Are there any RR coins struck in the name of Marcus Tullius Cicero?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by cmezner, Oct 25, 2021.

  1. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    Cicero, a former Consul, the great orator, some of his speeches (e.g. Verrines) that have been preserved show his captivating eloquence, his energy and conciseness; called Pater Patriae for his speeches against Catilina (particularly his third Oration on December 3, 63 BC was greatly acclaimed by the popular assembly). By the way, he was put with Verres on the same proscription list of Marcus Antonius: Verres the defendant and Cicero the prosecutor.

    Found on wildwinds two of his son, also called Marcus Tullius Cicero, which seem to be quite rare:

    Just wondering if there are any struck in Cicero’s name? I mean the father, not the son
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  3. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    The only ones I know of are these. They are cistophorii minted at Laodikeia and they can be found in this book by William Metcalf
    They are listed in this book as numbers 557 and 558 through to 561. 557 is known by a single specimen in Berlin and has the legend M TVLLIVS MF CICIIRON PROCOS. 558 to 561 are known by perhaps 4 specimens one of which is in the ANS and illustrated below 1967.144.1.obv.width350.jpg
    Metcalf 561 Ar Cistophorus M. TVLLIVS IMP 11.38 grm It must be noted that THIS IS NOT MY COIN
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  4. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    Thank you very much for your info. Being Cicero such a famous man, it is remarkable that there are so few specimens in his name.
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    It's not really remarkable that there were no Roman Republican coins in his name, for the simple reason that he never served in the office of moneyer. However, his son-in-law (Tullia's husband) did issue a very well-known type:

    [References to Cicero in boldface]

    Roman Republic, C. [Caius/Gaius] Calpurnius Piso L.f. [son of Lucius] Frugi [son-in-law of Cicero, married to Cicero's daughter Tullia], AR Denarius, 67-59 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Laureate head of Apollo right in high relief, hair long and in ringlets; behind, control symbol ɸ (Greek letter phi) (Crawford obverse die 32; Hersh 1976* obverse die O-33) / Rev. Naked horseman galloping right wearing shaped conical cap, holding reins but carrying no palm branch or other object; above, control symbol sword [Crawford] or knife [Hersh 1976] with curved blade [Crawford reverse die 43, Hersh 1976 reverse die R-1038]; beneath horse, C• PISO• L• F• FRVG [with VG blurred on die]. Crawford 408/1a [Apollo laureate rather than wearing fillet]; BMCRR Rome 3774 [this die combination]; Hersh 1976 at p. 32, Corpus No. 89 [this die combination]; RSC I Calpurnia 24j [Apollo laureate/horseman wearing conical cap & carrying no palm branch or other object]; Harlan, Michael, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins 63 BCE - 49 BCE (2d ed. 2015) (“Harlan RRM II”), Ch. 7 at pp. 54-59; Sear RCV I 348; Sydenham 846. 18 mm., 3.86 g. 6 h. [Double die-match to Ira & Larry Goldberg Auction 80, Lot 3048, 03.06.2014 (see, previously sold by LHS Numismatik AG, Auction 100, Lot 398, 23/04/2007. ]**

    Piso Frugi (C. PISO L. F. FRVG) jpg version.jpg

    * Hersh, Charles A., “A Study of the Coinage of the Moneyer C. Calpurnius Piso L.f. Frugi,” The Numismatic Chronicle, Seventh Series, Vol. 16 at pp. 7-63 (1976). See

    **The basic design of this type -- the head of Apollo on the obverse, and a naked horseman racing on the reverse, with nearly 500 known different die combinations and configurations of control symbols, objects held by the horseman, etc. -- is the same as the design of the massive issue of the moneyer’s father Lucius, dating to 90 BCE (Crawford 340/1), with more than 1,000 known die combinations, issued to aid in funding the Social War. Both issues “recall the Ludi Apollinares [the annual games held in honor of Apollo], converted into a permanent festival as a result of the proposal of C. Calpurnius Piso, [urban] Pr[aetor] [in] 211,” an ancestor of our father-and-son moneyers. See Crawford Vol. I p. 344; see also Hersh 1976 p. 8 (the design of Crawford 408 is a “direct reference” to the annual Ludi Apollinares proposed by the moneyer’s ancestor); Harlan RRM II at p. 56 (explaining that the Ludi Apollinares were made permanent in the same year, 211, in which Hannibal broke off his assault on Rome without ever joining battle, an outcome ascribed to Apollo’s divine intervention)..

