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Sulla vs. Marius, Fire at the Rome Mint and the Marsyas Denarii of L. Censorinus (and other issues). Crawford Adjusted?


Marsyas Mike
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Early this month I got another example of my avatar, a Roman Republican denarius of L. Censorinus featuring Apollo on the obverse and the drunk, bald, naked Marsyas with a wineskin slung over his shoulder, beckoning someone or something to the left on the reverse.  Bald, drunk and naked - my favorite Graeco-Roman deity!  Whenever a cheap example of this coin comes up, I snap it up, but it has been a few years since that particular lotto came my way - the issue is common, but Roman Republican denarii have gotten quite high, even the lousy ones. 

Anyway, I decided to dig a little deeper into this issue to update my attributions and finally read some of the recent literature (post-Crawford 1970s) that has sprung up, and found a few interesting things I thought I'd share here.

The Sources:  I was initially tipped off via a Coin Talk post by @Orfew here:  https://www.cointalk.com/threads/l-censorinus.326389/

Within that post, a blog post by Artemide Aste was linked here:  https://www.artemideaste.com/blog/view/9

This blog led me to the original referenced article, which is in Italian, which I don't read, here (with an academia.edu account, I think you can get it translated, but I don't have an account; I used Google Translate with the usual crude results):

 https://www.academia.edu/43205904/I_DENARI_DI_L_CENSOR_CON_SIMBOLI_LETTERE_RRC_363_1a_c_  

Here is the full title and its authors:  "I Denari di L. CENSOR con Simboli/Lettere (RRC 363/1a-c)" by Pierluigi Debernardi, Alberto Campana, Roberto Lippi e Mark Passehl,

In this post, I will mostly quote from the Artemide Aste Blog since it was in English (probably translated; it contains some grammatical infelicities - not that I'm one to talk!); this blog summarizes the Debernardi et al. article. 

Overview:  This Censorinus Marsyas issue is part the enormous issues from a group of three moneyers for that year (what year?  I'll get to that).  These three issued under their own names, and a single issue together.  These three moneyers are:  L. CENSORINVS, P. CREPVSIVS and M. LIMETANVS.  I have examples of these first two (see below).  The Limetanus issue has Ulysses and his dog on the reverse; very popular with collectors (I don't have one of these, alas); because of my inability to snag one, I thought it was scarcer than the other moneyers' issues of this era; according to a rough acsearch auction search, this is not so, the Limetanus issue is actually quite abundant, but expensive. 

There is a fourth moneyer connected as well, NORBANVS; his involvement will be discussed below.

 Interesting Item Number 1:  Crawford dates these issues to 82 B.C., with another, perhaps related issue by Norbanus, in 83 B.C.  Debernardi et al. moves all these issues back a year (84-83 B.C.), which make very good sense to me.  Let me quote the English of the Artemide Aste referenced above:

"These coinages were produced in Rome under the Marian faction, during the First Civil War between the Marians and Sulla. At the end of 84 BC, the Marians were preparing, with a levy of 100.000 men, for the fight against Sulla, who landed at Brundisium from the East in the Spring of 83. For this large army one can estimate a requirement of 15 million of denarii, which matches very well with the production of the IIIvirate under discussion. 

The most important results of the paper are therefore:

1) a one-year pre-dating of this triumvirate (83 BC instead of 82 BC), which fits very well with the need of cash for the big army" 

In other words, the cash for the big Marian army to fight Sulla was needed ahead of time; Crawford's 82 B.C. dating would make this harder to carry out (Sulla landed from the East in the Spring 83 B.C., with battles going on until the Battle at the Colline Gates in November 82 B.C.).

Interesting Item Number 2:  You collectors of Roman Republican denarii may know that the Censorinus issue with Marsyas is sometimes found with control marks (letters, mostly).  These issues with control marks are considerably scarcer than the unmarked issues (I do not have a control marked issue). 

Why is this?  How about the Roman Mint being destroyed by fire July 6, 83 B.C.?   At this point we need to bring in another of  the moneyers, Crepusius.  As many of you know, the large issue by Crepusius feature control numbers and symbols throughout the issue (not just part of the issue as with Censorinus' Marsyas issue).  As described here, the control marks on Censorinus came towards the end of the issue, after the mint was destroyed and extra controls needed to be in place, presumably because of the temporary location of the mint, perhaps in several places in Rome.  As the Censorinus issue with Marsyas (with control marks) were finished up, an issue with all three moneyers was issued (Venus, says Crawford, Moneta in mourning (see below)).  After that joint issue, the enormous Crepusius issue was started, using control numbers/symbols throughout.  Here is the Artemide Aste blog again (he refers to Censorinus as "Censor"):    

 "2) the big Capitol fire of 6 July 83 BC strongly influenced the coinage of that year, because the Mint was completely destroyed. The arson started at the Temple of Jupiter, destroying also the Tabularium, to which the mint was in close connection (Coarelli). The Mint and Tabularium were rebuilt by Q .Lutatius Catulus and reopened in 78 BC. 

