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DonnaML's Top 9 Roman Republican Coins for 2023


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Why only 9? Because that's the number of Roman Republican (including Imperatorial) coins I have that I bought in 2023 -- there's one more I bought recently that hasn't arrived yet, so I'll count it towards 2024 -- and I like all of them. So I might as well present them all! I'm putting them in chronological order rather than in the order I bought them or any kind of "favorites" order.  (I do also give the number each one represents, by order of purchase, in my overall collection of 91 Roman Republicans; i.e., Roman Republican #'s 83-91.)

Three of the 9 writeups are new, the last one finished today, and I haven't previously posted them. That's why it's taken so long to post this list since I posted my other 2023 lists -- Roman Provincials, Roman Imperials, British Coins & Medals, and French Coins & Medals. 

As always, comments are welcome, and, also as always, my apologies for the length of some of the footnotes. Please feel free to ignore them and just look at the coins!

1. [Roman Republican No. 84] 

Roman Republic, Anonymous, AR Denarius 143 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing winged helmet ornamented with stylized representation of gryphon’s head, and earring of pellets in form of bunch of grapes; behind, X [mark of value, 10 asses, issued before re-tariffing of denomination to 16 asses ca. 141 BCE] / Rev. Diana, with quiver slung on her shoulder, in biga of stags galloping right; holding torch in right hand and reins in left; below stags, a crescent moon; in exergue, ROMA. Crawford 222/1; RSC I Anonymous 101 (ill. p. 8); BMCRR I 895; Sear RCV I 98 (ill. p. 92); Yarrow p. 42 (ill. fig. 1.36) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]; RBW Collection 946 (ill. p. 199). 18 mm., 4.13 gr. Purchased from cgb.fr., 13 Feb. 2023.*


*As Crawford notes, “the biga of stags and crescent are presumably present as the attributes of Diana.” Vol. I p. 260. See also BMCRR I p. 123 n. 3, referring to the crescent moon as “the symbol of Diana,” even though the crescent is associated  with Luna (the Greek Selene) as much as with Diana on Roman Republican coinage (see, e.g., Crawford 426/1 [Diana & crescent]; Crawford 480/26 [Luna & crescent]) -- including when it accompanies a goddess driving a biga,  for example on Crawford 303/1 (the denarius of M. Aquillius showing Luna in a biga with crescent above). As John Melville Jones notes in A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby 1990), in the entry for “Diana” at p. 197, it “is sometimes impossible to make any clear distinction between this goddess and Luna.” See also Crawford Vol. II at pp. 720-721 and n. 6, discussing a series of denarii introduced in the early 2nd century BCE with reverses depicting a goddess in a biga (beginning with Crawford 133), for all of which he identifies the deity as Luna rather than Diana: "It is not possible to distinguish firmly between Luna and Diana; I adopt the designation Luna here without total conviction; but in the coinage of Julia Domna, where Luna and Diana are explicitly identified, Luna bears a crescent on her head, Diana does not."

On this coin, however, the presence of the quiver on the goddess’s back, along with the torch and the stags, should confirm that a representation of Diana was intended (see Jones, op. cit., re Diana Venatrix [“Huntress”] and Diana Lucifera [“Light-bearer”]). See Harlan, RRM I [Michael Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)], Ch. 19 at p. 115: “The earliest appearance [of Diana driving a biga of stags] was an anonymous issue dated to about 143 [i.e., this type]. Although the deity in the biga holds a torch in her right hand rather than a bow, she is clearly identified as Diana by the quiver over her shoulder”; Harlan also cites the crescent moon as proof of the identification even though that could signify Luna as well. 

The most interesting aspect of this issue, apart from the attractive reverse design, is the very fact of its being anonymous. See Sear RCV I p. 92, pointing out that the “occurrence of an anonymous issue at this late date is exceptional and surprising.” Indeed, this type appears to be one of only two anonymous denarii issued after the early 150s BCE (not counting Crawford 262/1, universally ascribed to one of the Caecilii Metelli) – the other being Crawford 287/1, with Roma on the obverse and a reverse depicting Roma seated on pile of shields before wolf & twins with two birds above.

As long ago as 1852, the French numismatist and antiquarian Adrien Prévost de Longpérier published an article -- which I was able to find online, with some difficulty, so I could read what he said first-hand -- in which he listed a number of Republican denarii for which the design, in whole or in part, was a visual pun alluding to the moneyer’s name or family or a particular location. Referring to a denarius issued by L. Axsius L.F. Naso (Crawford 400/1a-b, RSC I Axia 1-2 [type dated to 71 BCE]), the article suggested that the reverse design, also depicting Diana in a biga of stags (a species of which was known in Latin as “axes”) was an allusion to the name of the Axia gens. See A. de Longpérier, “Interprétation du type figuré sur les deniers de la famille Hosidia” in Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaires de France, t. xxi (1852), at p. 357 (article reprinted in an 1883 collection of the author’s works, available at https://ia902705.us.archive.org/27/items/oeuvres01velagoog/oeuvres01velagoog.pdf; see p. 289). 

Here is an example of Crawford 400/1a from acsearch, sold by NAC in 2012 (not my coin):


In 1910, in BMCRR I p. 133 n. 3, Grueber cited Longpérier’s article in arguing with respect to my anonymous type (Crawford 222/BMCRR I 895) – even though it was issued many decades earlier than Crawford 400/1a-b and does not bear a moneyer’s name – that it is “very probable” that the similar design of Diana in a biga of stags on the anonymous type also constituted “a direct allusion to the name of the Axia gens.” See also BMCRR I 3348, pp. 409-410 n. 3 (making the same argument concerning the significance of the reverse of Crawford 400/1a-b). See RSC I Axia 1-2, p. 19 (“The stags [on Crawford 400/1a-b] (cervi axes) may be a punning allusion to the family name”). Yarrow illustrates Crawford 222/1 at p. 42 fig. 1.36, and notes the similar reverse design of Crawford 400/1a-b, but makes no reference to the axes/Axius theory for either type.

Crawford completely rejects the theory, with respect to both Crawford 222/1 (my type) and Crawford 400/1a-b. Thus, he states with respect to my anonymous type that “the recurrence of the type on no. 400/1a-b provides no adequate evidence for the attribution of this issue to a moneyer of the gens Axia” (Crawford Vol. I p. 260, citing a 1913 Kubitschek article as contra). And, even with respect to Crawford 400/1a-b, he asserts that “the axes attested by Pliny [citation omitted], natives of India, are of no conceivable relevance to the reverse type, despite the superficial similarity between their name and that of the moneyer” (Crawford Vol. I p. 412, citing the 1852 Longpérier article and an 1878 article by A. Klugmann as contra).

Unfortunately, Crawford provides no elaboration of the reasons – philological, historical, or otherwise – for his adamant rejection of any connection between “axes” and “Axius.” And I certainly don’t know whether “axes” was a sufficiently common or well-known term in Rome – either in 143 BCE or 71 BCE – for a kind of stag or male deer (for which I believe cervus was the general term) that such an allusion would have been widely recognized. Harlan, however, does elaborate on his reasoning in strongly agreeing with Crawford. In his chapter on Crawford 400/1a-b, he states:  “Longpérier interpreted the coin’s reverse design depicting Diana driving a biga of stags to be a punning allusion to the family name Axia, citing Pliny’s mention [in Naturalis Historia] of a strange animal found in India called axis, which had the hide of a fawn, but with more spots and whiter in color. This suggestion was frequently repeated in catalogs. Pliny, however, specifically said that the axis was sacred to Liber not Diana. Moreover, it is difficult to see how or why an Italian family would derive its name from an obscure and virtually unknown Indian animal. Crawford is surely right in saying the axis is ‘of no conceivable relevance to the reverse type.’” Harlan RRM I, pp. 114-115.  

If the obscure term for an Indian animal has no conceivable relevance to the reverse type on a named issue for which a member of the gens Axia is known to have been the moneyer, then it must be all the more irrelevant to my anonymous issue. A fortiori, as we lawyers like to say! Indeed, Harlan cites my anonymous issue, as well as the issue of C. Allius Bala from 92 BCE also depicting Diana in a biga of stags (Crawford 336/1b), in concluding that “these three similar appearances of Diana in a biga of stags by moneyers from three different families suggest that the type was more likely generic than a specific reference to the gens Axia.” Harlan RRM I, p. 115. Here's my example of Crawford 336/1b:


Thus, as intriguing as the Longpérier/Grueber theory may be, I have to agree with Crawford and Harlan that it seems highly unlikely. Sometimes Diana in a biga of stags is just Diana in a biga of stags. (To paraphrase Freud’s famous but entirely apocryphal remark.)

2. NEW WRITEUP [Roman Republican No. 90] 

Roman Republic, L. [Lucius] Caesius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint 112-111 BCE. Obv. Bust of youthful Apollo, Apollo-Jupiter, Veiovis, or Apollo-Veiovis (see fn.) seen from behind, with his head turned to left and holding a thunderbolt in front of his body with his right hand, directed to left; to right, monogram


(APollo or RoMA) (see fn.) / Rev. Lares Praestites seated facing, each holding staff in left hand and wearing cloak or dog-skin spread over one knee; dog stands to right between them with head raised towards right-hand Lar, who caresses dog’s head with right hand; above, bust of Vulcan facing left wearing conical hat with wide brim, with tongs behind; in left field, monogram LA ligate; in right field, monogram RE or PRE ligate (with retrograde “E” at left of R or ligated PR) [together, LA-RE[S] for Lares or LA[RES]-PR[A]E[STITES] for Lares Praestites]; in exergue, L•CAESI (AE ligate). 19x21 mm., 3.97 g. Crawford 298/1; BMCRR II Italy 585; RSC I (Babelon) Caesia 1 (ill. p. 22); Sear RCV I 175; RBW Collection 1140 p. 234 (ill. p. 235) (2014); Sydenham Albert 1089 (ill. p. 153) [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)] [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)]. Purchased from Kölner Münzkabinett, Cologne, Germany, Auction 119, 6 Oct 2023, Lot 323; ex Münzen & Medaillen AG, Basel, Switzerland, List 510, May 1988, No. 177.*


*Moneyer According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 312), the moneyer “is a L. Caesius (conceivably a L. Caesilius), not otherwise known.” Mattingly (who dates this issue at 110 BCE rather than Crawford’s 112-111) identifies him as a Praetor in 104 BCE. (See Harold B. Mattingly, “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in From Coins to History (2004), pp. 199-226 at Table 2 p. 206.) In BMCRR II at p. 290 n. 1, Grueber suggests that the moneyer “may have been the father of L. Caesius, who was a friend of Cicero, and who accompanied him during his proconsular administration of Cilicia circ. B.C. 54.”

