Tuesday, May 27, 2008

the 'Agrippa son of the king' coin


It is perhaps the most important of all the Agrippa coins. It is universally acknowledged to have a bust of Agrippa on one side surrounded by. the inscription 'King Agrippa.' On the reverse a male figure is depicted riding a horse with the words 'Agrippa the son of the King.' In the lower field we read 'Year 2.' For most scholars it is an open and shut case. 'King Agrippa' is 'Agrippa I'; the 'Agrippa the son of the King' figure is his nine year old son 'Agrippa II.' The coin proves everything Josephus tells us about the period.

Of course, these men can't possibly consider that there might be another solution to the problem - or even that there is a problem to begin with. Josephus tells us that 'Agrippa I' would have been about forty nine in year 38 CE and 'Agrippa II' about nine. The coin is meant to be read as a front to back to establish the relationship between 'King Agrippa' and 'Agrippa the son of the King.' That's all there is to it.

Of course there is something which these men should have found puzzling - in almost every other ancient coin where a son of a king is identified the father is always explicitly identified in the inscription i.e. 'Antiochus son of Antiochus' etc. The identification of 'Agrippa son of the king' comes only 'naturally' to those who know Josephus. 'Agrippa the son of the King' is strangely vague - akin to 'Agrippa son of what's-his-name.' It most certainly would not have been obvious to anyone living in Palestine at the time that the 'Agrippa' on the horse would have been 'Agrippa II.'

Indeed a careful examination of the best surviving coin of this type PROVES THAT THIS ASSUMPTION IS IMPOSSIBLE. As we have noted there are many things which conspire to make scholars see 'Agrippa son of the King' as 'Agrippa II' - their slavish devotion to Josephus being only the most consistent. With regards to this present coin type, it is absolutely unfortunate that most have come down to us all in very rough shape. A typical sampling of surviving pieces:

Obverse: Bust of Agrippa I r. Greek inscription: BACIΛEYC [AΓPIΠΠAC] "King [Agrippa]". Reverse: Agrippa riding on horse r. Greek inscription: AΓPIΠΠA YIOY BACIΛEΩC "Agrippa, son of the King". In lower field, date: LB (year 2 = 38 AD) AJC 1Sp (this coin). TJC 113S (this coin).

BASILEUIS AGRIPPA, diademed head of Agrippa right / AGRIPPA YIOY BACILEWC, on horseback right; date below. Meshorer 113, RPC I 4974.

Title: Coins of the Jews Type: Monograph Auth/Ed: Madden, F. W. Publication Place: London Publication Year: 1881 Pages: 138
Title: Israel Numismatic Journal 1963 In Publication: 0 Pages: 66

Æ 19mm (7.06 gm, 12h). Caesarea Paneas(?) mint. Dated RY 2 (37/8 CE). Diademed head of Agrippa right / Agrippa on horseback right; date below. Meshorer 113; RPC I 4974; Hendin 546. Fair, green patina.

Bronze (AE, 8.09 g 12), Caesarea Paneas, year 2 = 37/8. [] [] Diademed head of Agrippa to right. Rev. Agrippa on horseback to right; below, L. AJC 1. Bromberg I, 40 (choice VF, $16,000). Hendin 546. RPC 4974. TJC 113.

It turns out that Maltiel-Gerstenfeld's version of the coin makes it absolutely clear that the Agrippa riding the stallion was a full grown man. This might have been suggested in some of the other surviving coins of this type. However the one which appears below makes this absolutely certain. His legs clearly dangle over the underbelly of the horse. There can be no doubt of this for anyone who looks at the original book (these scans where made unfortunately only after a photocopy; I have had difficulty signing out the book as I am not a member of the library).

It is only the inherent laziness of scholars - people who have learned to open up Josephus as a kind of 'secular Bible' to the history of the period - which sees the Agrippa on the horse as a nine year old 'Agrippa II'!!!!!

Once we throw the idea of the coin depicting TWO DIFFERENT AGRIPPAS on each of its sides out the window we are left with the certain fact that 'KING AGRIPPA' on the front of the coin is one and same with 'AGRIPPA THE SON OF THE KING' on the other. As we shall see this is proved by other Agrippa coins from the period. However for the moment we are left with one nagging question - if 'King Agrippa' is the 'Agrippa son of the King' - who is 'the King'?

Before we answer this question we should bring forward that other Agrippa coin from the period which identifies Agrippa as 'YIOY.' It is again only to be found in Maltiel-Gerstenfeld:

The subtle manner in which scholars bolster Josephus is immediately apparent. They 'prefer' the first coin because they can construct an understanding where Josephus is utterly upheld - you read the 'first side' first (where 'Agrippa the king' is mentioned' and then you immediately 'solve' the question of who 'the King' is who is father of the 'other Agrippa' on the reverse side. If you apply the same logic to this ignored coin with 'King Agrippa friend of Caesar' on one side and 'King Agrippa, Son' on the other - THE INHERITED CHRISTIAN CLAIMS AND ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT TWO AGRIPPAS (remember the rabbinic tradition knows only of one Agrippa) IS IMMEDIATELY REFUTED.

