The two denarii struck by him in 81 BC, during a time when Sulla permitted his generals to produce their own money, are full of fascinating political references to this troubled period in Roman history. Both bear a bust of Pietas (embodying “loyalty,” “devotion,” or “filial piety”) on the obverse, identified by her symbolic animal, the stork. This is a reference to the moneyer’s cognomen “Pius,” which had been awarded to him for his repeated attempts to have his father, the war hero Metellus Numidicus (c. 160–91 BC), recalled from exile. Metellus Numidicus had been a staunch Optimate himself and was exiled from Rome on behalf of Marius and the plebeian political faction of the Populares. By emphasizing his filial loyalty to his (already deceased) father on his coins, Metellus Pius therefore made a clear statement on where he stood in the political conflicts of his time. Roman Republic, imperatorial issue of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, AR denarius, 81 BC, Northern Italian mint. Obv: diademed head of Pietas r.; to right, stork standing r. Rev: Q C M P I; elephant standing l., wearing bell around neck. 17mm, 3.55g. Ref: RRC 374/1. Ex JB collection; ex AMCC 2, lot 105 (their picture). The first coin shows an elephant on the reverse. According to Sutherland’s “Roman Coins,” the elephant at that time already constitutes a sort of ‘family badge’ of the Metelli, referring to the deeds of their ancestor L. Caecilius Metellus, who in 250 BC captured Hasdrubal’s elephants at Panormus. It is also present on different other coins struck by moneyers of the Metelli family (RRC 262, 263, 269). Also note that Metellus gives his initials as “QCMPI” for Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Imperator, the “I” for imperator expressing the military command bestowed to him by none other than Sulla. The obverse of the second denarius is identical to that of the first coin, but its reverse is a bit more complicated: Roman Republic, imperatorial issue of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, AR denarius, 81 BC, Northern Italian mint. Obv: diademed head of Pietas r.; to r., stork standing r. Rev: IMPER; jug and lituus; in laurel wreath. Ref: RRC 374/2. 19mm, 3.90g. Ex Artemide, e-auction 12, lot 271. The jug and lituus shown here usually refer to the augurial office. Yet, Metellus Pius isn’t otherwise attested to have been an augur, and the reverse furthermore copies from a contemporary type issued by Sulla himself (RRC 359). Though the jug and lituus could refer to an augurship of Sulla or one of his ancestors, Crawford prefers an alternative explanation. He argues that “they were regarded by Sulla as symbolising a claim to imperium; it was apparently necessary [...[ for Augurs to be present to attest the passing of the Lex Curiata conferring a magistrate's powers on him [...]; Sulla's Lex Curiata presumably lapsed when he was declared a hostis [...] and he could reasonably attach some importance to the claim that his declaration as a hostis was invalid and his Lex Curiata consequently still valid.” (RRC, p. 374). If we accept this interpretation, the adoption of Sulla’s jug-and-lituus reverse by Metellus Pius makes a lot of sense: together with the laurel wreath and the legend IMPER for imperator or imperium, it might have expressed a political statement of allegiance along the lines of “the victorious Sulla is rightfully in command.” Please show your coins with connections to Sulla, the Metelli, or the Civil Wars!