|Roman Republican Coins and Books by Andrew McCabe
Journals: Sources for Numismatics Coins: Octavian, 34-27BC
Links to Journals: Sources for Numismatics; Coins: Mark Antony and Octavian 34-27BC:
Coins: 34-27BC, Mark Antony and Octavian, RRC 542/546 and Sear HCRI
Click on any photo to see that coin. Or click on the right-hand blue link to see the entire set.
34-30BC, Crawford 541/546, Antony and Cleopatra to Actium
Mark Antony’s final coinage mostly consisted of legionary denarii. The other coins are perhaps the more interesting. In 33BC, in a type that in prior years would have had Octavian’s name on the reverse, Antony had no brighter idea than to name himself twice. Of course the coins of Antony and Cleopatra are very well known. They are not specially rare but are difficult to find in as nice condition as the one in this set. The large silver tetradrachm is their most impressive coin but is very rare indeed even in worn condition. The coins of Scarpus, who switched sides after Actium in 31BC, are split between this set and the next set issued by Octavian. The legionary coins are very well known and the histories of the various legions can be found on other websites but I specially like the issue of the secret police.
36-30BC, Sear HCRI392/410, Octavian to Actium
Octavian’s Caesar Divi.F. and Imp.Caesar coins were not allocated to the Roman Republic by Sydenham or Crawford. Many of types seems imperial in nature and many bear witness to Actium. Perhaps there has been prejudice against these coins because they simply look too imperial and not at all Republican, not even paying lip service to Republican functions such as mint magistracies, consulships or even the Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae Consulari Potestate. Yet none, save a single gold aureus at the end of the sequence, bear the title Augustus. As against Antony’s massive legionary issue and many other coin types, there seems a curious absence of coins to fund Octavian’s war effort in the late 30’s BC. Hoards do not help given that the two armies hardly mingled. Octavian’s are not mixed with those of Antony in the years before Actium and there are no hoards that decisively split the Caesar Divi.F. and Imp.Caesar coins. Sutherland in a 1978 Quaderni Ticinesi article, provides a resolution that is now generally accepted. In 29BC Octavian assumed the praenom Imperator, rather than as a military title, becoming Imp.Caesar Divi.F. rather than Caesar Divi.F. Therefore the Caesar Divi.F. coins should precede 29BC. The coins of Scarpus which were struck 31 to 29BC are luckily very helpful. Sutherland argues that the sequence of three different titles on Scarpus’ coins make sense only if the Caesar Divi.F. prototype coins preceded the first Scarpus issue for Octavian of 31BC, and are thus purely Roman Republican, struck in 32BC or earlier. Sutherland goes on to show which Caesar Divi.F. issues precede Actium and which after Actium but before the formal adoption of Imperator as a praenom in 29BC. Unsurprisingly he concludes that the financial needs before Actium required a large coinage. As a separate topic there is a wider recognition that nothing changed constitutionally by Octavian’s victory at Actium. The constitutional amendments of 27BC were not yet foreseen and it might be presumed at the time that Octavian would be no different from Sulla or Caesar, a powerful Imperator, perhaps a Dictator who might in time reconstitute an effective Republican government, an oligarchy with token democratic touches. Octavian did indeed reconstitute the state in 27BC but until that date the Roman Republic continued with a perhaps temporary military ruler. This coin set reflects Octavian's coinage before his victory at Actium. The next set includes his further coins issued under imperatorial power until the end of the Roman Republic.
30-27BC, Sear HCRI416/434, Octavian to the end of the Roman RepublicClick here for the next set of coins
Many of the coins in this set are explicit about the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra. Whilst the Aegypto Capta coins can hardly be more explicit, Octavian sent a powerful message to the Egyptians by the issue of standard circulating bronze coins with Ptolemaic types but Octavian’s portrait and title, ΚΑΙΣΑΡΟΣ ΑΥΤΟΚΡΑΤΟΡΟΣ Caesar Imperator. The old regime would not be returning. The Actian commemorations in the main coinage are clear. Naval trophies and Victory atop a ship’s prow. The message is simple. The mint magistrates even if unnamed clearly had a sense of game playing with the different types. They are paired off in a curious way, a coin having an obverse bust of Octavian and a reverse terminal statue with thunderbolt, being paired with coin having an obverse terminal bust with thunderbolt and a reverse statue of Octavian. This pairing of coin types extends back to the issues before Actium, and there is a stylistic continuity in the entire late coinage of Octavian. Thus we see the first benefits of empire, an efficient bureaucracy and longer job security for the mint magistrates rather than a politically influenced annual election. Now we can really tell that the Republic is over, and this long story spanning five centuries is at an end.
