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The elusive LEG IIII of Mark Antony.


JayAg47

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Marcus Antonius
LEG IIII (Legio Scythica)
Ar Denarius, mint moving with M. Antony 32-31 BC.
3.42 g.
Obv: ANT AVG – III·VIR·R·P·C Galley r., with sceptre tied with fillet on prow.
Rev. LEG – IIII Aquila between two standards.
Sydenham 1220, Crawford 544/16.

I was looking for a legionary denarius, and didn't mind about the legion number, as long as it's visible. Three factors led to my purchase: the legible number, a reasonable price, and notably, the legion number IIII, which is in contrast to the more prevalent IV. This particular variety is uncommon among hoard finds, for instance, the Delos Hoard of 1905 did not include any. The graph below shared by user TenthGen on ForumAncientCoins provides insight, though I'm uncertain about the availability of updates on recent hoard discoveries.Untitled.png.148de3260e72da54e09af01d10016fcc.png

While the coin is certainly not in the best shape, it's definitely an upgrade to my previous ones with barely legible number. 

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Please share you legionary or any other issues of Mark Antony.

Edited by JayAg47
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Congrats!  I'm afraid to buy Antony legionary denarii, because of all the fakes.  I bought this, some years ago, from a reputable dealer. I hope it's real.  Here's my only non-slick.

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MARCUS ANTONIUS (Marc Antony) AR silver denarius. Struck circa 32-31 BC, Patrae (?) mint. Legion XVII Classicae. Praetorian ship right, with scepter tied with fillet on prow; above, ANT AVG; below, III. VIR. R.P.C. Reverse - Aquila (eagle) between two standards; around, LEG XVII CLASSICAE. RCV 1481, 16mm, 3.4g.

 

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Congratulations!  That's quite the find.  LEG IIII is very rare compared to LEG IV.  As you mentioned there are no examples in the Delos Hoard of 1905 and was missing from RBW collection. Only 3 examples ever offered by CNG.  I had the good fortune of having 2 LEG IIII denarii over the years.  I sold one and kept this one :image.png.8e8cbcdc7e3793e5242551f774943eb4.png

ANT AVG III VIR R P C
galley r. mast with banners at prow

LEG IIII
legionary eagle between two standards
3.04g
Patrae mint 32-31BC
Sear Imperator's 353; Crawford 544/16; Cohen 29

Edited by Jay GT4
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7 hours ago, Jay GT4 said:

Congratulations!  That's quite the find.  LEG IIII is very rare compared to LEG IV.  As you mentioned there are no examples in the Delos Hoard of 1905 and was missing from RBW collection. Only 3 examples ever offered by CNG.  I had the good fortune of having 2 LEG IIII denarii over the years. 

I remember seeing your and Bing's coins on CT, and that's why I recognised the LEG IIII is rare when I saw this coin for sale, otherwise i'd have skipped. 

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On 12/20/2023 at 8:28 AM, Jay GT4 said:

LEG IIII is very rare compared to LEG IV. 

Are we sure "IV" is 4 and not 6?  I thought the Roman's did not often use the subtraction principle, and occasionally put the units in front but still meant addition. There are Byzantine coins with units before the higher value:

image.jpeg.0aab186680b113180b204c1b6bc2d077.jpeg
Surely this Maurice (582-602) 18-17 mm, 2.59 grams, Sear 536, is not writing 
year 3 as two before 5 instead of "III".  This must be year 7. 

Wikipedia mentions that addition is usual but subtraction is found, as in 18 = IIXX, with "A possible explanation is that the word for 18 in Latin is duodeviginti, literally "two from twenty"".  XL is used for "40" in ancient times, so that fits the subtraction principle. 

Here is another unusual configuration for a date:


SB535MauriceKyrIIIX2348.jpg.e1a833c25f52173b5a487c69315e9498.jpg
Maurice, 582-602, at Antioch
22-20 mm. 5.27 grams.
Sear 535
Interesting date with 16 written "UIX"
When the numeral system is additive, you don't need to put the units or five after the tens. Is this is correctly read as 
"UIX" for "VIX" the subtraction principle doesn't hold in this case.

The P-like symbol below is a mintmark for Theopolis = Antioch.


So, back to my original question. Is "IV" certainly "4"?
 

Edited by Valentinian
typo fixed
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10 hours ago, Valentinian said:

Are we sure "IV" is 4 and not 6?  I thought the Roman's did not often use the subtraction principle, and occasionally put the units in front but still meant addition. There see Byzantine coins with units before the higher value:

image.jpeg.0aab186680b113180b204c1b6bc2d077.jpeg
Surely this Maurice (582-602) 18-17 mm, 2.59 grams, Sear 536, is not writing 
year 3 as two before 5 instead of "III".  This must be year 7. 

Wikipedia mentions that addition is usual but subtraction is found, as in 18 = IIXX, with "A possible explanation is that the word for 18 in Latin is duodeviginti, literally "two from twenty"".  XL is used for "40" in ancient times, so that fits the subtraction principle. 

Here is another unusual configuration for a date:


SB535MauriceKyrIIIX2348.jpg.e1a833c25f52173b5a487c69315e9498.jpg
Maurice, 582-602, at Antioch
22-20 mm. 5.27 grams.
Sear 535
Interesting date with 16 written "UIX"
When the numeral system is additive, you don't need to put the units or five after the tens. Is this is correctly read as 
"UIX" for "VIX" the subtraction principle doesn't hold in this case.

The P-like symbol below is a mintmark for Theopolis = Antioch.


So, back to my original question. Is "IV" certainly "4"?
 

Interesting idea, but I'm not sure about the answer, but afaik the numbers in legionary coins doesn't denote dates but the legion number. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/20/2023 at 12:55 PM, JayAg47 said:

LEG IIII (Legio Scythica)

In Mark Antony's time it probably had a different name. It is very likely that the Legio IIII was raised by Marcus Antonius for his campaign against the Parthians. It is therefore sometimes called Legio IIII Parthica (not to be confused with the Legio IIII Parthica of the Emperor Diocletian).

There are theories that the name means "the legion from Scythia" or that the soldiers were brave like the infamous Scythians. But that's not really proven anywhere.

However, the name is attested to the reign of Octavian / Augustus. Octavian took over and reconstituted the Legion after the Battle of Actium. From this time the legion also received the ibex (not under Mark Antony!) - an emblem typical of Octavian. It was then used under Octavian in the Danube region against "the" Scythians (collective name for the southeastern European barbarian peoples).

So, in summary, it is very likely that this Legio IIII had the name "Parthica" when Mark Antony raised the legion. It was most likely also used in the unfortunate campaign against the Parthians. After Actium it was reconstituted by Octavian, received the ibex as a legionary symbol and was later used on the Danube against the Scythians under the proconsul Marcus Licinius Crassus (son of the triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus). It was during this time that the legion's name "Scythica" was actually mentioned for the first time.

 

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