Moneta — ancilla historiae „Interpretacja ikonograficzna i ideologiczna” numizmatów we współczesnej polskiej historiografii starożytności rzymskiej (próba przeglądu)

Author(s): Agata A. Kluczek
Subject(s): History
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Summary/Abstract: The following article is a short summary of Polish research into the „iconographic and ideological” interpretation of Roman numismatics during the last thirty years (1983—early 2014). It was defined as an atractive and developing research field with prospects by Professor Andrzej Kunisz in his cross-sectional study “The Roman Empire Minting. The State and Prospects of Research” published in 1984 in the post-conference volume „Ancient Money. The State and Prospects of Polish Research” (see footnote 3). The following article mentions only selected publications; broader topics which are being researched have not been discussed. Also the late period was omitted, based on the timeline proposed by Maciej Salamon (see footnotes 5 and 41).A numismatic as such is „a versatile source: material, written and iconographic” (StanisławSuchodolski, footnote 7). Studies carried out by Jerzy Kolenda et al. present the history of some collections of Roman coins in Polish museums and the beginnings of “scientific” interest in Roman coins (see footnote 9).What makes numismatic material attractive from a cognitive point of view, is undoubtedly theinscriptional and iconographic aspect, and the uniqueness of the evolving of legends and imagery. Especially inscriptions, and to a lesser extent images (see footnotes 59—61) attract researchers’ attention. They are primarily the inscriptions and images on the reverse of numismatics. Most analyses concern the so-called imperial coinage connected to the emperors. However, a group of acclaimed researchers also dealt with the ideological and iconographic aspects of provincial coinage (e.g. Aleksandra Krzyżanowska, Barbara Lichocka and Stefan Skowronek, see footnotes 62—65), as well as with contents expressed on medallions (Jerzy Kolendo, Aleksander Bursche, see footnote 66).The attractiveness of numismatics (see footnotes 56—57), or their significance as media forconveying ideological messages, was already seen by the ancients themselves (see footnotes 40 and 58). This element had impact on the vividness of imagery and inscriptions, especially at the close of the 2nd and beginning of the 1st century BC, until the late period (see footnotes 10 and 41). Nevertheless, not every image and every inscription should be interpreted in ideological categories (see footnote 54).Unquestionably, in the discussed thirty-year period of research, the attractiveness of numismatics as evidence of antiquity was noticed, as was the potentially vast range of issues, the knowledge of which can be broadened by an analysis of inscriptions and images. Professor Kunisz pointed to three aspects of state life, which can be related to the ideological messages promoted on coins and medallions: the dynastic policy of a ruler, praising the existing state system and emphasizing successes in relations with foreign countries and peoples. The researcher from Katowice discussed selected issues within this range of topics in many of his works. He focused his research on the epoch at the turn of the Republic and Empire and the early Principate (including “The Role of Numismatic Sources in Research into the Ideology and Propaganda in the Roman State” (1993), “Republican Traditions and the Reflection of New Reality in Augustan Epoch Minting” (1995) and other studies, see footnotes 1—2, 17—18). The studies on the history of Rome based on numismatics and published during the last 30 years focus on four time periods. These chronological accents were inspired largely by some of the above mentioned studies.The first period encompasses the birth of the Principate, the power struggle after the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar and the strenghtening of Augustus at the helm of power. Apart from the inspiring studies by Andrzej Kunisz (see footnote 16), one has to mention the equally important works by Lesław Morawiecki, including “Charismatic Power in Rome at the Close of the Republic (the years 44—27 BC)” (1989) and “Legum ac libertatis auctor et vindex. Marcus Junius Brutus and His Political Program” (2001), in which the author proposed a method of research into monetary sources in connection with the literary sources situated within a thoroughly analyzed historical context (see footnotes 11—13). Currently, this epoch is enjoing considerable popularity in Polish historical