Bibliographies, Book reviews & Numismatic History
Websites for finding coin books
The various VCoins sites have an excellent category breakdown making it easy to find books about the Roman Republic as well as photos of the books. Sellers may list in more than one category so an auction catalogue might be listed both under catalogues and Roman Republic, and Essays Hersh under both Greek and Roman Republic. Ancient Numismatic Enterprises (ANE) is especially good for used auction sale catalogues, and usually summarises the contents rather well, as well as providing a sample photo of a plate for each, something that can tip an uncertain buyer into a purchase. In addition to the long established Charles Davis and Jerry Walker, Sayles and Lavender now also have a booksite on VCoins.
Waddell (www.coin.com) has a nice website and helpful information on books, e.g. contents tables and commentaries. Abebooks is a useful general book-finding sites as it has “sort by newly listed” function, absent from other such sites, although not having any category listings it is difficult to find stuff unless you already know what you are seeking. Rare books from smaller non numismatic booksellers sometimes appear so it is worthwhile doing a new since search from time to time, as well as searches for specific titles. I found my copy of AIIN29 there from an Italian general bookseller, a browse of numismatic sellers would never have located it. Spink lists its secondhand stock on Abebooks (new books can be found through the main Spink site). Papyrus also lists on Abebooks. I have read much credible negative feedback on Papyrus and I do not recommend them.
Oxbow (UK) and David Brown (US), who distribute each others stock in the UK/US respectively, have the best selection of history books, as well as a limited range on numismatics, typically university imprints. Both often have excellent value remainder sales of interesting books about the ancient world. Charles Davis, Spink and Ed Waddell tend to sell a wide range of current books in print, many indeed published by Spink, however one should be aware that there can be a wide range in price even for current books due to differences in mark-up policy, discounts, and exchange rate variations. As an example, I recently saw RPC1 for sale at $220 on one site listed on this page, and $395 on another. There doesn't seem to be any particular trend, a dealer who is dear for one book could be cheapest for another. So, shop around.
Bricks and mortar for finding coin books
I am on somewhat unfamiliar territory here, because they fit less well with the online theme of this website. George Kolbe offers great books at auction, and Douglas Saville and Spink books have proved marvellous at finding obscure books for me but their books may seem rather inaccessible to those used to VCoins or Amazon. Spink does not list its books on a website but does have an excellent central London storefront where you can go and browse, and London is an easily accessible city. Douglas Saville has a decent website but all ancient coin books are in a single list over perhaps 20 web pages, without category organisation or pictures. It has a search facility but you probably need to know what you are looking for in advance, in which case dropping an email to Douglas may be as quick as looking up his website. Kolbe has neither a store-front nor a web accessible catalogue but a pdf for its auctions, that you have to download with the contents arranged by consignor A, B, C, and alphabetically per consignment. How on earth could you find anything? But in each case however, these booksellers seem to do a very good trade with knowledgeable book buyers who know exactly what they are looking for, and are unafraid to ask. However in the world of 2010 they do seem inaccessible to retail purchasers who are used to category organisation, photographs of every book, new-since, and advanced search facilities. An amusing relic of Kolbe’s presentation is that it provides guidance time for downloading the catalogue on a 2400 baud modem, straight out of the 1980s.
The Numismatic Bibliomania Society
This is not a book, but a website and society devoted to numismatic books, that can be found at http://www.coinbooks.org. It is rather biased towards the kind of dealer I just panned in my last paragraph, but there is a lot of interesting material within.
Select Numismatic Bibliography, Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, New York, 1965, and Numismatic Bibliography, Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, 1984.
The classic bibliography, its only drawback is that it covers too much ground (all of coinage!) and inevitably the Roman Republic listings, whilst comprehensive, have little commentary. The earlier ‘Select’ version is more focused thus interesting to browse however it predates the Crawford revolution. On my Auctions Catalogues page I list the dedicated Republican collections mentioned in Clain-Stefanelli that have substantial numbers of plates.