Identity of Obverse Figure The different authorities identify the youthful deity portrayed on the obverse holding a thunderbolt as, variously, (1) Apollo (see Crawford Vol. I p. 312, RBW Collection p. 234, Albert p. 153) or, given that “the object in his hand is clearly a thunderbolt” (Crawford p. 312), (2) “perhaps” a deity “result[ing] from the assimilation of Apollo and Jupiter” (id.; see also Sear RCV I 175 at p. 106, identifying the figure as “Apollo/Jupiter”), (3) Veiovis (sometimes spelled Vejovis), an “Italian deity of whose cult little is known; he was worshipped at Rome in a temple on the Capitol. His statue there held arrows, and a goat stood by its side” (John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London 1990), entry for “Veiovis” at p. 315); see also Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021), Box 3.3 at p. 146  (Veiovis’s name “is made up of ve- and iovis, which might translate as the ‘harmful Jupiter’ or ‘the youthful Jupiter’”); or (4) Apollo-Veiovis, a deity resulting from the assimilation of those two gods. Sources identifying the obverse figure on this type as Veiovis include Grueber (BMCRR II Italy 585 at p. 290), Sydenham (see Sydenham 564 & 732), and RSC II (Babelon) Caesia 1 (see p. 22, identifying the figure as Vejovis, “a Latin divinity of a destructive nature”). For identifications as Apollo-Veiovis, see the Kölner Münzkabinett auction description; see also T.P. Wiseman, Remembering the Roman People: Essays on Late-Republican Politics and Literature (Oxford 2009), Ch. 2, “Licinius Macer, Juno Moneta, and Veiovis” at pp. 72-78 (pp. available at Google Books; see further discussion below).  

Crawford and other authorities rejecting the Veiovis identification in favor of Apollo have done so on the ground, among others, that Veiovis “sagittas tenet” [holds arrows], not a thunderbolt. See Crawford Vol. I p. 312, citing Aulus Gellius’s work Attic Nights, Book V.xii, lines 11-12; see the Loeb Classical Library at https://www.loebclassics.com/view/gellius-attic_nights/1927/pb_LCL195.415.xml:Simulacrum igitur dei Vediovis, quod est in aede de qua supra dixi, sagittas tenet quae sunt videlicet partae ad nocendum,” translated as “It is for this reason that the statue of the god Vediovis, which is in the temple of which I spoke above, holds arrows, which, as everyone knows, are devised to inflict harm.” (On the other hand, Gellius goes on to say immediately thereafter, as translated – supporting the general idea of an assimilated Veiovis-Apollo -- “For that reason it has often been said that that god is Apollo; and a she-goat is sacrificed to him in the customary fashion, and a representation of that animal stands near his statue.” See  https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Attic_Nights_of_Aulus_Gellius/WnYtAAAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22gellius%22+%22attic+nights%22+%22sagittas+tenet%22&pg=PA415. The translator of the 1927 Loeb Classical Library edition, John C. Rolfe, points out in a footnote on the same page, however, that “Some regarded the god as a youthful (little) Jupiter and the she-goat as the one which suckled him in his infancy; others as Apollo, because of the arrows, but the she-goat has no connection with Apollo.”) As Professor Yarrow points out at p. 146 of her book, “even at the end of the Republic the meaning of the name was not fully understood by Romans themselves, even though Veiovis had a prominent temple on the Capitol.” Hence, the confusion even of ancient authors concerning Veiovis’s attributes and symbolism, and whether he should be identified with Jupiter, Apollo, both, or neither!

Of course, none of the foregoing necessarily supports the interpretation of the obverse portrait on the L. Caesius issue as Veiovis or Apollo-Veiovis -- as opposed to Apollo or Apollo-Jupiter -- given the fact that the deity is depicted holding a thunderbolt rather than arrows. Thus, Crawford also cites, at Vol. I p. 312, Ovid’s Fasti Book III at 438 as a basis for rejecting the Veiovis interpretation, given Ovid’s statement that Veiovis “fulmina nulla tenet” – i.e., “holds no thunderbolts.” See the translation of Ovid’s relevant lines at https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/OvidFastiBkThree.php

 “The Nones of March are free of meetings, because it’s thought

 The temple of Veiovis was consecrated today before the two groves.

 When Romulus ringed his grove with a high stone wall,

 He said: ‘Whoever takes refuge here, they will be safe.’

 O from how tenuous a beginning the Romans sprang!

 How little that crowd of old are to be envied!

 But so the strange name won’t confuse you, unknowingly,

 Learn who this god is, and why he is so called.

 He is the young Jupiter: see his youthful face:

 Then see his hand, holding no lightning bolt.”

 (Emphasis added.)

 Nonetheless, despite Crawford’s reliance on Gellius and Ovid, Wiseman’s book Remembering the Roman People, op. cit., argues at pp. 72-76 that the obverse of the L. Caesius issue -- and the similar obverse on the denarius issued by C. Licinius Macer, Crawford 354/1, ca. 84 BCE – were, in fact, intended to represent Veiovis in the form of an assimilation with Apollo:




[Lengthy discussion follows about portion of text which the author reads as referring to "those about to be struck by the thunderbolt of Veiovis," and citing the possible Etruscan origins of Veiovis as one of nine gods who send thunderbolts.]


[Citing passage from Aulus Gellius re Veiovis holding arrows, quoted above.]




Regarding the possibility of identifying the object held by the obverse figure on the L. Caesius denarius not only as a thunderbolt but also as three arrows, Wiseman was certainly not the first to do so. See the 1870 edition of  Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (William Smith, ed., originally published 1849), entry for “Caesia Gens” at p. 557 (https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Page:Dictionary_of_Greek_and_Roman_Biography_and_Mythology_(1870)_-_Volume_1.djvu/575), identifying the object on the type as “an arrow or spear with three points,” held by “Apollo Veiovis.”

See also Trevor S. Luke, Ushering in a New Republic: Theologies of Arrival at Rome in the First Century BCE (U. of Michigan 2014) at p. 163 (available at https://www.google.com/books/edition/Ushering_in_a_New_Republic/w0k8BAAAQBAJ?q=&gbpv=1&bsq=caesius#f=false), describing Veiovis as “an Apolline youth bearing arrows or thunderbolts.”

In sum, nobody really knows or knew, now or 2,100 years ago, the precise historical origins or attributes of Veiovis -- even though his temples had been built as recently as 194 and 192 BCE -- and it seems clear that he could be portrayed with attributes also typical of Jupiter and/or Apollo. Thus, it seems to me that it is overly dogmatic for Crawford to insist that the figure on the obverse of the L. Caesius issue (or the similar figure later portrayed on the C. Licinius Macer issue) must be only Apollo or only an assimilation of Apollo with Jupiter, and that it cannot also be seen as an assimilation of Apollo with Veiovis. The lines between different deities and their attributes/portrayals do not appear to have been quite that strictly drawn by the Romans.

Obverse Monogram: Apollo vs. Roma The various authorities also differ on the interpretation of the obverse monogram


as APollo or as RoMA. Obviously, the former interpretation supports identification of the obverse figure as Apollo (see Wiseman above), but does not preclude its identification as an assimilated Apollo/Jupiter and/or Apollo/Veiovis as well. The latter interpretation would neither support nor negate any particular identification.

The question would seem to turn on whether the bottom half of the monogram:


represents only an “A,” or whether the “v” shape of the A’s crossbar -- replacing the usual straight line of an A’s crossbar -- also forms the “M” in Roma, when combined with the lower portion of the A’s outer legs. At BMCRR II Italy 585 p. 290 & n. 2, Grueber identifies the monogram as standing for “Roma,” referring to his discussion at BMCRR I Rome 2476 p. 322 n. 2 of the virtually identical monogram on the obverse of that type (Crawford 353/1a-1b), a denarius of Mn. Fonteius issued ca. 85 BCE with Apollo [or Veiovis] on the obverse and Cupid riding a goat on the reverse). There, Grueber rejects Mommsen’s and Eckhel’s interpretations of the monogram as standing for Apollo and “argentum publicum,” respectively. He argues: “We are unable to accept either of those interpretations from the fact that at this period the letter A rarely occurs as [image.png.bdf83d3e95b4193db9b647be97447bee.png], and P is always given as [an open P rather than “P” with the top portion closed], and consequently we prefer to see  in this monogram the name of ROMA. There is a distinct R, the upper part of which would form O, and the peculiar shape of [image.png.cc3a1f9f86ecabe2b08bb29c0024601c.png] furnishes the combination of MA.” RSC I (Babelon) Caesia 1 at p. 22 also interprets the monogram as “ROMA.”

By contrast, Crawford argues (Vol. I p. 312) that “[d]espite the closed form of the P, the monogram on the obverse seems to me most readily intelligible as representing Ap(ollo), rather than R(om)a . . . and presumably thus identifies the deity portrayed” (either alone or as assimilated with Jupiter). Sear agrees; see Sear RCV I 175 at p. 106. At Vol. I p. 369, Crawford takes the same position regarding the interpretation of the similar monogram on Crawford 353/1a-1b, stating that it “should be regarded as standing for Ap(ollo).”

