Roman Republic, Semuncia


Roman Republic, Semuncia (obverse) Roman Republic, Semuncia (reverse)

This semuncia depicts a goddess wearing a mural crown on the obverse, and on the reverse a naked horseman.

The goddess on the obverse supposedly is Cybele, whose attribute was a mural crown. She was the Phrygian deification of the Earth Mother, the Magna Mater. Her cult was introduced in Rome in year 204 BC. At that time the Romans fought a bitter war against the Carthaginians. On the brink of defeat they consulted the Sibylline Books, and found an oracular verse that they interpreted as follwos: If a foreign foe should carry war into Italy, he could be conquered if the Great Mother were brought to Rome.

Hence the Romans began to worship Cybele. The following year the Carthaginians withdrew from Italy, and in 202 BC the Roman legions defeated them decisively. Rome accredited its victory to Cybele, and made the goddess part of the Roman national cult.


Signet Sunflower Foundation