3) The IIIvirate leader was L. Censorinus, because of his name appearing alone at the obverse of the series RRC 360/1, which is the first produced just after the fire in an emergency mint. The veiled Moneta (cf. lot 235 and lot 236, the latter produced at the very beginning of the series, with numeral VI) on the obverse is kind of proof; Moneta is depicted exactly the same on RRC 396/1, and the veil is a sign of mourning for the destroyed temple and mint.

4) An updated catalog, based on a Corpus of 176 specimens, augments the known symbols (obv) and letters/numerals by five, and the known pairs from 24 to 37, as depicted in the table above. The new pairs are highlighted bold, provided by a progressive number (PN) and by the known specimens (SN). In the right column, the RRC Table XXIX is reported for comparison. 

In this way, the few dies of L.CENSOR with symbols finds a reasonable framework for the first time: they were the first dies produced after the fire, to test a new system of control-marks, thereafter immediately applied to RRC 360/1 and, exactly in the same way, in the Crepusius coinage. In fact, Crepusius re-uses most of the symbols of Censor, and combine them with letters and numerals, all ingredient present in “Censor’s experiment”. This is the most reasonable way to understand the otherwise inexplicable mixture of combinations that RRC tries to describe with its 1a/1b/1c. In fact, this is a single production, and to split it into three parts is rather a stretch, inasmuch as all of the dies are linked together. The four unsigned dies (Nil) of Censor that survived the fire were mixed with twenty or so dies with symbols/letters. The aim was to mark the dies so that to have a better control on them, now placed in a less secure temporary mint. That experiment ended RRC 363/1 and precisely date “our coins” to the first half of July 83 BC.

 Then RRC 360/1 followed, expressing the mourning for the big Capitol fire and also the need of giving a collegial certification of the restarted mint production by all the three moneyers. After a month or so, it was stopped (the Marsyas coinage of Censorinus - MM) and Crepusius started to mint his coinage, exploiting in full the experience acquired by Censor’s experiment..."

The issue for all three moneyers (issued in the new, post-fire mint) referenced here is described as having a "veiled Venus" obverse (Crawford 360/1); but as suggested here, perhaps this is Moneta in mourning for the mint fire?  I found this to be a very compelling theory (illustration below).  

Interesting Item Number 3:  There is a fourth moneyer indirectly involved here, perhaps issuing from the year before and perhaps not from Rome, C. Norbanus, dated by Crawford to 83 B.C..  Under the theory discussed here, this should be moved back to 84 B.C.  Also, rather than the Consul Norbanus' son being the moneyer, it could be Consul Norbanus himself (whose head wound up on a pole).  A special military issue from the field?  I will have to go to the original Debernardi et al. article as run through Google Translate and my inexpert efforts to clean this up:

"However, we would like to propose moving the date to 83 B.C. (for Censorinus' Marsyas issue). This shift does not greatly disrupt Crawford's arrangement. For his chronology of emissions from the 80s, he relied on the [closets in luinoti 45?], and for 83 B.C. only provides for the issue of C. Norbanus (RRC 357/1), according to him the son of the Consul of that year. Instead, in our opinion, the series RRC 357/1 was probably produced in Sicily by the future consul as early as 84, to pay his troops.

With its approximately 200 (dies - Google Translate has this as "cones"), this issue certainly would not have been able to pay the 100,000 men called to arms for the year 83 B.C. This new disbursement, on the other hand, finds excellent confirmation with the minting volume of our college. already seen on the basis of the study of coinage (Tab. 2), the production of the money of our coins is very abundant and can find a valid motivation in the great Marian recruitment, perhaps planned in 84 B.C. and carried out at the beginning of 83 B.C.: 100,000 men organized in 200 cohorts for the two main Marian armies, those of the consuls L. Cornelius Scipio Asiagenus and C. Norbanus."

This C. Norbanus issue (RRC 357/1) is fairly abundant, though not so much as the other three moneyers under discussion (based on a rough acsearch of auctions).  I landed one early in my ancient collecting days (30 years ago!), so I thought it must be common.  Commonish is more like it. 

Photos of Some of the Coins Discussed:  I have three of the coins listed above (I'll spare you the multiples of Marsyas I have).  Here's my newest one - it is the rare variation with Marsyas wearing a diaper; or perhaps suffering from some unpleasant medical condition from antiquity or maybe he's just happy to see me 😆:

2129796109_RR-MarciaMarsyasden.Aug2022(0soak).jpg.835416b0557a30d47bb70ea7fa7449ab.jpg

Roman Republic Denarius L. Censorinus (83 or 82 B.C. ) Rome Mint Laureate head of Apollo right / L • CENSOR, Marsyas, bald, naked but for buskins walking left, arm raised, wineskin over  shoulder, statue (of Minerva or Victory?) atop column right.  Crawford 363/1d; Marcia 24. (3.47 grams / 17 x 16 mm)  eBay Aug. 2022 Notes:  L. CENSORINVS was moneyer with P. CREPVSIVS and M. LIMETANVS.  Pierluigi Debernardi et al. suggest this is a Marian issue during the Civil War (Marius vs. Sulla). At the end of 84 BC, the Marians were preparing a levy of 100,000 men, to fight against Sulla,who landed at Brundisium from the East in the Spring of 83.  For this large army about 15 million denarii were required, which matches the production of these three moneyers. 

