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What are the most affordable denarii types from the time of the Spartacus rebellion?


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I find the Spartacus rebellion/Third Seville War very interesting, and I love the Starz series on it (yes, I actually watched it for the plot!). For a while I’ve been wanting to get at least a couple of denarii that would likely have been in circulation at the time of the rebellion. Problem is, I’m not really a Roman Republic collector (I just have one Republican coin, a denarius), so I don’t have a good idea on what to look for in terms of specific types. I’m thinking perhaps focusing just on denarii types struck in the 80s and 70s BC. Thank you for any information/help on this!

Edited by ValiantKnight
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26 minutes ago, ValiantKnight said:

I find the Spartacus rebellion/Third Seville War very interesting, and I love the Starz series on it (yes, I actually watched it for the plot!).

There are two types of (streaming) series - I find. Those that try to stay close to the story despite the need for action. And then there are series / films that focus solely on the action.

ROME also takes some artistic liberties - but for a series it is very well researched. The swear words, the filth, the reference to the gods, the vulgarity, the class differences - and Rome is a shithole. Really well done.

And then there are films / series, like Gladiator - or even Spartacus - which are really nice to look at (!) - but you really mustn't have any historical pretensions. Gladiator is really a great action film - but as soon as I start thinking about the historical background - I get goose bumps. There's nothing right about it. And Spartacus is similar - well done, great scenes, lots of action - but apart from a few names, it has nothing to do with the "real" Spartacus.

40 minutes ago, ValiantKnight said:

Problem is, I’m not really a Roman Republic collector (I just have one Republican coin, a denarius), so I don’t have a good idea on what to look for in terms of specific types. I’m thinking perhaps focusing just on denarii types struck in the 80s and 70s BC. Thank you for any information/help on this!

The revolt went on from 73 to 71 BC - in the beginning it was not taken very seriously - only towards the end. Coins from around 73-70 BC are therefore likely to be interesting.

There are only a few problems. Please correct me if I am wrong.

a) Coins from this period are often difficult to identify. There are a lot of republicans from the period where we don't know for sure whether the mintage was around 80 or 70 BC. There are also many mintmasters from this period with the "same" name and we don't know whether it was the predecessor or the successor. That makes it a bit difficult to always be sure.

b) The slave revolt was not something that one would have wanted to have immortalised on coins. It was an eyesore. Why would you mention something like that on a coin? You won't find a coin with a direct reference to the Spartacus revolt.

Why not - a military leader and an army of slaves were defeated in the end. There are also coins about other victories. Yes. But that was no opponent for the Romans. It wasn't a regular foreign king that was defeated - it wasn't a foreign nation that was defeated - it wasn't even a regular Roman opponent in the civil war. They were just miserable slaves. You don't celebrate victories against slaves. Therefore - you won't find anything direct there.

 

I would recommend this very good free PDF. I don't know your mother tongue - it's in German. But here you will find all the denarii from 78 to 50 BC and very good explanations of the historical background to each individual denarius.

https://www.academia.edu/36746961/Die_stadtrömische_Münzprägung_der_Jahre_78_50_v_Chr_zwischen_politischer_Aktualität_und_Familienthematik_Kommentar_und_Bibliographie_München_1993_Quellen_und_Forschungen_zur_Antiken_Welt_Band_14_424_S_Diss_Marburg_1991_

On page 380 there is also an overview of the denarii. There you will also see that for many denarii there are different time classifications by the experts. The dating is often not that clear.

And as I said. You will read a lot about a) denarii that refer to the deeds of the ancestors, b) denarii that attack political opponents, c) denarii about political statements, d) denarii about the Roman civil war - but nothing about Spartacus.

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36 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

There are two types of (streaming) series - I find. Those that try to stay close to the story despite the need for action. And then there are series / films that focus solely on the action.

ROME also takes some artistic liberties - but for a series it is very well researched. The swear words, the filth, the reference to the gods, the vulgarity, the class differences - and Rome is a shithole. Really well done.

And then there are films / series, like Gladiator - or even Spartacus - which are really nice to look at (!) - but you really mustn't have any historical pretensions. Gladiator is really a great action film - but as soon as I start thinking about the historical background - I get goose bumps. There's nothing right about it. And Spartacus is similar - well done, great scenes, lots of action - but apart from a few names, it has nothing to do with the "real" Spartacus.

