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Crowning the emperor – An unorthodox image of Claudius, Agrippa I and Herod of Chalkis

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Crowning the emperor – An unorthodox image of Claudius, Agrippa I and Herod of Chalkis
  Syria  90 (2013), p. 377 à 389 CROWNING THE EMPERORAN UNORTHODOX IMAGE OF CLAUDIUS, AGRIPPA I AND HEROD OF CHALKIS  Andreas J. M. K   ROPP   1 1. Department of Classics. University of Nottingham NG7 2RD. andreas.kropp@nottingham.ac.uk. Résumé  – L’article porte sur des monnaies de deux rois hérodiens, Agrippa I er  ( AD  37-44) et Hérode de Chalcis ( AD  41-48), qui les montrent couronnant de lauriers l’empereur Claude. Le langage iconographique impériale offre une abondance de scènes de couronnement similaires, destinées à la glori fi cation des victoires et des succès de l’empereur. Mais malgré les apparences, familières, la con fi guration employée ici sur ces monnaies est fort inusitée et srcinale, utilisant des motifs communs a fi n de construire une nouvelle image du pouvoir royal. Bien que l’intention de glori fi er l’empereur soit transparente, l’srcinalité de cette composition permet aussi d’interpréter la scène d’une manière moins orthodoxe, en contradiction avec les principes de l’art romain impérial. Mots clés  – Judée, Chalcis, portraits, numismatique, dynastie hérodienne. Abstract  – This article looks at a narrative image on the coins of two Herodian kings, Agrippa I ( AD  37-44) and Herod of Chalkis ( AD  41-48). It shows the two kings crowning the emperor Claudius with wreaths. The crowning scene seems familiar, even banal, at fi rst sight, a routine allegory to glorify the emperor’s victories and successes. But a closer look reveals that the constellation is in fact highly srcinal, a creative adaptation of common motifs, re-channelled to concoct a new narrative of royal ideology. Whereas the intended message of glori fi cation is fairly transparent, the unorthodox arrangement of fi gures in this image also has the potential for unintended interpretations that would, from a Roman angle, be considered off-message. Keywords  – Judaea, Chalkis, portraiture, numismatics, Herodian dynasty.   ، ( ﻡ   ٤٨ - ٤١ )   ﺲﻴﻜﻟﺎﻛ   ﺩﻭﺮﻴﻫﻭ   ، (. ﻡ   ٤٤ - ٣٧ )   ﻝﻭﻷﺍ   ﺎﺒﻳﺮﻏﺃ   ،ﲔﻳﺩﻭﺮﻴﻬﻟﺍ   ﲔﻜﻠﳌﺍ   ﻞﺒﻗ   ﻦﻣ   ﺩﻮﻘﻨﻟﺍ   ﻰﻠﻋ   ﺔﻟﻮﻤﶈﺍ   ﺓﺩﺎﳌﺍ  – * ﺺﹼﺨﻠ . ﺔﻬ ﺎﺸﻣ   ﺞﻳﻮﺘ ﺔﻴﻟﺎﻔﺘﺣﺇ   ﻦﻣ   ﹰﺮﻓﻭ   ﺮﺜﻛﺃ   ﺓﺩﺎﻣ   ﻡﺪﻘ ،ﺓﺰﻣﺮﳌﺍ   ﺔﻳﺭﻮﻃﺍﺮﺒﻣﻹﺍ   ﺔﻐﻠﻟﺍ  . ﺱﻮﻳﺩﻭﻼﻛ   ﺭﻮﻃﺍﺮﺒﻣﻺﻟ   ﺭﺎﻐﻟﺍ   ﻥﺎﺠﻴ ﺮﻬﻈ ﻲﺘﻟﺍ   ﻰﻠﻋ   ﺎﻨﻫ   ﻡﺪﺨﺘﺴﳌﺍ   ﻡﺎﻌﻟﺍ   ﻞﻜﺸﻟﺍ   ،ﺔﻴﻠﺋﺎﻌﻟﺍ   ،ﺮﻫﺎﻈﻤﻠﻟ   ﻪﻓﻼﺧ   ﻦﻣ   ﻢﻏﺮﻟﺎ ﻦﻜﻟﻭ  . ﺭﻮﻃﺍﺮﺒﻣﻹﺍ   ﺕﺎﺣﺎﳒﻭ   ﺕﺍﺭﺎﺼﺘﻧﺍ   ﺪﻴﺠﲤ   ﺎﻬﻓﺪﻫ  . ﺔﻴﻜﻠﳌﺍ   ﺓﻮﻘﻠﻟ   ﺓﺪﻳﺪﺟ   ﺓﺭﻮﺻ   ﻲﻄﻌﻳ   ﻲﻜﻟ   ﻙﺮﺘﺸﻣ   ﻊﻓﺍﺪ ﺔﻓﺮﺧﺰﻟﺍ   ﻉﻮﺿﻮﻣ   ﻡﺪﺨﺘﺳﺍﻭ   ،ﺔﻟﺎﺻﺃﻭ   ﺓﻮﻘ ﺬﻔﻨﻣ   ﺮﻴﻏ   ،ﺩﻮﻘﻨﻟﺍ   ﻩﺬﻫ   ﹴﺔﻬﺟﺍﻮﻣ   ﻲﻓ   ،ﺔﻣﺍﺮﺻ   ﻞﻗﺃ   ﻞﻜﺷ   ﺽﺮﻌ ﹰﻀﻳﺃ   ﺢﻤﺴﻳ   ﻞﻴﻜﺸﺘﻟﺍ   ﺍﺬﻬﻟ   ﺔﻟﺎﺻﻷﺍ   ﻥﺃ   ﻻﺇ   ،ﺭﻮﻃﺍﺮﺒﻣﻹﺍ   ﺔﻤﻈﻌﻟ   ﺢﺿﺍﻭ   ﻑﺪﻬﻟﺍ   ﻥﺃ   ﻊﻣﻭ . ﻲﻧﺎﻣﻭﺮﻟﺍ   ﻱﺭﻮﻃﺍﺮﺒﻣﻹﺍ   ﻦﻔﻟﺍ   ﺕﺎﻴﺳﺎﺳﻷ   ﹴﺔﻔﻟﺎﺨﻣ . ﺔﻳﺩﻭﺮﻴﻬﻟﺍ   ﺔﻟﻼﺴﻟﺍ   ،ﺕﺎﻛﻮﻜﺴﳌﺍ   ﻢﻠﻋ   ،ﻪﺟﻮﻠﻟ   ﺭﻮﺻ   ، ( ﺔﻴﻧﺎﻧﻮﻳ   ﺔﻨﻳﺪﻣ )   ﺲﻴﻜﻟﺎﻛ   ،ﺍﺩﻮﻬﻳ  – ﺔﻳﺭﻮﺤ ﺕﺎﻤﻠ The Herods were late comers on a complex and volatile political scene that emerged from the collapse of the Seleukid empire and the gradual expansion of Roman power. The Near East at the time was a * Arabic translation of the abstract: Ahmad Taraqji.  378 Syria  90 (2013) A . J . M . KROPP mosaic of territories where, outside the most Hellenised cities annexed by Rome, tribes, dynasts, high priests, warlords and city tyrants vied for power. The most in fl uential among them were “client kings”, often approved or even appointed and sustained by Rome, who in return were expected to provide irregular “gifts” to the emperor and contribute troops to the Roman army. These dynasts have received increasing attention in recent years, 2  but despite much progress in historical and archaeological terms, much remains to be done, in particular in the area of numismatics. 