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Coins commemorating the vote & voters


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image.png.feea4c4f3860b693f5d1149dbdf7f093.pngVoting with pebbles shown in an detail from an Attic Red-Figured Kylix, 490–480 BC, attributed to the Brygos Painter, active about 490 - 470 BC. Public domain image used with thanks to the Getty Museum Collection.

Ancient coins and art can give us insights into ancient peoples. The coin that I share today shows an image of a representative voting in ancient Antioch, province of Syria, region of Seleucis and Pieria.

Seleucis and Pieria was a region within the greater province of Syria that included the northwestern part of modern Syria and southeastern Anatolia in modern Turkey. Seleucia was the ancient sea port and capital of the Seleucid empire under Seleucos I and Pieria refers Mt. Pieria, the mountain the rises above Seleucia. After Seleucus I was assassinated (281 BCE), his son, Antiochus I, moved the capital to Antioch. The region retained the name Seleucis and Pieria.

Dating System
I enjoy coins that can be pinpointed to a specific date, this one reads ЄIP (5+10+100 = Civic Year 115 dated from the start of the Caesarean Era). Civic years in Antioch were measured from the This date 115 years from the start 49/8 BC and a Caesarean era that Antioch began to use after Caesar granted the city Autonomy.

More on the visit of Caesar to Antioch can be found here:

A Parthian invasion in 40BC disrupted this dating system - for a coin from this period see:

The Boule (βουλή), was a council (Greek: βουλευταί) in the representative democratic system of ancient Greek city states that was appointed to operate daily affairs or the city. This coin is a beautiful example showing, on the reverse, the voting of the Boule, by placing a pebble into an urn.

The First Jewish Revolt

This coin was issued during the time of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome and the last years of the reign of emperor Nero (reign 54 – 68 AD). The first legions sent from Syria to quell the rebellion failed and their commander Cestius Gallus died on his return to Syria.
"Insomuch that the soldiers, through the astonishment and fear they were in, left behind them their engines for sieges, and for throwing of stones, and a great part of the instruments of war. So the Jews went on pursuing the Romans as far as Antipatris, after which, seeing they could not overtake them, they came back, and took the engines, and spoiled the dead bodies, and gathered their prey together which the Romans had left behind them, and came back running and singing to their metropolis. While they had themselves lost a few only, but had slain of the Romans five thousand and three hundred footmen, and three hundred and eighty horsemen. This defeat happened on the eighth day of the month Dius, [Marhesvan], in the twelfth year of the reign of Nero."
-Josephus, Antiquities, 19.9

Licinius Mucianus succeeded Gallus in 67 AD as governor of Syria and emperor Nero appointed Vespasian, future emperor, as commander of the Roman forces to address the rebellion in Judea.NeroSeleucisPieria.jpg.cb94538d4713afd1609c858958f0005a.jpg

Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, city of Antioch a Pseudo-autonomous issue. Assarion (Bronze, 19 mm, 5.89g, 1h), CY 115 = 66/7 AD.
Obv: ΑΝΤΙ[ΟΧЄΩ]Ν Diademed head of Zeus to right
Rev: ЄTO - ЄIP Boule seated left, placing vote in urn
Ref: RPC I 4305. McAlee 112

Another favorite voting scene is this one from the Roman republic:


L. Cassius Longinus, moneyer, AR Denarius minted at Rome, 63 BC.
Obv: Draped bust of Vesta veiled left, kylix behind, letter before
Rev: Male figure left, dropping inscribed tablet into a cista
Ref: Crawford 413/1; Syd. 935; Cassia 10

For more coins depicting voting in ancient Rome and discussion of voting and voting laws in the Roman republic see: https://www.sullacoins.com/post/roman-voting-laws

Post your coins or art with ancient voting scenes, or anything else that you find interesting or entertaining.


Edited by Sulla80
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Great thread. 

I have (very) recently lost a P. Licinius Nerva denarius with voting scene (292/1). That was a bad decision. 

The only relevant coin I have is:


21 mm, 4,05 g.
Q. Cassius Longinus. AR denarius. Rome. 55 BC.
Q CASSIVS VEST, veiled head of Vesta right / Curule chair within circular temple of Vesta between urn and vota tablet inscribed AC.
RSC Cassia 9; BMC 3871; Syd. 917; Craw. 428/1.

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My only contribution to the election would be the Cassius Longinus


L. Cassius Longinus, Denarius - Rome mint, 63 BCE
Veiled bust of Vesta left. Control mark L below chin
LONGIN IIIV, togate citizen standing left, voting
3.93 gr
Ref : RCV # 364, RSC, Cassia # 10, Crawford # 413/1, Sydenham # 935


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I have two Roman Republican "voting" denarii -- the Cassius Longinus and an earlier type.

