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year 204 B.C.

In modern times the name Calabria has been applied to the
district on the west coast known to the ancients as Bruttium.

This alteration arose on account of the Byzantine Emperors
calling the whole of Southern Italy Calabria, when it was under
their rule. When they lost their dominion in Italy it happened
that Bruttium was the last of their possessions to be held by them,
and as they called it still Calabria that name has clung to it.

The modern name of the ancient Messapia is " Terra di
Otranto ".

\'irgirs description of the country is ver}' accurate : " Quum
procul ohscuros colles humilemque videmus Italiam, Italiam primus
conclamat Achates" (^Aen., Ill, 522).

Confer Dante (/"/., I, 106).

The land contains no mountains, and scarcely any high hills, the
soil, consisting of a soft tertian- lime-stone, so readily absorbs all
moisture that no rivers are formed. The soil is especially adapted
to the growth of olives, and fruits of various kinds abound. Good
wine was made from its grapes, and the land was celebrated both
for its wool and honey. From a passage in^^irgi^s Georgics (III, 425)
we learn that it was infested with dangerous snakes.

The celebrated horses of the Tarentines were bred on the Messa-
pian downs. Polybius says that in his day the Apulians and Messa-

— 147 —

plans together could furnish not less than sixteen thousand cavalry
(II, 24).

The Greek colonists, who brought to these Messapians a higher
civilization, arrived about 708 B.C. and settled in Tarentum. It
was not however without much lighting that the Greek supremacy
was acquired.

Clearchus told the story of the destruction of the lapygian city
Carbina, the site of which was probably about twelve miles north of
Brundisi. In that siege the Greeks perpetrated such atrocities that
the wrath of the Gods was believed to rest upon them, so Athenaeus
tells us in recounting the sad story (lib. XII, 23, p. 522).

In 473 B.C. the lapygians defeated the Tarentines and inflicted
upon them slaughter such as no Greek army had ever experienced
(Herodotus, VII, 170).

Diodorus Siculus says the lapygians had an army of twenty
thousand men, and that in the flight ot the Greeks from the field
of battle, the lapygians followed the fugitives in two bands, one to
the gates of Tarentum, the other as far as to Rhegium (XI, lii).
About 135 years afterwards the Tarentines again took the field
having called for the help of the Spartan Archidamus who fell
fighting the lapygians on the very day of Philip's victory at Chae-
roneia. Strabo tells the story of the similar fate which befell
Agathocles (VI, 281).

The war was chiefly waged by the inland tribes, as the
lapygians dwelling in the cities on the coast gradually became
enervated by luxury and more readily fell under Greek influence.
Athenaeus describes their luxury and efleminate garments (XII,
253). Hence the conquest of the Peninsula by the Romans was
rendered easy, and was attained in one single campaign, which is
thus briefly recounted by Horus : " The Sallentines shared the fate
of the people of Picenum, and Brundusium, the chief city of the
country, with its famous hdrbour, was taken by Marcus Atilius ".
Zonaras also relates the story (VIII, 7).

The Sallentini revolted to Hannibal during the second Punic
war in 213 B.C., but were again reduced to subjection (Livy
XXV. I ; XXVII, 36).

The coins of the Messapians reveal very little of the thoughts or
habits of the people ; they show that in regard to art their citizens
depended entirely upon the Greeks of Tarentum.

As to their religious beliefs, the coins show that they worshipped
the gods of Greece, the heads of the following deities appearing on
their coins, Zeus, Poseidon, Pallas, Aphrodite, Eros and Nike, the
last two being represented as standing or flying. The demi-god Hera-
cles appears, and we see the head of a beardless warrior, wearing an
Italian conical helmet with a small crest, who may represent some
unknown lapygian leader, perhaps lapyx or Phalanthus.

— 148 —

The accounts of the Messapians which have been handed down
to our time all come from their enemies the Greeks. Strabo gives
but little help to those who try to understand what manner of men
they were; and it is only in the pages of Athenaeus that we can
glean anything of human interest. He represents them as luxurious
and effeminate, but we may gather from the long-continued oppo-
sition they were able to maintain to the Tarentine armies that some
of them were brave and skiful soldiers. Perhaps the words of Athe-
naeus which refer to their luxury should be regarded as applicable
rather to the dwellers in the cities near the coast than to the northern
and inland tribes.

