereas the
Romans did not issue silver coins until the year 268 B.C.


N. JK. JE.

1 Campanos 400-380 B.C. —

2 Acerra; y;- Aurunca — 270-250 B.C.

— 3 —




3 AUiba



4 Atella

250-217 B.C.

5 Caiatia


270 B.C.

6 Calatia

260-210 B.C.

7 Cales



280-240 B.C.

8 Capua


;2 B.C.



335-218 B.C.

9 Compulteria

268-240 B.C.

lo Hyria



1 1 Nola



12 Fensernia



13 Iruthia

300 B.C.

14 Nuceria Alat^




260-240 B.C.

15 Phistelia



16 Suessa



280-240 B.C.

17 Teanum



282-268 B.C.

18 Velechia

250-210 B.C.

19 ROMANO series




300-200 B.C.


The coins of tlie Samnite or Oscan cities of Campania present
us with the best imitations of Greek types, and from the import-
ance of the events which took phice in that region, and the abun-
dance of the coins illustrating them, it will be an advantage to our
study of the whole series if we begin with the coins of Campania.
Very many of these types, especially those in bronze, are so common
that they may be obtained by collectors and students with sm.all

The history of the Samnite occupation of Campania is not
recorded with any detail by the ancient writers. Velleius Paterculus
wrote of an Etruscan people who ruled the plains, probably from
Vulturnum, near the site afterwards called Capua ; they were driven
out by the Samnites about the year 438 B . C, , according to others
424 B.C.

Niebuhr (Vol. I, cap. iii), gives an interesting account of what
the ancient writers said of the Ausonians, the old race displaced by
the Samnites. RaoulRochette in his 'Fouilles de Capuz' Qoiirnal des
Savants, 1853), has mentioned Campanian traditions which seem to
have an Etruscan origin, and Latinized forms of Etruscan names in
inscriptions of Capua, as Felsinius — Velleius — Lartius — Maecenas
— Volumnius. The Samnite invasion was facilitated by the quarrels
and jealousies of the Greek colonies and the surrounding cities.

The remains of inscriptions and vases with grafitti in the Etrus-
can language may show merely that some Etruscans lived in the

plains, or that commercial relations with that race were common in
early days. Diodorus of Sicily says, when, about 445 B.C. the
Opici or Oscans conquered the former inhabitants they called the
country Campania from their word for a plain, Campus. —

(XII, xxxi) " When Theodorus was Archon of Athens the
Romans nominated Marcus Genucius and Agrippa Curtius Chilon
as Consuls. In this year there appeared in Italy the nation of the
Campanians, so called on account of the fertility of the neighbour-
ing plains ". A later inroad of the same race from the mountains of
Samnium took place according to Livy in 423 B.C. and three years
later Cum^ fell into their hands. (IV, 37) " Vulturnum, a city of
the Etrurians, which is now Capua, was taken by the Samnites
and was called Capua from their leader Capys, or what is more
probable, from its fertile plains. "

Doubts as to the accuracy of the histories of Livy and Diodorus
have been expressed by Mommsen, Pais, Sambon and others,
because the defeats and checks which the Romans evidently suffered
are not mentioned, and the submissions of the Capuans and others
are recorded at a date long before that submission appears probable
from the evidence of the coinage.

The treaty concluded with Neapolis in 326 B.C. appears to have
been correct^ dated, and the abundance of the coins of that city
shew how greatly the citizens advanced in commercial prosperity
under their conquerors. The influence of Neapolis in the Campanian
cities was naturally great, for its port brought together merchants
from Syracuse, Rhodes and Alexandria. The Campanian cities of
the plains found there an outlet for the produce of the rich soil ;
Capua, Calatia, Atella and Compulteria sent their produce to that
port, while Nuceria, Alfaterna, Nola and Acerr^e used the little port of
Pompei. These cities all used the Oscan letters in the legends of their
coins, but all shewed in their types the influence of Greek artists.

It is probable that traces of monetary conventions may be seen
in the types of two series of coins ; one, bearing on the Obverse a
head of Pallas and on the Reverse a cock, was used on the trade
routes of Campania, Latium and Samnium, while another series,
bearing on the Obverse a head of Apollo, and on the Reverse a
man-headed bull, was used by the cities connected with Neapolis.

