|Lot 392. C. Mamilius C.f. Limetanus. 82 B.C. AR denarius (20 mm, 3.89 g, 2 h). Rome. Draped bust of Mercury right, wearing winged petasus; behind, A above caduceus / C · MAMIL LIME(TA)N, Ulysses advancing right, holding staff and extending hand to his dog Argus come to greet him. Crawford 362/1; Sydenham 741; Mamilia 6. Light toning, four-punch banker's mark on obverse. Very fine.
From the Expatriate Collection.
The types on this coin allude to the moneyer's claim to descent from Telegonus, son of Ulysses and Circe, and hence from the god Mercury. The reverse features a sadly endearing scene from the Odyssey, when Odyseeus returns home after twenty years disguised as a beggar and his old dog, who had been neglected, recognizes him:
""So they spoke. And a dog, lying there, lifted its head and pricked up its ears. Argus was the hound of noble Odysseus, who had bred him himself, though he sailed to sacred Ilium before he could enjoy his company. Once the young men used to take the dog out after wild goat, deer and hare, but with his master gone he lay neglected by the gate, among the heaps of mule and cattle dung that Odysseus' men would later use to manure the fields. There, plagued by ticks, lay Argus the hound. But suddenly aware of Odysseus' presence, he wagged his tail and flattened his ears, though no longer strong enough to crawl to his master. Odysseus turned his face aside and hiding it from Eumaeus wiped away a tear then quickly said: 'Eumaeus, it's strange indeed to see this dog lying in the dung. He's finely built, but I can't tell if he had speed to match or was only a dog fed from the table, kept by his master for show.'
""Then, Eumaeus, the swineherd, you replied: 'Yes this dog belongs to a man who has died far away. If he had the form and vigour he had when Odysseus left for Troy you'd be amazed by the speed and power. He was keen-scented on the trail, and no creature he started in the depths of the densest wood escaped him. But now he is in a sad state, and his master has died far from his own country, and the thoughtless women neglect him. When their masters aren't there to command them, servants don't care about the quality of their work. Far-voiced Zeus takes half the good out of them, the day they become slaves.'
""With this he entered the stately house and walking straight into the hall joined the crowd of noble suitors. As for Argus, seeing Odysseus again in this twentieth year, the hand of dark death seized him.""
(Homer, Od. XVII.290-327).
The Expatriate Collection
Expatriate comes from the Latin roots ex-, ""away from,"" and patria, ""one's native country."" The Expatriate Collection was formed by an American who has lived abroad for nearly fourteen years in Japan, Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. His collection was formed almost exclusively while living outside the United States.
Estimate: US$ 100