No worries. I am aware enough to be able to make the distinction whether something is made with historical accuracy in mind vs if it leans more towards dramatizing the events and taking certain liberties. The good thing about the Spartacus series IMO is that it keeps to the general history of the revolt for the most part: several of the important figures present, the Capuan gladiator revolt, the Vesuvius battle, the final battle against Crassus, the Appian Way crucifixions, etc. It’s a historical drama made for enjoyment, not made to be a substitute for actual learning resources or scholarly material. And this mindset is the kind one should have going into this series and Gladiator, and even the Rome series (which I've watched also). And I also believe these types of series can be good as a gateway for viewers to become interested in the events/people and afterwards do research on the real histories and facts.

41 minutes ago, Prieure de Sion said:

a) Coins from this period are often difficult to identify. There are a lot of republicans from the period where we don't know for sure whether the mintage was around 80 or 70 BC. There are also many mintmasters from this period with the "same" name and we don't know whether it was the predecessor or the successor. That makes it a bit difficult to always be sure.

I see year ranges for many Republican denarii types listed, but I don't know how accurate these are in general. I'm guessing they are pretty accurate based on the specific moneyer(s) named on the coin. I used to have an L. Rubrius Dossenus denarius and the particular type that it was is generally accepted as from the 70s BC (can't remember the exact years).

1 hour ago, Prieure de Sion said:

b) The slave revolt was not something that one would have wanted to have immortalised on coins. It was an eyesore. Why would you mention something like that on a coin? You won't find a coin with a direct reference to the Spartacus revolt.

2 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

d) denarii about the Roman civil war - but nothing about Spartacus.

Oh I'm aware. I'm just looking for denarii types common to that time period or just before.
 

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Posted · Supporter

Spartacus was most likely Thracian just like later emperor, and beast of a man, Maximinus:

share6959730570122728647.png.8b845d9fd5fc02adb56253c45133a024.png

The closest I have to 73-70 BCE is this wonderful toned , and hard to photograph, Diana:

Screenshot_20210407-161528_PicCollage-removebg-preview.png.b490fe19fb0ed39a687467151665aa42.png

C. Postumius 
At or Ta, Denarius, Rome, 74 BC; AR (g 3,56; mm 18; h 5); Draped bust of Diana r., with bow and quiver over shoulder, Rv. Hound running r.; below, spear; in ex. C POSTVMI / AT (or TA). Crawford 394/1a; Postumia 9; Sydenham 785

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

I would recommend this very good free PDF. I don't know your mother tongue - it's in German. But here you will find all the denarii from 78 to 50 BC and very good explanations of the historical background to each individual denarius.

https://www.academia.edu/36746961/Die_stadtrömische_Münzprägung_der_Jahre_78_50_v_Chr_zwischen_politischer_Aktualität_und_Familienthematik_Kommentar_und_Bibliographie_München_1993_Quellen_und_Forschungen_zur_Antiken_Welt_Band_14_424_S_Diss_Marburg_1991_

Very cool resource, @Prieure de Sion, thanks!  And the text is selectable for pasting into google translate. 🙂

Here's a photo of p. 380 with the author Hollstein's best date bets (based on additional info since Crawford and Hersh-Walker) in the first column:

image.jpeg.de18c35168dce4686e326ebfebde4633.jpeg

Back to the OP question, here's a fairly plentiful denarius I have dating to 74 (Crawford 394/1a) (oops, @Ryro beat me to it!):

image.jpeg.dd73faa3f01197259bf6d8e3795353a8.jpeg

BUT Crawford says it was likely issued to fund the campaign against Sertorius in Spain (Metellus Pius/Pompey).  (I see Hollstein seems to agree this is probable.)  So maybe not the best issue to represent the Spartacus revolt specifically.  On the other hand, the issue was plentiful enough (and found in Italy, not just Spain) that some of these coins were likely used to pay soldiers recruited for the Spartacus war.  In my collection I'm happy for it to do double-duty (Sertorius/Spartacus), and since you like coins with a Spanish connection maybe this suits you too!  (Although obviously no single coin is likely to have been used to pay both soldiers fighting Spartacus and those fighting Sertorius in Spain.)