Crawford’s interpretation of the monogram as standing for AP(ollo) does not address in any way what seems to be the clear presence of an “M” as part of the L. Caesius (and Mn. Fonteius) monograms. Outside the context of this monogram, I have found no other examples of the crossbar in a Latin “A” formed with a “v” shape rather than a straight line, whether during or outside the 25-year period of these two types. On the other hand, the Grueber/RSC interpretation of the monogram as standing for “RoMA” fails to address or explain why the only two appearances of this monogram happen to be on obverses that appear to portray either Apollo himself or an “Apollonian” deity assimilating elements of Apollo, Veiovis, and/or Jupiter.  Although I am essentially neutral on the question, it’s difficult for me to ignore what does appear to be an “M” forming part of the monogram.

Reverse Depictions of Lares Praestites, Dog, & Vulcan All authorities agree that the two figures on the reverse, with a dog between them, represent “the Lares praestites, the protecting spirits of the city,” with the dog a symbol of watchfulness. BMCRR II Italy 585 p. 290 n. 3; Crawford Vol. I p. 313; see also RSC I (Babelon) Caesia 1 p. 22; Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins, op. cit., entry for “Lar (pl. Lares)” at p. 157 (characterizing the Lares in this context as “protecting gods of the state,” with the title Lares Praestites, ‘Tutelary Lares,” applied to them. They were sometimes shown wearing dogskins, or with a dog, as on a denarius of L. Caesius (c. 112 BC). The ancient interpretation of this, that they hunted down wrongdoers like hounds, is unlikely; perhaps the dog is a symbol of watchfulness”). BMCRR and Crawford each cite the discussions of the Lares Praestites both in Plutarch and in Ovid’s Fasti.  The relevant passages can be found at https://romanpagan.wordpress.com/lares/:

“Finally, the Lares praestites (Lares of the state), who were apparently associated with dogs, should be mentioned. Plutarch asks a question about these Lares, the answer to which he seems unsure of:

‘. . . Why is a dog placed beside the Lares that men call by the special name of praestites, and why are the Lares themselves clad in dog-skins?

Is it because “those that stand before” are termed praestites, and, also because it is fitting that those who stand before a house should be its guardians, terrifying to strangers, but gentle and mild to the inmates, even as a dog is? Or is the truth rather, as some Romans affirm, that, just as the philosophic school of Chrysippus think that evil spirits stalk about whom the gods use as executioners and avengers upon unholy and unjust men, even so the Lares are spirits of punishment like the Furies and supervisors of men’s lives and houses? Wherefore they are clothed in the skins of dogs and have a dog as their attendant, in the belief that they are skilful in tracking down and following up evil-doers [Plutarch, The Roman and Greek Questions].’

Ovid also mentions dogs in conjunction with these Lares:

‘The Kalends of May saw an altar dedicated to the Lares praestites, with small statues of the gods. Curius [king of the Sabines, said to be ancestors of the Romans] vowed them: but time destroys many things, and the long ages wear away the stone. The reason for their epithet of praestites [guardians], is that they keep safe watch over everything. They support us, and protect the city walls, and they’re propitious, and bring us aid. A dog, carved from the same stone, used to stand at their feet: why did it stand there with the Lares? Both guard the house: both are loyal to their master: crossroads are dear to the god, and to dogs. Both the Lar and Diana’s pack chase away thieves: and the Lares are watchful, and so are dogs. I looked for statues of the twin gods, but they’d fallen with the weight of years: the city has a thousand Lares, and our leader’s Genius, who gave them to the people, and each district worships the three divinities’ [two Lares compitales on either side of the spirit/Genius of Augustus] [Ovid, Fasti, May 1, Kalends].”

The reverse monograms support the identification of the two figures as the Lares Praestites whether one reads them together as LA-RE[S] (see BMCRR II Italy 585 p. 290; RSC I (Babelon) Caesia 1 at p. 22) or as LA[RES]-PR[A]E[STITES] (Crawford Vol. I p. 312; Sear RCV I 175 at p. 106). If the interpretation of Crawford and Sear is correct, then of course the initial “P” in the right-hand monogram would be found within the “R” -- by contrast to the obverse monogram, which Crawford and Sear read as a ligated A and P with no R at all, even though it’s quite easy to perceive one.

Finally, all the authorities agree that the small figure at the top of the reverse field depicts Vulcan’s profile left, wearing a wide-brimmed conical hat, with his tongs behind. Crawford states (Vol. I p. 312) that the “significance of the bust of Vulcan is not apparent,” while Grueber states only that the figure “relates to the office of the moneyer,” without attempting to explain the particular relevance of Vulcan, if any, to this particular issue or moneyer (as opposed to his general relevance to the minting of all Roman Republican coins). BMCRR II Italy 585 p. 290 n. 3. RSC I (Babelon) Caesia 1 at p. 22 simply repeats Grueber’s comment.          

3. [Roman Republican No. 89]

Roman Republic, Mn. Aquillius, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 109-108 BCE [Crawford], or 108-107 BCE [Mattingly]. Obv. Radiate head of Sol right; beneath chin, X [old mark of value used here (& on several other issues) despite revaluing of denarius from 10 to 16 asses in 136 BCE] / Rev. Luna in biga of galloping horses right, holding reins in both hands; above horses, crescent moon and three stars; beneath horses, a fourth star; MN • AQVIL [MN ligate] below; in exergue, ROMA. Crawford 303/1; RSC I (Babelon) Aquillia 1 (ill. p. 16); BMCRR II Italy 645 (ill. Pl. xcv no. 11); Sear RCV I 180; Albert 1094 (ill. p. 154) [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)]; RBW Collection - [not included]; for date of issue, see also Mattingly, Harold B., "The Management of the Roman Republican Mint," p. 258 Table 3, in From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies (2004). 18x19 mm., 3.82 g. Purchased 30 Sep. 2023 from Divus Numismatik (Philipp Krüger), Vienna, Austria; ex Marc Walter, Vienna, Austria; ex Numismatica Tintinna, Scandiano, Emilia Romagna, Italy [I couldn't find auction date online]; ex Mario Ratto, Milan, Italy, Fixed Price List Fall 1995, No. 56 [see Richard Schaefer Roman Republican Die Project at http://numismatics.org/archives/ark:/53695/schaefer.rrdp.processed_300-399#schaefer_clippings_output_303_sd, Col. 3, Row 11].*


The RRDP entry. (If anyone happens to have the Fall 1995 Ratto FPL, please let me know because I'd love to have a copy of the relevant page(s); I couldn't find it online.)


*The moneyer, Manius Aquillius, was Consul in 101 BCE (see Crawford p. 314) and, in 88 BCE, “was one of the consular legates appointed to prosecute the war in Asia against Mithradates the Great of Pontus” (BMCRR II Italy p. 300 n. 1). His grandson, Mn. Aquillius Mn.f. Mn.n., was a moneyer ca. 71 BCE, and the issuer of Crawford 401/1, which commemorates the senior Mn. Aquillius’s suppression of a slave revolt in Sicily in 101 BCE while serving as Consul. 

According to Crawford, the obverse and reverse types on this issue “need do no more than” reflect the moneyer’s predeliction for the the joint cult of Sol and Luna, with the stars on the reverse representing “the heavens through which Luna passes.” (Crawford p. 314, citing Grueber, BMCRR II Italy p. 300 n. 2; in turn, Grueber cites Babelon, Vol. I p. 212, for the suggestion that the design simply reflects a special interest in the cult by the moneyer’s family.) 

Grueber (id.) is skeptical of the theory, apparently first advanced by A. Vercoutre in 1890, that the four stars on the reverse of this issue were intended to represent “the sign of the constellation Aquila [meaning ‘Eagle’], which is in the form of the letter T, a punning allusion to the [gens] Aquillius. The introduction of Luna and Sol would be due to the desire of the engraver to emphasize specially the representation of this constellation.” Crawford’s failure to mention this theory can presumably be viewed as an implicit rejection of its plausibility. However, RSC I cites the theory at p. 16 (“The stars may be a punning allusion to the moneyer and the constellation Aquila”) without any indication that it should be viewed as farfetched.

From the photo at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquila_(constellation) of the constellation Aquila “as it can be seen with the naked eye,” I am somewhat skeptical of the theory as well. I think it  requires the exercise of some imagination to see the arms of the “T” of the constellation Aquila (or an eagle’s body and wings) in the arrangement of the four stars on the reverse of this issue. Even though I concede that the bottom star on the coin is -- as in the photo of the constellation -- closely aligned with the central star in the line of three above, with the other two stars in that line placed slightly lower than the central one. 


4. [Roman Republican No. 88]

Roman Republic, L. Cassius Caeicianus, AR Denarius 102 BCE [Crawford] or 100 BCE [Yarrow and Mattingly], Rome Mint. Obv. Bust of Ceres, left, draped, wreathed with ears of grain; behind, CAEICIAN upwards [AE and AN ligate]; to left of “AN,” control-mark K with dot (•) beneath it / Rev. Pair of oxen left in yoke; above, control-mark M with dot (•) beneath it; in exergue, L • CASSI.  Crawford 321/1; RSC I [Babelon] Cassia 4 (ill. p. 29); BMCRR I Rome 1725-1741 [various pairs of control-marks, not including pair on this coin]; Sear RCV I 199 (ill. p. 110); Albert 1125 (ill. p. 157) [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)]; RBW Collection 1176 (ill. p. 243); Yarrow p. 186 (ill. p. 187 fig. 4.31) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]; for date of issue, see also Mattingly, Harold B., “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies (2004) pp. 199-226 at Table 2, p. 206. 18 mm., 4.0 g. Purchased 11 Aug 2023 from Münzenhandlung M. Raffler, Hettenshausen (bei München), Germany, ex H.H. Kricheldorf, Freiburg, Germany, Auktion 46, 17 Jul 1998 in Stuttgart, Lot 187.*


*The moneyer is “not otherwise known” (Crawford p. 325), and his cognomen, Caeicianus, is apparently an alternate spelling of Caecianus (id., see also BMCRR I p. 236 n. 3). The control-mark pairs “are the letters of the Latin alphabet, with or without a dot” (Crawford p. 325); the dot, when present -- as is usually the case (BMCRR I p. 237 n. 3 cont.) -- may be above, below, to the right, or to the left of the letter, always in the same position on the obverse and reverse. The pairs of letters used are juxtaposed in reverse alphabetical order to each other (Crawford p. 325); see also BMCRR I p. 237 n. 3 cont. (“On the obverse the letter starts from the beginning of the Latin alphabet, whilst on the reverse it starts from the end”). Thus, “A on the obverse is paired with X on the reverse, B with V and so on as far as K with M” (Crawford p. 325), with the K-M pair on this coin (accompanied by dots below each letter) representing the final pairing of letters in the series.

