ANCIENT COINS - 2014
. Grazia Salamone
Una e molteplice: la Ninfa eponima di città
Iconografie monetali e semantica
Reggio Calabria 2013 (Semata e Signa 6). 377 Seiten mit zahlr. Textabbildungen und 30 Münztafeln
The Author analyzes the figures of the eponymous ‘Nymphs’ of Cities, personifications of the homonymous Poleis, focusing on an iconographic and ideological phenomenon that has so far been neglected by scholars, whose attention has instead concentrated on the Tyche poleos. The study starts by identifying the iconic code common to figures which can be classified within the category of eponymous ‘Nymphs’, and goes on to examine the historical-cultural factors behind the selection of coin images as official State documents. The subjects analyzed were selected on the basis of their identifying legend, expressed in the nominative singular,and come above all from the West between the 5th and 4th century BC.
The ‘Personification of the City’ coin type originated in colonial areas dominated by ‘strong’ political regimes and expressed a need to ‘propagandize’ the concept of the investiture of supreme authority by the polyadic‘goddess’, following on from an iconographic and semantic phenomenon that dates back to the major oriental goddesses, ‘queens’ and ‘brides’ that transmitted power to the Leader. There also emerges the need to give ‘form’ to the concept of polis, and to emphasize its full legal sovereignty and strength. This explains the helmeted head of Kyme and the armed figures of Thessaly, ‘nymphs’ that embody defence of the polis,similar to Aphrodite, with her dual ‘face’ as goddess of fertility and war.
From the 5th century BC up until the Hellenistic age we witness the reuse of the ‘nymphe’ type in ‘democratic’ political contexts: the eponymous ‘nymph’ becomes a figurative emblem of a pre-established social system, within which the role of women is that of legitimate nymphe and meter of future citizens.
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