Ancient Numismatics and its History Including a Critical Review of the Literature, Ernest Babelon, Spink Kolbe 2004
This translation by Elizabeth Saville in an elegantly produced book, brings this 19th century work to 21st century audiences. The quality of the translation makes the text seems fresh and readable even if it predates the great modernising catalogue of Grueber that transformed Republican numismatics. A luxury read, not strictly essential for a Republican numismatist, but nice reading on a beach.
Antiquarian Books on Coins and Medals from the fifteenth to the nineteeth century, Ferdinando Bassoli, Spink Kolbe 2001
A companion volume translated by Elizabeth Saville, from a 1985 original. Covers somewhat similar ground to Babelon but from a perspective 100 years more recent. So I guess I'd read the Babelon first. Lovely production values.
Numismatics an ancient science Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, Washington 1965
Interesting review of numismatics though rather academically focused (as distinct from a focus on collectors or archaeologists).
Early Roman Coinage, Volume 1, Rudi Thomsen
Although covered elsewhere on this website, it has a notable review of numismatic research that covers especially the period 1800-1960 and thus is a natural segue from Babelon
Ancient Coin Reference Reviews, Dennis Kroh, 1993
Views very similar to my own on Republican coins whilst covering the entire ancient spectrum. It's a nice book but I'm not sure you will get any more information than from this site.
Digital Library Numis
An online numismatic library at http://members.ziggo.nl/tverspag/NUMIS/ of numismatic literature which is freely available on the web, with links to the original sources where the literature can be read or downloaded. Due to its scope it contains limited numbers of complete modern reference books, but many modern experts have made shorter works freely available, sometimes from their academic websites. I list below, without comment, Roman Republican numismatic topics available from this site, arranged alphabetically by author. Many are discussed elsewhere on my website. Because the original documents stem from many different websites, and as the material from other websites opens in an embedded window on Digital Library Numis, the procedures and ease of download varies considerably, many are temperamental but all below worked for me and I checked the relevance of each to Republican numismatics. You may find it easier and less prone to crashes if you right-click on the titles from the Digital Library website, and open them in another window. For Pdf documents I advise right-clicking and saving the documents on your computer before opening. I have not listed some other important works that are listed on this site, which are only available in snippet view on Google books. You may prefer to seek these titles from their source websites, the main ones being Internet Archive, Google books and Revue Numismatique. All the works below are, to a greater or lesser extent, valuable to Republican numismatics, even the older ones. For example Coin Hoards by Noe (1920) is still a classic reference work. Riccio’s 1846 work on the Roman coins of Luceria is the only such study and it is copiously illustrated. Marchi and Tessieri’s 1839 aes grave study is also well illustrated and still valuable. Seemingly dull works such as The early romanization of the southeastern Alpine Region by Miskec contains a lot of interesting hoard analysis. We can all still learn from Sydenham’s short work on the Roman monetary system. Many modern short studies such as that on the jug and lituus by Stewart have information which is not available in the standard texts. In one or another way, every book below is worth looking at.
Although a popular rather than academic publication, The Celator has over the years published many important articles on Roman Republican coins. It has the advantage of being very widely available, probably more so for the average student than such august publications as the Numismatic Chronicle, and back copies can be obtained from The Celator website. All those interested in ancient coins should subscribe in any event, at the least to support an important numismatic resource. Most issues contain three substantial articles on specific coin issues, with a mix between popular (hairstyles of the empresses) and academic (morphology of Roman Republican coins). Additionally there are a number of regular columnists. I appreciated the contributions of Alan Walker and Phil Davis on collecting, although both are currently on a sabbatical, I do hope they return. It may be way off topic but the cartoons are sharp and funny as a knife in their depiction of Binky, the coin collector, and his long-suffering wife Babs. Many of the useful articles are generic, for example on minting techniques or how to analyse die-links. But I include a list below of issues relating to specific Republican coins, with the Crawford numbers.
Hannibal, father of the Roman denariusRichard Miller, May 2002. Crawford 28, 44, 53.