3 This article examines one coin type that has attracted little comment, or rather two variants of the same type minted by two Herodian kings, Agrippa I ( AD  37-44) and Herod of Chalkis ( AD  41-48) ( fi g. 1 ). The obverse depicts three full-length fi gures in what appears to be a historical narrative. The two dynasts, both in cuirass, are standing to either side of the togate emperor Claudius ( AD  41-54) and holding wreaths over his head. I have previously commented on this image to point out the key features of the portraiture of Herodian (and Nabataean) kings, their costumes, body types and portrait styles. 4  In this study, the focus is on the composition and narrative of this remarkable scene, its srcins and signi fi cance.At fi rst this crowning seems like a conventional scene of imperial glori fi cation, visualised through the symbolic gesture of honouring a victorious imperator. It was no doubt meant as a glori fi cation of the emperor and an af  fi rmation of the kings and their imperial connections. But a closer look reveals that the constellation is in fact highly unusual and that it is unlikely that the image was created in consultation with the imperial court. The narrative image gives a voice to two important political actors, Agrippa I and Herod of Chalkis, two kings who are mainly known to us from outside testimonies such as the accounts of Josephus and Tacitus. Through this narrative scene, these Herodian kings provide a sense of how they de fi ned themselves and their power and, even more intriguing, of how they viewed their relationship with the emperor. 2. See K ROPP  2013a, p. 1-48 for lit. as well as an argument in favour of the useful misnomer “client king”.3. For Judaea, see now the new edition of H ENDIN  2010 and A RIEL  & F ONTANILLE  2011.4. K ROPP  2013b.Figure 1. Herod Agrippa I ( AD  37 to 44). Bronze coin (24 mm, three times enlarged) minted in Caesarea Maritima in AD  42/43. Agrippa and his brother Herod of Chalkis cuirassed standing either side of togate central fi gure (Claudius) and crowning him, “King Agrippa, Augustus Caesar, king Herod”, date year 8 / Two clasping hands, inscription in two concentric circles “Covenant between king Agrippa and Caesar Augustus and the Senate and the people of Rome, friendship and alliance.” The drawing is a reconstruction based on what can be gleaned from all the specimens (© A. J. M. Kropp).  Syria  90 (2013)379 CROWNING   THE   EMPEROR Only seven examples are known of this rare type, all more or less defective. It has only recently been fully identi fi ed and reconstructed. 5  They were issued simultaneously by the brothers Agrippa I (in Caesarea) and Herod of Chalkis (in Chalkis) in AD  42/3. The identi fi cation of these two monarchs is assured thanks to the legends accompanying the three fi gures on the obverse: on the left ΒΑΣ   ΑΓΡΙΠΠΑ , in the centre ΣΕΒ   ΚΑΙΣΑΡ  and on the right ΒΑΣ  HP ΩΔ H Σ . Agrippa and Herod are both in cuirass, standing to either side of the emperor Claudius and holding wreaths over his head. Claudius wears a toga capite velato  (his head covered) and holds a patera in the right hand, about to pour a libation on an altar that is not depicted. On Agrippa’s issue, the reverse has a verbose legend arranged in two concentric circles around the depiction of two clasping hands: ΟΡΚΙΑ   ΒΑΣ (I Λ E ΩΣ ) ΜΕΓ (A Λ OY) ΑΓΡΙΠΠΑ   Π (PO Σ ) ΣΕΒ (A Σ TON) ΚΑΙΣΑΡ [ Α   Κ (AI) ΣΥ ] Ν K ΛΗΤΟΝ   Κ (AI) ΔΗ MO(Y) ΡΩΜ (AI Ω N) Κ (AI) Φ I ΛΙ (A) Κ (AI) ΣΥΜΜΑΧΙ (A) ΑΥΤΟΥ  (‘Sworn treaty of the great king Agrippa to Caesar Augustus, the Senate and the Roman people, his friendship and alliance’). 