Here's Crepusius issue - the control number on the reverse is unfortunately off the flan (behind the horseman): 

319612802_RR-CrepusiahorseJun2019(0).jpg.1bf9763a57fdc1cf32c9d4888f18ac02.jpg

Roman Republic Denarius Pub. Crepusius (82 B.C.) Rome Mint Laureate head of Apollo right, sceptre over shoulder, letter K  behind, grape bunch (?) below chin / Horseman brandishing spear right, P • CREPVSI in ex., [control-number behind]. Crawford 361/1c; Crepusia 1. (4.08 grams / 16 mm) McDaniels June 1994      $40.00  Notes:  L. CENSORINVS was moneyer with P. CREPVSIVS and M. LIMETANVS.  Pierluigi Debernardi et al. suggest this is a Marian issue during the Civil War (Marius vs. Sulla). RRC 357/1 (C. Norbanus) was probably produced in Sicily by the future consul as early as 84, to pay his troops.  The other issues by these moneyers (including Marsyas by Censorinus) would have been issued in 83 B.C., not 82 B.C. as noted by Crawford. Obverse Die Match: Tauler & Fau Subastas Auction 103; Lot 1336; 01.02.2022. Describes obv. controls as K behind sceptre and grape bunch below chin; others of the type with grape bunch control do not look like this, however.

My Norbanus, so I discovered while researching this, is an obverse die match to a specimen in the British Museum, which always gives me a numismatic thrill.  Was this minted in Sicily for the Marian troops?  I hope so:

892330773_RR-Norbanaden.Anderson1992(0xx6).jpg.bc5a5ee6ef77cf6d0270aaca107f9160.jpg

Roman Republic Denarius C. Norbanus (84-83 B.C.) (see notes)  Rome (or Sicily) Mint (notes) Diademed head of Venus right, C • NORBANVS below, CLXVIII behind / Ear of corn, fasces and caduceus. Crawford 357/1b; Norbana 2; Sydenham 739. (3.70 grams / 17 mm) J. Anderson Sum. 1992    $50.00  Notes:  L. CENSORINVS was moneyer with P. CREPVSIVS and M. LIMETANVS.  Pierluigi Debernardi et al. suggest this is a Marian issue during the Civil War (Marius vs. Sulla). RRC 357/1 (C. Norbanus) was probably produced in Sicily by the future consul as early as 84, to pay his troops.  The other issues by these moneyers (including Marsyas by Censorinus) would have been issued in 83 B.C., not 82 B.C. as noted by Crawford. Obverse Die Match (and same control number): British Museum Museum no. 1902,0206.87 Purchased from: Messrs W S Lincoln & Son Acquisition date: 1902 Department:  Coins and Medals

All three of the moneyers together in one issue.  I do not own this one, sorry to say.  Note the control number, much like the Crepusius issue.  So is that Moneta in mourning, rather than a veiled Venus?  Hmmm. 

1426788149_RRCensorinusLim.Crepusius-VirIIIjointissueCraw360-Vcoinspic.jpg.a05b2fecfd732bb58ae575059c8ab22c.jpg

(from a Lucernae Vcoin listing)

https://www.vcoins.com/fr/stores/lucernae/90/product/l_marcius_censorinus_c_mamilius_limetanus_p_crepusius_silver_denarius_rome_82_bc_venus_in_biga/1702038/Default.aspx 

Whew.  I haven't had to think that hard since high school chemistry.  In no way am I advancing the scholarship here - I am just trying to gather together some of the findings of these post-Crawford theories on the issues of this interesting time period.  Our own @Sulla80 could undoubtedly shed more light on this topic, and the historical background of these issues.  Feel free to weigh in on these topics, and please share some coins.  

Edited by Marsyas Mike
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Denarius of C Norbanus  83 BC Obv Head of Venus right In field above XVII Rv. From left to right Prow. Fasces Caduceus Ear of Corn Crawford 357/1a  3.93 grms 19 mm Photo by W Hansen357-c.jpg.9eb2ce254a6ae49d7edd2a40fafabfed.jpg

Beyond knowing that C Norbanus was a supporter of Marius I knew little more about this group of coins. @Marsyas Mike Your analysis is most interesting bring life to what would otherwise be just a parade of coins with disjointed messaging. What is interesting is that while the other moneyers when creating the images of the deities  appear to be going for the more "modern" (at the time) look Norbanus appears to be opting for the more severe traditional look for his image of Venus.  

Edited by kapphnwn
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Thanks so much for the fascinating research and write-up, @Marsyas Mike. If it's OK with you, I will incorporate your write-up into my own description of my one L. Marcius Censorinus/Marsyas example, which presently reads as follows, without any mention of the Marius connection:

Roman Republic, Lucius Marcius Censorinus, AR Denarius, 82 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo right, traces of control mark (unidentifiable) behind / Rev. The satyr Marsyas standing left, gazing upwards, raising right hand and holding wineskin over left shoulder; tall column behind him, surmounted by statue of draped figure (Minerva [RSC] or Victory [Crawford]); L. CENSOR downwards before him. Crawford 363/1d, RSC I Marcia 24, Sear RCV I 281 (ill.), BMCRR 2657. 18 mm, 3.80 g, 5 h. [The coin refers to the legend of the satyr Marsyas challenging Apollo to a flute-playing contest. As the winner, Apollo got to choose the punishment for the loser -- namely, skinning Marsyas alive. Traditionally, the gens Marcia was descended from Marsyas; hence the reference.]

image.jpeg.5d3814a889df7b08361854298dd849fe.jpeg

Do you think I'm imagining things in seeing traces of an unidentifiable control mark behind Apollo's head?