    Varying dates for the son’s issue (Crawford 408/1a-1b), according to different authorities, include the following:

    67 BCE (Crawford, RSC I, RBW Collection, Sear RCV I [but see Sear RCV I at p. 138, citing Crawford’s date but noting the “hoard evidence which would seem to indicate a period of issue closer to 60 BC”]);

    64 BCE (BMCRR);

    63 BCE (Hersh 1976 at p. 8);

    61 BCE (Charles Hersh and Alan Walker, “The Mesagne Hoard,” Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), 1984, Vol. 29 pp. 103-134 (1984) [“Hersh & Walker 1984”], at Table 2, No. 27);

    59 BCE (Harlan RRM II at Ch. 7 p. 57).

    The different theories over the years for the date of this issue have been based primarily on various known events in the life of the moneyer (“Caius”) -- including the basic premise that Caius must have been moneyer prior to his appointment as quaestor in 58 BCE and his death in 57 BCE -- and in the life of his father-in-law Cicero, as well as on stylistic evidence and, perhaps most persuasively, on hoard evidence.

    For example, Crawford’s proposed date of 67 BCE was the year when
    Caius’s relative Gaius Calpurnius Piso was consul and when Caius himself -- born either in 89 BCE (Harlan RRM II p. 57) or 87 BCE (Hersh 1976 p. 8) -- was betrothed to Cicero’s only daughter Tullia, then 9 years old. (See Harlan RRM II p. 54, quoting Cicero’s letter to Atticus from late 67 BCE: “We have betrothed little Tullia to [C]aius Piso Frugi, son of Lucius.”)

    But Harlan argues that Caius was far too young in 67 BCE, at only 22 or 20, to serve as a mint magistrate. And Hersh 1976’s comprehensive die study points out (at p. 8) that Caius and Tullia “were married in 63 BC, when Cicero was consul,” and, therefore, proposes that Caius “probably was a moneyer during 63 BC,” during Cicero’s consulship.

    However, perhaps most persuasively, Hersh & Walker 1984 dates the issue based on the evidence of the Mesagne Hoard of 5,940 denarii, which was discovered in 1979/1980, and buried ca. 58 BCE (see p. 103). The hoard contained 198 coins of Caius (id. p. 112), in the top five of all the issues in the hoard, right behind the 199 coins from the still-circulating issue of his father Lucius (id. pp. 108-109). Crucially, " In the Mesagne hoard the coins of [Caius] . . . were in almost mint condition, where not marred by corrosion during burial,” unlike the heavily-circulated coins from older issues. Therefore, “[Caius], who was Cicero's son-in-law, must have been a moneyer in ca. 60 B.C.,” given that “he died in 57 B.C., after his term as quaestor in 58 B.C. had been completed.” (Id. p. 133.) Thus, in the article’s chart of assigned dates based on the Mesagne Hoard, Hersh & Walker settle on 61 BCE as the date for the issue. (See id. Table 2, No.27.) Harlan theorizes, however, that Caius’s “most immediate need to remind the voters of his family traditions” -- i.e., by issuing coins with the same basic design as the huge and still-circulating issue of his father Lucius from 90 BCE -- “came just prior to his election as quaestor for 58, and I, therefore, date the coin to 59.” Harlan RRM II at p. 57.

    Harlan’s date has not been adopted by other authorities, so far as I know. Surprisingly, even Hersh & Walker’s well-supported date of 61 BCE, proposed almost 40 years ago, has been ignored by more dealers than have followed it. Instead, Crawford’s 67 BCE date continues to be widely used. Even the highly-regarded RBW Collection catalog, published in 2014, uses 67 BCE as the date for the 23 coins of C. Calpurnius Piso L.f. Frugi it includes -- not mentioning the 61 BCE date in Hersh & Walker 1984, or even the 63 BCE date proposed in Hersh 1976, despite citing and relying upon the latter study. At least David Sear’s RCV I (Millennium Edition), although placing the issue in 67 BCE, notes at p. 138 that the hoard evidence places the issue “closer to 60 BC” (see above).

    In any event, Caius’s term as quaestor was preoccupied with his father-in-law’s exile, and he did not live long thereafter. See Hersh 1976 at p. 8: “While in office [Caius] devoted his efforts to trying to obtain the recall of Cicero from banishment in Macedonia, whither he had gone following the legislation sponsored by his enemy, Publius Clodius Pulcher. At the end of his quaestorship [Caius] was allotted the provinces of Pontus and Bithynia, but he remained in Rome to continue his efforts on Cicero’s behalf. He died during the early summer of 57 B.C., before the return of Cicero to Italy on 5 August 57 B.C., following his recall.” See also Harlan RRM II at p. 59, quoting at length from Cicero’s tribute to his son-in-law in his Brutus, written eleven years later in 46 BCE. Cicero stated, among other things, “I have never known anyone with greater zeal and industry -- although I might easily say, anyone even with more talent, who surpassed my son-in-law [C]aius Piso. . . . [H]e seemed to fly not to run. . . . I do not think that there was anyone who could compare with him in self-control and piety and in every other virtue.”