6  The reverse of Herod’s issue has no imagery and instead a four-line legend surrounded by a wreath: K Λ AY Δ I Ω  KAI Σ ARI ΣΕΒ A Σ T Ω  ET Γ  (‘To Claudius Caesar Augustus, year 3’). Agrippa’s reverse thus spells out in words the message of the clasped hands, the rati fi cation of a treaty of friendship. The motif of the clasped hands to express concord was probably inspired by Roman coinage, where it was in use since the fi rst century BC : fi rst by the Junia family, then by Caesar, Mark Antony, Lepidus, Augustus and later by the Flavian and Antonine emperors. 7  The technical wording suggests that it is drawn from some of  fi cial document. It provides a rare insight into an actual  foedus  (treaty), which stated the terms on which Rome let a friendly king rule. 8 The obverse image is harder to interpret. Most scholars agree that it echoes the rhetoric of the reverse, and that “the scene should represent part of the ceremony in the Roman Forum at Rome of the treaty making between Claudius and Agrippa (and Herod)”. 9  In other words, the image is meant as a representation of an actual historical event, even though one should note that there are no other sources to record such a crowning scene.The event itself, a meeting at Rome in AD  41 between the new emperor Claudius and the two kings, was a great success for Agrippa. On this occasion Claudius con fi rmed the gifts of land given by Caligula, and added Judaea and Samaria, 10  leaving Agrippa I with the largest Jewish kingdom ever, larger even than that of his grandfather Herod the Great (37 to 4 BC ). For Claudius too, this matter must have been a top priority, as he concluded this treaty right after his accession. This episode is but one example for how the Herods pro fi ted from their proverbially close relations to Rome, their unwavering loyalty, friendship and cooperation. 11  Herod the Great sent eight of his sons to Rome “to become imbued in Roman mores and to form personal connections with individual Romans and the Roman state at large”. 12  The Herods were endowed with Roman citizenship; Agrippa I even received extraordinary honours such as the ornamenta consularia . 13  Raised in Rome since the age of six, he in particular had fi rst-hand 5. The coins are in London (BM), Paris (Cabinet des Médailles), Jerusalem (Bank of Israel; two in Studium Biblicum Franciscanum), Tel Aviv (two in Kadman Museum), and one private collection.  RPC 1.4777 and 4982; B URNETT  1987, p. 31-35; M ESHORER  2001, nos. 124, 361; H ENDIN  2010, nos. 1248, 1251; K USHNIR -S TEIN  2007, p. 57-58 (Agrippa); B ERNETT  2007, p. 295-96 (Agrippa). K RAAY  1980, p. 53-56, had not yet recognized Claudius on the obverse. The weight varies between 13.2 and 18.3 g (average 15.6 g); average size is 26 mm.6. The text is taken from Agrippa’s issue; Herod’s is much abbreviated. The wording comes close to Josephus’  AJ   19.275: ‘He (sc. Claudius) also made a treaty with Agrippa, con fi rmed by oaths, in the middle of the forum, in the city of Rome (  Ὅρκιά   τε   αὔτῳ   τεμνέται    πρὸς   τὸν    Ἄγριππαν   ἔπι   τῆς   ἀγορᾶς   μέσης   ἔν   τῇ   Ῥωμαίων    πόλει ).’7. C RAWFORD  1974, index s.v. “Hands, clasped”;  RIC   I, index s.v. “Clasped hands”.8. B RAUND  1984, ch. II  and passim; contra C O Ş KUN  2005, p. 3-6 who doubts that  foedera  were frequently signed or necessary to establish a foreign amicitia .9. B URNETT  1987, p. 3510.  AJ   19.274.11. On this relationship, see P ALTIEL  1991; W ILKER  2007.12. B RAUND  1984, p. 9.13. B RAUND  1984, p. 27-28.  