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Congratulations for the write up, @Marsyas Mike .

The L Censorinus denarius with Marsyas was one of the coins I needed to have. Most likely I saw an example in one of your posts in CT - I admit many coins on my wish list and in my collection were added on the list or in the album when seeing them on CT or here.

image.png.8d3589444722d68a1443e752aa74feb3.png

Seeing other examples posted even here makes me less thrilled about this coin, but I still like it.

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Thank you for sharing the links! I don't have this specific type, but I followed the Academia links to Alberto Campana's page and have been glancing through the many articles and book chapters he's posted to it. Very useful! I've bookmarked it in my list of numismatists with literature on their academia pages, and will surely keep going through his.

This is a very interesting period of Republican coinage to collect (similar to Imperatorial / Civil Wars coinage of the 40s; it was bad for the Romans, good for 21st century collectors).

Here are some of my roughly Sulla-Marius era (give or take) coins:

806482.jpg

Roman Republican. L. Sulla AR Denarius (3.67g, 18mm, 12h) Military mint, 83 BCE.
Obv: Head of Venus right, Cupid holding long palm.
Rev: Capis and lituus between two trophies.
Ref: Crawford 359/2; Cornelia 29.
Prov: InAsta 84 (30 Oct 2019), 114.

image.jpeg.02921c5dfb15140fa4d1bd946b1038a3.jpeg

Greek (Post-Hellenistic), Roman (Republican, Provinicial). Attica, Athens AR “New Style” Tetradrachm (29mm, 16.36 g, 12h). Struck during Roman occupation under Sulla, Proquaestor L. Licinius Lucullus, 86-84 BCE.
Obverse: Head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing single-pendant earring, necklace, and triple-crested Attic helmet decorated with the foreparts of four horses above the visor, a Griffin (?) in flight rightward above the raised earpiece, and a curvilinear ornament on the bowl.
Reverse: Owl standing right, head facing, on amphora; two monograms flanking; all within wreath.
References: Thompson 1315 (same obv. die[?]); HGC 4, 1779.
Provenance: Ex CNG Feature Auction 115, Lot 147 (17 September 2020), “From the collection of a Texas Wine Doctor”; Ex CNG Sale 51, Lot 302 (15 September 1999).

 

SULLA'S SOON-TO-BE FOE (coin was struck earlier):

image.png.dd30671321ebb6b5e5e77cb291ee59b2.png

Roman Republican. C. Marcius Censorinus AR Denarius, Rome, 88 BCE. 
Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right. 
Ref: CX (above), C•CENSORI (below). Horse galloping right. Serpent entwined staff in exergue. 
Ref:
 Crawford 346/2b; RSC Marcia 19; Sydenham 714; ANS 1947.2.85 (same dies; LINK); British Museum 1843,0116.775 (same dies; LINK)..
Prov: CSJ Internet purchase, n.d. [c. 2010-2015?]; Ex Long Island Nov 2010 (?); ANS RRDP Schaefer Binder 11 (300-399), page 358 (Die-pair 64? 4th Column, 2nd Row: This coin illustrated), 
with note, "LONG ISLAND NOV10."
Coin-in-hand video: LINK
Hist Notes: Censorinus was among the “last men standing” in Sulla's Civil War, captured after the decisive Battle of the Colline Gate (Kalends of Nov. 82). Sulla sent his severed head to the remaining Marian army, which promptly deserted Marius the Younger, who then committed suicide.

 

Does anyone know what L. Titurius Sabinus' role was, if any, in the Sulla-Marius conflict?

These coins were struck when he was moneyer c. 89 BCE, and, unlike Censorinus, he was still alive to be Legate in 75 BCE according to the British Museum.

Some important years in between... what was he getting up to? Was he Team Sulla?

Titurius-Sabinus-RRC-Denarius-Sabine-Captives-Leu-WA-20-ex-JMAL.jpg

Roman Republican. L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus AR Denarius (19mm, 3.89 g, 6 h), Rome 89 BCE.
Obv: SABIN Bare-headed and bearded head of King Titus Tatius to right; in field to right, TA.
Rev: L•TITVRI Rape of the Sabine women.
Ref: Babelon (Tituria) 1; Crawford 344/1a.
Prov: Ex Leu WA 20 (16 Jul 2022), 2263; Chaponnière & Firmenich 13 (16 May 2021), 254 (part), from the J.M.A.L. Collection (formed 1970-2000).
[If anyone knows who JMAL is, I'd love to receive a message from you!]

