How Do You Get Paid?

I have the bestest fans. A dear soul has sent me an invaluable resource of Roman Republican coinage. Not actual coins, duh, but an online collection of images of Mid-to-Late Republic coins – Rutgers University Badian Collection.

The collection covers roughly 280 to 31 BCE, and is comprised of about 1,200 coins. Each entry is detailed and tagged, making it easy to search specific elements and images, and to explore themes. This makes it very exciting for anyone trying to bring up Roman (or Roman-based) society for life.

Consider for example the above coins. The obverse face belongs to the goddess Cybele, or Magna Mater (Great Mother) as she was known to the Romans. She was imported from Anatolia to Rome when Rome was facing defeat by Carthage during the second Punic War. After some kerfuffle with prophecies and almost drowning in the river, virtuous Roman matrons brought her safely home. These events have their analogues in Egretian society, and indeed cast their long shadow over the events central to In Numina.

The small images above (click to enlarge) feature two reverse sides:

  • Top (from a coin of Vesta) showing a voting procession – two jurors, one getting a small tablet from an assistant, and the other casting his market vote into the urn;
  • Bottom (from the same coin as Cybele) showing a Curule Chair – that unique symbol of Roman power (imperium) which only high-ranking magistrates could sit on.

Both of these elements too, the chair for the judge and the voting of the case, are also central to grand finale in In Numina. Or consider this coin:

Roman coin with curule chair and voting urn

A bit harder to see, but this is another one commemorating a trial: there is a voting urn on the left, the temple of Vesta (a native Roman female deity of hearth) and inside a curule chair, and on the right a tabella with the letter A and C – identified as potentially meaning Absolvo and Condemno (the terms used by the jury voting on their verdict).

Felix, naturally, likes to get paid (so he can spend the money on food and wines). While Rome had a banking and credit system, there is nothing quite like the feel of cold silver in one’s hands. And who knows, with the notoriety of the case in In Numina and the powerful people behind it, it’s quite possible that soon after Felix might get handed a coin with Cybele or Vesta (those competing maternal goddesses) at the face and symbols of a trial on the back. He would no doubt feel quite proud to have been there on that day the coin commemorates.

… to say nothing about future plots involving money counterfeiting 😉

2 Comments

  1. Awesome. We are so drowned in a dungeons-and-dragons/post-tolkien axis of fantasy literature that we forgot where it came from in the first place. Dwelling in historical details like that is one of the ways out. Those who realize that history and mythology are at the heart of it shall bear the sword of kings!

    Liked by 1 person

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