380 Syria  90 (2013) A . J . M . KROPP knowledge of the inner workings of the empire and experienced the vicissitudes of power, from palace to prison and back again, at the courts of Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius. 14  Together with Antiochos IV of Kommagene (ruled AD  38 to 72), Agrippa spent years as Caligula’s close con fi dant, and the two kings were thought to exercise such a deep, and pernicious, in fl uence on the young princeps that later authors condemned them as Caligula’s tyrannodidaskaloi  (tyrant-teachers). 15  Agrippa I was also rumoured to have played a lead role in the contested accession of Claudius ( AD  41). This episode is further discussed below, as it is crucial for the interpretation of the image. V ARIETY   OF   CROWNING   SCENES It is worth spending some time on the signi fi cance of the narrative scene with Agrippa, Herod and Claudius. How does the image characterise the depicted persons? What does the constellation of this scene tell us about how the Herodian kings and their circles viewed their relationship to Claudius? The crowning scene on the coin looks familiar, even banal, at fi rst sight. To any inhabitant of the Roman empire, an image of the emperor being crowned with a wreath was an everyday sight, a routine allegory for victory and celebration of the emperor’s successes. 16  This motif is already attested in Hellenistic royal imagery. Hellenistic kings were regularly depicted being crowned by Nikes or personi fi cations of regions and localities representing their domains. 17  Thus Philip V of Macedon was shown being crowned by Hellas, and Alexander himself by Gaia, no less. Mortals, as opposed to allegories, shown in the act of crowning only start appearing in Late Hellenistic times. Even so, in the following centuries the overwhelming majority of examples shows personi fi cations rather than real persons in this role, as for instance Victory crowning Titus in the famous relief panel on the Arch of Titus ( fi g. 2 ) or Roma crowning Augustus ( fi g. 3 ) on cistophoric tetradrachms minted in Ephesus or Pergamon. 18  Roman imperial media such as coins and state reliefs provide many more examples. 19 The fi gure being crowned, as Claudius on the coins, is usually singled out as the protagonist. Its importance is often highlighted, e.g. by scaling up its size, by leaving some free space to its sides, by positioning it in the middle of the image, or by the convergence of the lines of sight of other fi gures. To underline this, the fi gure holding the wreath above the head of the honoured is often marked as subordinate in rank such as Nike/Victoria. She is visually marginalised, standing beside or behind the protagonist and often of diminutive size. This hierarchy is especially clear on coins of Roman Phoenicia: all Phoenician cities minted local bronzes showing their city Tyches crowned by tiny Nikes, which are elevated on small columns in order to reach the necessary height. 20  Rather than actors in a narrative scene, the Nikes here are almost reduced to being part of the attribute in their hands. Such crowning scenes proclaim, acknowledge and reinforce the ruler’s legitimacy.If one were to apply this principle to the image of Agrippa I and Herod crowning Claudius one could conclude that the crowning scene shows the Roman emperor fi rmly in command at the expense of his acolytes, receiving the homage and adulation of reverential “client” kings. Even though these coins were minted by the client kings themselves, and the Roman emperor would hardly take notice, such an ostensive show of modesty would be fully in line with Herodian ideology. The laureate bust of the Roman emperor takes pride of place on the obverse of the largest denominations of almost all of Agrippa’s coin issues, and indeed those of his uncle Philip and his son Agrippa II. Herodian rulers would either not 14. For his biography, see  AJ   18.126-256 and 289-301 with S CHÜRER  1973, p. 442-54; S CHWARTZ  1990; P ALTIEL  1991, p. 164-72, 189-217.15. Dio 59.24.116. On the srcins and signi fi cance of wreaths and crowns, see G ANSZYNIEC  1922; B LECH  1982; B ERGMANN  2010.17. M EYER  2006, p. 210 with examples.18. Struck ca AD  41-42.  