- 149


About twelve miles south of Brundusium, near the village ot
Pietro Vernotico, are the remains of an ancient town \\hich issued
silver coins about 350 B.C. bearing the legends FAAE®A^, and
BAAE®A^. It was mentioned by Pliny, in his list of cities, as
between Lupia and Caelium ; he spells it Balesium (lib. III. xi). In
the Tabula it is spelt Valentia (///>/. HicrosoL, p, 609) and Valetium
in Mela (II. 4).

The site is still called by the natives Baleso, or Valesio, and
they still call the old Roman road which passes through the site
the Via Trajana. Vases, inscriptions, and other remains of the old
city have been dug up on the spot.

The circuit of the ancient walls shews that it was a very small
town. It is mentioned by Galateus (de situ lapygiae, pp. 73, 74), and
by Romanelli (vol. II, p. 79).

Garrucci thought the name Baletium was derived from the name
Phalanthus, and the spelling of the name on the coins with ® favours
this idea.

The coins of Baletium are extremely rare, only four specimens
are known to Numismatists ; two of these are in the Cabinet at
Naples, and the other two in the Cabinet de Luynes at Paris. Each
Cabinet possesses a Didrachm and a Tetrobol of this city. The
coins at Naples were bought for that Museum at the sale of the
Nervegna collection at Rome, in 1907, and were found near
Brundusium. Those at Paris were bought from Jules Sambon, who
found them near Luppia in Calabria. They were illustrated in
Plate XV of the Revue nuiiiisiiiatiqtie, 1859. The figure of Taras is
there shown as of very barbarous workmanship, more like a monkey
than a man. It is a didrachm weighing 118 grains.

The coins in the Naples Cabinet are illustrated by photograps,
in the Sale Catalogue of the Nervegna Collection (p. 19, figures 23 5


This didrachm weighs 7.92 grammes i.e. 122 grains. The figure
ot Taras is much better in execution, but still evidently a Messapian
copy of Greek work. The Tetrobol at Naples weighs 2.58 grammes
i.e. 39.40 grains.

— 150 -

I. Didrachm. Obv. Taras on a dolphin, to right, followed by a
small dolphin, border of dots. ^A®3AAR.

Rev. Same legend, a dolphin, globule and crescent, in the field
FE : a plain border.

II. Tetrobol. Obv. A dolphin, and around Ch ^A®AAB.
Rev. A crescent, above HE : below ^A®AAa.

The characters or letters which form the legends on these coins ot
Baletium are archaic, and belong to an age earlier than that at which
the coins were issued. Similar legends are found on the coins of
other cities in Magna Graecia, as for instance on those of Croton.
It is thought that in some cases the ancient forms of the letters may
be accounted for by the engraver copying the inscription on some
well-known old statue or work of art.

D"" Head in the Historia Numoriim (p. 90) gives the date 443 B . C.
as the period at which the change from the older characters to the
newer took place in S. Italy, and in the Dictionnaire des Antiqiiites
of Daremberg et Saglio, under the word Alphabet, the eighty-
seventh Olympiad i. e. from 432-429 B.C. is given as the period
during which the change took place in the Greek Alphabet. In the
year 403 B.C. the second year of the ninety-fourth Olympiad
the Ionian alphabet was adopted generally.

The letter R is the so called oivay.y-a representing the sounds of
/ or v but more strongly.

The letter ® is the older form of the 9 with the " th " sound.

The letter ^ is the old form of I, with the sound of |.

The presence of these archaic letters on a coin of the Messapians
may indicate that writing was used among them at any rate for
inscriptions before the conquest of the land by the Tarentines.

The shape of the letters on coin legends is not a certain sign of
the date of their production.

151 —


The coins of this well-known city are all Roman; none of the
coins of the period before the establishment of the Roman colony have
been preserved, although from the fact that coins were issued by the
native cities in the neighbourhood in the fourth century before
Christ we may feel sure that a native mint existed also in this city.

It was only 44 miles from Tarentum, and from the Roman types
being those of Tarentum, Taras on the dolphin, we may imagine
that if any earlier coins were issued they also bore that type.