According to Crawford, the reverse type (a pair of oxen yoked, often symbolizing the foundation of a colony; see Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby 1990) at pp. 121-122 [entry for “Founder”]) “merely complements the bust of Ceres on the obverse . . . ; together the two types recall the foundation of the temple of Ceres by Sp. Cassius,” a claimed ancestor of the moneyer, as the second Consul in 493 BCE. Crawford p. 326. Professor Yarrow accepts that interpretation, but also proposes a possible simultaneous association with the settlement of large numbers of Marian veterans in new colonies ca. 100 BCE, interpreting this issue together with the later issue of Gaius Marius C.f. Capito from ca. 81 BCE (Crawford 378/1c), which also has Ceres on the obverse and a reverse depicting a pair of oxen, this time driven by a plowman. See this photo of my example of that type, purchased Feb. 21, 2021 from Nomos AG, Obolos Auction 18, Lot 468 (the full write-up with footnotes, including more on the "foundation" theme, can be found at  https://www.numisforums.com/topic/4390-roman-coins-in-reverse-a-chronological-gallery/page/4/#comment-55702 , as # 4 of the five photos and write-ups I posted at that link):


Professsor Yarrow’s discussion may be found at pp. 185-186 of her book:

On the coins made at Rome, there are fewer references to colonization and land grants than we might expect from the literary sources. Images that may be relevant have disputed iconography. In the imperial age, plowing is a symbol associated with the expansion of the pomerium, Rome’s sacred boundary, a re-enactment of Romulus’ mythical plowing at Rome’s foundation, and, in imitation of this same myth, is used to symbolize the foundation of a colony. [Citations omitted.] . . . . The two Republican types in question both have Ceres, the goddess of grain, on the obverse and a yoked team of oxen on the reverse (Figures 4.31-2); on the later type the team is driven by a figure in a rustic belted tunic, not a ceremonial toga or priestly garb. The urge to see the Republican types as tied to colonization derives both from the later parallel iconography and their dates, c. 100 and 81 BCE, periods associated with the settlement of large numbers of Marian and Sullan veterans, respectively. The earlier type is readily linked to the foundation of the temple of Ceres, Liber, and Libera by a putative ancestor of the moneyer, Sp. Cassius, Cos. 493 BCE. Yet, there is no reason that the moneyer might not have wanted to associate himself both with the temple, the seat of the plebeian aediles, and with current colonization, proposed or realized.

(Emphases in original, footnote omitted.)

5. [Roman Republican No. 83]

Roman Republic, C. Fundanius, AR Denarius 101 BCE [Crawford] or 97 BCE [Mattingly], Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Roma right with winged helmet ornamented with gryphon’s head; wearing single-drop earring and necklace; behind, control mark “B” / Rev. Triumphator [Gaius Marius?] in walking (slow) quadriga right, holding laurel branch in left hand and scepter in right; riding the nearest horse, a youth [his son Gaius Marius the Younger?], holding palm branch; Q [Quaestor] above horses; in exergue, C•FVNDAN. Crawford 326/1; RSC I (Babelon) Fundania 1 (ill. p. 50); BMCRR I 1681-1712 (1682 has control mark “B”); Yarrow pp. 144-145 (ill. p. 144 fig. 3.40) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]; Sear RCV I 204; RBW Collection – [not in book]. 17.5 mm., 3.98 g., 8 hr. Purchased at Classical Numismatic Group, LLC (CNG) E-Auction 532, 8 Feb. 2023, Lot 502.*


*Moneyer: C. Fundanius “strikes as quaestor, though with no reference to special senatorial authority for the issue.” Sear RCV I p. 111. According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 328), he “is not known to have progressed beyond the quaestorship; he is presumably the father of C. Fundanius, Tr. Pl. 68.” See also BMCRR I pp. 231-232 n. 1 (citing Mommsen and noting that C. Fundanius is the only member of the Fundania gens of whom coins are known). 

Control Marks: See Crawford Vol. I p. 328, explaining that the control-marks on the 57 different obverse dies “are the letters of the Latin alphabet, on the denarius alone or accompanied by one dot [;] . . . no control-mark has more than one die.” 

Interpretations of Reverse: According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 328), the presence of a Gallic carnyx together with Victory and a bound captive on the reverse of the accompanying quinarius also issued by C. Fundanius (Crawford 326/2) “makes the reverse type as a whole a clear reference to Marius’ victories [in 101 BCE] over the Cimbri and Teutones; the triumphator on [the denarius] may therefore perhaps be regarded as Marius himself, the rider on the near horse as Marius’ son, now aged 8.” See also BMCRR I p. 231 n. 1, citing the same theory. Sear also cites this view in describing Crawford 326/1 as a “remarkable type commemorating Marius’ joint triumph with Q. Lutatius Catulus in 101 BC. Crawford suggests that the young rider on the near horse may be Marius’ 8-year-old son.” Sear RCV I p. 111. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Marius for an account of the victories over the Teutones and Ambrones in 102 BCE, and over the Cimbri on 30 July 101 BCE in the Battle of Vercellae, as well as the subsequent joint triumph celebrated by Marius and his consular colleague Catulus after fifteen days of thanksgiving. Interestingly, Wikipedia’s discussion of these battles and the triumph is accompanied by a photograph of this coin type, Crawford 326/1.)

 However, in the chapter entitled “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.,” in Harold B. Mattingly, From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies (2004) pp. 199-226 at pp. 201-202 & n. 11, Mattingly concludes based on hoard and stylistic evidence that the denarius of C. Fundanius was actually issued in 97 BCE rather than 101 BCE, and, in the footnote, rejects Crawford’s interpretation of the type for that as well as a more significant reason:


At pp. 144-145 of her recent book, Professor Yarrow takes a middle ground:



On the first page of a paper by Bruce Marshall entitled ‘Riders in the Chariot’: Children Accompanying their Fathers in Roman Triumphs, presented in 2012 at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies (available at http://www.ascs.org.au/news/ascs33/MARSHALL.pdf), the author quotes Mary Beard’s book The Roman Triumph (2007), at p. 224 (a book to which I do not have access), as follows: 

“It seems to have been, or become, the custom that the general’s young children should travel in the [triumphal] chariot with him, or, if they were older, to ride horses alongside. We have already seen Germanicus sharing his chariot in 17 CE with five offspring. Appian claims that Scipio in 201 BCE was accompanied by ‘boys and girls’, while Livy laments the fact that in 167 BCE Aemilius Paullus’ young sons could not – through death or sickness – travel with him, ‘planning similar triumphs for themselves.’”

This would appear to support Mattingly’s rejection of Crawford’s “Marius” interpretation of this coin type. However, the key question is obviously “how young is too young?” Marshall’s article actually relies on the Crawford identification of Marius and his son on Crawford 326/1 without questioning it or even mentioning Mattingly’s point, and, at p. 4,  specifically cites Suetonius for the following example: “Octavian’s triumph for the victory at Actium from 13th to 15th August 29 BC could be said to follow in the ‘republican’ tradition: his step-son Tiberius, the future emperor, then aged 12 (born November 42), rode the left trace-horse of the triumphal chariot, and his nephew Marcellus, then of similar age (born 42), rode the right-hand, but more prestigious, one.”

If this is correct, then that would seem to contradict Mattingly’s argument that only “a son who had reached manhood” would ride a horse at a triumph, given that all sources appear to agree that boys did not begin to wear the toga virilis, representing manhood, until at least age 14. Was 12 in fact a sufficient age to ride separately? If so, was 8 also sufficient? Was an exception to the usual rule made for Tiberius and Marcellus given Octavian’s stature? If so, is it possible that an exception was made 70 years earlier for Marius’s son, given his father’s stature?

And, if the youth on Crawford 326/1 was not Marius’s son, then what other person could he have been intended to represent, or been perceived to represent by people seeing the coin? Was it simply a “general representation” not intended to be associated with Marius or anyone else? But isn’t it probable that Marius’s triumph of 101 BCE would have been remembered by anyone seeing the type even if Mattingly is correct that the type was actually issued four years later, in 97 BCE?

Furthermore, as I believe others have pointed out, it seems unlikely that a representation of Marius as triumphator on the reverse of this type would have been seen as violating the rule against portraits of living persons on Roman coins. A tiny, unnamed figure in a quadriga is hardly a “portrait.”

I doubt that any of these questions can ever be answered definitively. 

