Featured A Brutus a day, keeps the tyrant away

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Limes, Aug 3, 2020.

  1. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter


    By the year 44 BC, Julius Caesar had shown an increased inclination towards royal power. This was much to the concern of several senators that belonged to the Optimates faction in the Senate. After - according to Suetonius - several fateful acts, the “Liberators” decided to step up their game and assassinate Caesar on the Ides of March, in the Senate house.

    Without a doubt Brutus and his fellow conspirators (also called the tyrannicides) thought they were doing the Roman people a great favor by murdering the would-be-king. However, the populace - also incited by Anthony’s funeral speech - thought differently and after a funeral pire seeked out Brutus and Cassius to avenge Caesar’s murder. Both left the city and Brutus fled to Greece. To prepare for the inevitable war with the heirs of Caesar, Brutus pillaged his way through Greece, Thrace and Asia Minor, looting treasure to pay for his growing army. Brutus and Cassius’ armies met with the armies of Octavian and Anthony near Philippi, in Thrace, in 42 BC. Whereas the the first battle on October 3 resulted in a victory of the army Brutus over the forces of Octavian and Anthony, the second battle on October 23 resulted in utter defeat and subsequently Brutus committed suicide.

    Not only did I purchase (more correct: ‘win’ in auction) this coin, I also purchased a book on Roman Civil Wars, based on the work of the Greek-Roman historian, Appian. This book, ‘The Civil Wars, 133 - 35 BC’, translated by John Nagelkerken, is in Dutch (easy reading, finally!) and treats the five books about the Roman civil wars that was part of Appians’ bigger work: Rhomaike Historia (Historia Romana). This books gives in great detail insight in the aftermath of the murder of Caesar. Almost everybody knows in general, what happend after the murder of Caesar with Brutus, Cassius, and Mark Antony. But the details that this book gives it’s reader, about the period 44 BC - 35 BC, such as the troubles between Octavian and Mark Antony and the wars between Brutus and several cities in the East, are absolutely enriching and shed light on this underexposed but nevertheless very interesting troubled episode in Roman history.

    Anyway, about the coin. It is struck 43 - 42 BC, a year or two after the murder of Caesar. It is part of of a series of coins struck by Brutus in the East and this particular coin was struck in western Asia or northern Greece (Thrace). Now, raising and supporting an army is very expensive. And while the newly formed - and ratified by the Senate - triumvirate solved this issue by murdering about 300 senators and 2000 knights and confiscating their belongings, Brutus and Cassius had their own methods, which were not all that better to say the least. Rampaging their way towards the east, the tyrannicides turned their greedy and needy eyes to the city of of Xhanthus in Lycia, and the island of Rhodos. On his way towards Lycia, Brutus got a stroke of luck in Thrace when Polemokratia, the wife of one the princes, met him with a large sum of treasure belonging to her late husband. Polemokratia begged Brutus for the safety of her child, as the prince was murdered by ‘opponents’. Brutus had the boy raised by the inhabitants of Cyzicus until the time would come for the boy to rule the kingdom. Among the treasure offered by Polemokratia, Brutus found a large amount of silver and gold which he had converted into coins for his soldiers.

    Perhaps the silver of my coin came from the silver offered by Polemokratia. Or it was struck from the silver gained in tribute in Asia by Apuleius. Or maybe it is part of the spoils of the other cities extorted and/or destroyed by Brutus. I don’t know. The fact is that this little coin is part of a history I am beginning to discover more in detail, and it is fascinating!

    Show me your coins of Brutus, or the other tyrannicides, or any other fascinating round piece of history!
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Great coin and thanks for the write-up. Pondering over the origin of metal in coins is always interesting. Were those numerous third century antoniniani struck from old melted down republican and earlier imperial coins? What about gold in the solidi and nomismas that were struck for almost 1,000 years?
    Limes likes this.
  4. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Limes, the coins of this period are all amazing artifacts, congratulations on your purchase! I am always pleased to have an excuse to share this coin from 54 BC, 10 years before the Ides of March. Brutus was not shy about his family history: tyrrannicides on both his mother's and father's side saved the republic from monarchy.
    Brutus Ahala Bearded.jpg
    Roman Republican, M. Junius Brutus, 54 BC.
    AR Denarius, Rome, struck 54 BC
    Obv: Bearded and bare-headed head right of L. Junius Brutus; BRVTVS.
    Rev: Bearded and bare-headed head right of Caius Servilius Ahala; AHALA
    Size: 3.96g, 17-19mm
    Ref: Crawford 433/2; Junia 30