The name of the city was derived from the shape of the port,
which was thought to resemble a- stag's head, called by the
Messapians Brention or Brentesion. From Strabo (VI. 3,6.) we
learn : " It is said that a colony of Cretans settled in Brentesium,
but the tradition varies, some say they were those who came with
Theseus from Cnossus (about 1323 B.C.) others that they were
some out of Sicily who had come with Japax ; they agree however
in saying that they did not abide there but went thence to Bottiaea.
At a later period, when the state was under a monarch, it lost a
large portion of its territories, which was taken by the Lacedemo-
nians who came over under Phalanthus ; notwithstanding this the
Brundusians received him when he was expelled from Tarentum,
and honoured him with a splendid tomb at his death. They
possess a district of superior fertility to that of the Tarentines for
its soil is light, still it is fruitful, and its honey and wools are
amongst the most esteemed : further the harbour of Brentesium is
superior to that of Tarentum, for many havens are protected by the
single entrance, and rendered perfectly smooth, many bays being
formed within it, so that is resembles in fashion the antlers of a
stag, whence its name, for the place together with the city is
exceedingly like the head of a stag, and in the Messapian language
the stag's head is called Brentesium; while the port of Tarentum
is not entirely safe both on account of its lying veiy open and of
certain shallows near its head ".

Justin (III, iv) in telling the story of Phalanthus says : " But after
several years their leader Phalanthus in a sedition being forced into
banishment, betook himself to Brundusium whither the old
Tarentines beinii driven from their homes had retired ".

— 152 —

The city never received a colony of Greeks, and remained the
chief port and city of the lapygi until it was conquered by the Romans.
It was in the 3^ear 267 B.C. that the Romans first attacked
Brundusium (Zonaras, VIII, 7).

But though they took the city in that year they did not send a
colony to possess it until 244 B.C. According to Livy (Epit. XIX)
" two colonies were established, at Fregen^e and Brundusium in
the Sallentine territories ".

Velleius Paterculus (I, 14) informs us " when Torquatus and
Sempronius were consuls, Brundusium was occupied with a colony ".
He says it was three years before the games of Flora were instituted.

Florus (I, 20) says : " The Sallentines shared the fate of the people
of Picenum, and Brundusium the chief city of that countr}^, with its
famous harbour, was taken by Marcus Atilius. In this contest. Pales,
the goddess of shepherds, demanded of her own accord a temple as
the price of victor}' ". This was the same Atilius who consecrated
the Temple of Concord in Rome (Livy, XXIII, 22.)

In the first Illyrian war in 229 B.C. the Romans assembled
their fleet at Brundusium (Polyb. II, 11) and in the second Punic
war this was their chief naval station from which to oppose Philip
ofMacedon (Livy, XXIII, 48, XXIV, 10).

Hannibal in vain attempted to take the city, and Brundusium was
one of the eighteen colonies which supplied men and means with
which to assist the army (XXV, 22, XXVII, 10).

It became the port from which all the Roman armies which
conquered Greece and the east started, and to which they returned
in triumph.

The coins of Brundusium have been divided into three classes by
Mommsen (Hist. Mon. Rom., ed. Blacas, Vol. Ill, pp. 367-369).
This classification is also given by D' Head {Hist. Num., p. 43).

" Series II B.C. 217-200 Uncial w', consists of the Triens 0000-
Quadrans 000, Sexans 00, Uncia o ". Mommsen explains that coins
of semiuncial weight were widely struck in Italy, outside Rome,
before 89 B.C., and that the Lex Papiria of that year was in effect
merely the legal authorization of the currency of already existing
local issues of semiuncial weight, and of the issue in future of these
light coins at Rome itself. In regard to the coins of Brundusium it
would only be possible to draw a hard and fast line between the
three series by the examination of a much larger collection of these
coins than that in the British Museum.


The coinage began- to be issued in 245 B.C. when the city was
made a colonv.

— 1)3 -

There are two series of coins which we can distinguish by their
weights alone, as the types are similar in each series.

Series i. 24)-2i'j B.C.


I. Sextans. Size i inch or 1.5.

Obv. Head of Poseidon, to right, laureated : behind a trident,
above which a wreath-bearing Nike : beneath, 00 : border of dots.

Rev . BR AN. Taras on a dolphin tcf left, carrying figure of wreath
bearing Nike and lyre ; beneath, 00 : plain border.

2. Uncia. Size .9.

Obv. Same type, but o as mark of value.