6.  [Roman Republican No. 85]

Roman Republic, M. Servilius C.f. [son of C. Servilius Vatia], AR Denarius, 100 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Roma right wearing winged helmet, earring, and necklace; control-symbol T [Tau in Greek alphabet*] behind / Rev. Two soldiers armed with swords fighting on foot (one on left with round shield and conical helmet, and one on right with oval shield and round helmet**), each with his horse behind him; in exergue, M•SERVEILI•C•F; below, control-symbol F [F in Latin alphabet*]. 19 mm., 3.9 g. Crawford 327/1; RSC [Babelon] I Servilia 13 (ill. p. 88); BMCRR I 1660; Sear RCV I 206; RBW Collection 1183 (ill. p. 245). Purchased from Aeternitas Numismatics, Madrid, Spain, 14 May 2023.***


*Crawford explains the control-symbols for this issue at Vol. I p. 329: “The control-marks are the letters of the Latin alphabet on the reverse and the letters of the Greek alphabet on the obverse, either rarely accompanied by a dot; the Latin letters start from the beginning of the alphabet, the Greek letters from the end; thus A is paired with Ω, B with Ψ, C with X and so on as far as X with ∆. Each pair of control-letters may have several pairs of dies.” 

Thus, on this coin, the “F” on the reverse (the sixth letter of the Latin alphabet) is paired with “T” on the obverse (Tau, the sixth letter from the end of the Greek alphabet). The Schaefer Roman Republican Die Project at CRRO shows four examples of Crawford 327/1 with the F-Tau combination (see http://numismatics.org/archives/ark:/53695/schaefer.rrdp.processed_300-399#schaefer_clippings_output_327_DEFGHIKLMNO_sd); only the first has an obverse die matching my specimen, labeled as die “T1”:



And, out of the 132 examples of Crawford 327/1 listed on ACSearch, four have the F-Tau combination; none of those four has the “T1” obverse die matching mine.

**Several sources describe the reverse scene not simply as two soldiers fighting, but as a Roman fighting a barbarian. However, I have seen none purporting to identify which is which.

***According to Crawford -- see Vol. I p. 329 and the stemma (family tree) for the Servilia gens at id. p. 270 -- the moneyer for Crawford 327/1, M. Servilius C.f., was the brother of a P. Servilius C.f. M.n. Vatia Isauricus (Cos. 79), and, more significantly for numismatic purposes, a son of C. Servilius Vatia, moneyer ca. 127 BC and issuer of Crawford 264/1, which also has a battle scene on the reverse. My example:


Crawford explains (Vol. I p. 289, see also id. p. 329) that both types “probably refer[] to the propensity for single combat of the moneyer[s’] ancestor, M. Servilius Pulex Geminus, Cos. 202 [citations to Livy and Plutarch omitted].” As RSC I elaborates at p. 88, based on a footnote in BMCRR I (p. 179 n. 2), “The horseman represented [on Crawford 264/1 ] is M. Servilius Pulex Geminus, who was elected Augur in B.C. 211 and who filled that office for about 40 years and who was consul in B.C. 202. He is said to have received wounds in twenty-three single combats and to have been victorious in all.” Crawford 327/1 also “commemorates the heroic deeds of M. Servilius Pulex Geminus” (id.) – the grandfather of C. Servilius Vatia (the moneyer for Crawford 264/1), and great-grandfather of M. Servilius C.f. (the moneyer for Crawford 327/1), according to the stemma at Crawford I p. 270. See also Yarrow pp. 100-101 (ill. Fig. 2.52) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)], for further details regarding the career of Pulex Geminus, including an excerpt from Livy’s rendition of his famous speech in 167 B.C regarding the wounds he suffered in his 23 victorious single combats.

7. [Roman Republican No. 86.]

Roman Republic, M. [Marcus] Volteius M.f., AR Denarius, 78 BCE (Crawford) or 75 BCE (Harlan). Obv. Laureate head of Jupiter right (anepigraphic) / Rev. Capitoline Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, tetrastyle (four columns flanking three cella [inner chamber] double-doors, one each for Jupiter in center [with lock or handle] & Minerva and Juno on sides), with Jupiter’s thunderbolt in pediment and prominent acroteria [roof decorations usually consisting of sculptures]; in exergue, M•VOLTEI•M•F. 18 mm., 3.84 g. Crawford 385/1; RSC I Volteia 1 (ill. p. 100); BMCRR I 3154 (ill. BMCRR III Pl. XLII No. 1); Sear RCV I 312 (ill. p. 131); Harlan, RRM I Ch. 12 pp. 70-73 [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]; Yarrow, pp. 168-169 (ill. p. 169 Fig. 4.6) ) [Yarrow, Liv Mariah, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]; Hollstein pp. 11-13 (ill. Tafel 1) [Hollstein, Wilhelm, Roman Coinage in the years 78-50 BC, etc. [Die stadtrömische Münzprägung der Jahre 78-50 v. Chr., zwischen politischer Aktualität und Familienthematik (Munich 1993)]; Albert 1280 (ill. p. 178) [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)]; RBW Collection 1414 (ill. p. 291); E.E. Clain-Stefanelli, Life in Republican Rome on its Coinage (Smithsonian 1999), p. 87 (ill. at same page). Purchased from Lucernae Numismatics, Alcalá la Real, Jaén, Spain, Auction XIV, 25 May 2023, Lot 137.*

 [For unknown reasons, seller's photo has reverse to left and obverse to right]


*The depiction of the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter on the reverse of this coin is not only “the earliest representation of a temple on the Roman coin series” (Yarrow p. 169), but, according to Hollstein (p. 11) is actually “der ersten Abbildung eines Gebäudes auf römischen Münzen” (the first depiction of a building [of any kind] on Roman coins).

The original construction of the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, “the most significant temple of ancient Rome,” was traditionally begun under the first King Tarquin, with the aid of Etruscan specialists, in payment of a vow he had made while fighting the Sabines. Also according to tradition, it was completed and dedicated under the newly-born Republic in 509 BCE. (Harlan p. 72). After more than 400 years, “the temple burned to the ground on 6 July 83. Its reconstruction, on the original foundation, was undertaken by Sulla, but he died in 78 before it could be completed.” (Id.) It was not finally completed and rededicated by Lutatius Catulus (Cos. 78) until 69 BCE (id. p. 73; see also Yarrow p. 69). Thus, the reconstruction “was still ongoing and far from completion when Volteius’ representation appeared on the reverse of this coin.”  (Harlan p. 73; see also Crawford p. 400).

 According to Hollstein (pp. 11-12), the thunderbolt of Jupiter depicted in the pediment “certainly served only to identify the temple” on the coin and was not part of the actual Capitoline temple, either originally or as rebuilt. Moreover, all the authorities appear to agree that the Capitoline temple as rebuilt was hexastyle, i.e., it had six columns across the front rather than the four depicted on the Volteius coin. See Hollstein p. 12 and Harlan pp. 73-74, both citing the representation of the rebuilt temple with six columns on Crawford 487/1, issued by Petillius Capitolinus in 43 BCE. Here's an example sold by NAC on 23.06.2021 for $10,345 (not my coin!): 


 Partly because temples in the Etruscan style were usually hexastyle, both Harlan and Hollstein are skeptical of the suggestion [see Hill, Philip V., “Buildings and monuments of ancient Rome on republican coins, c.135-40 B.C.,” Rivista Italiana di Numismatica 82 (1980) at pp. 33–52], that the tetrastyle depiction on the Volteius coin was intended to represent the original temple before it burned down, which would mean that the temple originally had only four columns in front rather than six. See Harlan p. 73:

 “Did Volteius not care about accuracy, or were there originally only four front columns? Probably not. The temple was about [61 ½] meters long and [57] meters wide. [Citing Dionysius of Halicarnassus, 4.61.3.] If there were originally only four columns, the space between each column would have been nineteen meters, an unreasonably long open span for the architrave. . . . Since the reconstructed temple of Jupiter Capitolinus matched the original size, it is most likely that the temple seen on Petillius’ coin reproduced the ancient temple’s [original] design,” as well as the reconstructed temple’s design, by depicting six columns across the front.


“Rather than try to precisely depict the new temple, whose columns may not have been set in place when he minted, Volteius seems to have chosen to emphasize the tripartite nature of the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus. In typical Etruscan style, the temple was divided into three cellas [inner chambers], the larger central one occupied by Jupiter, the one on the left belonged to Minerva, the one on the right to Juno. Volteius depicted this feature of the temple by using four columns to divide the space into three sections and his uneven spacing of the columns makes the central cella the largest. The representation of the doors to the separate cellas can be seen between the columns. Such a representation, true to the nature of the temple but not to the details of the completed reconstruction, would have been best suited to a time when Catulus had not yet erected the columns at the entrance. He did not dedicate the temple until 69 and even then its embellishment was not complete. The incentive for accuracy in column numbers would have been much more compelling further along in the reconstruction process.”

Harlan p. 73. See also Hollstein p. 13, characterizing the depiction of the Capitoline Temple on the Volteius coin as not necessarily a realistic representation of the original temple, but “rather an ideal image, generally understandable through the Jupiter on the [obverse], the lightning bolt in the pediment and the three indicated cellae” [citing G. Fuchs, Architekturdarstellungen auf römischen Münzen der Republik und der frühen Kaiserzeit p. 66 (Berlin 1969)].

 It should be kept in mind, however, that Harlan’s conclusion that the original temple was too large to have been tetrastyle was partly based on an assumption that the estimates concerning the size of the original temple made by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, who wrote during the reign of Augustus (and was personally familiar only with the rebuilt temple) were accurate. In fact, the original temple’s “size remains heavily disputed by specialists.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Jupiter_Optimus_Maximus. The article notes: “Five different plans of the temple have been published following recent excavations on the Capitoline Hill that revealed portions of the archaic foundations. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the same plan and foundations were used for later rebuildings of the temple, but there is disagreement over what the dimensions he mentions referred to (the building itself or the podium),” among other things. See also Ronald T. Ridley, “Unbridgeable Gaps: the Capitoline Temple at Rome,” Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma, Vol. 106 (2005), pp. 83-104 (available at https://www.jstor.org/stable/44515842), giving a detailed account of the history of the scholarship and scholarly disputes regarding the design and dimensions of the Capitoline Temple in its different incarnations, and concluding as follows at pp. 103-104: “we must squarely admit that we have no description of the original temple, which lasted traditionally more than four centuries, unless it is Volteius’ coin [depicting a tetrastyle temple], which has to be claimed to be a memory of the recently destroyed Tarquinian building” -- even though “it is generally agreed (following later evidence) that it was hexastyle.” Regardless of the number of columns, though, “It should now be clear on any number of grounds that the standard reconstructions of a temple at Rome c. 500 BC measuring anything approaching 55 x 60 meters is highly improbable.” Id. Among other things, it would have been “four times the area of contemporary temples in Central Italy.” Id.  