Probably about the year 400 B.C. the Samnites became strong
enough to unite in a confederacy which was known as that of the
Ka[xxavoi. The didrachms which bear the legend KAMPANOM are
probably evidence of such a confederation of Samnites settled in
the plains near Neapolis. From their style and fabric they must
have been issued between 400 and 380 B.C. from the mints of
either Cumas or Neapolis, for their types are copied from those of
these cities. No names of leaders or rulers of these early Samnites

— 5 —

are recorded, and probably no one man was sufficiently powerful to
make for himself a name in history. Formerly it used to be thought
that Capua was the city from which these didrachms were issued,
and this was the opinion of Pellerin, Eckhel, Raoul Rochette,
D"" Head and Millingen, but that Cuma; or Neapolis issued these
coins is now the opinion of Avcllino, Imhoof-Blumer, A. Sambon,
De Petra, and others.

As these didrachms are generally found in a much worn condi-
tion it is probable that they were in circulation for a much longer
period than the twenty years between 400 and 380 B.C.

They were being issued at an eventful period, for in the year
400 B.C. the Ten Thousand returned from Asia, and Socrates
died in the year following. In 395 B.C. Plato returned to Athens,
and Xenophon was at Scillus composing his works from about 393.

In 384 Aristotle was born, and two years afterwards Demosthenes.
In 380 B.C. Isocrates wrote his Panegyricus. During this period
from 397 B.C. Dionysius was waging war with the Carthaginians,
and the Lucanians were advancing against the Greek colonial cities
of the South of Italy in alliance with that Tyrant, who died in
367 B.C. After 380 B.C. as the coins bearing KAMPANOM seem to
have been no longer issued, it is probable that the confederacy was
no longer a power, qnd the cities of Campania began to issue their
own special coinage.

It is difficult to trace the boundaries of Campania in the earlier
days of the Confederacy, or to say when the boundaries mentioned
by Straboand the later writers were fixed, but probably at first the
plains near Capua and Cum^^ alone were included, and the hill
country round Suessa. Cales and Teanum was later included in the
region called Campania.

Virgil, Cicero, Pliny, Florus, Strabo and Polybius have all
written of the beauty and fertility of Campania, describing it as the
fairest portion of Italy, the land of delight and prosperity.

The enervating effects of wealth made the inhabitants an easy
prey to those hardy mountaineers who drove out the Etruscans, and
who in their turn fell before the armies of Rome. Neapolis fell in
326, Nola in 313, Nuceria in 308. In 304 the Romans were the
conquerors of Campania, and their second Samnite War came to
an end.

Pyrrhus had passed through the country without obtaining any
hold, but Hannibal was more successful, and after the battle of
Cannon in 216 B.C. took several cities, Atella, Capua, Calatia,
Nuceria and Acerr^e. After 212 B.C. the Carthaginians lost their
hold on Campania, and under the Roman dominion the land
enjoyed prosperity for many long years.

— 6


Before describing the coins it will be interesting to notice the
legend KAMPANOM.

It was regarded by Mommsen as a genitive plural to be compar-
ed with the legend ROMANOM on coins of Capua. A. Sambon
suggests that the last letter may be a sigma placed on its side, as on
so many coins of Magna Graecia.

The rude legend ^OHAn)IA (5/V) is found on a coin at Munich.

In the British Museum there is a coin with the legend KAMPA-
NON, the nominative neuter with ap-rjpiov understood. It may
be compared with the same termination on coins of Nola and
Cuma;, NHAAION, KYMAION, and on the coins of those cities we
also find NOAAIOI and KYMAIOI.

On some coins at London, Paris, Berlin, Florence, and Naples
the legend appears as OMAnMAH with M underneath (a sigma),
the letter H replacing the guttural K or )l.

In the legend KAPPANOM the M is assimilated to the P as in
many instances such as AAPPAION for AAMPAION.

I. Didrachm. Obverse. Head of Pallas to right, wearing Athenian
helmet with crest, and decorated with a wreath of olive-leaves
composed of a twig with a side-shoot at the back. Sometimes under
the head is a letter, as A or N.

Reverse. A man-headed bull walking to right with the head held
level with the back; before him, or under him, a marsh bird with
long neck and bill. The base composed of a double line.

Above the bull the legend either ^^lOHMAH, or KAPPAMO


with M before the bull or ^OMAn>IA, or KAMPANOM, or

In the Naples Museum is a specimen with the bull walking to
left and a fish in the exergue.

