Featured BRVTVS Denarius: Libertas for the Republic

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Curtisimo, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Roman Republic
    M. Junius Brutus
    AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck 54 BC
    Dia.: 20.5 mm
    Wt.: 3.56 g
    Obv.: LIBERTAS; Head of Liberty right
    Rev.: BRVTVS; Consul L. Junius Brutus walking left between two lictors, each carrying fasces over shoulder, preceded by accensus
    Ref.: Crawford 433/1, Sydenham 906, Sear 397
    Ex Michael Kelly Collection

    This coin was struck in 54 BC by the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins. On it he proudly commemorates his ancestor (Lucius Junius Brutus) who according to legend expelled the last king of Rome in 509 BC. This was obviously a pointed message at a potential tyrant… but which tyrant?

    Brutus Opposes Pompey
    Because Brutus famously chose to side with Pompey after Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC it is often forgotten that an alliance between the two men would have seemed unthinkable 54 BC. For one thing, Pompey defeated, captured and treacherously executed Brutus’s father as part of the chaotic wars that followed the death of Sulla. Just as importantly, Pompey would probably have seemed like the biggest threat to the Republic in 54 BC.

    When Pompey and Crassus stood for the consulship of 55 BC they conducted a campaign of violence in order to intimidate the senate and their candidates. Despite this, Plutarch tells us that Cato the Younger “persuaded Lucius Domitius [candidate for consul] not to desist, for the struggle with the tyrants, he said, was not for office, but for Liberty.”

    In response Pompey had his armed supporter’s attack Domitius on his way to the forum and in the fighting Cato was wounded in the arm while defending Domitius. In this way Pompey and Crassus cleared all opposition and established themselves as potential tyrants in the eyes of the Optimates.

    By 54 BC the Triumvirs had divided up the Republic between them. Caesar’s governorship was extended in Gaul and Crassus was given the governorship of Syria. Pompey became governor of Africa but chose to govern by delegates so he could stay in Italy and maintain control of Rome.

    Thus the above coin was probably meant as a symbol of Brutus’s opposition to Pompey both on a personal and political level. The LIBERTAS on the obverse can be seen as a reference to the liberty sentiment mentioned by Plutarch in the above quotation. The reverse is a self-explanatory reference to a family member who opposed the ultimate tyrant.

    Further Notes and Figures
    The year the coins was struck was the last year of the “First Triumvirate”. Pompey’s wife and Caesar’s daughter, Julia would die in child birth thus ending the familial bond between the two men. Additionally, before the end of the following year Crassus would be killed in battle with the Parthians.

    This bronze sculpture was discovered in Rome during the Renaissance (sometime before AD 1532) and since that time has been attributed as a representation of Brutus’s ancestor Lucius Junius Brutus. It dates as early as the late 4th century BC. Modern opinions cast doubt on the attribution to Brutus and it is true that there is no direct evidence for the attribution. Despite that disclaimer, Plutarch does mention that there was a statue of L. Junius Brutus on the Capitoline Hill and the style bears some resemblance to coins struck be M. Junius Brutus so it is not impossible that this statue is meant to depict the early Republican hero. I took this photo in the Capitoline Museum in 2018.

    While Pompey was tyrant-ing around as consul in 55 BC he completed the construction of the first permanent theatre in Rome. Because permanent theatres were prohibited by law he decided to build the structure in the Campus Martius (technically outside the city). He also built a temple to Venus at the top so he could claim the structure was a temple with a theatre merely attached. The street layout of modern Rome preserves the layout of the theatre and you can even see part of the theatre by going to the basement of a restaurant called Da Pancrazio which is where I took all of the above photos.

    In one of history’s great ironies the Theatre of Pompey is where Brutus (issuer of the OP coin) would assassinate Julius Caesar on the Ides of March in 44 BC. The curia attached to the theatre is where this assassination took place. You can see the remains of this building in the background of the above photo that I took in 2012. In the foreground are the remains and columns of three temples that were built just to the east of the curia building. Behind these at the base of the tree in the center of the photo you can see the remains of the building in which Julius Caesar was killed. Today the area is an unofficial cat colony.