CONSERVATORI-Titurius-Republican-Denarius-E.png

Roman Republican. L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus AR Denarius (3.5g, 20.5mm, 3h). Rome, 89 BCE.
Obverse: SABIN. Bearded bare head of the Sabine king, Tatius right; palm frond right below chin.
Reverse: L • TITVRI. Tarpeia, hair dishevelled, facing forward, buried to her waist in shields, hands raised fending off two soldiers about to throw their shields on her; star in crescent above.
Reference: Crawford 344/2b.
Provenance: Ex-Numismática Lucernae/Antonio Hinosa Pareja (Alcala La Real, 8 Jul 2015)

Edited by Curtis JJ
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Just to avoid any possible confusion, L. Marcius Censorinus (see above) and C. Marcius Censorinus were not the same person, although they were obviously related to each other, and both belonged to the Marian faction. Here's my write-up of my one coin issued by the latter:

Roman Republic, C. Marcius Censorinus, AR Denarius, Rome 88 BCE. Obv. Jugate diademed heads, right, of kings Numa Pompilius, bearded [legendary second king of Rome], and Ancus Marcius, beardless [his grandson, the legendary fourth king of Rome], no control-mark / Rev. Desultor on horseback galloping right, wearing pileus [conical cap], with second horse at his side, holding whip with right hand and holding reins for both horses with left hand; in exergue, C•CENSO; no control-mark. Crawford 346/1i [no control-marks], RSC I Marcia 18a [no control marks], BMCR 2367 [no control-marks], see also id. 2368-2393 [various control-marks], Sydenham 713, Sear RCV I 256 [illustration has control-mark].  17 mm., 3.72 g. [Purchased from Munthandel G. Henzen, Netherlands, Feb. 2021; ex. Dutch private collection.]*

 image.jpeg.91864aa5b36e644a4748a626ab5e3daf.jpeg

*The moneyer, as was traditional for the gens Marcia, belonged to the populares faction, and was “one of the leading men of the Marian party; he was the accuser of Sulla for malversation upon his return from Asia in BC 91. He entered Rome with Marius and Cinna in BC 87, and took a leading part in the massacres which ensued.” BMCRR p. 301 n. 1. In 87, as a military tribune or prefect for Marius, he famously commanded the cavalry that attacked and killed the consul Gnaeius Octavius, and then brought his head to Marius’s ally Cinna (who then controlled Rome) before nailing it to the Rostra -- according to the historian Appian, the first time the head of a consul was displayed on the Rostra, but unfortunately not the last.  Censorinus died in 82 BCE (when he was legate, see Crawford p. 361) in the course of the final struggle against Sulla, when he was taken prisoner in the defeat at the Battle of the Colline Gate and was put to death. See id.; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcius_Censorinus ; Crawford p. 361. 

The obverse design “records the descent of the gens Marcia from Ancus Marcius [citing Plutarch, Suetonius, and Ovid] and hence also from his grandfather Numa Pompilius, a piece of genealogical fiction.” Crawford p. 361; accord BMCRR p. 301 n. 2. The reverse types on all of the denarii issued by this moneyer  “commemorate the foundation of the Ludi Apollinares, which were instituted in BC 212 in virtue of a prophecy of the soothsayer Marcius.” Id; accord Crawford p. 361.  This particular type “represents the race in which a rider (desultor) was provided with two horses, from one to the other of which he sprang during the race.” BMCRR p. 301 n. 2. See also Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for “Desultor,” at p. 94, defining the term as follows: 

“One who leaps down or dismounts, the name given to a competitor in games at Rome who, in a manner not now clearly understood, took part in a horse race using more than one horse. It may be assumed that he had to change horses at least once during the race. In a collection of myths by the Roman writer Hyginus the statement occurs that a desultor wore a pileus because his actions symbolized the alternate immortality of Castor and Pollux [i.e., as he switched from one horse to the other]. This may be true but when a rider with two horses appears on Republican coins, the type should be regarded as agonistic rather than religious.” 

At p. 361, Crawford describes 9 different subtypes of this issue, differing in whether and where control-letters, numerals, symbols, and “fractional signs” appear, i.e., on the obverse and/or the reverse. This type, with no control-mark of any kind on either side of the coin -- and it seems unlikely that any such mark would have worn off completely but left all the other major features of the design, including the whip in the rider’s hand, still clearly visible -- is the ninth subtype, denominated Crawford 345/1i.  Taking all subtypes together, there are a total of 102 obverse dies and 113 reverse dies. Id. Thus, the number of dies with no control-marks is quite scarce when compared to the total number of dies with one or more control-marks of any kind, but is no more scarce, when compared on a one-to-one basis, than the number of dies with any given individual control mark or marks.

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5 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

killed the consul Gnaeius Octavius, and then brought his head to Marius’s ally Cinna (who then controlled Rome) before nailing it to the Rostra -- according to the historian Appian, the first time the head of a consul was displayed on the Rostra, but unfortunately not the last. 

@DonnaML -- that's a very interesting detail I was unaware of, but it reframes the meaning of C. Marcius Censorinus' death after the Battle of the Colline Gate.

I had included the following detail in my hist. notes above, which I always found kind of weird, but I now see that it clearly parallels the death of Gnaieus Octavius, and delivers a sort of justice-in-kind to C. Marcius Censorinus for desecrating the body of Octavius (my emphasis below):

29 minutes ago, Curtis JJ said:

captured after the decisive Battle of the Colline Gate (Kalends of Nov. 82). Sulla sent his severed head to the remaining Marian army, which promptly deserted Marius the Younger, who then committed suicide.