II. Obverse. Head of a Nymph to right, similar to those on the
later coins of CunicT.

Reverse. Man-headed bull running to right with off fore-foot
raised from the ground on base formed with a double line.

Above the bull the legend KAPPANOl, below the bull a serpent
with its head to right; specimens of this type are to he seen at
Berlin, Paris and Naples.

The weights vary from about 114 to ir8 grains.

No bronze coins bearing this legend appear to have been issued.

— 7 —


Small bronze coins are found in Campania, in size l of an inch,
bearing on the Obverse a head of Apollo laureate, to left, and on
the Reverse a dolphin to left. The legend is partly in the field
above, and partly below the dolphin, and the upper line is partly
illegible on all known specimens, but the lower legend is generally
clear ^ll>l)INI41. This word has been interpreted by Mr. A. Sambon
as the name Maccius, probably that of a magistrate. The name is
rare but has been found on an inscription in Pompei. It is said to
be also written Magidius or Makdiis.

In the British Museum Catalogue, p. 75, these coins are attribu-
ted to Aurunca, and this attribution is also given in D' B. V. Head's
Hist. Num., p. 26.

The legend above the dolphin is readas51V>INVaYN (Auruncud).
Very similar is the reading of the legend, on a specimen in the
Kircher Museum at Rome, by Garrucci AVDIMVTYN. That writer
also attributes these coins to Aurunca.

Avellino, reading the legend as Makriis, thought it might signify
the little town Marcina near Amalfi, but this is probably a mistaken
reading of a poor specimen. Millingen's attribution of these coins to
Arpi, or Salapia, is extremely improbable. Lobbecke and Dressel
thought these coins were issued from Neapolis, but they founded
their opinion on a specimen restruck on a coin of that city, on which
part of that name was visible.

Mr. A. Sambon attributes these coins to Acerr.^ (Acerra), because,
on some specimens, the upper legend appears to be IO>l>IN, or
VONKN or Aa>IN or V>I>IN or midND>IN or m- ••NV>IN.

Until a specimen is found in a condition sufficiently perfect to
make certain of the reading we can only conjecture what it may
have been.

When we try to judge from the history of these two cities,
Acerrae and Aurunca, which city was more likely to have issued
these coins, our judgment as to the time of their issue becomes of
the greatest importance.

Aurunca was the chiefcityof the Aurunci, a branch ofthe Ausones;
the two names are the same, the letter "r " in the former name being
often changed from the " s " ofthe latter.

We learn this from Servius, in his notes on Aen. VII, 727, and
also from Dion Cassius (p. 2).

Festus also tells us the name was derived from Auson, the son
of Ulysses and Circe, the founder ofthe city Aurunca. Livy relates
that the city was destroyed about 337 B. C. by the Sidicini, and

that the refugees fled to Suessa, which was afterwards called Suessa

According to Mr. A. Sambon the coins bearing the dolphin were
issued between 270 and 250 B. C. ; if this is the period of their
issue they cannot have been minted at Aurunca.

H. Bunbury said the city was never rebuilt, but perhaps he
infered that from the silence of historians in regard to any later
notices of the city. The story of its fall is told by Livy (VIII, 15).

Some traces of its ruins may be seen on the summit of a moun-
tain ridge, now called La Serva or La Cortinella, about five miles
north of Suessa.

The highest part of the hill on which the ruins stand, Monte di
Santa Croce, is 3,200 feet above the sea. Virgil alludes to this
height in Aen., VII, 727 " et quos de collibus altis Aurunci misere
patres Sidicinaque juxta aequora " "to Turnus, lo a thousand tribes
he leads, those who on Massic hills the vineyards tend, those whom
Auruncans from their mountains send ". Abeken has described the
ruins in the Ann. d. Inst., 1839, p. 199-206.

If the legend WI>IklYSYN were well established the question
would arise as to whether it signified the name of the city or of the
tribe, and as we have Suessa Aurunca so we might have Acerr^

— 9


Acerrae 'Av.ippx'. or Acerranus was situated about eight miles
north-east of Naples, and the village on the site is still called

In 332 B.C. it obtained the Roman " civitas ". Livysays "The
Acerrani were enrolled as Romans^ in conformity with a law introd-
uced by the Praetor Lucius Papirius, by which the right of citiz-
enship with out the privilege of suffrage was conferred " (VIII, 17).