Ninety years of Roman Republican denariiRussell Hollingsworth, December 2006. Crawfords 44 to 279. A consideration of reverse typology based on the Swenson Ancient Coin Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.
Rams used on ancient warshipsMarvin Tameanko, October 1993. Crawford 56, 473.
A new Roman Republican owl quinariusScott Rottinghaus, January 2002. Crawford 134. More evidence of later dioscuri quinarii, first outlined by Richard Witschonke in Essays Hersh.
The P.SVLA, SAFRA and mast and sail Aes coinsBruce Brace, December 2006. Crawford 205, 206, 213. A rare article on Roman Republican bronzes.
The helmeted head of Roma, facing leftKenneth Friedman, November 2001. Crawford 236, 292, 317, 318.
Lucius Opimius: Consul for the wine loverGeorge Burden, May 1995. Crawford 253.
Republican coins depict Roman gladiatorsWarren Esty, August 1997. Crawford 261, 294, 494-30.
Portrait coins of Scipio AfricanusTodd Kirkby, May 1993. Crawford 296.
Crescent and star and related imagesDavid Wray, February 2004. Crawford 303, 344, 458, 480.
Astrological omens commemorated on Roman coinageMichael Molnar, April 1993. Crawford 309, 310.
The so called butting bull on ancient coinageMarvin Tameanko, January 1993. Crawford 316.
The coins of the Roman Republic from 60-50 BC: Another look at chronologyMatthew Rockman, 1992. Crawford 405 through 439. A well done article with real scholarship in it, it won the Parkes Weber prize from the Royal Numismatic Society.
Bellum Civile, The coinage of Marcus Junius Brutus marks the end of the RepublicMichael Atkins, March 2002. Crawford 433, 507, 508.
Roman coinage from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the naming of Augustus49-27BC, Mike Gasvoda, November 2007. Crawfords 443 to 544 and Sear HCRI.
Sekhmet, The lioness goddessCornelius Vermeule, September 2004. Crawford 460.
Astrological omens commemorated on Roman coins, the Ides of MarchMichael Molnar, November 1994. Crawford 508.
Roman coins and medals relating to Armenia, chapter 2Paul Bedoukian and Leon Saryan, April 1998. Crawford 539.
Faces of Empire, Women around the outset of the principateCornelius Vermeule, April 2008. Crawford 543.
The Battle of Actium and the ramJohn Dominis, April 2002. Crawford 543, 544, Sear HCRI419.
The true meaning behind the debased Marc Antony legionary denariiWalter Holt, April 2001. Crawford 544.
Venus Victrix on Roman coin reverseJohn Dominis, June 2003. Sear HCRI395.
A reassessment of the dating and identification of Etruscan coinageItalo Vecchi, May 2003. An important article, relevent to understanding of the early denarius coinage.
An investigation of the physical properties of Roman Republican coins, WeightsPierluigi Debernardi, February 2008.
An investigation of the physical properties of Roman Republican silver coinage, Silver contentPierluigi Debernardi, March 2008.
Dacian and Celtic imitations of Republican denariiPhillip Davis, April 2004.
Gold Staters of BrutusHarlan J Berk and David MacDonald, September 1999.
Mithridates VI or M. Junius BrutusBarry Murphy, November 1999.
Brutus revisitedHarlan J Berk, January 2000. Three important discussions on the Lysimachus style gold staters, considered by some to have been issued by Brutus to pay his Thracian mercenaries.
The history and coinage of Iberia, the Roman conquest of SpainRon Kollgaard, July 1993.
The history and coinage of Iberia, Spain in the late RepublicFrank Kovacs, August 1993.
Foiled by FourreesMichael Marotta, December 2001.
Countermarks on popular ancient silver coinsJ.W. van der Dussen, January 2003.
I have referenced NC articles in many places on this site. Below is a listing by date of NC articles from my library on Roman Republican topics. Where these merit discussion, generally this can be found elsewhere on this site. My collection of NC volumes is incomplete with a bias towards recent volumes. Many of the apparently generic studies listed below, on dies, issue volume and hoards, are based on analysis of Republican coinage.
The financial organisation of Republican SpainM.H. Crawford, 1969.
Notes on some Roman Republican moneyersHarold B. Mattingly, 1969.
A quinarius hoard from southern ItalyCharles A. Hersh, 1972.