1. Roman Republic, P. Nerva, AR Denarius, Rome Mint, 113-112 BCE. Obv: Bust of Roma left wearing crested helmet with feather or aigrette (instead of wing) and single-drop earring, holding shield (ornamented with image of horseman galloping) against left shoulder with left hand, and spear over right shoulder with right hand, crescent moon above, star (*) [= monogrammed XVI; mark of value] before; behind, ROMA upwards / Rev. Voting scene inside Comitium in Forum: one togate voter to left of pons [bridge/walkway to place for depositing ballot tablet] receives ballot from attendant below; another togate voter to right of pons drops ballot in cista (voting basket); two lines behind voting scene and bar near top of reverse (described as “screen” by Sear) mark off voting area (denoting the barrier dividing a given tribe’s enclosure [saepta] from those allotted to different tribes), with bar or screen surmounted by marker/tabella inscribed with the initial “P” (possibly representing a particular voting tribe); P • NERVA [NE ligate] across field beneath bar (or beneath top of screen per Sear). Crawford 292/1; BMCRR II Italy 526 (at p. 274); RSC I [Babelon] Licinia 7 (ill.); Sear RCV I 169 (ill.); Sydenham 548; Yarrow 4.40 at p. 195 (ill.) [Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)]. 17.21 mm., 3.87 g., 7 h. David R. Sear Certificate of Authenticity,  May 2, 2013, No. 811CY/RR/A/CR (issued to Steve P., noting “flan flaw on edge of reverse not affecting the type”).*  Purchased at JAZ Numismatics Auction # 186, Lot 4, June 2021; ex J.B. DePew Collection; ex Steve P. Collection; ex CNG Auction 295, Jan. 30, 2013, Lot 361; ex Bruce R. Brace Collection.**



*David Sear describes this issue as “[o]ne of the most celebrated types of the entire Republican coinage,” depicting “the actual voting process in the political assembly of the Roman People in the Comitium, where citizens voted on business presented to them by magistrates. The area occupied by the Comitium was consecrated ground, like a temple, and was located in front of the Senate House [Curia] in the forum.” Sear RCV I at p. 105; see also Sear Certificate; Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for “Comitium” at p. 64: “From coire, ‘go together,’ the name of the area on the edge of the Forum at Rome which was used as a place of public assembly and where elections took place (the plural, comitia, was used as the name of the assemblies which were held there). A denarius of 113-[11]2 BC [this issue] shows a voting scened in the Comitium, with a voter crossing a narrow walkway, the pons, to cast his vote without being observed.” See also the Sear Certificate, explaining that “[t]he pons was a bridge in the Comitium which voters had to cross in order to cast their ballots and it kept them from any potential interference”; Crawford p. 307 (“it is not clear what the purpose of the pons was if not to isolate the voters”). 

The standard view of the “P” on the marker or tablet surmounting the barrier or screen is that it represents the initial of a particular voting tribe. See Crawford Vol. I p. 307. For a different opinion, see E.E. Clain-Stefanelli, Life in Republican Rome on its Coinage (1999) at p. 16: “above to the right is a tablet inscribed with a P (provoco -- I appeal),” referring to the right of appeal in criminal proceedings; accord BMCRR II Italy p. 275 n. 2. Prof. Yarrow has yet a still different opinion: see Sec. 4.41 of her book at pp. 193-194, stating that electoral ballots as depicted on the Republican coinage (as opposed to ballots in criminal proceedings) “seem[] to be hinged-like representations of wax-writing tablets; one side of the tablet is inscribed with a P and the other has the initials (or space for the initials) of the candidate [citing, inter alia, the illustration of this coin at Fig. 4.40]. The P may resolve as pro, in the sense of a vote ‘for’ or ‘in support of’ the named candidate.” (This explanation may account for the fact that on less worn examples, the open “P” on the rectangular tablet or marker seems to be to the far left, with the remainder blank.) 

The moneyer is “presumably” Publius Licinius Nerva, Praetor in Sicily (i.e., its governor] in 104/103 BCE at the time of the Second Servile War. See Crawford I. p. 306; Sear Certificate; BMCRR II Italy p. 274 n. 2. The Sear Certificate states that “[t]he reason for Nerva’s selection of this type is not easy to establish, though it may refer back to a measure concerning enfranchisement carried by an ancestor of the moneyer’s as well as being a more contemporary reference to the Marian law of 119 BC by which the width of the pons was narrowed.” Crawford prefers the Marian explanation; see Vol I p. 307. 

** Bruce R. Brace "was a scholar and by many considered to be a dean of Roman Numismatics in Canada. Coins from his extensive collection were sold by CNG in 2012 and 2013." https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/an..._ex_bruce_r_brace_library/630746/Default.aspx . According to Google, he was the former General Chairman of the Canadian Numismatic Association, the recipient of their J.D. Ferguson Award in 1984, and the former honorary curator of the McMaster University Museum of Art coin collection, at least a portion of which is now known as the Bruce R. Brace Coin Collection.

