The Cult of Chersonasos in Tauric Chersonesos

Numismatic and Epigraphic Evidence Revisited

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia
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This paper discusses the nature of the cult of a certain Chersonasos who appears in the so-called Diophantos decree from Tauric Chersonesos (iospe i2 352, 52). The interpretation of Chersonasos, especially in connection with the local coinage, has long been a matter of debate and still remains an open question. The coins that are traditionally interpreted as bearing the image of Chersonasos date from the 1st cent. bc to the 2nd cent. ad. It is demonstrated that in fact they represent more than one type of a head image, which may lead to interpretations divergent from the traditional point of view. It is argued that Chersonasos represented on local coinage was a personification of the city; previous interpretations are reassessed and a plausible explanation of the occurrence of this cult is offered in connection with the political situation of the city during the Roman period.

The Cult of Chersonasos in Tauric Chersonesos

Numismatic and Epigraphic Evidence Revisited

in Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia

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2

See Stolba 1996a; 2004; Rusyaeva 2010.

4

Rusyaeva 2005484; see also Rusyaeva & Zubar’ 2004 364.

8

Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013. For an alternative interpretation of the coin images suggested by the authors see note 36 below.

9

Latÿshev 1909159; Reinach 1860 70.

10

Oreshnikov 19127-8; cf. Bertier-Delagard who associated the head with Apollo Bertier-Delagard 1906 66-67.

12

Minns 1913544; Pomp. Mela 2 3.

13

Oreshnikov 1918145.

14

Leschhorn & Franke 2002113 with reference to rpci 1937 and rpcii 480.

15

Skrzhinskaya 200585 with reference to Anokhin 1977 Nos. 208-210 216 211-225; although the only image of an unidentified bearded man on Chersonesean coins from that period seems to appear on Nos. 226 and 227.

17

See Rusyaeva 2005484; Rusyaeva & Zubar’ 2004 365-366 with further literature.

19

Rusyaeva 2005482 with further literature; Rusyaeva & Zubar’ 2004 363-365.

20

Anokhin 2011Nos. 791 792 794 and 805.

26

Oreshnikov 1918148.

27

Oreshnikov 1918149.

28

Zograf 1951157; Kadeev 1981 23; cf. Sidorenko 2013 who translates the phrase as Sacred Peace disregarding the fact that the word σεβαστός (both as an adjective and a noun) in most cases refers to the Latin title Augusus that was in use by Roman emperors since 27 bc (see Leschhorn & Franke 2002 268 note 5). As an adjective σεβαστός usually means venerablereverend or august (see σεβαστός in lsj; cf. rpcii 687 for the meaning imperial).

29

Oreshnikov 1918149; Rostovtsev 1916 11; this type includes Nos. 11 12 13 15 17 and 19; see pl. 2 5.

30

See Zograf 1951157; Anokhin 1977 Nos. 229 230-232 234-246.

31

Suet.Aug. 94; Plut. Brut. 24; for the temple of Apollo Palatinus in Rome see Suet. Aug. 18 29; Dio Cass. 51 1.

33

Rostovtsev 191611; Oreshnikov 1918 149.

34

Anokhin 197791; see also 84 No. 286 on which Parthenos bears similar characteristics of Caracalla; 88 Nos. 306-308 on which Chersonasos resembles Valerian (253-260 ad); cf. Turovskiï & Stupko 2008 23-24; Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013 according to whom the images traditionally associated with Chersonasos directly represent Roman emperors; see also Köhne 1848 115-117.

35

Oreshnikov 1922.

36

Zograf 1951157; Meshcheryakov 1989; Kadeev 1996 150; Rusyaeva 2005; Skrzhinskaya 2005 85.

37

Oreshnikov 1922159; Anokhin 2011 Nos. 807-809.

38

Pollitt 19862-3; Shapiro 1993 227; for the cult of Tyche see Smith 2011 119-122; Stolba 2015 with further literature; for the Tyche of Antiocheia and its impact on the Greco-Roman world see Meyer 2006; for a list of coins with inscriptions mentioning Tyche as a city-goddess see Leschhorn & Franke 2002 299-300.

40

Tyras: Anokhin 2011Nos. 39 80 86 103 122 and 133; Olbia: Tyche with a corona muralis Anokhin 2011 Nos. 221-231 596 and 529; cf. Stolba 2015 who interprets the image as a representation of Demeter; standing Tyche Nos. 556 and 567; Kerkinitis: Tyche with a corona muralis Anokhin 2011 Nos. 607-610; cf. Stolba 1996b pl. 10 1-5 who interprets the image as a possible representation of Hera.

41

Sidorenko 2013355 assumes that there is only one altar mentioned in the Diophantos decree and thus Chersonasos should be perceived only as an epithet of Parthenos. Such an argumentation does not seem convincing since the inscription clearly refers to two separate altars: παρὰ τὸν τᾶς Παρθένου βωµὸν καὶ τὸν τᾶς Χερσονάσου.

42

Oreshnikov 1922.

44

Leschhorn & Franke 2002187 (rpcii 280 81-96 ad; bmc 11; Rogers 310 5th-1st cent. bc); see also Leschhorn & Franke 2002 262-264 for Roma as the city-goddess (e.g. rpci 5209 56-161 ad) 79 for the personification of the city of Germe (e.g. sng Aulock 7216 2nd cent. ad) and 244 for coins with the inscription ΠΟΛΙΣ which refers to a personified city-goddess.

45

Hamdorf 196425-30.

46

Danov 194795; referred to by Meshcheryakov 1989 70.

49

Oreshnikov 1922.

51

Alexandri-Tzahou 1986.

56

Ruscu 2006.

57

Ruscu 2006773.

58

Leshhorn 199364-72 with further literature.

60

Oreshnikov 1922; see also Zograf 1955153; Anokhin 1977 Nos. 200 201; for a historical overview see Kadeev 1981 10-16; for the concept of the first eleutheria and problems with dating and the interpretation of written sources see Makarov 2005.

61

Kadeev 198113-16 with further literature.

63

Kadeev 198143 and 82-83 with a prosopographical analysis of the names of officials; iospei2 357 359-361 363 374 386 389.

64

Kadeev 198115-16.

65

Nos. 11-13 15 17 and 19; Kadeev 198123.

66

Kadeev 198123 with further literature.

68

Kadeev 19812531-34 with further literature.

69

See Kadeev 1996150; Meshcheryakov 1980 95; for the political use of civic personifications as a means of communicating political ideas see especially Smith 2011.

70

Kadeev 1981985; Zubar’ 2007.

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Coins of Chersonesos. 1: Type 1, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 241 (ae, 18 mm, 4.69 g); 2: Type 5, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 249 (au, 20 mm, 7.84 g); 3: Type 8, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 252 (ae, 17 mm, 4.85 g); 4: Type 8, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 256a (ae, 19 mm, 4.93 g).

    illustrations courtesy of e. j. turovskiï.

  • View in gallery
    Coins of Chersonesos. 5: Type 11,Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 263 (ae, 24 mm, 13.6 g); 6: Type 23, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 279 (au, 19,5 mm, 7.75 g); 7: Type 18, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 274 (au, 20 mm, 7.75 g); 8: Type 27, Turovskiï & Gorbatov 2013, No. 286 (ae, 26 mm, 9.86 g).

    illustrations courtesy of e. j. turovskiï.

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