RIC   I 120;  RPC   2221.19. See e.g. B ERGMANN  1998, p. 156, n. 929 for Roman Republican coins with crowning scenes.20. K ROPP  2011.  Syria  90 (2013)381 CROWNING   THE   EMPEROR depict their own portraits at all, or content themselves with second rank, namely on the obverses of smaller coins.But what should be emphasised more than it has been until now is that this image differs in a fundamental way from the norm:  Mortals  (as opposed to Victories and other personi fi cations) are rarely depicted crowning the emperor; a scene where these mortals are not part of the imperial household is even more exceptional. Though some mortals did crown emperors in real life, such scenes rarely made it into the visual media. The Roman triumph is a case in point. The modern mind associates the idea of a Roman triumph with a mental image of an emperor standing in a quadriga and a slave behind him, holding the wreath above the imperator’s head and murmuring words to the effect of “Remember that thou art mortal” 21  —but this is not what Roman artists show us. Among the multitude of images of triumphal processions, the slave is hardly ever depicted: there are at best three instances, of which the best-known is on one of the Boscoreale cups ( fi g. 4 ). 22  Instead, the slave is customarily replaced with a Victory fi gure, as in the relief panel on the Arch of Titus ( fi g. 2 ), transforming a historical event into the allegorical scene described above.It is equally rare to see members of the imperial household crowning an emperor. One well-known relief panel from the Sebasteion at Aphrodisias depicts Nero as a youth and his mother Agrippina, both in frontal position ( fi g. 5 ). 23  Nero is wearing a muscle cuirass and was srcinally holding a spear in the right hand. Agrippina is standing to the right, her head turned towards Nero, wearing a long dress and holding a cornucopia in her left hand in the manner of Tyche/Fortuna. The scene is thought to refer to Nero’s accession with Agrippina’s help in AD  54. Her gesture of crowning allows for various interpretations. Bergmann acknowledges its ambiguous message, “eine Aussage, die sowohl eine leichte Über- wie Figure 2. Arch of Titus in Rome ( AD  81), relief panel depicting Titus in quadriga celebrating a triumph. Victory standing behind him, crowning him with a laurel wreath. In the actual procession, this task would have been performed by a slave (see fi g. 4 ) (from E. K G UHL  & W. D. K ONER ,  Leben der Griechen und Römer ,   1893, fi g. 1056).Figure 3. Ephesus (?).Cistophoric tetradrachm (27 mm) struck ca. AD  41-42. Reverse: COM ASI, temple with two columns inscribed ROM ET AVG enclosing statue of Augustus in cuirass, holding spear, crowned by female fi gure holding cornucopia (© Courtesy of Hess Divo AG, auction 307, lot 1567, sold 7 June 2007).21. B EARD  2007, p. 85-92 with a critique of the (Christian) sources.22. B ERGMANN  2010, p. 98-108, 252-53, n. 345 makes a compelling case for excluding the Praeneste relief from this list (contra B EARD  2007, p. 88-91): what is depicted there is neither Trajan nor a triumph.23. S MITH  1987, p. 127-32, pls. 24-26; id. forthc. cat. A 1; K AMPEN  2009, p. 97, pl X.
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