Scepter or parazonium?
a popular aureus type features the emperor holding a globe and what has variously been described as a scepter or a parazonium. here is one good example:
i wonder though if this is really either. i don't have a better suggestion, only that scepters at least as portrayed elsewhere in roman coinage are typically longer than body length and resemble shower curtain poles. it seems awkward and contrary to purpose to hold a scepter by the "hilt" and point it downwards.
on the other hand parazoniums, the roman battle sword, don't seem to fit in with the imagery of a statesman wearing a toga with the world in his hand. plus again, the idea that this may be a parazonium must have been influenced for the general resemblance to 18th century musketeers and their sabre swords. the classical posture of a roman soldier at ease would have held his sword thus:
notice too the width of the blade is much wider.
since the type is most commonly seen with consular legends the logical conclusion is that it must represent a scepter, albeit a special baton-like ornamental stick, that was given to the consul's representatives. they were a bit like a tangible signature meant to be publicly visible reminders that he who held it must have been a direct appointee and therefore a legal spokesman for the consul. "the big boss gave me this stick, see? that means that whatever i say is as good as if he said it himself".
can anyone add to this?
On the Constatine coin it really looks to me like an unopened umbrella.
On a more serious note, while reading your description, I couldn't help thinking of the bundles of sticks carried during the Republic (fasces?). What happened to them after the time of Augustus? Could there have been some type staff that ceremonially replaced them?
Another thought is that it is a scepter. All the depictions in Imperial Coinage of scepters I can think of are taller than a man but that doesn't mean much. During visits to Armories and Treasuries around Europe and the UK, I have seen scepters of all different sizes.
I think that in this case sceptre is referring to an imperial sceptre (symbol of imperial power) rather than a long sceptre / staff. We know of imperial sceptres with eagle tips (Bust Type H in RIC V) and we know that they exist with orbs on the end. I don't think the Imperial sceptres were long but short enoough to be carried in the manner on the first coin.
Image of Imperial sceptre supposed to belong to Maxentius found recently illustrated below:-
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