In the Second Punic war Acerra was besieged by Hannibal in
216 B.C., and when the citizens fled it was plundered and burnt.
When the Carthaginians were expelled the citizens returned, and
rebuilt the city with the consent of the Roman Senate.

From the history of this city, according to Livy, it seems much
more probable that the coins with the dolphin type were issued
from its mint rather than from that of Aurunca. (Livy, XXIII, 17;
XXVII, 3.) Eckhel referred these coins to Acerra.

Specimens are to be seen in the Museums of London, Paris,
Berlin, Naples, Rome (Kircher) and they are found in small


The site of AUibaor Allifae, a city of the Samnites, situated at the
foot of the mountain range called Monte Mantese, is now occupied
by villagers who still call their home Alife. A great part of the old
walls and gates still remain, with some ruins of a theatre and
amphitheatre and considerable remains of public baths built on an
extensive scale. Some of these are probably ruins of the time
of Hadrian, but the city must have been of greater importance
than the few notices by Livy would lead us to expect. Its coins
consist of a few rare didrachms and considerable numbers of
obols bearing types which show the intimate relations the Samnite
citizens held with Nola and Neapolis. Allifie was about fifteen miles
east of Teanum, near the river Volturnus, and about twenty miles
south of iEsernia, with which city it is mentioned by Strabo (V, 3,
10) " .^sernia and Allif^, are cities of the Samnites; the former was


destroyed in the Marsian war, the other still remains ". Allife is
about twenty miles north-east of Capua. Although it is just outside
the borders of Campania in our ancient atlases it was ennumerated
among the cities of Campania by Pliny (III, 5,9) and by Silius
Italicus (VIII, 537).

At the beginning of the Second Samnite war in 326 B.C. the
city fell into the hands of the Romans. Livy says : " Three towns
fell into their hands, Allifit, Callif^ and Ruffrium, and the adjoin-
ing country was laid waste" (VIII, 25). The Romans however :
seem to have lost it soon afterwards, for we read in Livy (IX, 3 8)
that in 310 B.C. " during these transactions in Etruria the other
Consul CM. Rutilus took Allife by storm from the Samnites, and
many of their forts and smaller towns were either destroyed or
surrendered uninjured". Three years later Livy tells us : " Quintus
Fabius, proconsul, fought a pitched battle with the armies ot
the Samnites near the city of Allif^e. The victory was complete,
the enemy were driven from the field and pursued to their camp,
nor would they have kept possession of that had not the day been
almost spent". Next morning the Samnites capitulated and passed
under the yoke with one garment each (IX, 42).

During the Second Punic War Hannibal passed by Allifas on his
way into Campania (Livy, XXII, 13) and again in 213 B.C.
he pitched his camp in the country around (XXII, 17), while
Fabius pitched his on the hill above the city. We nowhere read of
the destruction of the city, and it is evident that it rose again into
a prosperous condition as soon as the Punic wars were ended,
and continued to prosper throughout the Imperial period.

Dr. B.V. Head in the Hist. Num., says the coins of Allifa; are
all of the first half of the fourth century B.C. ; they were therefore
issued before the city fell into the hands of the Romans.

The obols are found in many small collections, and although
barbarous as works of art are interesting as evidencesof the attempts
of the natives to learn from the Greeks not only the art of coining
money but also the traditions and myths associated with their

The appearance of Scylla on these obols, and the bull
with a human head on the few rare didrachms, the obverse of
which is copied from the coins of Nola, caused many numismatists
to regard them as coins issued from some site near the sea.
Millingen thought that the very name on the coins was to be
connected with the region near Cumai, because Suidas thus inter-
prets the word Alibas " 'A/a^x; 6 vsxpbc -q -oxai^.b? iv aoou".

The word is used of sapless, lifeless, dead, by Plato (Rep. 387 C.)
and, in a fragment of Sophocles 751, the name is used of the Styx,
the river of the dead. Avellino noted that there is a mountain called

— II —

Ollibanus near Puteoli, and regarded that name as a corruption of

Lenormant considered Alibas to have been a colony of Cumie.
Friedlander, L. Sambon, and Garrucci all agreed with this idea that
Alibas was near Cumre, but there is nothing strange in the appear-
ance of Scylla in a citv at such a short distance from the sea.

The choice of maritime types at the Samnian Alife is probably
due to its commerce with the maritime cities of Campania which
was assisted by the river Volturnus.

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