    Please post your:
    • Coins of Brutus!
    • Coins showing Pompey!
    • Coins showing Caesar!
    • Imperatorial Coins!
    • Whatever cool stuff you think would be good.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
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  3. ominus1

    ominus1 When in Rome, do as the Romans do Supporter

    ..that's an '0-wow' coin there Curtis..very good!...i've got his cuz, Decimus Albinus with Pietas obverse....:) IMG_0347.JPG IMG_0353.JPG 47BC
    Orielensis, TheRed, Shea19 and 21 others like this.
  4. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    Stunning coin!:woot: and not easy to find in that cherry condition (look at the individual detail on their togas):singing:
    Way to go Curtisimo :cigar:

    I'm all about the Pompeians... that, and all coins BRVTVS are EXPENSIVEVS!:greedy:
    Some day.
    Buuuut, my affinity for great generals does lend to me thoroughly loving Pompey's exploits. Before and after his death!:vamp:
    Cilicia, Soli-Pompeiopolis. Pompey the Great. 1st century B.C. Æ (19 mm, 7.20 g, 12 h). Bare head of Pompey right / [ΠΟΜΠΗΙΟ]ΠΟΛЄΤΩΝ, Nike advancing right, holding wreath and palm; in right field, ΔΙ monogram. Cf. SNG BN 1213-7 (control); cf. SNG Levante 880-2 (same). Dark patina. Very fine. Ex Zeus

    A. Plautius, 55 BCE, AR denarius. Rome, 3.23g, 19mm.
    Obv: A•PLAVTIVS AED•CVR•S•C; Turreted head of Cybele right
    Rev: IVDAEVS / BACCHIVS; Bacchius Judaeus (Aristobulus II, High Priest and King of Judaea) kneeling right, holding reins of camel standing to right behind, and offering up olive branch. Crawford 431/1
    Ex: Savoca
    Plautius was a supporter of Pompey, and the reverse type refers to the latter’s victories in the east. The obverse refers to the Ludi Megalenses, games hosted by the curule aediles.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2021
  5. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    Since 55 BC being mentioned as the year of the construction of Pompey's Theater, I suppose this coin minted in the same year might apply.

    Publius Licinius Crassus was the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus. Their ill-fated demise at Carrhae, in search of military glory, effectively ended the Triumvirate in 53 BC; helping set the stage for the eventual civil war between Pompey and Caesar.

    After the death of Caesar's daughter Julia in 54 BC, Pompey married Cornelia the widow of Publius the following year. She was Pompey's 5th and final wife.

    This coin is well worn, but with some interesting banker's marks.
    P. Licinius Crassus M.f. (55 BC). AR Denarius. (19mm, 3.38g). Rome mint.
    O: Laureate, diademed, and draped bust of Venus right, wearing cruciform earring and necklace of pendants; S • C downwards to left.
    R: P • CRASSVS M • F; Soldier standing facing, holding spear in left hand, and with right hand leading horse by bridle left; at his feet, trophy to left, shield to right around.

    I stayed in Rome next to the Campo de Fiori; which abuts the footprint of Pompey's theater. Excellent battered fried fish at Dar Filettaro, and tasty Rome-style pizza(by weight) at Forno Rosciolo. Mmmmmm!!! I'm reminiscing about a nice Cappuccino & Cornetto.


    I must be hungry, thinking about food LOL.
    Theodosius, TheRed, Limes and 17 others like this.
  6. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    Thank you my friend! That is a great Decimus Albinus coin as well.

    Thank you for the kind words my friend. I was very happy to snag an example with “BRVTVS” so clear and centered on the flan. :D

    I like your provincial Pompey a lot. The portrait looks like it is very close in style to some of his bust portraits.
    I took this photo in the Correr Museum in Venice. It’s a dead ringer for your Cilicia example. :cool::)

    A coin of Crassus’s son is very much appropriate for the thread... and super cool! That’s a great coin and very well centered with a clear CRASSVS.