A hoard of Republican asses from RomeT.V. Buttrey, 1973.
A study of the coinage of the moneyer C. Calpurnius Piso l.f. FrugiCharles A. Hersh, 1976.
The date and purpose of the Iberian denariusR.C. Knapp, 1977.
The authority to coin in the late Republic and early EmpireA.M. Burnett, 1977.
Notes on the chronology and interpretation of the Roman Republican coinageCharles A. Hersh, 1977.
Coinage and the Roman stateHarold B Mattingly, 1977.
Monetae... peculiares servos praeposuit, Julius Caesar and the mint of RomeC.H.V. Sutherland, 1985.
The iconography of Roman coin types in the third century BCAndrew Burnett, 1986.
A hub from ancient SpainMaria Paz Garcia-Bellido, 1986.
Estimation of the size of a coinage, a survey and comparison of methodsWarren W. Esty, 1986.
Calculating Ancient Coin Production, facts and fantasiesT.V. Buttrey, 1993.
The Mesagne hoard and the coinage of the late RepublicHarold B. Mattingly, 1995.
Change in the late Republican denariusR.P. Duncan Jones, 1995.
Calculating ancient coin production, seeking a balanceF. de Callatay, 1995.
The denarius of the Roman Republican moneyer, Lucius Julius Bursio, a die analysisP.H. de Ruyter 1996.
Die productivity and wastage in Roman coinageR.P. Duncan Jones, 1999.
Leges et Ivra P.R. Restitvit, A new aureus of octavian and the settlement of 28 to 27 BCJ.W. Rich and J.H.C. Williams, 1999.
Hoard structure and coin production in antiquity, an empirical investigationKris Lockyear, 1999.
Die productivity and wastage in Roman coinageR.P. Duncan Jones, 1999.
Sicily and the coinage of Octavian and Sextus Pompey, Aenaes or the Catanean BrothersE.M. Zarrow, 2003.
The H denarius rehabilitatedRichard Witschonke, 2008.
Unfortunately I only have sporadic copies of ANS MN or ANJ volumes. That of 1984 containing the Mesagne Hoard analysis by Hersh and Walker is a prized volume, and the 2008 edition is a bumper celebrating its 150th anniversary with many important articles. The 2008 edition is available for purchase at http://www.numismatics.org/Store/AJN20. Whilst you are on the site, remember to join the ANS. Contents tables for the AJN from 1991 to 2006 suggest we have not missed much else, I found no articles on Romane Republican numismatics in that period. However I believe the older Museum Notes have material that I have missed. If you have got all the way to the bottom of this page and have a rather full run of ANS MN on your shelves then we will all be endlessly thankful if you fill the void and share a list, with reading notes if possible. The volumes at hand include the following.
The fourth centry origin of Roman didrachmsRichard Mitchell, 1969.
Vettienus MonetalisJ.R. Jones, 1969.
A tri denominational hoard of early Roman silver coins from SicilyCharles A. Hersh, 1976.
The denarii of P. Crepusius and Roman Republican mint organisationT.V. Buttrey, 1976.
Some Additional Roman Republican OverstrikesCharles Hersh, 1987.
The Sicilian Coinage of Sextus PompeiusJane de Rose Evans, 1987.
Pseudo-mints and Small Change in Italy and Sicily in the Late RepublicSuzanne Frey Kupper and Clive Stannard, 2008
Local Politics in the Late Republic: Antony and Cleopatra at PatrasEmily Haug, 2008
Le monnayage de L. Sempronius Atratinus revisitéMichel Amandry, 2008
Hoard Notes: A Hoard of Dacian Imitations from Sarmizegetusa RegiaPhil Davis, 2008
Hoard Notes: A Roman Republican Silver Coin Hoard from CampaniaRichard Shaefer, 2008
Spink Numismatic Circular
This journal, which has published uninterrupted since the 19th century, has a mixture of generally academic short articles as well as coin for sale listing. The tone is more akin to the Notes within the Numismatic Chronicle rather than Celator articles. Most are on the subject of English coinage with Republican featuring rarely, but the following are of note, with a focus on those articles that remain relevant with the passage of time. Clearly the volumes 1900, 1902, 1903, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928 are rather interesting. I recommend subscribing in any event, as the value of such journals only becomes clear once they are absent.