    [Remainder of footnotes omitted.]
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  6. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    Gaius Calpurnius Piso Frugi and Tullia (Tulliola as Cicero fondly called her in his letters) were married when she was 15 or 16 years old. She was born in 79 / 78 BC and they got married in 63 BC.
    After Calpurnius Piso Frugi died in 57 BC, she married two more times. Her last marriage was with Publius Cornelius Dolabella, a very short-lived marriage that ended in divorce, much to the satisfaction of Cicero (Epistulae ad familiares III, 12, 2; IV, 18, 5).
    Shortly after Julius Caesar was murdered, this Dolabella put on the consular robes, held a speech to the people and identified himself with the murderers and the murder! (Cassius Dio, XLIV, 22, 1).

    Apparently there is an issue of Terentia, Cicero's first wife: but haven't found any of his second wife Publilia.

    I do have a common Apollo denarius of Lucius Calpurnius Piso, the father of Gaius and father-in-law of Tullia.

    I think it is a funny denarius because Apollo is shown with what I call big staring "fish eyes":

    Rome, 90 BC
    18 mm, 3.902 g
    Crawford 340/1; Sydenham 663e; RSC I Calpurnia 11;
    Ob.: Laureate head of Apollo right; R to left, R below chin
    Rev.: Horseman galloping right, holding palm frond and reins; L PISO FRVGI, XVIIII below

  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I don't believe those two Terentia coins had anything to do with Cicero's first wife Terentia. Rather, they were coins issued by the Terentia gens (roughly, family) more than a century before the lifetime of Cicero's wife. That website is rather confusing in the way it refers to both in succession without explanation. In any event, I don't think there were any Roman Republican coins issued by or in the name of women, and although many women were portrayed, nobody was portrayed while they were alive (until Julius Caesar first violated that tradition), and I'm pretty sure that until the Imperatorial period, when there were coins portraying Fulvia and Octavia, they were all goddesses and personifications rather than real people anyway.

    That Apollo is a bit pop-eyed. In general, I don't think the coins of Gaius's father Lucius are as artistic as the son's. Here's my example, in which Apollo is sort of funny-looking as well:

    L. Calpurnius Piso Frugi AR Denarius p. 1.jpg
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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  8. red_spork

    red_spork Triumvir monetalis Supporter

    You can be sure that whoever created that website knows nothing about Roman Republic coins. These coins are from an earlier member of the same family but the issue is in no way related to this Terentia.
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  9. zadie

    zadie Well-Known Member

    Just wondering if there are any struck in Cicero’s name? I mean the father, not the son[/QUOTE]

    There certainly is! They are all extremely rare though. Last one to be sold at auction was in 1965.

    Leu and Münzen und Medaillen; 3 Dec. 1965 (Niggeler), Lot 419

    image0 (1).jpg

    Since this coin had already been shared in the thread, here's another type issued in Cicero's name.

    Proconsular Cistophori. Marcus Tullius Cicero as proconsul of Cilicia. Theopropos son Apollonios, magistrate. AR Cistophorus. Apameia, 51/50 BC. Serpent emerging from cista mystica; all within wreath / M. CICERO. M.F PROCOS. Two serpents entwined by bow case. Stumpf 89
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
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  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Wow! I guess I would call all of these Republican Provincial coins rather than RR coins per se. Analogous to the distinction between Roman Imperial and Roman Provincial.
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  11. zadie

    zadie Well-Known Member

    I tend to agree with this. However there is no clear consensus in the community unfortunately. Coins of these types get thrown around and placed with Republican, Roman Provincial and even Greek coins. I'd personally love to see a Republican Provincial section in the future
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  12. Marsman

    Marsman Well-Known Member

    It’s maybe a bit off topic but for those who haven’t read the epic trilogy by Robert Harris, please do!
    it’s a marvelous story about Cicero fighting to reach the top.

    I read the three novels Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator three times since the Dutch translation arrived and will probably go for a fourth time soon.

    (almost) no better way to spend the long cold winter evenings :)
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  13. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    An excellent series of books, I agree! Cicero is also a major repeating character in Steven Saylor's long-running series of "Gordianus the Finder" historical mysteries.
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  14. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    thank you @red_spork and all of you for clarifying this. I am so ignorant, just try to keep learning every day ....
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