Collection History: Donated by Dean Fred B.R. Hellems, 1930
The moneyer is Lucius Roscius Fabatus, Proconsul 49 BCE. Similarly to coin number 2014.06.229, the obverse type of Juno Sospita is indicative of Fabatus’s Lanuvian origins since an important temple to Juno Sospita was located in Lanuvium. The reverse imagery of a girl facing a snake relates to the worship of Juno Sospita, since the snake was supposed to confirm the virginity of the girl brought before it. Propertius, Elegies IV.8.3, clarifies this cult practice:
“Lanuvium, from of old, is guarded by an ancient serpent: the hour you spend on such a marvelous visit won’t be wasted; where the sacred way drops down through a dark abyss, where the hungry snake’s tribute penetrates (virgin, be wary of all such paths!), when he demands the annual offering of food, and twines, hissing, from the centre of the earth. Girls grow pale, sent down to such rites as these, when their hand is rashly entrusted to the serpent’s mouth. He seizes the tit-bits the virgins offer: the basket itself trembles in their hands. If they’ve remained chaste they return to their parents’ arms, and the farmers shout: ‘It will be a fertile year.’” (Translation A.S. Kline, 2002.) Alyssa Friedmann 2013.