Rev. Same type, but Taras is carrying a cornucopi^e instead of a
Ivre ; behind, a club upwards; beneath o as mark of value.

3. Semuncia. Size .75.

Obv. Same type ; but with no mark of value.

Rev. Similar type, but Taras is carrying a lyre instead of a cornu-
copia; ; behind, a star with eight rays.

4. Semuncia. Size .7.

Obv. Same type ; but the trident is longer, and the figure of Nike
is omitted.

Rev. Similar type, but Taras is carrying a kantharos and lyre;
behind Z in place of a symbol.

5. Quarter of Uncia. Size .55. Sicilicus or Siciliquus.
Obv. Similar to last.

Rev. BRVN. Similar type, but behind C. For the name Sicilicus
cf. Scaev. Dig., 33, i, 21 Q. Mutius Scaevola. Obit 82 B.C.

— 154 —

6. Eighth of an Uncia. Size .4. Olce ?

Obv. Nike to right holding pellet and palm : border of dots.

Rev. Similar to last, BRVN. Dolphin to left, above P : plain border.

Series 200-S9 B.C.


7. Semis. Size .85,

Obv, Head of Poseidon, to right, laureated ; behind, a Trident
above which wreath-bearing Nike, beneath u^.

Rev. BR VN. Taras on dolphin to left, carrying wreath -bearing
Nike and lyre ; behind Taras S ' plain border. Various initials as

8. Triens. Size .85.

Obv. Similar type, but beneath head 0000.
Rev. Similar type, but beneath 0000.

9. Quadrans. Size .65.

Obv. Similar type, but beneath, 000.

Rev. Similar type, but beneath, 000.

The Semuncial Standard was introduced in 89 B.C.

— 155


The coins of this city, the site of which has not yet been discov-
ered, were attributed by Eckhel (\'ol. i, p. 92) to Graviscct, a town
on the coast of Etruria. From the types and fabric, however, they
must have been issued from a city in Cahibria ; moreover, they
are found on the coast of the gulf of Tarentum.

They are small bronze pieces belonging to the Semuncial system
or perhaps to the reduced uncial system if we regard them as
slightly earlier than the year 9 B.C. (Millingen, Niimismaticjuc de
ritalie, pp. 148, 172). The British Museum Catalogue mentions
them as the coins of an " uncertain town of Calabria " (p. 221).
Garrucci says these coins are found in numbers near Fasano,
especially near S.M. di Agnazzo. He does not think fPA =
Gnatliia or Egnatia. On one of the coins found there the leirend
was rPAz.A not PPA. Garrucci says it was in Apulia north of
Brindisi, Millingen thought it was for fPAIA KAAAinOAII, (Mela,
XI, 4.) but the most probable site is Fasano.

I. Coin with no mark of value. Size .65.

Obv. Head of Zeus to right laureate : border of dots.

Rev. Two eagles on thunderbolt to right; in field, to right, a
crescent, horns pointing to left, PPA in exergue. T he s pecimen in
the Brit. Museum is countermarked on the Reverse |o*o [on the left
hand side. Num. Chnvi., 201. Vol. IV, 4''' series.

II. Quadrans. Size .65.

Obv. Head of Zeus, to right, 000.

Rev. PPA. Two eagles on a fulmen ; one variety with a star to
right on Reverse was given by Sir Henry Howorth to the Brit.

III. Quadrans. Size .6.

Obw Head of Zeus, to right, 000.

- 156 ^
Rev, rPA. One eaa;le on a fulmen.

IV. Uncia, Size .6.

Obv. A cockle-shell, a star.
Rev. One eagle on a fulmen.

V. Half-Uncia?

Obv. A cockle-shell, D.
Rev. One eagle on a fulmen.

VI. Half Uncia?
Obv. A cockle-shell.
Rev. A dolphin.

— 157


Herodotus, in his account of the return of the Cretans from Sicily,
records the story of the foundation of Hyria, the most ancient of
the lapygian cities, and as he wrote his history in Magna Graecia
he would have the advantage of hearing local traditions.

" When they (the Cretans) were sailing along the coast of Japygia
a violent storm overtook them, and drove them ashore. As their
ships were broken to pieces, and there appeared no means of
returning to Crete, they thereupon founded the city of Hyria, and
settled there, changing their name from Cretans to Messapian
lapygians, and becoming, instead of islanders, inhabitants of the
continent. From the city of Hyria they founded other cities, which,
a long time after, the Tarentines endeavouring to destrov signally
failed " (VII, 170).