    This coins links to founding of the Roman Republic. The obverse portrait of Lucius Junius Brutus, tells the story of the overthrowing of the monarchy in 509 BC. This Brutus of 509, nephew to Rome's seventh king, Tarquinius Superbus, and grandson to Rome's 5th king, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, led the revolt that banished the king and his family. He was then elected as one of the first two consuls of the new republic. M. Junius Brutus, in 54 BC claimed the earlier Brutus as his ancestor.

    The reverse of this coin shows another ancestor of M. Junius Brutus, Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala, who in 439 murdered Spurius Maelius for plotting to make himself king. M. Junius Brutus, was the descendant of both of these heroes of the republic. A decade later, in 44 BC, he would be the leader of the conspirators who killed Julius Caesar on the Ides of March. At the time, 54 BC, the coin was perhaps only a celebration of liberty, freedom from tyranny, the founding of the republic, and Brutus’ ancestors.
    El Cazador, Nemo, Egry and 19 others like this.
  5. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the replies. Just two, but there must be more coins of Brutus of the members of this board, right?

    That coin is a beauty, and high on my wantlist! (Although I don't think such an amazing quality is within my reach.)
    It's interesting to note that Brutus struck coins on two occassions, so to say. First, as moneyer, in 54 BC. Both types he struck bearing the family name Brutus, allude to his famous and patriotic, freedom-loving family. The first type, shown below, shows the first consult, L Junius Brutus, who expelled the last King of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, in 509 BC. Your coin is the other type, which shows the portrait of the famous first consul (accurate, or not...).
    The second occassion is when he was in the East and struck coins for his soldiers, preparing for the inevitable battle with Marcus Antonius. It is these coins, that also show his portrait. Some conclude that this act, one which he duisgusted when Caesar struck coins bearing his portrait, shows that Brutus too aspired dictatorship for life in the fashion of Caesar. I've read another interesting theory though, which makes more sense: in order to let the populace and his soldiers not forget the republican cause of liberty and freedom from tyranny, Brutus, the leader of the tyrannicides, struck these coins as countermeasure to the large amount of coins that the Caesarians struck bearing their portraits.
    Whatever the case may be, interestingly, at the time of Caesar in Rome when it became clear Caesar showed King-like behaviour, opponents of Caesar appealed to the ancestry of Brutus. Writings were places on the statue of L Junius Brutus and on the walls of the court of M Brutus saying "Brutus, are you bribed?" "Brutus, are you dead?" "Thou should'st be living at this hour!" "Your posterity is unworthy of you," or "You are not his descendant," (Appian, book II, 112). Appian questions the decisive motive of Brutus, but states that these references to his famous past must have ignited the fire to kill the dictator Caesar.
    One can feel sympathy for Brutus of course. It was clear at that time that Caesar could not be removed without force from his position and the chances of him renouncing his position were zero, as he was preparing his army to invade Parthia. However, I do believe another force was at stake, namely the struggle between the 'old elite' and the populist Caesarians. Of course the old elite were keen on keeping their old, powerfull positions. In that case, perhaps the murder of Caesar is little different from the murder of the Gracci Brothers, about 80 years earlier. Except that this time, the Optimates were not the victorious party, also because they clearly underestimated the power of the military loyal to Caesar (and Mark Antony). Yes, there's nothing romantic about a gold old fashion assassination and political violence.


    History leaves some traces of where and under what circumstances a coin was struck. I find this very appealing, because it makes history come more alive. In this case, my coin can be traced to a location, roughly, and period, and circumstances. The are of course rare medallions or decadrachms that can be pinpointed to a ceremony that once took place. I know of another amazing example of a coin that can be accurately traced back: the golden coin in the Colosseo collection, made from a golden statue of Nike, on the Acropolis in Athens.
    Egry, octavius, TIF and 9 others like this.
  6. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Wow, @Limes , completely missed this thread! Great snare on your Brutus coin, and thank you for the write-up.


