sources for the existence of a constellation of the Reaper,31
while there is much to be said for the view that the reaper merely represents summer, the season of harvest.32
A figure holding a sickle certainly symbolizes summer on coins of Commodus, Caracalla, and Geta,33
which show personifications of all four seasons, with the inscription TEMPORUM FELICITAS or FELICIA TEMPORA, and a sickle enters into the design for the sixth month in the chronograph published by Strzygowski.34
Christian paintings adopt the reaper as a symbol of summer,35
and in the Byzantine middle ages he was the symbol of June.36
The subject could be illustrated at considerable length, but it is sufficiently clear already that the reaper type may have been used merely to mark the season when the coin was minted.
There is, however, one more factor which should be mentioned, particularly since we are dealing with coins of Egypt. From very early times a rich harvest of grain seemed to the Egyptian the most appropriate symbol of felicity, so that even in the other world the souls of the blessed were represented as reaping grain in the Elysian fields. Designs showing the departed so engaged are known from copies of the Book of the Dead and from tomb paintings and reliefs (Pl. XXII, Fig. 2).37
The reaper of the coins may not have had a religious meaning, though a competent authority thinks that religious tendencies dominated the coinage of Antoninus Pius. The incidence of a rich harvest may have prompted the mintmaster to use a design that appealed to all Egyptians by its ancient associations and by its symbolic allusion to that plenty which, like other blessings, was held to be a gift of the divine emperor. Nor would the significance of Egypt as the harvest field of the whole empire be forgotten.
Here we may add an amulet meant to cure gout, which has been briefly mentioned before. It is a sardonyx in the Russian Imperial Collection,
31 Boll, Sphaera, pp. 230–231.
32 This was the opinion of Drexler (Woch. Klass. Phil., 1895, pp. 29–30) and of Dattari. It is made all the more probable by Dattari's publication of a lead token which has on one side a reaper, on the other a ploughman with his oxen (6546, Pl. 37). The ploughman apparently represents autumn.
33 A. L. Millin, Mythol. Gall., No. 91 (p. 16, Pl. 28); H. Cohen, Descr. des monnaies, IV2, p. 148, No. 57; p. 257, No. 34. These references are taken from Drexler.
34 Jahrbuch des deutschen archaologischen Instituts, Ergänzungsheft I, 70, Pl. 24. On the frieze now built into the façade of the church of Hagios Eleutherios in Athens there is a nude figure with a sickle (?) and some stalks of grain; it probably represents summer. See J. C. Webster, The Labors of the Months, p. 11, Pl. 1, 24. Webster's work shows by many medieval illustrations that the figure of a reaper repretented harvest time and was associated with different summer months according to climatic conditions. Literary evidence in the form of Latin verses (second and fifth centuries) describing the work of the months is cited on pp. 105, 109. See also P. Waltz's discussion of three epigrams of the Palatine Anthology in Mélanges Desrousseaux, pp. 489–500. Particularly important for our Egyptian reaper is the epigram (9, 383) with the verse (9):
λήϊα δ' αὐανθέντα Παχὼν δρεπάνῃσι φυλάσσει.
Pachon, approximately corresponding to May, would be the harvest month in Egypt.
35 Martigny, Dict. des antiquités chrétiennes, p. 708.
36 Eustathius (Eumathius) 4, 18.
37 For illustrations see Capart, Thebes, p. 138, fig. 230; Budge, The Papyrus of Ani, III, Pl. 35; Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum, December, 1930, p. 25, fig. 28.