It seems at first sight strange that a seafaring people such as the
Cretans should have chosen to build their city so far from the
sea as twenty miles from both Brundusium and Tarentum. The
site was fifteen miles from the nearest sea beach along the bay of
Tarentum .

The Appian way was afterwards made to pass Hyria, thus connect-
ing it with Brundusium and Tarentum.

On the site of Hyria a modern town exists, called Oria, built on a
low hill commanding an extensive view of the country around.
No remnants of the ancient city now exist, but inscriptions in the
Messapian dialect have been found, and bronze coins which are
fairly common. Hyria was the headquarters of the opponents of
the Tarentines, and the citizens seem to have resisted the luxury
which rendered those of the coast cities effeminate. The coins 01
Hyria do not bear witness to the religion or life of the Messapians
prevailing before the Roman conquest. Whether they ever issued
silver coins, or had a mint before the issue of the bronze coins now
known to us, we cannot tell.

The two deities whose heads appear on the coins are Pallas and
Aphrodite, and the only other obverse type is the head of a beardless
warrior wearing a conical helmet, with a small crest, very similar
to one of the Italian helmets in the British Museum, in the case on

- 158 -

the right-hand side of the entrance to the Numismatic Room. As
the hehiiet is of the Itahan form, and differs from the Greek helmet
we may regard the head as that of some legendary national hero,
perhaps that of lapyx. A strong national or civic feeling is thus
expressed, at a time long after the Greeks and Romans had subdued
their city.

The cult of Aphrodite is rare in South Italy, and may point to
some connection with Corinth, the nearest city which used the
head of this goddess as a coin-type.

In the Tabula Peutinger there is evidence of the cult of Aphrodite
being celebrated in Apulia about twenty miles north of the borders
of Calabria.

" Gnatiie VIII, ad Venesis VIII, Norve, leg. VI, Ehetium VIII,
Ceha VIII, leg. XI, Butuntos ".

That is " Gnathia, Norba, Azetium, Caelia, Butuntum ". The
station marked " ad Venesis ", between Gnatia and Norba, is on a
hill now called Monte S. Pietro, and the Latin form for Aphrodite
is only what we should expect in Roman Tabula. The distance of
this temple from Hyria or Orra is only thirty-five miles.

The coin of Hyria bearing the head of Aphrodite shews there was
also a temple to that goddess in Hyria of Calabria. At Poseidonia
the cult of Aphrodite was known (cf. pp. 98 and 108 of Coins of
Magna Graecia) and a head of this goddess appears on bronze coins
of Laus. The dolphin which appears on coins of Calabria may be
regarded as an emblem of Aphrodite as well as of Poseidon and
may therefore be added to the witness of the prevalence of this cult
in Calabria.



I. Quincunx. Size .8.

Obv. Head of Pallas, to right, wearing helmet with three crests
and two feathers between them, one of which is seen.

Rev. ORRA. Eagle to right, wings open, standing on thunderbolt:
beneath 00000.

Varieties. On some coins a border of dots on Obverse. The
Reverse type is treated rather differently on some, but the type is the

— t)9 —

II. Triens. Size .75.

Obv. Same type as Quincunx, but behind the head the letters AA :
no border.

Rev. Same tvpe as Quincunx, hut 0000 as mark of value.

/< /■'■'

. \ '■



III. Size .7.

Obv. Head of beardlesswarrior, to right, wearing conical helmet
with small crest : behind the head the letters AA.
Rev. ORRA. An eagle, to right, on thunderbolt.

IV. Quincunx. Size .7.

Obv. Bust of Aphrodite to right, with sceptre, wearing wreath of
uncertain foliage, stephane, earring, and necklace : border ot dots.

Rev. ORRA. Eros, walking to right, playing on a lyre : behind,
five dots, the marks of value, in vertical line : plain border.

V. Quadrans. Size .6.

Obv. Same as IV.

Rev. ORRA. Eros^ walking to right, holding a fillet with both
hands ; in front q : plain border.

VI. Sextans ? Size .6.
Obv. Same as IV and V.

Rev. Dove flying to right holding wreath in her talons : beneath
00? : plain border.


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