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A Coin from the Time of Crassus in Honor of Spartacus, Juneteenth, and Freedom


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I always have fun near upcoming holidays posting coins that circulated during somewhat related events in ancient times. 

Although the gladiators (many of them slaves) were suppressed, their effort is most certainly inspiring.


This coin was likely minted around the time of the death of Crassus in 53 BC.



Feel free to post your mid first century BC coins or any coins related to freedom.




Edited by LONGINUS
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@LONGINUS, if you'd be so indulgent, kindly receive some serious kudos for observing Juneteenth.  Your Coolness Index just saw a major uptick!  The tie-in with Spartacus is terrific.  

...And, Rats, all my early Haitian stuff goes back too far in the collecting to have pictures.  But the earliest goes back to An. 12 /1816.  Right, the Haitians started out dating their coins from their independence, following the example of Revolutionary France.  A little ironically, since they'd won it from the French in the first place, ultimately against a major invasion force sent by Napoleon. 

From the 18th century, there were large-scale slave revolts across the Caribbean, notably including the Maroons in the Jamaican hill country, who routinely fought whole regiments of Redcoats to a standstill.  Not to mention the rebellions of Nat Turner and others in the U. S. early in the 19th.  Uniquely, though, the Haitians managed to do the same thing on a national scale. 

Here's a link to another example of the issue.  Promise you, finding mine was a major coup.


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Great idea for a post!

Here is a coin from Crassus's lifetime, issued around the time of the Spartacus rebellion, alluding to an earlier slave revolt. It doesn't exactly applaud that revolt, though.

Roman Republic, Mn. Aquillius Mn.f. Mn.n. [Manius Aquillius, son of Manius and grandson of Manius], AR Serrate Denarius, 71 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Helmeted and draped bust of Virtus right; III VIR downwards behind, VIRTVS upwards in front / Rev. Manius Aquillius [the moneyer’s grandfather, Consul 101 BCE] standing facing, head right, bearing shield on his left side, raising with his right hand a prostrate Sicilia [personification of Sicily], kneeling left at his feet; MN. AQVIL. upwards to right, MN. F. MN. N. [each MN in monogram] downwards to left; SICIL in exergue. Crawford 401/1, RSC I Aquillia 2 (ill.), Sear RCV I 336 (ill.), Sydenham 798, Harlan RRM I Ch. 31, pp. 183-188 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]. 18x20 mm., 3.76 g.*


*See Sear RCV I at p. 135, noting that this coin has the “first appearance on the coinage of the triumviral title of a moneyer (III VIR = tresvir).”  This is also one of only two Republican coins to depict Virtus on the obverse. The reverse design on the coin commemorates the moneyer’s grandfather, Manius Aquillius (identified in the legend), and his successful suppression in 101 BCE of a slave revolt in Sicily that had begun in 104 BCE. Sicily is portrayed as an under-nourished, helpless girl shielded and uplifted by Mn Aquillius and the military might of Rome. See Harlan at pp. 183-188. Harlan notes that although the moneyer’s grandfather was awarded an ovation in 100 BCE after his victory (a lesser form of triumph, awarded for defeating slaves, pirates, etc.), he was later charged with having engaged in extortion and bribe-taking in Sicily (although he was acquitted because of his bravery in the war), and ultimately, while serving as ambassador on a mission to Asia, was defeated and captured by Mithridates VI of Pontus, who ordered his execution in 88 BCE by the method of having molten gold poured down his throat.  In issuing this coin, the moneyer obviously chose to focus on his grandfather’s earlier successes in Sicily rather than his unfortunate end, perhaps (according to Harlan) trying to equate his grandfather’s successes with the recent suppression of the Spartacus slave revolt -- ironically enough by Crassus, given his supposed execution by the Parthians after Carrhae by exactly the same method.

And here's my one coin depicting Libertas. (Not to be confused with Liberitas!)

Claudius I AE As, AD 42, Rome Mint. Obv. Bare head left, TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG P M TR P IMP P P / Rev. Libertas standing facing, head right, holding pileus (cap of liberty) in right hand, left hand extended, LIBERTAS AVGVSTA / S - C. RIC I 113, Sear RCV I 1860, BMCRE 202. 31.62 mm., 11.18 g. Purchased from Marc Breitsprecher.