Assuming I've got all those details right, that's quite a poetic ending to Censorinus and the Marians. (Of course, that may mean it is more literary than historical fact.)

Biblio: I could not find my original sources in my notes file, but this episode is described on C. Marcius Censorinus' wikipedia page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Marcius_Censorinus_(Marian)], citing, [Note 8] "AppianThe Civil Wars, 1, 93." (I don't recall if I ever double-checked Appian.)

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20 hours ago, kapphnwn said:

Denarius of C Norbanus  83 BC Obv Head of Venus right In field above XVII Rv. From left to right Prow. Stern Caduceus Ear of Corn Crawford 357/1a  3.93 grms 19 mm Photo by W Hansen357-c.jpg.9eb2ce254a6ae49d7edd2a40fafabfed.jpg

Beyond knowing that C Norbanus was a supporter of Marius I knew little more about this group of coins. @Marsyas Mike Your analysis is most interesting bring life to what would otherwise be just a parade of coins with disjointed messaging. What is interesting is that while the other moneyers when creating the images of the deities  appear to be going for the more "modern" (at the time) look Norbanus appears to be opting for the more severe traditional look for his image of Venus.  

A lovely example of the Norbanus issue with the rudder added to the reverse.  I should've included that in my original post (thought I don't have one).  The rudder perhaps reinforces the Sicily-military possibilities for this issue?  I'm assuming Roman naval forces were involved, Sicily being an island and all.  Thanks for sharing.  

 

19 hours ago, DonnaML said:

Thanks so much for the fascinating research and write-up, @Marsyas Mike. If it's OK with you, I will incorporate your write-up into my own description of my one L. Marcius Censorinus/Marsyas example, which presently reads as follows, without any mention of the Marius connection:

Roman Republic, Lucius Marcius Censorinus, AR Denarius, 82 BCE. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo right, traces of control mark (unidentifiable) behind / Rev. The satyr Marsyas standing left, gazing upwards, raising right hand and holding wineskin over left shoulder; tall column behind him, surmounted by statue of draped figure (Minerva [RSC] or Victory [Crawford]); L. CENSOR downwards before him. Crawford 363/1d, RSC I Marcia 24, Sear RCV I 281 (ill.), BMCRR 2657. 18 mm, 3.80 g, 5 h. [The coin refers to the legend of the satyr Marsyas challenging Apollo to a flute-playing contest. As the winner, Apollo got to choose the punishment for the loser -- namely, skinning Marsyas alive. Traditionally, the gens Marcia was descended from Marsyas; hence the reference.]

image.jpeg.5d3814a889df7b08361854298dd849fe.jpeg

Do you think I'm imagining things in seeing traces of an unidentifiable control mark behind Apollo's head?

Donna, I'm flattered I was able to dredge up some research you can use - as always, your attribution notes are very impressive.  As for your example, it may well have control marks - the ones I've seen online are sometimes rather faint (unlike the Crepusius issues).  Signs of Mint disarray right after the fire?  Either way, a lovely specimen - I especially like the rendering of Marsyas - very jaunty and hail-fellow-well-met.  

 

18 hours ago, Octavius said:

 A wonderful and very informative write up.

Here is a Norbanus and a Censorinus...

 

RepublicS278dr.jpg.c55c6ed3b82241f1a3b598f5f2de7ee1.jpg

875427.jpg.c6fcf8227db6853614e1556a2a25aef2.jpg

Those are both spectacular - that iridescent toning on the Censorinus is just lovely.  Your Marsyas has a kind of "diaper effect" like mine in the OP - I've seen others like this online - perhaps an especially saggy rendering of his paunch?   There was no Body Shaming in Ancient Rome.  Thanks for sharing.  

 

18 hours ago, ambr0zie said:

Congratulations for the write up, @Marsyas Mike .

The L Censorinus denarius with Marsyas was one of the coins I needed to have. Most likely I saw an example in one of your posts in CT - I admit many coins on my wish list and in my collection were added on the list or in the album when seeing them on CT or here.

image.png.8d3589444722d68a1443e752aa74feb3.png

Seeing other examples posted even here makes me less thrilled about this coin, but I still like it.

You should continue to be thrilled - I love your example.  It is better than any of mine, for one thing.  Also, I really like banker's marks and yours has a couple interesting round ones.  Furthermore, that's a great rendition of Marsyas - the artistry is just spectacular, I think.  I've looked at a lot of these and this is the kind that exhibits a kind of pathos - because Marsyas came to a bad end - skinned alive by Apollo (who cheated in a music contest)...not that I'm an art historian!  Nice coin - thanks for sharing it.  

 

17 hours ago, Curtis JJ said:

Thank you for sharing the links! I don't have this specific type, but I followed the Academia links to Alberto Campana's page and have been glancing through the many articles and book chapters he's posted to it. Very useful! I've bookmarked it in my list of numismatists with literature on their academia pages, and will surely keep going through his.

This is a very interesting period of Republican coinage to collect (similar to Imperatorial / Civil Wars coinage of the 40s; it was bad for the Romans, good for 21st century collectors).

