Auction offers silver denarius struck by mobile military mint

Classical Numismatic Group sale highlights piece honoring Julius Caesar's assassin
By , Coin World
Published : 12/19/16
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The assassination of Julius Caesar in ancient Rome spawned a crisis with lasting results, one that includes coinage. A silver denarius struck during late summer to autumn in 42 B.C., by a traveling military mint in western Asia Minor or northern Greece, is offered in Classical Numismatic Group’s Jan. 10 and 11 Triton XX auction in New York City. 

The man responsible for Caesar’s assassination, Brutus, and co-conspirator Gaius Cassius Longinus occupied Rome, but fled when a funeral oration delivered by Caesar’s protege, Mark Antony, turned public opinion against them. Brutus and Cassius went their separate ways, but met again in early 42 B.C. in Smyrna, Ionia, where they began preparations for the inevitable conflict to ensue between them and Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar’s grandnephew. 

They began using their armies to conquer cities, but armies required pay, and this coin was “undoubtedly struck” to pay those soldiers, according to the auction house. 

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The obverse shows Neptune, the Roman god of the sea; Victory is depicted on the reverse, which also bears the name of Brutus and an inscription of propaganda. “The title IMP on the reverse shows that Brutus still styled himself the savior of the Republic, as that was a title only the Senate can award, and the Victory breaking the royal symbols of diadem and scepter is a clear allusion to their anticipated victory over the forces of tyranny,” according to the auction house, which said the coin is “superb Extremely Fine, attractively toned, [with a] minor spot of deposit below wreath tie on reverse.” 

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