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513779. SOLD $275

Julia Domna. Augusta, AD 193-217. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.11 g, 12h). Rome mint. Struck under Septimius Severus, circa AD 198-207. Draped bust right / Cybele, towered, seated left on throne between two lions, holding branch and scepter, resting arm on tympanum. RIC IV 564 (Septimius); RSC 123. Toned, faint porosity. Good VF.

Ex Pecunem/Gitbud & Naumann 11 (29 December 2013), lot 581.

Cybele, or Magna Mater ("Great Mother"), is one of the oldest deities in the Greco-Roman pantheon, having originated as an Anatolian earth goddess in late Neolithic times. The Romans made the decision to import the "foreign" goddess during the Second Punic War (218-202 BC), when Rome faced complete destruction. The Roman Senate consulted the Sybelline Oracle, which proclaimed that Carthage might be defeated if Rome imported Magna Mater of Phrygia, a black meteoric stone worshipped in a mountain temple. The King of Pergamum, a Roman ally, approved the transfer. The goddess' sacred stone was packed up and sent by ship to Rome, along with its retinue of priests, priestesses and caretakers. A prominent Roman matron, Claudia Quinta, was chosen to lead the welcoming committee. She miraculously freed the barge carrying the stone from a sand bar and single-handedly towed up the Tiber river. A temple was built to house the stone on Palatine Hill, and the priesthood established there proved to be one of the longest-lasting.