In any event, wholly apart from the questions concerning the accuracy of the depiction of the original Capitoline Temple on this particular issue of M. Volteius, it is largely accepted that the type relates, like the other four Volteius coins, to one of the five principal agonistic festivals which were celebrated annually at Rome. See Crawford p. 402. This type relates specifically to the Ludi Romani (originally known as the Ludi Magni and then the Ludi Maximi), held each year from 5 to 19 September.

Harlan cites Dionysius Halicarnassus as tracing the first presentation of the Ludi Romani (Roman games) back to the payment of a vow made on behalf of the state by the dictator Aulus Postumius Albus before the Battle of Lake Regillus against the Latin League (led by Rome’s ousted king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus), which traditionally took place circa 499 BCE. See Harlan p. 71. After describing the ceremonies at length (id.), Harlan states:

 “The design of Volteius’ coin with the head of Jupiter on the obverse and his Capitoline temple on the reverse focuses on the central part of the festival which occurred on [September] 13th, when the Epulum Jovis, the feast of Jupiter, was held. This was one of the most spectacular scenes in Roman religion. It began with a sacrifice, and then the huge public feast was laid out. The Capitoline triad Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva were present in visible form, for the images of the gods were decked out in their best attire and seated on their couches. The priesthood of septemviri epulones created in 196 had special charge of the ceremony. The 13th was also the birthday of the great temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitol, the most significant temple of ancient Rome. Tacitus called it the ‘seat of Jupiter, founded by our ancestors under propitious auspices as a pledge of our imperium.’” (Harlan pp. 71-72, citing Tacitus, Histories, 3.72.)

The four other Volteius types, three of which I own and have posted previously, related to the Ludi Plebeii (dedicated to Hercules, see Crawford 385/2); the Ludie Ceriales (dedicated to Ceres, see Crawford 385/3); the Ludi Megalenses (dedicated to Cybele; see Crawford 385/4); and, finally, the Ludi Apollinares (dedicated to Apollo, see Crawford 385/5) -- the only type I do not have, not surprisingly given that it's by far the scarcest of the five, with only 22 examples listed on acsearch.  See generally Harlan Ch. 12 pp. 62-79, discussing all five types. See also Yarrow p. 169 (“we might want to think about this series as a miniature fasti [calendar] or symbolic representation of the religious year”); Albert p. 178.

8. NEW WRITEUP [Roman Republican No. 87]

Roman Republic, Q. Fufius Calenus [Obverse] and P. Mucius Scaevola Cordus (Crawford & RSC, etc.) or Manius Cordius Rufus (Harlan) [Reverse], AR Serrate Denarius, 70 BCE (Crawford) [or 69 BCE (Harlan) or 68 BCE (see Charles Hersh and Alan Walker, “The Mesagne Hoard,” Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), 1984, Vol. 29 pp. 103-134 (1984), at Table 2, No. 18)], Rome Mint. Obv. Jugate heads right of Honos, laureate, with hair in ringlets, and Virtus, with crested helmet; to left of heads, [H]O [= HONOS]; to right of heads, VIRT [= VIRTVS] [RT ligate, with R extending to right of T]; beneath heads, KALENI [LE ligate]*/ Rev. Italia in long chiton standing on left and Roma in short chiton standing on right, facing each other and clasping right hands – representing “the reconciliation between Rome and Italy (under the domination of the former!), upon which the seal was set by the census of 70” (Crawford 403/1 at p. 413; see also Harlan RRM I p. 154 -- with Italia holding cornucopiae in left hand between them and Roma, diademed, holding transverse scepter in left hand [Crawford identifies as fasces and BMCRR as spear] with right foot placed on globe; behind Italia, winged caduceus; under caduceus, ITAL (TAL ligate); behind Roma, RO; in exergue, CORDI.** Crawford 403/1; BMCRR I 3358 (p. 415 & nn. 2-3); RSC (Babelon) Fufia 1 (ill. p. 49); Sear RCV I 338 (ill. p. 135); RBW Collection 1445 (p. 298, ill. p. 299); Harlan RRM I Chs. 25-26 (pp. 147-155) (ill. pp. 149, 153) [Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (2012)]; Yarrow p. 88 (ill. fig. 2.33 at p. 89) [Yarrow, Liv Mariah, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]; Albert 1305 (ill. p. 182) [Albert, Rainer, Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (2011)]; Hollstein pp. 124-132 (ill. Tafel 3) [Hollstein, Wilhelm, Roman Coinage in the years 78-50 BC, etc. [Die stadtrömische Münzprägung der Jahre 78-50 v. Chr., zwischen politischer Aktualität und Familienthematik (Munich 1993)]; see also Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby London 1990) (entries for “Honos” at p. 139 & for “Italia” at p. 148) (type ill. p. 139). 19.5 x 20 mm., 3.92 g., 6 hr. Purchased from Jason Irving, Stirling, Australia, July 2023; ex Bertolami Fine Arts, E-Auction 236, 24 Sep 2022, Lot 625.**


*Obverse Moneyer: The authorities uniformly agree that the first moneyer, identified on the obverse as KALENI -- according to Harlan (RRM I p. 147), meaning simply “a man from Cales” (spelled with the Greek kappa, reflecting the Greek influence in the area of Campania where Cales is located) -- is “doubtless Q. Fufius Calenus, Cos. 47.” Crawford p. 413. As summarized in BMCRR I p. 415 n. 2, Calenus “was a tribune of the plebs B.C. 61, elected praetor B.C. 50, by the influence of Caesar, and was his legate in Gaul B.C. 51. On the outbreak of the Civil war B.C. 49, Calenus consistently attached himself to Caesar, accompanied him to Greece, and on his return was elected consul B.C. 47. After the murder of Caesar B.C. 44, Calenus joined Mark Antony, and received the command of the legions in North Italy.”

See also Harlan RRM I at pp. 150-151, providing further details concerning his career after Caesar returned to Rome in September 47 and “rewarded Calenus for his faithful service by appointing him to a consulship for the remainder of the year.” Thus:

“When Caesar was assassinated in 44, Calenus was inclined to side with Mark Antony. He tried to dissuade the Senate from what seemed to him the same folly and stupidity that had forced Caesar into rebellion in 49. Cicero was the main voice of opposition to Antony and Book 46 of Dio Cassius’ history opens with a very long speech by Calenus answering many of Cicero’s charges against Antony that Calenus believed specious. Calenus’ long indictment of Cicero’s character is an ancient counterweight to Cicero’s illustrious reputation. . . . When Octavian and Antony fought the battle of Philippi, Calenus remained in Italy in command of two legions belonging to Antony. On Antony’s orders, these legions were turned over to Octavian when he returned to Italy and Calenus took command of Antony’s troops in Gaul, where he stayed until his sudden death in 40” (id.), “while stationed with his army at the foot of the Alps, just as he was on the point of marching against Octavianus.” See Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 4 p. 1004 (11th ed. 1910), article on “Quintus Fufius Calenus” (available online at https://archive.org/details/encyclopaediabri04chisrich/page/1004/mode/2up). More specifics concerning the earlier part of his career, prior to his consulship, can be found in the Enyclopedia Britannica article:


Interpretations of Obverse :

Honos, meaning “Honor,” is “a Roman personification which, like Virtus, is particularly associated with the idea of honour gained by military exploits, although the idea of political advancement may also be present. The two of them shared a temple at Rome, and games were celebrated in their honour.”  See Jones, op. cit., entry for “Honos” at p. 139.

Although a number of Imperial coins depict Honos and Virtus together, this type was the first of only two Roman Republican issues to do so.  Id.  Jones notes that because in Latin grammar “honos is masculine, so when the personification appears in art, it is one of the few which is represented by a male figure.” Id. In fact, I am aware of no other standard Roman personification that is portrayed as male rather than female.

Virtus is derived from “vir, ‘man,’” – even though the personification’s name is “feminine in Latin grammar in spite of her supposed masculine quality,” and, therefore, she is portrayed as female when she appears, often with a helmet, parazonium, and one bared breast – and “has a basic meaning of ‘valour, bravery’ in Latin, although the more general senses of excellence or virtue are often present.” Jones, op. cit., entry for “Virtus” at p. 322. Jones states that it is therefore “not surprising” that in Roman thought the personifications of Honos and Virtus, both representing “masculine” virtues, “were often combined. They shared a temple at Rome and their heads formed the obverse type of a denarius of the mint magistrates Kalenus and Cordus” (id.)

Regarding the personification of Virtus being female, see the article at https://www.forumancientcoins.com/moonmoth/reverse_virtus.html (providing a number of examples and addressing the tension inherent in having a female personification of the manliest of virtues, i.e., martial valor); RIC II.3, Introduction at p. 49. See also the 2014 article by Lillian Joyce entitled "Roma and the Virtuous Breast," in the publication Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 59-60 (2014), pp. 1-49 (available in relevant part at Google Books), at p. 28:


There are varying theories as to the reason for the joint portrayal of Honos and Virtus on the obverse of this type. The simplest theories interpret the portrayal in light of the reverse’s depiction of the reconciliation and alliance of Roma and Italia. See, e.g., BMCRR I 3358 at p. 415 n. 3 (the obverse type “was, no doubt, intended to convey the intimation that in future this alliance would be under the special care of the divinities Honos and Virtus”); RSC I Fufia 1 (same). Grueber also states in the same BMCRR footnote that he finds this interpretation “more probable . . . . than to suppose that it is a record of the foundation of the temple to Honos and Virtus by [Gaius] Marius” after his victory over the Cimbri and Teutones, “of which C. Mucius [a possible relative of the reverse moneyer] was the architect.” Crawford agrees with the rejection of that theory; see Crawford I 403 at p. 413 n. 2 (“The doubtless humble architect of Marius’ temple to Honos and Virtus, C. Mucius, does not seem relevant.”)