2. Roman Republic, L. Cassius Longinus, AR Denarius, 63 or 60 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Veiled and diademed head of Vesta left, control-letter “A” before her, kylix (two-handled cup) behind her / Rev. Togate figure standing left, dropping a voting tablet favorable to proposed legislation, inscribed “V” (Vti Rogas [= “as you propose”]) into a cista before him, LONGIN III•V downwards behind him. Crawford 413/1, RSC I Cassia 10 (ill.), Sear RCV I 364 (ill.), Sydenham 935, Harlan, RRM II Ch. 6 at pp.49-53, BMCRR 3929 (control-letter “A”); see also id. 3930-3936 (other control letters). 3.96 g., 19 mm., 6 h.  Formerly in NGC slab, Cert. No.4280866-009, Graded Ch. XF, Strike: 4/5, Surface 4/5.*


*Crawford & RSC date the coin to 63 BCE, Harlan dates it to 60 BCE based on hoard evidence (see Ch. 6 at p. 49), and Sear notes the different dates but offers no opinion (see Sear RCV I at p. 141).

Crawford identifies the moneyer as the L. [Lucius] Cassius Longinus who was proconsul in 48 BCE (see Vol. I p. 440), and was the brother of Gaius Cassius Longinus, Caesar’s assassin. Harlan argues against this identification on the ground that the assassin’s brother would have been too young (in his early 20s) to be the moneyer of this coin, and concludes that the moneyer was someone otherwise unknown. (See pp. 50-51.)  Regardless of the specific identity of the moneyer, all authorities note that he omitted express mention of his nomen, Cassius (from the gens Cassia), and his praenomen, L. (for Lucius) from the coin, mentioning only his cognomen, Longinus, on the reverse. He was the only Republican moneyer from the gens Cassia to do so. Instead, he disclosed his praenomen and nomen by means of the control-letters on the obverse: the only control-letters used spell out his praenomen and nomen, as L CASSI (with one S reversed). See Sear RCV I at p. 141, Crawford at p. 440, Harlan at pp. 49-50. (See Crawford 362/1 at p. 377 for a discussion of the other known example of a moneyer spelling out his name via control-letters, the denarius of C. Mamilius Limetanus).  Harlan suggests that this moneyer’s reason for omitting his praenomen and nomen from the coin may have been to avoid confusion with another Lucius Cassius Longinus, praetor in 66 BCE, who had been condemned as a participant in the so-called Catiline conspiracy, exposed in 63 BCE, only two years earlier (according to Harlan’s dating of the coin).  See Harlan at p. 50.

The “III•V” at the end of the reverse inscription stands for “IIIVIR” or triumvir. See the Numiswiki entry for IIIVIR, at https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=IIIVIR: “On coins of the Roman Republic IIIVIR is used as a shortened abbreviation for IIIVIR AAAFF, which abbreviates "III viri aere argento auro flando feiundo" or "Three men for the casting and striking of bronze, silver and gold," a moneyer or mint magistrate.”

The veiled depiction on the obverse of this coin is generally taken to be a portrayal of Vesta despite the absence of an inscription to that effect. Note the kylix cup behind her head, similar to the bowl in Vesta’s hands on Crawford 512/2, as well as the similarity of the portrait to the specifically identified portrait of a veiled Vesta on Crawford 428/1, issued by Quintus Cassius Longinus in 53 BCE -- also with a voting scene on the reverse. (But see the equally similar veiled portrait specifically identified as Concordia on a denarius issued by Lepius Paullus in 62 BCE, Crawford 415/1.) 

Crawford assumes without discussion that the obverse portrait depicts Vesta, and concludes that her portrayal on the obverse, taken together with the voting scene on the reverse, constitute a reference to the election in 113 BCE of another member of the Cassius gens, Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, as a special prosecutor to retry two acquitted Vestal Virgins (one of the three originally charged was convicted the first time) on allegations of breaking their vows. They were convicted on retrial and buried alive as punishment. See Crawford p. 440; Harlan at p. 182-183 (discussing the voting scene on the reverse of Crawford 428/1).  

In BMCRR, on the other hand, Grueber concluded that the reverse type commemorated the passage in 137 BCE of the Lex Cassia tabelleria, proposed by the same Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, as tribune of the plebs, to curb the power of the nobility by expanding the recently-instituted secret ballot law to trials held before the people.  (See BMCRR Vol. I p. 494.)  If one thing is clear, it is that unlike Crawford 328/1, the reverse of this coin cannot refer to the retrial of the Vestal Virgins itself, since the scene on this reverse depicts a legislative vote (determined by votes of Vti Rogas [= “as you propose”] or Antiquo [= “I vote against it”]), rather than a trial, as depicted on the reverse of Crawford 328/1 (determined by votes of Absolvo [= “I absolve”] or Condemno [= “I acquit”]).

Harlan adopts neither view, arguing as follows (see pp. 52-53):

“We should ask if we want to assign this depiction of voting to the passage of one specific law. By the time this coin was minted it was not the specifics of Longinus’ law that people recalled, but that voting tablet laws represented the liberation of the people from the oppression of the nobility [Quotation from Cicero’s speech Pro Sestio, concerning the voting tablet law of 137 BCE, omitted.] . . . . Our moneyer’s coin reminded the people how his family had traditionally championed the people’s interests over the nobility’s and how their interests have been furthered through constitutional means rather than violent revolution which threatens the interest of all citizens. The recent involvement of a Cassius Longinus in Cataline’s attempt to effect change through violent revolution was not representative of the true values of the Cassii Longini.”

Edited by DonnaML
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