research (see footnotes 14—16). The second period that attracts historical research based on numismatics comprises the declining years of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, the crisis of “the Year of the Four Emperors” , Vespasian’s accession and the beginning of the Flavian dynasty (see footnotes 19—20). One of the first studies is Andrzej Kunisz’s “The Program of Clodius Macer — Leader of Revolt in Africa in AD 68” (1988) and “L’insurrection de Clodius Macer en Afrique du Nord en 68 de notre ère” (1994) (see footnote 18). The researchers’ attention is also drawn to the period of the Civil War 193—197 and the rule of the Severan dynasty (see footnotes 22—24). Tadeusz Kotula’s study “Septimius Severus. The Emperor from Leptis Magna”, published in 1984, (see footnote 21) might have spured more interest in these times. The fourth period, equally popular among Polish researchers, is the period of the so-called Third Century Crisis of the Roman Empire. Wiesław Kaczanowicz’s studies “Carausius’ and Allectus’ Usurpation in Britannia and Gallia at the Close of the 3rd Century.” (1985) “Ideological Aspects in Roman Minting between 235 and 284 AD.” (1990), “Emperor Probus, 276—282 AD.”(1997) (see footnotes 25—28) were inspiring in terms of their contents and methodology, which is noticeable in many studies by other researchers (see footnotes 29—35).Numismatics also became evidence of contacts between the Roman Empire and Barbaricum,and of interaction on many planes between the two worlds — Roman and foreign (especiallyAleksander Bursche, see footnotes 36—37). Based on monetary sources , it was possible to interpret episodes of war conflicts, their consequences, aspects of political relations of Rome with other states and peoples and, more broadly speaking, the symbolism of the Roman presence in their contemporary world, together with their aspirations (see footnotes 38—39, 73—74). Frequently, the problems which emerged from an analysis of Roman minting oscillate around matters related to the reign of a given emperor or members of his family, a Roman emperor as a person, imperial power, and the state ideology propagated through coins. One can point to many issues undertaken on this capacious research plane. Discussions began about the motifs and ideas captured in Roman numismatics: aeternitas, concordia, felicitas, fortuna, pax, patientia, pietas, salus, and virtus, pointing out their continuity and evolution (see footnotes 42—49, 72), on the personifications of provinces (see footnotes51—52) and the presence of mythological characters and those from the pantheon of Greco-Roman gods (see footnote 53). The significance of remembering old monetary types in the form of issued nummi restituti and commemorative coins was appreciated (see footnote 50). The focus of research was on the images of the ruler (see footnotes 67—69). Imperial titles,epithets, victorious nicknames and ideas defining the emperor’s virtues were studied, and the subject of emperor’s charisma, reflected in both inscriptions and iconography, was addressed. Studies also concerned dynastic matters: rulers, their successors, co-rulers and members of ruling families (see footnotes 70—71). The notion of imperium sine fine represented on coins, was analyzed in a territorial aspect (see footnote 73) and — in combination with the idea of aeternitas — in a temporal aspect (see footnote 72). The inscriptions and imagery on coins were also perceived as a numismatic commentary on the role and hierarchy of structures existing within the Roman state, and on the presence of diverse groups of people in the state (see footnotes 75—78). Thus, there exists considerable interest among Polish researchers in the ideological significance and iconografic message of the Roman coin and medalion and the ways of their use by ancient centers of power, central and local. The catalog of issues investigated based on numismatic sources is similarly extensive. Although the undertaken issues are most frequently considered from the emperor’s perspective, in the sense that they concern the emperor and his power, and although they are situated within a particular reign or dynasty, in considering chronological diversity, they combine into a rich picture of ideological themes. Moreover, the numismatic material has become attractive for researchers from different academic centers. This results in viewing Roman history from many different perspectives, whose common denominator is a basic source — a coin and a medallion.

  • Page Range: 75-100
  • Page Count: 26
  • Publication Year: 2017
  • Language: Polish