422/1b M.SCAVR P.HYPSAEVS AED CVR Aemilia, Plautia Denarius. Camel King Aretas REX ARETAS, Jupiter quadriga. Rome. Unusually complete legends
The Phillip Davis Collection
Northumberland Smyth 1856:
Aemilia. M(arcus) SCAUR(us), AED(ilis) CVR(ulis). In the field EX S(enatus) C(onsulto); and on the exergum, REX ARETAS. A man representing King Aretas clad in the pallium — that floats behind him — soliciting for peace ; in his left hand he holds the bridle of a camel, and his right bears a branch of olive, from which hangs a garland — the emblem of a solicitation for peace : some, indeed, call the offering a branch of frankincense, as a gift and supplication. The camel is well represented, and saddled. An interesting type, of common occurrence. Only the obverse of this denarius pertains to the Aemilia gens, for the reverse belongs to the family Plautia. The whole affords an admirable illustration of the History of the Jewish War, by Josephus. It commemorates the success of Scaurus over the luckless Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea.
Scaurus and P. Hypsaeus were aediles in B.C. 58; and both were condemned by Pompey for ambitus, or heave-headism, in B.C. 52. Their aidile-ship was distinguished by the opening of the renowned theatre of Scaurus, and the celebration of the most costly and splendid public games ever then known, when, among other wild beasts, 150 panthers were exhibited ; while five crocodiles, and a hippopotamus were seen for the first time at Rome. It seems to have been struck in the curule aedileship of Hyspaeus and Scaurus — the wealthy step-son of Sylla. Scaurus first commenced that excess of architecture which soon afterwards characterized imperial Rome, in such extravagant sort, says Pliny, as hard it is to say, whether Sylla did more damage to the state in having a son-in-law so rich and mighty, than by the proscription of so many thousand Romane citizens. (Holland's Pliny xxxvi. 15.) In the public games which he celebrated with such extraordinary splendour, he built a temporary theatre which accommodated 80,000 spectators: 360 pillars decorated the stage, arranged in three stories, of which the lowest was made of white marble, the middle one of glass, and the highest of gilt-wood. Between the pillars there were 3000 statues, besides paintings and other ornaments.
Rev —P(ublius) HYPSAE(us), AED(ilis) CVR(sus), G(aius) HYPSAE(us) CO(n) S(ul). PREIVER(num) CAPTV(m). Jupiter fulminans in a quadriga quickly moving to the left; and below the fore-feet of the horses is a scorpion. This coin is certainly common, but was considered of such interest as a record of Roman success, that Trajan restored it. This face of the coin is explicit in commemorating the success of Plautius Hypsaeus, consul 341 BC, in the war with Privernum.