The Abraham Cowley
Text and Image Archive

Pegasean Trick-Rider (Desultor)

Roman republic, AR denarius, Marcia 18 (86 BC). Obv.: Jugate heads of Numa Pompilius and Ancus Marcius (or the Dioscuri?) r. Rev.: Two horses galloping r., near one ridden by naked trick-rider (desultor), stag's-head symbol below, C. CENSO in exergue

The desultor's performance in Roman festivals (see Hyginus, Myth. 80.3), mentioned in Cowley's 1662 Plantarum preface, commemorates the remarkable living-death pact of the Dioscuri or Gemini twins (i. e. Castor and Pollux), who furloughed either brother's mortality by taking turns living and dying, a remarkable figure for the dying-life mythos in play throughout Cowley's Plantarum.

Related link: Rotting to Revive: Lower Plant Emblematics

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