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Old 10-10-2007, 08:19 PM
rasiel rasiel is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 276
Default 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:

http://www.tantaluscoins.com/coins/5270.php

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:

http://www.tantaluscoins.com/coins/4201.php

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?

ras
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