Crawford does see a parallel to Gaius Marius’s career, and his foundation of the temple to  Honos and Virtus, in the obverse depiction of Honos and Virtus, stating at Vol. I p. 413 that “[t]he appropriateness of the obverse type for the novus homo Calenus is obvious (compare the attitude of Marius . . .).” See also Jones’s Dictionary, op. cit., entry for “Honos” at p. 139 (“The type may have been chosen because the first mint magistrate [Calenus] was from a family which had not previously produced a senator”).

However, Crawford’s main interpretation of the obverse depiction of Honos and Virtus has nothing to do with Calenus – the only moneyer named on the obverse – and, instead, is entirely based on (a) his position that the reverse moneyer “is a Mucius Scaevola, arrogating to himself the cognomen Cordus . . . ; he may be identified with the P. Mucius Scaevola attested as Pontifex from 69 [BCE]” (Crawford I 403 p. 413), a position taken even though the only name on the reverse is “CORDUS,” with no mention of Mucius Scaevola; and (b) his bootstrapped conclusion (id.) that the moneyer was claiming descent from “the earliest Mucius, doubtless legendary,” namely the Gaius Mucius who was the would-be assassin, sometime after the expulsion of the Tarquins from Rome in 509 BCE, of Lars Porsena (“Porsinna”), the Etruscan king of Clusium, whom the Tarquins had called upon to help them regain the throne and who had besieged Rome. Supposedly, after being caught attempting to infiltrate Porsinna’s camp to assassinate him, Mucius refused Porsinna’s demand that he reveal who else was involved in the plot or be burned alive, and instead “thrust his right arm into the flames kindled for a sacrifice and held it there unflinching.” (Harlan RRM I Ch. 26 p. 152.) Admiring Mucius’s courage, Porsinna granted him his life and freedom, and, after Mucius told him that 300 young Romans were ready to draw lots for the honor of assassinating him, Porsinna realized the resolve of the Romans and negotiated peace terms. “In honor of his heroic act, Gaius Marius was afterwards known as Scaevola, the Left-Handed Man.” (Id.) According to Crawford (p. 413), this story as told by Livy was “redolent with the themes of honos and virtus and it is reasonable to suppose that a later Mucius would wish to claim descent from the legendary hero and would advertise his achievement and the esteem which followed.” For that reason, Crawford identified the reverse moneyer as P. Mucius Scaevola and (in a rather circular manner) interpreted the obverse portrayal in light of that identification. Id.

Harlan questions Crawford’s identification of the reverse moneyer for two reasons detailed in the second footnote below. However, Harlan’s primary argument against Crawford’s position on the proper interpretation of the obverse portrayal of Honos and Virtus is his view that there is no good reason to assume, as does Crawford, that the obverse and reverse moneyers “shared a common theme. This is not necessarily so, as the shared issue by Aemilius Lepidus and Scribonius Libo in 63 and the issue by Scaurus and Hypsaeus in 58 show. Since these moneyers chose to inscribe their names on separate sides of the coin as did the moneyers of 63 and 58, I will consider each moneyer’s design as a separate statement.” Harlan RRM I, p. 148.



[block quote continued] people responded by receiving him with applause and marveled how after so long a time he was bringing back to the city, as if from Hades, the honors of Marius.’” Harlan RRM I at pp. 148-149. See also id. p. 151:

“The Marian references of Calenus’ coins are dulled by the passage of time, but this coin with the name KALENI inscribed beside images of Honos and Virtus serves as a fitting memorial to a man of amazing constancy in a time of fluctuating loyalties, a man who guided his life keeping those images of Honor and Virtue ever before his eyes.”

Given Calenus’s close association with Caesar, Harlan’s interpretation of the obverse -- taken entirely separately from the reverse and its moneyer -- seems plausible at the very least.

** Reverse Moneyer & Interpretation of Reverse See the first footnote above for Crawford’s identification of the reverse moneyer as the P. Mucius Scaevola attested as Pontifex from 69 BCE. As noted there, Harlan questions Crawford’s identification of the reverse moneyer for two primary reasons, relating to the absence of any reference on the reverse itself -- which bears only the legend CORDI and the ITAL and RO ligatures --  to Mucius Scaevola:

“First, Gaius Mucius earned the cognomen Scaevola [the Left-Handed Man] for his act of bravery and that name epitomized his virtue, not the cognomen Cordus. In fact, Livy never even mentioned that Mucius’ original cognomen was Cordus. Nor can the cognomen Cordus again be found for any later Mucii who proudly bore the name Scaevola. Scaevola, not the obscure cognomen Cordus, evoked the images of Gaius Mucius’ heroic act.”

(Harlan, RRM I Ch. 26 p. 153.) Second, “there is nothing in the reverse design that alludes to Mucius’ attempt to assassinate [Porsinna].” Id. Instead, as all authorities agree, the reverse specifically identifies Italia and Roma as the figures portrayed, and, as all authorities including Crawford (Vol. I p. 413) appear to agree, symbolizes “the reconciliation between Italy and Rome following the Social War,” as reflected in the census of 70 BCE. See Harlan RRM I pp. 153-154:

“The caduceus behind Italia and the cornucopia in her arm symbolize both peace and prosperity; the clasped hands show reconciliation and cooperation. Beneath Roma’s right foot is the orb of the world, as seen earlier under the foot fo the Genius of the Roman People on Lentulus Sointher’s oin. Our moneyer’s design celebrates Italia’s shared role in exercising Roman imperium over the orb of the whole world. . . . The figures for the census taken 70/69 revealed the huge number of new citizens who had been added to the rolls. To the almost 400,000 Roman citizens before the Social War, some 500,000 new Italian citizens had been added. With the representation of Italia, this moneyer acknowledged the importance of the Italian voters for election to Roman magistracies.”

To further support his rejection of Crawford’s identification of the reverse moneyer as P. Mucius Scaevola Cordus, Harlan suggests at p. 154 of RRM I that if the two sides of this type function separately, there is no need to “assume that CORDI is a cognomen in the genitive like KALENI. This brings us to the other possibility that the name is the nomen Cordius. CORDI would be the normal way a Cordius would abbreviate his name on a coin whether he intended to be in the nominative or the genitive. Manius Cordius, triumvir of the mint in 46 [BCE] inscribed his name MN•CORDI (Crawford 463/1b).” That design depicted the jugate heads of the Dioscuri, suggesting to Harlan that the family “came from Tusculum, where there was was a special cult to the Dioscuri. This assumption is further supported by the survival of a local inscription from Tusculum recording a Manius Cordius Rufus, son of Manius, who had held the offices of praetor, proconsul, and aediles lustrando Monti Sacro.” (Harlan RRM I pp. 154-155.) Accordingly, Harlan concludes:

“It seems better to me to identify the CORDI of this coin [Crawford 403/1] as Manius Cordius Rufus from Tusculum, the father of the Caesarian moneyer [of Crawford 463/1b in 46 BCE]. Since he probably shared a similar popularis political philosophy with his fellow moneyer Calenus, we are not surprised to find the family name Cordius connected with offices under Caesar’s dictatorship.”

(Harlan RRM I p. 155.) Again, Harlan’s identification seems less tenuous than Crawford’s to me, although most dealers continue to identify the reverse moneyer of this type as P. Mucius Scaevola Cordus.

9. NEW WRITEUP [Roman Republican No. 91]

Roman Republic, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio with M. Eppius, Leg. F. C., 47/46 BCE, N. Africa, mobile military mint traveling with Scipio’s camp [see CRI, infra at p. 33]. Obv. Head of Africa right [smaller-head type] wearing elephant skin, grain-ear in front and plough below, Q • METEL[L] downwards at right, [SC]IPIO • IM[P] upwards at left; “J”-shaped banker’s mark in right field in front of Africa’s chin and neck / Rev. Hercules, naked, standing facing, right hand on hip, left arm resting on club draped with lion’s skin and set on rock; EPPIVS downwards at right, [LE]G • F • C upwards at left.  Crawford 461/1; CRI 44 p. 33 (ill p. 33) [David Sear, The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49-27 BC (1998)]; RSC I Caecilia [Babelon] 50a [smaller head] & Eppia 1; Sear RCV I 1380/2 [smaller head] (ill. p. 262); RBW Collection 1605 (ill. p. 337); BMCRR Africa 12 [smaller head]; Claire Rowan, From Caesar to Augustus (c. 49 BC - AD 14), Using Coins as Sources (Cambridge 2019) at pp. 46-47 (ill. Fig. 2.25 p. 46). 15x18 mm., 3.82 g.  Purchased from Noonans (Noonans Mayfair Ltd., London, UK), Auction 285, 5 Dec. 2023, Lot 231 (no pedigree, but described as having “old cabinet tone”).*


*Issued by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio (ca. 95-46 BCE), a great-great-great-grandson of Scipio Africanus [see Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintus_Caecilius_Metellus_Pius_Scipio], and also a member of the Caecilii Metelli family by testamentary adoption [id.]. He issued this coin as the commander-in-chief of the remaining Pompeian forces in North Africa after Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalus and subsequent assassination, leading up to their defeat by Caesar at the Battle of Thapsus (in present-day Tunisia) on 6 Feb. 46 BCE. In CRI at p. 33, Sear states as follows about this coin:


 See Metellus Scipio’s biography in Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, Vol. XVIII, pp. 258-259 (1911):

 "QUINTUS CAECILIUS METELLUS PIUS SCIPIO, son of P. Scipio Nasia, was adopted by [Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius (d. ca. 64 BCE), issuer of Crawford 374/1 in 81 BCE, through the latter's will.]. He was accused of bribery in 60 B.C., and defended by Cicero, to whom he had rendered valuable assistance during the Catilinarian conspiracy. In August 52, he became consul through the influence of [his son-in-law] Pompey, who had married his daughter Cornelia [as his fifth wife. Pompey was Cornelia's second husband; her first, the son of Crassus, died at Carrhae.].  In 49 [Metellus Scipio] proposed that Caesar should disband his army within a definite time, under pain of being declared an enemy of the state. After the outbreak of the civil war, the province of Syria was assigned to him, and he was about to plunder the temple of Artemis at Ephesus when he was recalled by Pompey. He commanded the centre at Pharsalus, and afterwards went to Africa, where by Cato's influence he received the command. In 46 he was defeated at Thapsus; while endeavoring to escape to Spain he fell into the hands of P. Sittius, and put himself to death. His connexion with two great families gave him importance, but he was selfish and licentious, wanting in personal courage, and his violence drove many from his party.”

