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OTD 48 BCE: A little twerp cuts off the large head of one of Rome's greatest generals, Pompey the Great


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2070 years ago Pompey the Great disembarks at Pelusium upon arriving in Egypt, whereupon he is beheaded by order of King Ptolemy XIV.


(The servants of Ptolemy XIV offer Caesar the severed head of Pompey as a proof of the death of his rival. At this revealing sight Caesar turns away in disgust)

2217834_1632778050.l-removebg-preview.png.9f24d5caacda9ebdde17aca5b4f64e53.pngSextus Pompeius. Denarius, Sicily circa 42-40, AR 19.6 mm, 3.19 g. MAG·PIVS·IMP·ITER Head of Cn. Pompeius Magnus r.; behind, jug and before, lituus. Rev. PRAEF Neptune standing l., r. foot on prow, holding aplustre; on either side one of the Catanaean brothers carrying his father on his shoulder. In exergue, CLAS·ET·ORæ / [MARIT·EX·S·C]. Syd. 1344. B. Pompeia 27. C 17. Cr. 511/3a. Very rare. Struck on large flan. F-VF Purchased from GN Damian Marciniak October 2021 

So many courageous deeds, wars fought, allies made. What a bummer of a way to go for such a great man. A true sign of the times, just how awful the fall of the Republic was. 


share5231432460774463(1).png.d9c3c22fd3ee4e647b73cecd009c28fe.pngCilicia, Soli-Pompeiopolis. Pompey the Great. 1st century B.C. Æ (19 mm, 7.20 g, 12 h). Bare head of Pompey right / [ΠΟΜΠΗΙΟ]ΠΟΛЄΤΩΝ, Nike advancing right, holding wreath and palm; in right field, ΔΙ monogram. Cf. SNG BN 1213-7 (control); cf. SNG Levante 880-2 (same). Dark patina. Very fine. Ex Zeus 


Screenshot_20230705_200648_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.d6058240d0866aa867442c04040ac636.pngFaustus Cornelius L.f. L.n. Sulla 56 B.C.E. AR fourrée denarius (18.5 mm, 3.15 g, 7 h). Rome mint. Bust of Hercules right, in lions skin; SC behind / Globe between jeweled wreath and three triumphal wreaths. Cf. Crawford 426/4b; Cf. Sydenham 884; Cf. RSC Cornelia 62. aVF. Rare. "The head of Hercules recalls that Pompey while still young had, like his hero, extended his conquests over the world. The three lower wreaths refer to the three triumphal wreaths granted to Pompey for his victories in three continents. The jewelled wreath above is the gold chaplet he was authorized to wear at public functions (RSC, I, p.40)." 


(Julius Caesar being stabbed and beaten to death while the statue of his old friend and son in law turned foe looks on)


Sextus Pompeius 

(37-36 BC) Denarius - ex. David Hendin Obverse: head of Neptune right. Reverse: Naval anchor with trophy. Silver, diameter 17 mm, weight 3,43 g. Reference: Crawford 511/2b

Grade: F. Purchased from GNDM Feb 2023

It has been remarked that the coinage of Sextus Pompey was a step towards the propagandistic issues of the Roman emperors. Having decided upon an affinity with Neptune, he minted a series of coins depicting the god and continuing his theme of pietas. This virtue was highly valued in Roman society; the city's founder Aeneas' epithet is pius and tradition details that his piety was three-fold; to his father, his homeland and the gods.


Pompey was not the only imperator to draw upon the Aeneas myth on his coinage (see Crawford 458/1), however he was unique in commandeering a theme and using it repeatedly. His earliest denarii feature a personification of the goddess Pietas (Crawford 477/1a), but references become subtler and more complex on later issues as per the present example. Here, Pompey Magnus is remembered within the obverse legend, with Pietas also explicitly referenced. Sextus Pompey does not allow us to forget that it was the Senate who declared him praefectus classis et orae maritima, tying his patriotism in neatly. This military title lends itself obviously to Neptune, whose portrait is displayed on the obverse. The naval trophy not only alludes to Pompey's naval victories but also to his piety towards Neptune to whom he is reported to have sacrificed 100 bulls and in whose honour a live horse was flung into the sea, along with an offering of gold (Florus 2.18.3).



If you have coins or thoughts on this Magnus man please share them!

Edited by Ryro
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10 hours ago, JayAg47 said:

The first Triumvirate was really cursed! 

Which is worse? getting molten gold poured down the throat, or getting decapitated, or getting stabbed 23 times by people you called friends. 

I think Pompey got the best out of those three options!



Damn! Good call! Of all the options, beheading may be the best. 

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Little twerp is right! Pompey deserved a more honorable death than that. The Imperatorial period was a tragic time.

This gives me the perfect opportunity to show off my latest coin which came in a couple days ago. I've always wanted a portrait denarius of Pompey but it's hard to find an acceptable budget specimen. This one looks like it has been roughly handled, and the reverse is rather off-center, but the portrait is decent.

Sextus Pompey was a notable figure in his own right - a top-notch naval commander turned pirate, he very nearly succeeded in bringing down Octavian until his defeat by the inexorable Marcus Agrippa in 36 B.C.



And I also have the Pompeiopolis AE issue:




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5 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

I have a fairly decent denarius of the above type, acquired c. 1998,  but it's unphotographed.

Pompey had a pretty good run, 30 years, arguably more successful than his contemporaries.  Pompey Magnus became an instant favorite of mine after I learned about his 'little man' quote.


What quote is that?

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