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Inscription




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Inscription. -A brief statement, or sentence, by which a memorable event is recorded on some monument. The Latin word inscriptio is derived from two words, in, above, and scribere, to write; as in the Greek word, for the same thing, is derived from epi, above, and graphein, to write. -Properly and distinctively speaking, the inscriptions are engraved on the field of the coin; the legend, epigraphe, is placed around it. (see Legend).

On many Greek and Latin medals, no other inscription is found than a few initial letters, such as S C, that is to say, by a Senatus Consultum or A E letters which indicate the Tribunitian Power, mostly enclosed in a crown. On others the inscritions form a species of epochas, as in Marcus Aurelius (Primi Decennales, Cos III).

Sometimes great events are marked on them, such as the victory gained over the Germans in the thrid consulate of Marcus Aurelius (Victoria Germanica, Imp VI Cos III): the military standards re-taken from the Parthians, an event commemorated on coins of Augustus (Signis Parthicis Receptis, S P Q R); the victory gained over the Parthians under Sept. Severus (Victoria Parthica Maxima). -Other inscriptions express titles of honour given to the prince, as S P Q R Optimo Principi, in Trajan, and in Antoninus Pius; and the Adsertori Publicae Libertatis of Vespian. Others are marks of grateful acknowledgment from the Senate and the People; as in Vespian, Libertate P R Restituta ex S C. In Galba S P Q R Ob Cives Servatos. In Augustus, Galba, and Caracalla, Salus Generis Humani. Some of these inscriptions have reference only to particular benefits granted on certain occasions and to certain places, or to the vows (vota) addressed to the Gods for the reestablishment, or for the presevation of the health of Princes, as objects of importance to the state and of interest to the people.

The ancients seem to have been of opinion that medals should be charged with none but very short and expressive inscriptions [this author could learn from the ancients]; the longer ones they reserved for public edifices, for columns, for triumphal arches, and for tombs. -Sometimes monetary inscriptions simply conprise the names of magistrates, as in a coin of Julius Caesar, L. ∆milius, Q F Buca IIIIvir. A A A F F; and in Agrippa, M. Agrippa Cos Designatus.

It is well and truly observed by the learned Charles Patin, that how justly soever we may prize the different reverses of medals, as deserving to be ranked among the most precious remains of antiquity, it would ill become us to neglect the inscriptions which we read around the portraits of those they represent. "We behold there (says he) all the dignities with which the Romans honoured their Emperors, and indeed thay often serve to authenticate chronology by the number of years of their reign, which is marked upon them. The style of these two kind of inscriptions (that of the obverse and that of the reverse) is as simple as it is grand; and I believe that with all the rhetoric of our moderns, the thought cannot be more nobly expressed, although it may be with greater delicacy. The ancients despised all affectation, and dwelt more on the grandeur of the subject described than on the cadence and pomp of words, which they deemed unworthy of their attention. Demosthenes and Cicero give us the first proof of this, in their writings, which are altogether of a grand and natural style, a style of which the magnificence has nothing of the affected. And I take the second from medals, wherein we see histories perfectly described in two or three words, as may be seen in the following examples:
Eckhel, with his usual sagacity, remarks that the brevity of inscriptions on medals is the character of a flourishing empire; whilst their loquacity, consequent upon flattery, vanity, and ambition, is, on the contrary, the sign of a state tottering to its fall.

Instruments
of sacrifice, and relating to the priesthood, designate piety; and it was customary to stamp the figure of such instruments on the coins of a new emperor or of a recently proclaimed Caesar, as if to shew that the business of empire began with the care of divine things. (See the word Augur) -The tripos, patera, capeduncula, and lituus, all appear on a coin of Nero. (See SACERDOS COOPTATVS, etc) -The lituus, capeduncula, and aspergillum, on a first brass of Maximus Caesar, etc. -See PIETAS AVG.


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