If you want something specifically for Spartacus/Crassus, and looking at the Hollstein conclusions above, a coin from 72 would seem ideal... probably used to pay the soldiers to fight under Crassus after the first miserable failures by the consuls of that year.  The only coin that fits the bill is Cossutius Sabula Cr. 395; a neat type, and a bit pricer as a result, though with no specific connection to Spartacus.  For those consular legions, an earlier issue from 73 would probably work so Cr. 389 Rustius or the two types from Cr. 390 Lucretius Trio.  Also neat types, but more common and cheaper than the Cossutius Sabula.  On the other hand, the three authors are farther apart on the dating of this.  Not sure what Harlan says.  (Calling @DonnaML for help here!)

A different option might be to go for a personage rather than a date.  The consul in 72 who failed miserably against Spartacus was Lentulus Clodianus, who was a monetarius in 88, so you could get one of those earlier coins, pretty cheaply too!  (If unexciting in design.)

All pretty decent options, I'd say, although there's nothing perfect!  Befitting of the Spartacus TV series, perhaps, though I haven't watched any of it! (Yet.)  (BTW, I enjoyed Arthur Koestler's book about the Spartacus revolt, The Gladiators.  Lots of interesting political discussion about practical considerations conflicting with idealism, but still quite a bit of action too.  And very well written.)

Edited by Severus Alexander
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As @Severus Alexander noted, this coin is from a moneyer who played a role the war e.g. Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus, years after issuing this coin became consul, 72 BC, and was defeated by Spartacus.

In the new year, (72 BC) the Senate, at length realizing the gravity of the danger, sent the consuls, Lucius Gellius and Lentulus Clodianus, with four legions into the field. Crixus was attacked by Gellius and the praetor Arrius near Mount Garganus in Apulia, and fell in the defeat which his headstrong folly had provoked. The hoard, which no commander could have restrained from excesses in the camp or in the march, obeyed him in the battlefield. Followed by Gellius, he was moving through the high lands of Picinium with the intention, which he had never abandoned, of crossing the alps when Lentulus appeared in front. Spartacus defeated him, then turned on pursuers and defeated them.

- T. Rice Holmes (1855-1933), The Roman Republic and the Founder of the Empire, 1924 p.155-159

1818907217_CLentulusdenarius.jpg.c12af2e032e956ba9077b5e193fe8754.jpg

 I will challenge the notion that this is "unexciting in design" 🙂More of my favorite RR denarii can be found here: https://www.sullacoins.com/roman-republic

Edited by Sulla80
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1 hour ago, Sulla80 said:

 I will challenge the notion that this is "unexciting in design" 🙂More of my favorite RR denarii can be found here: https://www.sullacoins.com/roman-republic

Well, I'll give you this at least: it's not Roma on the obverse! 🙃

Really nice selection of coins in your Republican gallery, @Sulla80.  Lots of coins I love, but your Cotta Vulcan, Censorinus Marsyas, Valerius Flaccus, anepigraphic Sulla (great obverse die), Postumius bull sacrifice, Brocchus (I need one of those, and a Rubrius Dossenus too!), Lepidus 419/1e, and Brutus/Ahala really grabbed me. Plus the yummy toning on that Servilius Rullus, the 343/1c Cato, and the Postumius hound!

(I see the Clodianus photo above is of a different coin from the gallery... a recent upgrade?)

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6 hours ago, Severus Alexander said:

Well, I'll give you this at least: it's not Roma on the obverse! 🙃

Really nice selection of coins in your Republican gallery, @Sulla80.  Lots of coins I love, but your Cotta Vulcan, Censorinus Marsyas, Valerius Flaccus, anepigraphic Sulla (great obverse die), Postumius bull sacrifice, Brocchus (I need one of those, and a Rubrius Dossenus too!), Lepidus 419/1e, and Brutus/Ahala really grabbed me. Plus the yummy toning on that Servilius Rullus, the 343/1c Cato, and the Postumius hound!

(I see the Clodianus photo above is of a different coin from the gallery... a recent upgrade?)

Thanks @Severus Alexander a subset of coins have made it onto the website ... more making their way there slowly

 

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I fondly remember the Starz series Spartacus, Blood & Sand & was totally mesmerized when the series appeared on TV 🤩! Despite being a fantasy, it stirred a lot of interest in Roman history. I bought the CD set later & have watched it again & again ☺️. The untimely loss of Andy Whitfield was mourned world-wide 😢.

456551749_SpartacusStarzseries.jpg.2a2e616eda2966e2339f103923497f34.jpg

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