For here in this other coin 'King Agrippa' HAS TO BE ONE AND THE SAME with 'the Son.' In other words, 'King Agrippa the Son' is 'King Agrippa' and 'the King' has to be Caligula. Of course scholars will immediately put their hands in the air at this point and shout - 'the Emperors never called themselves Basileos!' This state of affairs, they will say goes back to Julius Caesars refusal to take the title and a general reluctance to make it appear that the Republic had turned into a monarchy.

All of this might have been true for Julius Caesar and almost every other Caesar that followed him. However a careful examination reveals THAT THIS RELUCTANCE TO USE THE TITLE BASILEOS WAS NOT SHARED BY GAIUS TIBERIUS CAESAR (I.E. CALIGULA). Anyone who examines the figure of Calgula closely realizes that all of these assumptions should be immediately thrown out the window. As Suetonius explicitly states:

So much for Caligula as emperor; we must now tell of his career as a monster. After he had assumed various surnames ... chancing to overhear some kings, who had come to Rome to pay their respects to him, disputing at dinner about the nobility of their descent, he cried "Let there be one Lord, one King." [Iliad 2.204] And he came near assuming a crown at once and changing the semblance of a principate into the form of a monarchy.

At this point the Loeb edition notes that 'under Caligula the so‑called "principate" had become an absolute monarchy. Caligula proposed to assume the pomp of a king.' Suetonius makes explicit that Caligula's adoption of the title 'king' was only the beginning of his descent into madness. While his rule began well in 37 CE, we can assume that he quickly decided to adopt the title of 'king' or 'tyrant' c. 38 CE before going one step further and identifying himself as a god:

... on being reminded that he had risen above the elevation both of princes and kings, he began from that time on to lay claim to divine majesty; for after giving orders that such statues of the gods as were especially famous for their sanctity or their artistic merit, including that of Jupiter of Olympia, should be brought from Greece, in order to remove their heads and put his own in their place, he built out a part of the Palace as far as the Forum, and making the temple of Castor and Pollux its vestibule, he often took his place between the divine brethren, and exhibited himself there to be worshipped by those who presented themselves; and some hailed him as Jupiter Latiaris

Indeed as Philo and others make explicitly clear, the complete insanity of thinking that he was called god in the latter period of his rule.

We may gain further evidence that in 38 CE (year 2 of both his reign and Agrippa's rule) he was in the 'basileos' stage by another comment which appears in Dio Cassius that in this year:

All this, however, did not distress the people so much as did their expectation that Gaius' cruelty and licentiousness would go to still greater lengths. And they were particularly troubled on ascertaining that King Agrippa and King Antiochus were with him, like two tyrant-trainers.

The term tyrannodidaskalous seems inappropriate to use with 'Agrippa I' who as I note repeatedly in my critique of the existing claims of Josephus was almost fifty. How could a twenty five year old be naturally thought to be 'teaching' tyranny to these two students. The term was only used because Caligula - as the elder of the trio - was assuming the role of instructor.

There can be no doubt that this term implies that the two kings Agrippa and Antiochus were younger than Caligula. Agrippa was eight or nine and - as we suggest - lived on to 100 CE. It is worth noting that his 'fellow pupil' King Antiochus IV assumed his kingdom in Commagene at the same time and lived on to the last generation of the first century CE.

The implication clearly was that Agrippa learned to establish himself as a tyrant as a student from the master (or as a son to a father as the coins liken it). Of course it is interesting to ask - what did Caligula teach his students? Dio Cassius continues by saying that:

The senators, nevertheless, went up to the Capitol in a body, offered the regular sacrifices, and did obeisance to the chair of Gaius that was in the temple

I leave it up to the reader to see similarities between the throne of St. Mark in Alexandria and this 'chair of Gaius.' It is more important that we prove once and for all that IT WAS CALIGULA WHO WAS 'THE KING' TO WHOM AGRIPPA IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS 'THE SON.' Despite the presumptions of scholars THERE ARE COUNTLESS COINS OF SPECIFICALLY PALESTINIAN PROVENANCE WHICH IDENTIFY GAIUS AS BASILEOS. These include:


I have another section devoted to this phenomena - - but the title should always have seemed odd when attached to a thirty year old man (let alone a fifty year old). THE ORIGINAL JEWISH IDEA REVOLVES AROUND THE CONCEPT OF BAR MITVAH ONLY IN ANTIQUITY (AS EVIDENCED BY THE TALMUD) THE DATE AT WHICH A BOY BECAME A MAN WAS NINE YEARS PLUS A DAY THE EXACT AGE THAT AGRIPPA WAS DURING 38 CE WHEN (AS WE HAVE ALREADY DEMONSTRATED) HE WAS CALLED YIOY ON COINS, HAILED AS 'BAR ABBAS' IN ALEXANDRIA AND UNDOUBTEDLY RECOGNIZED AS THE VERY MESSIANIC SON OF GOD ALL BECAUSE HE WAS THE PROPER AGE OF A BAR (I.E. A SON). It is in my mind undoubtedly why the secret message 'the ninth vision' or the 'appearance of the ninth' appears on the back of the throne.

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