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Zeus of Freedom. From the time of the “end” of tyranny under the superb leadership of Timoleon.

Syracuse - Timoleon period (344-336 BC) - 2 Litra - Obverse: head of Zeus Eleutherios on the left - Reverse: galloping horse  left 






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Great coin and composition @LONGINUS.

Following up on @Deinomenid ‘s excellent example here is another Zeus Eleutherios from Syracuse.


SICILY, Syracuse
Time of Timoleon or the Third Democracy 
AE Hemidrachm (?) struck ca. 343-317 BC
Dia.: 24.00 mm
Wt.: 14.35 g
Obv.: IEYΣ EΛΕΥ-ΘΕ-ΡΙΟΣ Laureate head of Zeus Eleutherios right
Rev.: ΣYPAK-OΣIΩN Τhunderbolt upright; barley
Ref.: HGC 1440 (Vol. 2); Calciati 71
Sometimes attributed to the time of Dion (357-354 BC)
From the collection of a Mentor, ex Naville Numismatics 74, lot 42 (June 2022)

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I'm afraid that particular Antioch coin isn't thought to be from the time of Carrhae... I hope that's not too disappointing!  The coins from 54/53 BCE are dated IΓ (Pompeian era) in the exergue, like this one:


This is denomination B in HGC (Volume 9), which ranges from 5.5g to 9.6g... I gather yours is denomination B as well?  My coin is an example of HGC #1371; these vary in date from 63/62 to 49/48.  As you can see, the second line is THΣ on mine, rather than ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΕΩΣ as on yours.  Yours is catalogue #1372, which has Caesarean era dates in the exergue ranging from 41/40 to 17/16 BCE. The date is missing on yours, I don't know if it's possible to narrow it down based on the control symbol to the left of Zeus's feet.

Here are a few more Spartacus-related coins.  First, he was rumoured to be descended from Thracian nobility.  Here's a diobol of the first Thracian ruler of the Odrysian dynasty to issue coins... and his name was Sparadokos!  Surely "Spartacus" is just the latinized version of this name.


^ KINGS OF THRACE. Sparadokos, circa 464-444 BC. Diobol (Silver, 10 mm, 1.34 g, 2 h). Forepart of horse to left. Rev. Eagle flying left, holding serpent in its beak. Peykov B0040. Topalov 63.

Next, here's a quinarius of Lentulus Clodianus when he was a moneyer.  Later, when he was consul, Spartacus whupped his butt:


That's when Crassus was called in to clean up the "mess."  Here's a coin issued by Crassus's son in 55 BCE... the issue was likely used to pay Crassus's troops going east to their doom:


Here's a different Antioch type (HGC 1374) that dates to the beginning of the revolt, 74/73 BCE (Seleukid era date MΣ in the exergue):



Finally, in the (much appreciated!) spirit of the thread, here's a Libertas I haven't shown much, on a scarce As of Severus Alexander:




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Wonderful acquisition for Juneteenth, @LONGINUS! A historically important coin, indeed. I don't have any coins relating to Spartacus or Crassus, but I do have a lot of them featuring Libertas.

The name Libertas, meaning freedom, is derived from the Latin adjective, līber, meaning free. The term cannot be understood outside the historical context of slavery. The term was used literally and allegorically to refer to not being enslaved. Temples to Libertas were built in response to the creation of the Roman Republic after the overthrow of the Tarquin kings. By the reign of Julius Caesar, temples to Libertas existed on the Aventine and Palatine hills and a statue of Libertas had been erected in the Roman Forum.

The connection of Libertas with slavery is illustrated on coins by their references to the manumission ceremony whereby slaves were freed. Libertas is typically depicted as a standing female figure, holding a cap called a pileus in her right hand, and in her left hand a particular wand which the Romans called a vindicta. During the manumission ceremony, slaves wore the pileus and were lightly struck with the vindicta. This reverse type is thus rich with meaning. Indeed, these attributes of Libertas were featured on early US coinage, such as the first half cent.