    This is my write-up from several years ago...

    Rome had been ruled by Kings traditionally since 753 BCE. However, her last King, after many offenses and excesses at the expense of the Roman people... Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was deposed in 509 BCE. The Monarchy was replaced by a Republic.

    Instrumental in the overthrow of the monarchy, one of the first two Consuls of Rome in 509BCE, was Lucius Junius Brutus. He was consul with Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus and later Publius Valerius Publicola. According to Livy, one of Brutus' first acts as a Consul was to have the Roman citizens swear an oath to never allow a King of Rome. Even when his own two sons were caught in a conspiracy to restore the monarchy, under orders of the Consuls, he stoically witnessed their execution... Tough love...

    Later, in 439 BCE Republican Rome was gripped in a severe famine; people starving, suffering abounded. Enter Spurius Maelius, a wealthy Plebeian, who saw an opportunity to seize Rome... He purchased a large amount of wheat to distribute - at a low price - to the starving people of Rome. However, his ulterior motive was to foster support to usurp the fledgling Republic and proclaim himself Rex (King). A hated word in Roman vocabulary! The cry of the people arose and Maelius was to appear before the aging Cincinnatus, (the elected Dictator during this crisis.) Enter Gaius Servilius Ahala, Magister Equitum (Master of the Horse). Maelius refused to appear, and was hunted down and killed by Ahala. Ahala then razed his home to the ground and distributed the withheld wheat to the starving people.

    Fast forward to 54 BCE: Long descendant of the two early Republic Heroes, Marcius Junius Brutus, (also known as Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus), new to politics at 31 years old, enters the membership of the vigintisexvirate (the three Moneyers authorized to mint coinage). This was the first step on the cursus honorum - the road to political office in the Republic. Because of his deep-rooted love for the Res Publica, he honors his ancestral heritage by placing the busts of both great family forefathers, Brutus and Ahala, on the obverse and reverse of the denarius issue of 54BCE.

    You all know the rest of the story as Senator Brutus, who on the Idus Martiae, 15-Mar-44 BCE, delivered the killing blow to the Tyrant Gaius Iulius Caesar, usurper of the Res Publica...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Roman Republic
    54 BCE
    AR Denarius,
    18.3mm, 3.7g
    Moneyer: Marcus Iunius Brutus (aka Quintus Servillius Caepio Brutus)
    Obv: Bare hd of L. Iunius Brutus (Consul 509 BCE), Bearded r, BRVTVS behind
    Rev: Bare hd of C. Servilius Ahala (Master of the Horse 439 BCE), bearded r, AHALA behind
    Ref: Sear 398, Crawford 433/2, from collection W. Esty CKXSUB 613

    My camera captures ALL details, and this coin looks VERY good in hand...the scratches are virtually non-existent to these tired eyes.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2020
    Nemo, svessien, Egry and 8 others like this.
  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Here is his Buddy, another Defender of the Republic!


    Roman Republic (not this Imperatorial description "schtuff", They represented the REPUBLIC ! )
    Proconsul and Imperator
    AR silver Denarius.
    Struck circa 42 BC, at a mobile military mint moving with Brutus & Cassius, probably located in Smyrna.
    C CASSI IMP LEIBERTAS, veiled & draped bust of Libertas right.
    Rev: - LENTVLVS SPINT, jug & lituus.
    18mm, 3.3g.
    Craw 550-5, Sydenham 1305. Sear, Imperators 223. Cohen 6 (4 Fr.)
    Ex: Incitis
    Nemo, octavius, TIF and 7 others like this.
  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Nice one, @Limes. I’d like a 43-42 BC Brutus some day too.

    AR Denarius (holed). 3.58g, 20.8mm. Rome mint, 54 BC. M. Junius Brutus, moneyer. Crawford 433/1; Sydenham 906. O: Head of Libertas right; LIBERTAS behind. R: The consul L. Junius Brutus walking left between two lictors, each carrying fasces over shoulder, preceded by an accensus; BRVTVS in exergue.
    Ex Michael Kelly Collection
    Nemo, svessien, octavius and 8 others like this.
  9. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Oh, and here is my SLAVEI


    AR Denarius
    AR Brutus EID MAR by Slavei
    ex FSR 103
    TIF, singig, Ryro and 2 others like this.
  10. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Yeah, yours is a KILLER example! Nice find!
    Sulla80 likes this.
  11. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Q. Servilius Caepio (M. Junius) Brutus AR Denarius.

