Ancient images

Ancient images (proto-Poodles)

  • Caesia 1 denarius - Lucius Caesius, c.112-111 BC AR denarius. Heroic bust of Vejovis facing left hurling a thunderbolt and seen from behind. Rev: Two Lares flanking dog. CR 298/1, Syd 564. This is the headpiece for this section: please see above. Here's a caveat: Classicists--amateur and distinguished professionals--have gravely warned us about jumping to conclusions RE images on any ancient coin, and specifically this one.

    However, at the time of writing, January 2008, we are on the far side of the watershed of the North American retriever Hunt Test movement of the 1970's and 1980's. Standard Poodles are--as of the mid-1990's--eligible to run all North American hunt tests. All Poodles are eligible to run the Canadian Kennel Club's retriever Working Certificate, Working Certificate Intermediate, and Working Certificate Excellent series, and this back-to-roots movement has jumped the Atlantic Ocean. Significant numbers of us have field-trained Poodles, having studied the historical record in order to understand the remants of our water dogs' breed-specific temperaments. So, we feel that we have the background to state with confidence that the dog on the reverse side of this coin is a proto-Poodle--a water dog--a water spaniel--wearing the working version of what is now called the Continental clip, complete with leg-bracelets. The men are said by scholars to be Lares, or household gods (our own classical authorities have queried this conclusion). Household gods or mere mortals, it looks to us (and, we've warned you, evidently only to us) as if these two are carrying a rich harvest of Mallard ducks hitched by their necks to the hunters' belts. Dead ducks recently returned from water by today's retrievers are routinely hung by their necks to drain on portable racks which fold into handy umbrella-style sticks, and they are transported from the duck blind hung by their necks by nooses tied to the waterfowlers' belts or the nooses are slung across their shoulders. One of the ducks being carried--one which hangs directly in front of the dog--even displays wings, although typically, dead ducks hung by the neck don't spread their wings.

    In yet-undrained Europe with its (remarkable to us) multitude of waterfowl, and in entire absence of conservation laws, this return from the hunt must have been a very familiar sight particularly when "flapper" Mallards were fledging in late summer, and the mature ducks were in moult. At this time of year, Mallards lie close in heavy cover, and it is the work of a spaniel to roust them out.

    To read about waterfowling before the invention of firearms, please see Duck dogs: traps.

  • Leslie Benis, This Is the Puli (Jersey City: TFH Publications, 1976) ISBN 0-87666-368-4; pp. 11-19, including: p. 17, "a miniature sculpture from 3900 BC found during the excavations of the ancient city Eridu of the Mesopotamaian area. The original is in the National Museum of Iraq, Bagdad," small (?) corded dog with short legs; p. 18: "French professor Maurice Espreaux found this tablet during the excavations of the ancient (6,000 BC) city of Boghazko; it shows a Sumarian shepherd..." and his corded dog; p. 19: clay tablet from the ruins of the city of Jarmo, 4500 BC...": corded proto-Poodle.
  • "Attic shepherd dog" with corded coat, painted on an ancient Greek pottery container, "British Museum copyright". Maxwell Riddle, Dogs Through History (Fairfax, VA: Denlinger, 1987), p. 53.
  • Roman stele (grave-stone). Marble bas-relief, first half 4th century B.C. Height: 0.990, width 0.470. Louvre, Antiquités grecques, étrusques & romaines. Young man standing, showing a bird to a moyen-sized corded proto-Poodle who is jumping up, lower left. .
  • Sketch of a Roman bas relief (Augustan) forms head-piece for Poodle Lit. 101; probably a stele (Roman grave-stone). Taken from Der Deutsche Pudel (Munich: German Poodle Clubs, 1907), p. 4, where it is credited to Richard Strebel, Der Deutschen hunde...(Munich, 1905); in the reprint of Strebel (1986 reprint of 1904/5 edition), the image appears in vol. 1, p. 19.
  • Pet dog: painting in a wall frieze, House of the Epigrams, Pompeii, (destroyed in 79 A.D.). Seated Sheltie-eared dog in Continental complete with bracelets on forelegs. Riddle, p. 75.

  • N.B.: "Earliest known mention of the dog [Irish Water Spaniel]--in fact, of the word "spaniel"--is in the Irish Laws of 17 A.D., by which water spaniels were given as tribute to the king" (Jeff Griffen, The Hunting Dogs of America (NY: Doubleday, 1964), p. 144);
  • P. Howard Price, The Miniature Poodle Book (London: Nicholson & Watson, 1960), p. 1: "I have been able to trace evidence of Roman and Greek coins which clearly show a dog with a large lion-like mane and hind-quarters clipped short. We also see little Poodles represented on some monuments about the time of the Emperor Augustus, approximately A.D. 30."
  • "The Hadrian [Hadrian was Roman emperor, 117-38] billon tetradrachem of Alexandria's Serapis reverse has Kerberos at his feet and Kerberos, on this particular coin, looks like a Poodle." (JB, 16 July '97.) Kerberos was the three-headed, snake-tailed, maned canine guardian of the underworld whose removal was the 12th Labour of Hercules (after displaying his fierce prize, Hercules returned the dog). The honey-cake which the ancient Greeks put with the corpse was intended to quiet Kerberos (alt. sp.: Cerberus). This tetradrachem is proof that he had lost a couple of heads, his snake, and was well-socialized in the first century AD in civilized Alexandria. See: Richard J. Plant, Greek Coin Types and Their Identification (London, Beverly Hills: Seaby (distributed by Numismatic Fine Arts), 1979) and Michael Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage (Cambridge; NY: Cambridge UP, 1974; reprinted with corrections, 1987).
  • Sirius, the Dog Star, also appeared on ancient coins; as did dogs associated with, for example, Diana. The British Museum in London has an extensive collection of ancient coins, and a many-volume catalogue is widely-available in research libraries. After careful preparation with this catalogue (Plant and Crawford), to go to the British Museum to identify--supported by a curatorial assistant--coins displaying proto-Poodles would be a worthy endeavour for a Poodle History Project volunteer. A far easier method would be to identify a Poodle-owning ancient-coin-collector whose two interests have inevitably merged! For a picture of an ancient coin depicting a maybe-proto-Poodle) see Strebel (1986 reprint), vol. 2, p. 52.
  • "Colonel H. Smith...states that water-spaniels were well known to the Romans, and appear on their monuments, and that they are identical with Canis tuscus, but I have been unable to verify this." Edward C. Ash, Dogs: Their History and Development (London: Benn; Boston: HM Co., 1927), vol. 1, p.310; Ash dates (1843) Smith's remarks, p. 299; Smith was "of Jardine's Naturalists' Library fame", p. 73. See Rare books.

    The headpiece for this section is an ancient Roman coin: Caesia 1 denarius - Lucius Caesius, c.112-111 BC AR denarius. Heroic bust of Vejovis facing left hurling a thunderbolt and seen from behind. Rev: Two Lares flanking dog. CR 298/1, Syd 564. Lares are household gods.

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