There are numerous Roman imperial coins illustrating Libertas. Here is one from Trebonianus Gallus.

Trebonianus Gallus, 251-253 CE.
Roman AR antoninianus, 3.95 g, 21.3 mm, 12 h.
Rome, 3rd emission, 252 CE.
Obv: IMP CAE C VIB TREB GALLVS AVG, radiate, draped and cuirassed bust, right.
Rev: LIBERTAS AVGG, Libertas standing left, holding pileus and vindicta; star in right field.
Refs: RIC 38; RSC 63a; RCV 9634; Hunter 8.

Edited by Roman Collector
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An excellent post and coin @LONGINUS!  I'll add this coin - the Roman Republican moneyer, presumed to be Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus who years after issuing coins became consul in 72 BC, was defeated by Spartacus, in a rebellion of gladiators and slaves who had had enough of abuse at the hands of their Roman masters. The story begins with Spartacus escaped from fighting school in Capua with ~64 men. From there he soon amassed an army of tens of thousands.  This silver denarius was issued by  Cn Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus, in 88 BC,



Roman Republican, Cn. Lentulus Clodianus, 88 BC, AR Denarius (19mm, 4.04g, 3h), Rome mint

Obv: Helmeted bust of Mars right, seen from behind, wearing balteus over right shoulder with parazonium, vertical spear behind left shoulder

Rev: Victory, holding wreath and reins, driving galloping biga right

Ref: Crawford 345/1; Sydenham 702; Cornelia 50; RBW 1312

Edited by Sulla80
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Denarius 42 BC, Military mint. 2,97 g. Laureate head of Apollo right LEG COSTA / IMP BRVTVS Trophy with shield and spears. Cr.506/2; Syd.1287, fine to very fine, filled hole


Silver denarius, Crawford 500/5, Sear CRI 223, RSC I 6, BMCRR II East 75, Russo RBW 1764 (scarce), Sydenham 1305, SRCV I 1447/2, F, bumps and marks, irregularly shaped flan, weight 3.451g, maximum diameter 19.0mm, die axis 180o, obverse C�CASSI� IMP LEIBERTAS, diademed and veiled bust of Libertas right; reverse LENTVLVS / SPINT ( L. Cornelius Lentulus Spinther), capis and lituus (implements of the augurate); struck in a mobile military mint moving with the army of Brutus and Cassius, probably struck near Smyrna, Ionia, c. 43 - early 42 B.C.

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9 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

I'm afraid that particular Antioch coin isn't thought to be from the time of Carrhae...

Many thanks, @Severus Alexander !  I’ve been looking up images of this type of coin from the Pompeian period and I see what you mean.

My father would always tell me, don’t go off half-cocked, but that’s exactly what I did in this instance.


Edited by LONGINUS
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3 hours ago, LONGINUS said:

Many thanks, @Severus Alexander !  I’ve been looking up images of this type of coin from the Pompeian period and I see what you mean.

My father would always tell me, don’t go off half-cocked, but that’s exactly what I did in this instance.


Ah, but that’s one of the marvellous functions of this forum! We can go off half cocked as we please, since someone will step up and fill in the breach, to everyone’s benefit. You’ve done it for me on Judaean coins. 😊

Dealers rarely fully attribute these Antioch bronzes from the first century BCE. I’ve been building a small subset of important dates, and HGC vol. 9 has been essential. (You can also use RPC online to some extent, but that’s much less convenient as they aren’t nicely grouped together.)

Edited by Severus Alexander
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Publius Licinius Crassus was the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus.

Their ill-fated demise at Carrhae, in search of military glory, effectively ended the Triumvirate in 53 BC; helping set the stage for the eventual civil war between Pompey and Caesar.  This coin is well worn, but with some interesting banker's marks.


P. Licinius Crassus M.f. (55 BC). AR Denarius. (19mm, 3.38g). Rome mint.

O: Laureate, diademed, and draped bust of Venus right, wearing cruciform earring and necklace of pendants; S • C downwards to left.

R: P • CRASSVS M • F; Soldier standing facing, holding spear in left hand, and with right hand leading horse by bridle left; at his feet, trophy to left, shield to right around. 

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