    Q. Servilius Caepio (M. Junius) Brutus AR Denarius. Rome, 54 BC. Bust of Libertas right; LIBERTAS downward behind / Consul L. Junius Brutus, between two lictors, preceded by accensus, all walking left; BRVTVS in exergue. Crawford 433/1

    This piece was struck by Brutus when he held the post of moneyer, ten years before the assassination of Julius Caesar. The type, while illustrating his strong republican views, is also a record of his ancestry. It recalls the legendary expulsion of the Tarquins from Rome in 509 BC by L. Junius Brutus, who was consul in that year. At this time Brutus was known as Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, on account of his having been adopted by his uncle, Quintus Servilius Caepio. He later reverted to his birth name, though following Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, Brutus revived his adoptive name in order to illustrate his links to another famous tyrannicide, Gaius Servilius Ahala, from whom he was also descended.
    El Cazador, Nemo, svessien and 9 others like this.
  12. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Great write up @Alegandron, and ditto coins! And since i'm about 200k short of a genuine eid-mar, perhaps a slavei imitation will do too? :)

    And the toning on your coin looks fantastic, @zumbly! The holes are merely a very small distraction.
    zumbly and Alegandron like this.
  13. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Thank you very much. Albeit, I feel $200k is ridiculous for this non-Rare coin, it would be cool to have. Hence, me snaring a Slavei... just to have it!

    (The Slavei goes against my normal collecting habits... but, well, it is still kinda cool.)
    Limes likes this.
  14. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

    I have a broken one :
    Marcus Junius Brutus Denarius. 54 BC. Junia 31
    LIBERTAS, Head of Liberty right / Consul L Junius Brutus, between two lictors, preceeded by accensus, all walking left, BRVTVS in ex.
    octavius, TIF, Johndakerftw and 3 others like this.
  15. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    this lot has a coin for Brutus from the mint traveling with him 43-42 B.C. , struck during Liberators' Civil War.

    Nemo, Sulla80, Herodotus and 7 others like this.
  16. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    Dime a dozen... I used them on the knobs of my coin cabinet..:woot:

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  17. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    Did you win that lot @Victor_Clark ?

    I was an underbidder on it; primarily for Messieurs Casca et Brutus.
    Clavdivs likes this.
  18. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    Yes, I won it...sorry to have to bid against forum members though. The Brutus was definitely the star of the group, though several others are interesting. For those not familiar with the Brutus coin the obverse is Poseidon with a legend of CASCA LONGVS. Poseidon refers to the naval victory over Rhodes and P. Servilius Casca Longus was the first of the group to stab Julius Caesar on the Ides of March.
  19. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    Congrats. I thought I might get lucky and it (being a little obscured) would go under the radar. Apparently, at least a couple of others also spotted it.

    I placed a proxy bid a month ago when I discovered it. I also took it up a little more just before it was set to close after my initial pre-bid was surpassed, but alas it got a little too rich for my blood at closing time.

    Happy to see that another forum member snagged it.

    There are a couple of other decent coins in the lot too.

    While Brutus is known as one of the most famous betrayers in human historical record, the lesser known Longus, being the one to strike the first blow against Julius Caesar, makes the coin a neat one to state the least.

    I wonder if it might clean up some?
  20. Victor_Clark

    Victor_Clark standing on the shoulders of giants Dealer

    I am hoping that it will clean up quite a bit, but until I have the coin in hand, I will reserve judgement...but I am looking forward to seeing it.
    Herodotus likes this.
  21. Egry

    Egry Supporter! Supporter

    Not the infamous Brutus but one none the less, possibly the lesser known of the Brutus assassins.

    D. Iunius Brutus Albinus.

    Silver Denarius, mint of Rome, 48 BC.

    Obverse: PIETAS, head of Pietas right.
    Reverse: ALBINVS BRVTI• F, two hands clasped around winged caduceus.

    45526459-BE45-4453-B153-4816B1C02BFD.jpeg BA9F13F1-D2B5-456F-A183-1F07B9E12B22.jpeg
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