Marsyas Mike Posted August 17, 2022 · Member Share Posted August 17, 2022 (edited) 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 😆: 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): 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: 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. (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 August 18, 2022 by Marsyas Mike Slight tweak to description. 18 1 1 1 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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