    Sounds like you stayed right near the Da Pancrazio restaurant I mentioned in the OP. Good food and unbeatable atmosphere! We stayed in the Eitch Borromini right next to Sant’ Agnese in Piazza Navona. We could see the fountain of the Four Rivers out the window every morning at breakfast and a view of St. Peter’s from our room. There were lots of very good restaurants on the street just to the east of the Piazza. Ahhh I miss Rome... Italian food, gelato and ancient ruins. :happy:
  7. Herodotus

    Herodotus Well-Known Member

    One of my favorite pictures; taken the night that we first arrived.
  8. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    @Curtisimo - a fascinating issue indeed.

    I acquired several coins from the Michael Kelly collection . He had a very good eye. My example also comes from him :

    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; Sydenham 906a; BMCRR Rome 3862; RSC Junia 31. 3.88g, 22mm, 1h.

    Extremely Fine; attractive, deep old cabinet tone. Centrally struck on a very large flan. A superb example of the type.

    Ex Michael Kelly Collection of Roman Silver Coins; collector's ticket included.

    This piece was struck by Brutus when he held the post of moneyer, ten years before the infamous 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.
    Cicero12, TheRed, Limes and 20 others like this.
  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Curtis, Excellent article with interesting photos & a lovely denarius issued by the famous assassin Brutus :happy:! One coin that seems to fit in with your article I acquired from Freeman & Sear 2005. No doubt the obverse of this coin was inspired by the reverse design of your denarius, see photo below.

    Koson Stater, 8.37 gm.jpg
    Thrace, Koson Stater, circa 43-42 BC. AV Stater: 8.37 gm, 22 mm, 12 h. Issued by Brutus with gold supplied by the Roman Senate to help finance the the battle of Philippi in 42 BC.

    The origin & significance of this coin has been hotly debated for over 100 years. Robert Kokotailo, from Calgary Coins has offered the best explanation, in my estimation, concerning the history of this coin. For anyone interested in reading his article see the link below.
    KOSON GOLD STATER - Calgary Coin Gallery
    Cicero12, TheRed, zumbly and 12 others like this.
  10. Scipio

    Scipio Well-Known Member

    A great gallery of Brutus lictores denarii here!!! Here is mine D2A913EC-4904-41DF-9B95-40A032164E8F.jpeg C5B53AD9-C070-4956-ACE7-24072FDC28A8.jpeg
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
    TheRed, Limes, Mannie gray and 14 others like this.
  11. Scipio

    Scipio Well-Known Member

    @Al Kowsky thank you very much for the article! It makes sense a lot IMHO, much more than the Kotison stuff. Also I never believed Geto-Dacian could have issued so well crafted coins. Who knows if this theory can explain also the meaning of the mysterIous DPOYEIC KOCON drachms…
    Curtisimo likes this.
  12. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    One step beyond....

    For some reason, your beautiful coin, @Curtisimo, has always reminded me of this :


    I have yet to find one, as beautiful as yours though !

    Some of the characters in the play :

    Sextus Pompeius and Q. Nasidius, Denarius - Mint moving with Sextus Pompeius, Sicily, 42-39 BC
    NEPTVNI, head of Pompey the great right, trident before head, dolphin below
    Q.NASIDIVS at exergue, galley sailing right, star in upper field
    3.92 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 235, RCV # 1390, Crawford # 483/2, Sydenham # 1350, Cohen # 20
    Ex Freeman & Sear, Ex Barry Feirstein collection (NAC auction # 42/279)
    Ex Roma Numismatics

    Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, Denarius - minted 43 BC
    M ANTO IMP RPC, Head of Mark Antony right, lituus behind him
    CAESAR DIC, Head of Caesar right, jug behind him
    3.76 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 123, RCV #1465, Cohen #3

    Lepidus and Octavian, Denarius - minted in Italy, 42 BC
    LEPIDVS PONT MAX III V R P C, bare head of Lepidus right (NT and MA in monograms)
    C CAESAR IMPIII VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right (MP in monogram)
    3.78 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 140, RCV # 1523, Cohen # 2

    The following from Forvm Ancient Coins catalog :
    "Lepidus was a faithful follower of Julius Caesar, and he served as Praetor and Consul. When Caesar was assassinated, Lepidus was in charge of the cavalry and commanded a legion. This position secured him a place in the Second Triumvirate along Marc Antony and Octavian. His cut was Africa. When Octavian attacked Sextus Pompey's Sicily, Lepidus' ships and troops supported him. In an uninspired move, Lepidus thought he could force Octavian to leave him the island. The two armies separated and isolated skirmishes occurred, but soon the soldiers sick of yet another civil war, acknowledging Octavian's superiority deserted Lepidus en-masse. Lepidus left the island as a simple civilian, retaining only his priesthood, but he was the only defeated Imperator not to suffer a violent death."

