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Gaius Fannius, last of the republicans in Asia


zadie
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3b9385f703be2b82a20c16b5c1caa505.jpg.536d674bb274411cc524d813c66623cc.jpg

Inaugurating my first coin post on the board with a few promagisterial cistophori.

Most of you will not have heard about Gaius Fannius before. I don't blame you, trying to piece together the career of an obscure mid-level roman bureaucrat does not sound riveting. However, stories that lie in obscurity often bring vital context to the history being studied.

Gaius Fannius served as tribune of the plebs in 59 BC during the consulship of Caesar and Bibulus. As a follower of the conservative faction, Fannius alligned himself with Bibulus in staunch opposition to Caesar's populist agenda. After his term as tribune was over, he would have likely served as praetor in the latter half of the 50s BC. Having climbed the upper steps of the cursus honorum, a provincial command was sure to follow.

From here the chronology gets a little iffy but this is what we know: On the 26th of January 49, Cicero in a letter to Atticus (Att 7.15.2) tells us that Fannius was appointed to Sicily with imperium. This appears to have been a temporary measure however, as we later in the year find Fannius not in Sicily, but in the province of Asia. Why all this zipping around? We don't really know. With Caesar having crossed the Rubicon on the 10th of January, the political situation in Rome was extremely tense. It is possible that the Pompeians in the senate desired to keep key provinces staffed and governed by individuals they could rely on, and perhaps this is why Fannius was reassigned to Asia in the midst of his assignment in Sicily.

Fannius was the last governor of Asia to issue cistophori in his own name. His coins are known from four of the five mints in the province; Ephesus, Tralles, Laodice and Apameia. The coins of Fannius' deviates from previous issues and feature an impressive portico of what can only be surmised to be the Temple of Vesta in Rome.  The connection to Vesta can possibly be explained by the legend employed on the coins: C[AIVS]·FAN[NIVS]·PONT[IFEX]·PR[AETOR]/PR[O·PRAETOR]. Being a member of the College of Pontiffs, Fannius could have had some special responsibility or relation towards the cult of Vesta.

 

2726862_1649427322.thumb.jpg.36cc803ff5e9a494273bb736c3f90410.jpg

Promagisterial Cistophori. Gaius Fannius as Propraetor of Asia. Aratos, magistrate. AR Cistophoric tetradrachm. Ephesus, dated Year 86 (24 September 49 BC - 23 September 48 BC). Serpent emerging from cista mystica; all within wreath / [C]•FAN•PONT•[PR]. Two serpents flanking a tetrastyle temple, surmounted by a female cult statue holding patera and sceptre. In the left field, Πς (date), EΦE, Isis headdress below. Torch in the right field. ARATOC in exergue. Stumpf 58; Metcalf 78-87 (O-, R-. Dies not listed)

 

Rev1.thumb.PNG.a1d358574f6b8e8c6bbf68782a238ad8.PNG

Promagisterial Cistophori. Gaius Fannius as Propraetor of Asia. Mantitheos, magistrate. AR Cistophoric tetradrachm. Apameia, 49/48 BC. Serpent emerging from cista mystica; all within wreath / C•FAN•PONT•PR. Two serpents flanking a tetrastyle temple, surmounted by a female cult statue holding patera and sceptre. MΑΝΤΙΘ[ΕΟΣ / MΑΝΤΙΘΕΟΥ]. Stumpf 57; Metcalf 473 (Dies O24/R72)

Edited by zadie
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  • zadie changed the title to Gaius Fannius, last of the republicans in Asia
1 hour ago, zadie said:

3b9385f703be2b82a20c16b5c1caa505.jpg.536d674bb274411cc524d813c66623cc.jpg

Inaugurating my first coin post on the board with a few promagisterial cistophori.

Most of you will not have heard about Gaius Fannius before. I don't blame you, trying to piece together the career of an obscure mid-level roman bureaucrat does not sound riveting. However, stories that lie in obscurity often bring vital context to the history being studied.

Gaius Fannius served as tribune of the plebs in 59 BC during the consulship of Caesar and Bibulus. As a follower of the conservative faction, Fannius alligned himself with Bibulus in staunch opposition to Caesar's populist agenda. After his term as tribune was over, he would have likely served as praetor in the latter half of the 50s BC. Having climbed the upper steps of the cursus honorum, a provincial command was sure to follow.

From here the chronology gets a little iffy but this is what we know: On the 26th of January 49, Cicero in a letter to Atticus (Att 7.15.2) tells us that Fannius was appointed to Sicily with imperium. This appears to have been a temporary measure however, as we later in the year find Fannius not in Sicily, but in the province of Asia. Why all this zipping around? We don't really know. With Caesar having crossed the Rubicon on the 10th of January, the political situation in Rome was extremely tense. It is possible that the Pompeians in the senate desired to keep key provinces staffed and governed by individuals they could rely on, and perhaps this is why Fannius was reassigned to Asia in the midst of his assignment in Sicily.

Fannius was the last governor of Asia to issue cistophori in his own name. His coins are known from four of the five mints in the province; Ephesus, Tralles, Laodice and Apameia. The coins of Fannius' deviates from previous issues and feature an impressive portico of what can only be surmised to be the Temple of Vesta in Rome.  The connection to Vesta can possibly be explained by the legend employed on the coins: C[AIVS]·FAN[NIVS]·PONT[IFEX]·PR[AETOR]/PR[O·PRAETOR]. Being a member of the College of Pontiffs, Fannius could have had some special responsibility or relation towards the cult of Vesta.

 

2726862_1649427322.thumb.jpg.36cc803ff5e9a494273bb736c3f90410.jpg

Promagisterial Cistophori. Gaius Fannius as Propraetor of Asia. Aratos, magistrate. AR Cistophoric tetradrachm. Ephesus, dated Year 86 (24 September 49 BC - 23 September 48 BC). Serpent emerging from cista mystica; all within wreath / [C]•FAN•PONT•[PR]. Two serpents flanking a tetrastyle temple, surmounted by a female cult statue holding patera and sceptre. In the left field, Πς (date), EΦE, Isis headdress below. Torch in the right field. ARATOC in exergue. Stumpf 58; Metcalf 78-87 (O-, R-. Dies not listed)

 

Rev1.thumb.PNG.a1d358574f6b8e8c6bbf68782a238ad8.PNG

Promagisterial Cistophori. Gaius Fannius as Propraetor of Asia. Mantitheos, magistrate. AR Cistophoric tetradrachm. Apameia, 49/48 BC. Serpent emerging from cista mystica; all within wreath / C•FAN•PONT•PR. Two serpents flanking a tetrastyle temple, surmounted by a female cult statue holding patera and sceptre. MΑΝΤΙΘ[ΕΟΣ / MΑΝΤΙΘΕΟΥ]. Stumpf 57; Metcalf 473 (Dies O24/R72)

Thanks for sharing! I love seeing niche collectors posting writeups about coins and/or people I haven’t heard of before! 

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