Here are some of my roughly Sulla-Marius era (give or take) coins:

806482.jpg

Roman Republican. L. Sulla AR Denarius (3.67g, 18mm, 12h) Military mint, 83 BCE.
Obv: Head of Venus right, Cupid holding long palm.
Rev: Capis and lituus between two trophies.
Ref: Crawford 359/2; Cornelia 29.
Prov: InAsta 84 (30 Oct 2019), 114.

image.jpeg.02921c5dfb15140fa4d1bd946b1038a3.jpeg

Greek (Post-Hellenistic), Roman (Republican, Provinicial). Attica, Athens AR “New Style” Tetradrachm (29mm, 16.36 g, 12h). Struck during Roman occupation under Sulla, Proquaestor L. Licinius Lucullus, 86-84 BCE.
Obverse: Head of Athena Parthenos right, wearing single-pendant earring, necklace, and triple-crested Attic helmet decorated with the foreparts of four horses above the visor, a Griffin (?) in flight rightward above the raised earpiece, and a curvilinear ornament on the bowl.
Reverse: Owl standing right, head facing, on amphora; two monograms flanking; all within wreath.
References: Thompson 1315 (same obv. die[?]); HGC 4, 1779.
Provenance: Ex CNG Feature Auction 115, Lot 147 (17 September 2020), “From the collection of a Texas Wine Doctor”; Ex CNG Sale 51, Lot 302 (15 September 1999).

 

SULLA'S SOON-TO-BE FOE (coin was struck earlier):

image.png.dd30671321ebb6b5e5e77cb291ee59b2.png

Roman Republican. C. Marcius Censorinus AR Denarius, Rome, 88 BCE. 
Obv: Laureate head of Apollo right. 
Ref: CX (above), C•CENSORI (below). Horse galloping right. Serpent entwined staff in exergue. 
Ref:
 Crawford 346/2b; RSC Marcia 19; Sydenham 714; ANS 1947.2.85 (same dies; LINK); British Museum 1843,0116.775 (same dies; LINK)..
Prov: CSJ Internet purchase, n.d. [c. 2010-2015?]; Ex Long Island Nov 2010 (?); ANS RRDP Schaefer Binder 11 (300-399), page 358 (Die-pair 64? 4th Column, 2nd Row: This coin illustrated), 
with note, "LONG ISLAND NOV10."
Coin-in-hand video: LINK
Hist Notes: Censorinus was among the “last men standing” in Sulla's Civil War, captured after the decisive Battle of the Colline Gate (Kalends of Nov. 82). Sulla sent his severed head to the remaining Marian army, which promptly deserted Marius the Younger, who then committed suicide.

 

Does anyone know what L. Titurius Sabinus' role was, if any, in the Sulla-Marius conflict?

These coins were struck when he was moneyer c. 89 BCE, and, unlike Censorinus, he was still alive to be Legate in 75 BCE according to the British Museum.

Some important years in between... what was he getting up to? Was he Team Sulla?

Titurius-Sabinus-RRC-Denarius-Sabine-Captives-Leu-WA-20-ex-JMAL.jpg

Roman Republican. L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus AR Denarius (19mm, 3.89 g, 6 h), Rome 89 BCE.
Obv: SABIN Bare-headed and bearded head of King Titus Tatius to right; in field to right, TA.
Rev: L•TITVRI Rape of the Sabine women.
Ref: Babelon (Tituria) 1; Crawford 344/1a.
Prov: Ex Leu WA 20 (16 Jul 2022), 2263; Chaponnière & Firmenich 13 (16 May 2021), 254 (part), from the J.M.A.L. Collection (formed 1970-2000).
[If anyone knows who JMAL is, I'd love to receive a message from you!]

CONSERVATORI-Titurius-Republican-Denarius-E.png

Roman Republican. L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus AR Denarius (3.5g, 20.5mm, 3h). Rome, 89 BCE.
Obverse: SABIN. Bearded bare head of the Sabine king, Tatius right; palm frond right below chin.
Reverse: L • TITVRI. Tarpeia, hair dishevelled, facing forward, buried to her waist in shields, hands raised fending off two soldiers about to throw their shields on her; star in crescent above.
Reference: Crawford 344/2b.
Provenance: Ex-Numismática Lucernae/Antonio Hinosa Pareja (Alcala La Real, 8 Jul 2015)

Wow.  What a great lineup here.  I'm embarrassed to admit that I was not aware of the "other" Censorinus issue with the horse - now I want one!  That Sulla Military Mint example is spectacular - again, I was not aware of that issue.  As for the Sabinus question, I don't know - actually a whole rundown of coins with Sulla-Marius connections would make a nice little book.  Somebody should get on this.  Hint hint 😁

17 hours ago, DonnaML said:

Just to avoid any possible confusion, L. Marcius Censorinus (see above) and C. Marcius Censorinus were not the same person, although they were obviously related to each other, and both belonged to the Marian faction. Here's my write-up of my one coin issued by the latter:

Roman Republic, C. Marcius Censorinus, AR Denarius, Rome 88 BCE. Obv. Jugate diademed heads, right, of kings Numa Pompilius, bearded [legendary second king of Rome], and Ancus Marcius, beardless [his grandson, the legendary fourth king of Rome], no control-mark / Rev. Desultor on horseback galloping right, wearing pileus [conical cap], with second horse at his side, holding whip with right hand and holding reins for both horses with left hand; in exergue, C•CENSO; no control-mark. Crawford 346/1i [no control-marks], RSC I Marcia 18a [no control marks], BMCR 2367 [no control-marks], see also id. 2368-2393 [various control-marks], Sydenham 713, Sear RCV I 256 [illustration has control-mark].  17 mm., 3.72 g. [Purchased from Munthandel G. Henzen, Netherlands, Feb. 2021; ex. Dutch private collection.]*

 image.jpeg.91864aa5b36e644a4748a626ab5e3daf.jpeg

*The moneyer, as was traditional for the gens Marcia, belonged to the populares faction, and was “one of the leading men of the Marian party; he was the accuser of Sulla for malversation upon his return from Asia in BC 91. He entered Rome with Marius and Cinna in BC 87, and took a leading part in the massacres which ensued.” BMCRR p. 301 n. 1. In 87, as a military tribune or prefect for Marius, he famously commanded the cavalry that attacked and killed the consul Gnaeius Octavius, and then brought his head to Marius’s ally Cinna (who then controlled Rome) before nailing it to the Rostra -- according to the historian Appian, the first time the head of a consul was displayed on the Rostra, but unfortunately not the last.  Censorinus died in 82 BCE (when he was legate, see Crawford p. 361) in the course of the final struggle against Sulla, when he was taken prisoner in the defeat at the Battle of the Colline Gate and was put to death. See id.; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcius_Censorinus ; Crawford p. 361. 

The obverse design “records the descent of the gens Marcia from Ancus Marcius [citing Plutarch, Suetonius, and Ovid] and hence also from his grandfather Numa Pompilius, a piece of genealogical fiction.” Crawford p. 361; accord BMCRR p. 301 n. 2. The reverse types on all of the denarii issued by this moneyer  “commemorate the foundation of the Ludi Apollinares, which were instituted in BC 212 in virtue of a prophecy of the soothsayer Marcius.” Id; accord Crawford p. 361.  This particular type “represents the race in which a rider (desultor) was provided with two horses, from one to the other of which he sprang during the race.” BMCRR p. 301 n. 2. See also Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for “Desultor,” at p. 94, defining the term as follows: 

“One who leaps down or dismounts, the name given to a competitor in games at Rome who, in a manner not now clearly understood, took part in a horse race using more than one horse. It may be assumed that he had to change horses at least once during the race. In a collection of myths by the Roman writer Hyginus the statement occurs that a desultor wore a pileus because his actions symbolized the alternate immortality of Castor and Pollux [i.e., as he switched from one horse to the other]. This may be true but when a rider with two horses appears on Republican coins, the type should be regarded as agonistic rather than religious.” 

At p. 361, Crawford describes 9 different subtypes of this issue, differing in whether and where control-letters, numerals, symbols, and “fractional signs” appear, i.e., on the obverse and/or the reverse. This type, with no control-mark of any kind on either side of the coin -- and it seems unlikely that any such mark would have worn off completely but left all the other major features of the design, including the whip in the rider’s hand, still clearly visible -- is the ninth subtype, denominated Crawford 345/1i.  Taking all subtypes together, there are a total of 102 obverse dies and 113 reverse dies. Id. Thus, the number of dies with no control-marks is quite scarce when compared to the total number of dies with one or more control-marks of any kind, but is no more scarce, when compared on a one-to-one basis, than the number of dies with any given individual control mark or marks.

Yet another Censorinus type?  My mind boggles.  Again, I think I need one of these... Thanks for sharing, and for the clarifications, @DonnaML - as always, your research is admirable and very helpful.  

11 hours ago, Nerosmyfavorite68 said:

la_republik_3.jpg.585a695817bb9abaddb0dd6344c0af6b.jpg

C. Norbanus fourreé Denarius (plated), ca. 83 BC, Rome.
Obv: C NORBANVS, control number LXXXV to left, diademed head of Venus right.
Rev: Corn ear, fasces and caduceus reverse.
18-20 mm, 3.16 g
Syd. 739

 

I find the thread very interesting!  Here's my favorite fourree.

Are you sure that's a fourree?  It is a tad light for these, but it seems possible (from the photos) that it might just be a bit porous or crystallized, which will reduce weight in a silver coin.  Whatever it is, it is still a fine-looking specimen.  I did a quick search for your LXXXV control number and came up with nothing.  You might pursue this further - I thought my example posted above looked a bit suspicious, but while researching this stuff, I came across a British Museum link, which put my mind at ease somewhat (mine is on top - obverse die match only): 

1870498904_Norbana2-VenusandcornearfascesandcaducesuCrawford357_1b-MINEBMpic(1).jpg.08b8a5e383fddb427f69eb3b9e73c2ea.jpg

If you can find a die-match to your, it might demonstrate that it is not a fourree?  I know there's some debate on the "officialness" of fourree, but a die-match is always a good thing.  Thanks for sharing!  

 

 

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