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Research Coins: Printed Auction

 

Erato, the Muse of Erotic Poetry

Triton XXII, Lot: 881. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $3750. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Q. Pomponius Musa. 56 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 4.03 g, 1h). Rome mint. Laureate head of Apollo right; handle of plectrum to left / Erato, the Muse of Erotic Poetry, standing right, holding plectrum at side with right hand and lyre with left; Q • POMPONI downward to left, M’VSA downward to right. Crawford 410/7d corr. (obv. symbol and rev. type); Sydenham 820a corr. (same); Pomponia 17a corr. (same); BMCRR Rome 3622 corr. (same); CNR Pomponia 20/3; RBW –; see P. Davis, “Erato or Terpsichore: A Reassessment” in FIDES, for the identification of the muse as Erato. Choice EF, lovely iridescent toning.


From the Alan J. Harlan Collection. Ex Hess-Divo 317 (27 October 2010), lot 700; Numismatica Ars Classica 21 (17 May 2001), lot 240.

This type is called “Terpsichore” by Crawford and most other authors, but Phil Davis has recently identified this coin type as Erato. A complete discussion of this subject can be found in the article Phil wrote for the Festschrift created for the late Rick Witschonke (FIDES, pp. 393-401). Phil’s logic is very sound and will make completing a set of Muses much easier as the previously rare, known from a single die, Erato is now shown to be just a die variety. (Davis identifies the obverse turtle symbol as being for Terpsichore.)