I’m writing this from the Classics Faculty Library at Cambridge, where I’ve taken up residency for the next six months, thanks to the generous support of EliteForsk. My reason to write, however, was a recent piece in The Independent that revealed the design of Tony Blair’s congressional medal, awarded in 2003 but still not presented to the awardee. One side of the medal (or to put it in numismatic terms, the obverse) is a Clintonesque portrait of Blair, but the other side of the coin (the reverse, unfortunately not depicted in the online edition) has some further Classical resonance: It features two firmly clasped hands, seemingly signifying British-American concordia. The image above is one second century example. The motif is truthfully a numismatic shorthand for another kind of scene, where two whole figures are shown shaking hands, such as this early third century example celebrating the marriage of Caracalla and Plautilla.
Thanks, I find it always interesting to see, how these forms of showing a political message survive the time.
Leave a comment