In CRI, at pp. 24-25, David Sear also takes a negative view of Metellus Scipio:

"The guiding spirit in the anti-Caesarian movement [in Africa after Pharsalus] was Marcus Porcius Cato, later known as Cato Uticensis, the great-grandson of the famous Cato the Censor. . . . The universal respect which Cato commanded amongst his contemporaries enabled him to arbitrate in the rivalries and disputes which arose between the military leaders of the Pompeian party. Probably the general who came closest to matching Caesar's genius as a strategist was Titus Labenius, formerly Caesar's legate in Gaul though subsequently an ardent supporter of Pompey and his cause. But Labenius was a man of relatively low birth, his family having originated from the Picenium region of Italy, and this counted against him in the aristocratic hierarchy of the Pompeian leadership. Merely because of this brilliant tactician's lack of an illustrious ancestry Cato foolishly insisted on passing him over and bestowing the overall command on Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio. Although certainly the possessor of an awe-inspiring name, and formerly the father-in-law of Pompey himself, this did not, unfortunately for his cause, compensate for his total unfitness to confront an opponent of the calibre of Caesar.  [List of other leaders of the Pompeian army in Africa -- as well as its "powerful, though unstable, ally, King Juba of Numidia, who, "if he could be counted on, added greatly to the manpower ranged against Caesar and could even contribute a large contingent of war-elephants" -- is omitted, as is Sear's detailed discussion of the Battle of Thapsus itself.]  [After the defeat,] [o]f the Pompeian leaders only Sextus Pompey, Labienus, and Varus survived to join Gnaeus Pompey in Spain. Scipio fled by ship but was overtaken by enemy forces and took his own life rather than surrender and become Caesar's prisoner." [See pp. 26-27 for discussion of suicides of Juba and Cato.]

Clare Rowan discusses Metellus Scipio and his coinage at length at pp. 42-47 of her book (see citation above), including a discussion of this type at pp. 46-47 – giving a different local interpretation of the reverse figure of Hercules from Sear’s. She states:

"Several of his coins show local imagery. Fig. 2.25 [this type], for example, displays the head of Africa on the obverse, a design inspired by local Mauretanian coinage (Salzmann 1974: 177). But while the image was local, it was used in a Roman context: a corn-ear is placed before the head, reflecting the Roman idea of Africa as a breadbasket (not a vision found on contemporary monuments of local


This is the unidentified old coin tag that came with this coin. I don't recognize it, but it can't have been created before the year 2000, given that it cites the catalog number from the Sear RCV I Millennium Edition:


This coin is effectively a companion to my other Imperatorial coin of Q. Metellus Pius Scipio, posted two years ago as one of my favorite coins acquired in 2021:

Roman Republic, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, 47/46 BCE, N. Africa, Utica (provincial capital 30 mi. NW of site of Carthage) or mobile military mint traveling with Scipio’s camp [see Sear Imperatorial (CRI), infra at p. 34]. Obv. Laureate head of Jupiter right, Q. METEL around to right, PIVS in exergue (PI ligate)/ Rev. African elephant walking right, SCIPIO above, IMP in exergue. Crawford 459/1, Sear Imperatorial (CRI) 45 (pp. 33-34) [David Sear, The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49-27 BC (1998)], RSC I Caecilia [Babelon] 47 (ill. p. 21), Sear RCV I 1379 (ill. p. 262), RBW Collection 1601 (ill. p. 337), BMCRR Africa 1, Claire Rowan, From Caesar to Augustus (c. 49 BC - AD 14), Using Coins as Sources (Cambridge 2019) at pp. 44-45 & Fig. 2.22. 19.5 mm., 3.78 g. Purchased from Germania Inferior Numismatics, Netherlands, Dec. 2021.* [Footnote omitted.]



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What a great collecting year you have had in 2023. All wonderful examples of their type. I will not belittle any of them by picking a favourite. They are all beautiful.

Your write ups are great reading and very informative. Thanks for sharing your acquisitions with us and for all the work involved in your post.

I hope 2024 is good for you, have a Happy New Year.

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Another exceptional list @DonnaML! So many stunners, It toning, cute little critters and a couple that I don't remember ever seeing before!

Though, your #1 coin is misidentified. I know Santa Clause with his bag of presents on his back and reindeer flying over the moon when I see them😋

A few of my lesser examples:

It's toned an even deeper sunburst now and needs a reshoot:


some Veiovis:


And for reference in the Apollo vs Roma monogram debate, here is my coin with a Roma monogram. Now, could your coin have more of a latitude and mine be more of a longitudinal monogram for Roma, being an ancient was never an exact science:


L. MARCIUS PHILIPPUS. Denarius (112 or 113 BC). Rome.

Obv: Head of Philip V of Macedon right, wearing diademed royal Macedonian helmet with goat horns; Roma monogram to upper left, Φ to lower right.


Equestrian statue right; mark of value in exergue. Crawford 293/1. VF 3.99 g. 19 mm. Ex Numismatik Naumann

Purchased Jan/2021

Wonderful list! Thanks for sharing


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This was Absolutely worth the wait!!!  An absolutely stunning diversity of types --something I never associated with Roman Republican, at least to anything approaching this extent.  ...And, Rats, on my way out the door to work; will Definitely revisit this!

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@Restitutor, I inadvertently put this thread in the Roman Republican forum rather than the "Top Coins of 2023" Forum. If you think it matters, please feel free to move it (I don't think I have the ability to do that myself). Although I suppose an argument could be made that it belongs where it is, since I did include three entirely new coins and writeups. I will leave it to your judgment!

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Simon said:

Excellent write ups but dont hold back next time. 🙂

I'm sure you didn't intend that as a criticism, but I'm sorry anyway about the length of the writeups. I do get compulsive sometimes about thoroughness, and had to be careful in my legal career to avoid that tendency when I was drafting  memoranda of law to be submitted to courts. No judge (or court clerk) has the patience to get through anything so encyclopedic in nature! In this situation, though, I write these footnotes primarily for my own purposes so I can consult them in the future if I want to remind myself about a particular coin, without looking up the different authorities all over again. And I do still find it fascinating how much more can be learned and written about any given Roman Republican type (at least the ones whose moneyers are named) compared to the average Roman Imperial or even most Provincial types. (Although some questions, such as the meanings of "S C" or the Delta-Epsilon on coins of Antioch, can be almost as complicated as those concerning Republican coinage.)

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"As always, comments are welcome, and, also as always, my apologies for the length of some of the footnotes. Please feel free to ignore them and just look at the coins!"

This is what  I used to do, but I've tried reading and learning more about Roman coins this year, so appreciate your efforts. My favourite of this lot is the coin with the Temple of Jupiter. Coins showing actual ancient buildings are fantastic. #2 is also a fascinating coin and write up.

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Di Nomos said:

 #2 is also a fascinating coin and write up.

Thank you. #'s 2 and 8 were so complicated to write up, with so many competing theories I found concerning their interpretation and/or the identification of the figures they portrayed, that it took me months to force myself to buckle down -- after all, this is a pastime, not a job! -- and try to understand all those theories, and then to present them in an at least somewhat logical and comprehensible way. Never mind trying to evaluate them myself, not that I'm qualified to form any firm opinion on their merits. At least this is a way of proving to myself that even if I sometimes have temporary difficulties in calling up the names of actors and other celebrities, I'm still generally capable, despite my advancing age, of reading, analyzing, thinking, and writing the way I did for almost 40 years as a lawyer. 

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Donna, needs saying again, the diversity of these is mind-blowing.  ...Some day I'm going to try to wade through the footnotes; it'll likely take the weekend for that.

...However, my ignorance of the series puts me at a distinct advantage for picking a favorite.  It has to be your very last one, with 'SCIPIO' right there on the reverse, big as life, replete with an elephant.  I need the mint being either Utica or a traveling military one, too.  This blows the legionary ones of Marc Antony out of the water.

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52 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

Donna, needs saying again, the diversity of these is mind-blowing.  ...Some day I'm going to try to wade through the footnotes; it'll likely take the weekend for that.

...However, my ignorance of the series puts me at a distinct advantage for picking a favorite.  It has to be your very last one, with 'SCIPIO' right there on the reverse, big as life, replete with an elephant.  I need the mint being either Utica or a traveling military one, too.  This blows the legionary ones of Marc Antony out of the water.

Thank you. That last one would probably be my favorite as well, except that I bought it in 2021 so it was already on my favorites list at Coin Talk that year!

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Beautiful coins and superb narratives as always, thank you for sharing.

When I have a chance I will share some of my examples.  I have sought an upgrade for my well  worn Scipio for years and your example @DonnaML has raised my aspirations.

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