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Exultant udæ super aridu saza rapina,
: De piscibus captis. Aus. Eid. 10.
Percussa solis spiculo. Prud. Hym. 2. I have now given you a sample of such emblematical medals as are unriddled by the Latin poets, and have shown several passages in the Latin poets that receive an illustration from medals. Some of the coins we have had before us have not been explained by others, as many of them have been explained in a different manner. There are indeed others that have had very near the same explication put upon them, but as this explication has been supported by no authority, it can at best be looked upon but as a probable conjecture. It is certain, says Eugenius, there cannot be any more authentic illustrations of Roman medals, especially of those that are full of fancy, than such as are drawn out of the Latin poets. For as there is a great affinity between designing and poetry, so the Latin poets, and the designers of the Roman medals, lived very near one another, were acquainted with the same customs, conversant with the same objects, and bred up to the same relish for wit and fancy. But who are the ladies that we are next to examine? These are, says Philander, so many cities, nations and provinces, that present themselves to you under the shape of women. What you take for a fine lady at first sight, when you come to look into her, will prove a town, a country, or one of the four parts of the world. In short, you have now Afric, Spain, France, Italy, and several other nations of the earth before you. This is one of the pleasantest maps, says Cynthio, that I ever saw. Your geographers now and then fancy a country like a leg or a head, a bear or a dragon, but I never before saw them represented like women. I could not have thought your mountains, seas, and promontaries, could have made up an assembly of such well-shaped persons. This therefore, says Philander,
is a geography particular to the medalists. The poets however have sometimes given into it, and furnish us with very good lights for the explication of it. The first lady you see on the list is Africa*. She carries an elephant's tooth by her side.
- Dentibus ex illis quos mittit porta Syenes,
Juv. Sat. 11. She is always quoiffed with the head of an elephant, to show that this animal is the breed of that country, as for the same reason she has a dragon lying at her feet.
Huic varias pestes, diversaque membra ferurum,
Manil. lib. 4. de Africâ.
Here nature, angry with mankind, prepares
Lucan, in his description of the several noxious animals of this country, mentions in particular the flying dragon that we see on this medal.
Vos quoque, qui cunctis innoxia numina terris
* Third Şeries. Fig. 1. Vol. V. , ' G
In other nations harmless are you found,
The bull that appears on the other side of the dragon, shows us that Afric abounds in agriculture.
Tibi habe frumentum, Alledius inquit,
No more plough up the ground,
This part of the world has always on medals something to denote her wonderful fruitfulness, as it was indeed the great granary of Italy. In the two following figures, the handful of wheat, the cornu-copiæ, and basket of corn, are all emblems of the same signification.
Sed quâ se campis squalentibus Africa tendit,
Segetes mirantur Iberas
CLAUD. in Eutrop. lib. 1. The lion* on the second medal marks her out for the
. * Fig. 2.
HỌR. The scorpion* on the third is another of her productions, as Lucan mentions it in particular, in the long catalogue of her venomous aniinals.
Luc. lib. 9.
Quis futu putaret
Teste tulit cælo victi decus Orionis.
The three figures you have here shown us, says Eugenius, give me an idea of a description or two in Claudian, that I must confess I did not before know what to make of. They represent Africa in the shape of a woman, and certainly allude to the corn and head-dress that she wears on old coins.
-Mediis apparet in astris
CLAUD. de Bel. Gild,
Tum spicis et dente comas illustris eburno,
CLAUD. de Cons. Stil. lib. 2. I think, says Philander, there is no question but the poet has copied out in his description the figure that Africa made in ancient sculpture and painting. The next before us is Egyptt. Her basket of wheat shows
of Fig. 4.
the great fruitfulness of the country, which is caused by the inundations of the Nile.
Syrtibus hinc Libycis tuta est Ægyptus: at inde
The instrument in her hand is the Sistrum of the Egyptians, made use of in the worship of the goddess Isis.
- Claud. de 4to. Cons. Hon.
On medals you see it in the hand of Egypt, of Isis, or any of her worshippers. The poets too make the same use of it, às Virgil has placed it in Cleopatra's hand, to distinguish her for an Egyptian.
Regina in mediis patrio vocat agmina sistro. Virg. Æn. lib.8.
Restabant Actia bella,
De Iside Ov. Met. lib.9.
Illa tuâ toties æra repulsa manu ? Tib. lib. 1. el. 3.