The influence of the Ludi on the types of the Denarii of the RepublicSpink, 1900
Pallas or Roma, the helmeted head on the early Roman denariiA.W.Hands 1900
The influence of the four religious colleges of Rome upon the types of the Republican denariiSpink, 1900
The Witness of Roman coins to the history of RomeA.W.Hands, in six issues 1902 to 1903, each covering a different historical period from the Legendary and Mythical period before the sack of Rome, through to Cicero’s friends.
Notes on the mythological types of Roman Republican coinsVarious authors, a long series published in each Numismatic Circular 1923 to 1927 which may be available in complete volumes. Topics included: dog, dolphin, crow, butterfly, crab, dioscuri, Mamilia, Juno Caprotina, the myth of Nerio, Apollinarian games, Juturns, Anna Perenna, Vejovis, Marsyas, Juno Sospita, the Erymanthian boar, the Calydonian boar, Vacuna, the Sybil, Europa, Valeria Luperca, the flute players, Feronia, Acca Larentia, Lavinium, Amalthes, Medusa, the Nemean lion, Pegasus, Pan, the Sphinx, the myth of Scylla, myth of the Sirens, Silenus and Silvanus, the nine Muses, Typhon, the dream of Sulla or Endymion, Flors, the Penates, Vesta.
How were Aes Grave madeC.T. Trechmann, 1939
Propoganda on coins of the Civil WarP.V. Hill, 1962
Some notes on the Casaleone find of Roman Republican silver coinsSpink, 1962
Three restored coins issued by the Roman RepublicC.Kirkpatrick, 1968
Who was BACCHIVS IVDAEVSDavid Jacobsen, 1998
New methods for calculating the original number of dies in a given seriesGiles F. Carter, 1998
Quaderni Ticinesi, popularly known as QT, is an Italian language, Swiss numismatic and antiquities journal, that has hosted many important articles on Republican coins over the years. However my website is selfishly biased towards material that is ordinarily available, for purchase, to English speaking students. That includes important books in any language, and dedicated numismatic journals written mainly in English. But I cannot completely overlook QT because it has hosted many important articles, some in English. So I list below some in the English language whilst omitting some written in other languages. The very good news is that most all the research below has bubbled up to the surface in latter books, within HCRI and RIC1, HNI, and Morgantina the Coins. But I have not seen the two essays by Philip Hill which may be important, nor that by Cahn on EID MAR although I have read about the latter hence the citation below.
Coin-symbolism and propaganda during the wars of vengeance (44-36 B.C.)Philip Hill, 1975.
From Naulochus to Actium: the coinages of Octavian and Antony 36-31 B.C.Philip Hill, 1976.
Octavian’s gold and silver coinage from 32 to 27 B.CC.H.V. Sutherland, 1976.
The finesses of silver coins in Italy and Rome during the late fourth and thirtd centuries BCAndrew Burnett, Duncan Hook, 1989. Cornuficius reproduced on this site.
Bulls on republican and early imperial coinsJane de Rose-Evans, 1996.
Non-numismatic Academic Journals
If you have access to a university library with inter library lending then this website is not really aimed at you. I have deliberately bias towards accessibility for amateur numismatists, who do not have the knowledge of the world at their fingertips but may have easy access to the Celator, Numismatic Chronicle, American Numismatic Society or Numismatic Circular. Many numismatic academics however publish in non numismatic academic journals which, having perhaps only one or two numismatic articles per year, do not justify a subscription for an amateur with a focus purely on numismatics. Thus the information is, to an extent, hidden from ordinary person with an interest in coins. The Journal of Roman Studies is perhaps typical, in this case being associated with British Museums and with Dr. Andrew Burnett as chairman, naturally it occasionally publishes articles by eminent British numismatists, however there are quite a few others. Many articles in English are published in journals of other languages, specially Italian. In time, much of the information leaks on to the more accessible market place, either through the various dedicated numismatic publications or by publication in a book. So, bide your time.
All content copyright © 2004-2011 Andrew McCabe unless otherwise noted. If you've any questions or comments please contact me on the Yahoo Group RROME: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RROME.
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See my rarity estimates for Roman Republican Bronzes: Roman Republic Bronze Rarities..