    Theodosius, TheRed, Limes and 17 others like this.
  13. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    That is certainly a dream coin! Wonderful addition.

    Here are a few of mine from the era:

    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
    TheRed, Limes, DonnaML and 12 others like this.
  14. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin Curtis, I love the reverse detail you can even see Brutus's facial detail, WOW what a coin. IMG_-_Copy-removebg-preview.png
    E Dupondus, 45 ABC. Mint in Italy, Rare
    Roman Republic
    Dia.: 26 mm
    Wt.: 13.05 g
    Obv.: Bust of Victory right
    Rev.: C CLOVI PRAEF Minerva advancing left, snake, spear and shield.
    Ref.: Cr 476.
  15. jdmKY

    jdmKY Well-Known Member

    43563215-FAFD-47A4-882C-14CFE2D0640A.jpeg 1A4C1313-6BE3-4B40-8F8F-D8DC5505724F.jpeg

    5B92E587-F9FA-414D-978A-3E5F05CF0920.jpeg 58262F9F-E7CF-49D1-B3F1-81355D86099D.jpeg

    I’ve always been fascinated by the military trophies on Roman coins. Both of these coins of Brutus were struck in 42 BC.
  16. Alegandron

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

    Wow! Well DONE @Curtisimo . I am not participating as much, but I had to visit this thread!

    SCIPIO (Cool Stuff)
    This is believed to be a portrait of Scipio in his younger years after he captured Carthago Nova. This is BEFORE he was Africanus, an honor bestowed AFTER he defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in 202 BCE. If this is a true portrait, this would be the first living Roman on a coin. It was minted far from Rome and minted in bronze so that it would not truly violate Roman custom (the Senate controls the silver coins...)

    Carthago Nova
    Roman Occupation
    209-206 BCE
    Sear Vol2 6575 R

    Roman Imperiatorial
    42-38 BCE
    AE As
    Janus (Pompey facing right)
    Prow Magnus
    Sear 1394 Craw 479-1


    Roman Imperiatorial
    Julius Caesar Lifetime
    P Sepullius Macer
    AR Denarius, 1st 2 weeks-Mar 44 BCE, 19 mm, 4.03g.
    Obv: CAESAR – DICT PERPETVO Veiled and wreathed head of Caesar R.
    Rev: P·SEPVLLIVS – MACER Venus standing l., holding Victory and sceptre resting on star.
    Ref: Syd 1074a Sear Imperators 107e Crawford 480-14 Rare

    - minted in last two weeks of his reign, or two weeks before he was assassinated.
    - veiled, as he held the office of Pontifex Maximus for several years, and that office was very important to him personally.
    - wreathed... just short of being king... big no-no
    - DICT PERPETVO - yeah, he was a king... so Roman Republic inherently and culturally hated kings.
    - fairly difficult to capture with the star on reverse

    RImp Brutus-Ahala 54 BC JBrutus cons 509 BC ServAhala mstr hrse 439 BC Sear 398; Craw 433/2

    CASSIUS - His Buddy

    RR Gaius Cassius Longinus & P Corn Lentulus Spinther AR den 42 BCE military mint Brutus-Cassius Smyrna Libertas r- jug & lituus 18mm 3.3g
  17. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    That’s a wonderful photo! Sometimes the atmosphere is enhanced at night with all the architectural lighting. Since I mentioned it I’ll post a photo of the fountain from the hotel.
    There is a legend that Bernini sculpted the Nile on his Four Rivers to be reaching out in fear that the facade of Sant’ Angese would collapse on him. The facade was designed by his rival Borromini. I don’t think it is true because the chronology is off but it’s still a good story. :D

    That is an amazing example of the type @eparch ! Very cool that it comes from the same collection as mine.

    Do you happen to know if there is information available about Michael Kelly and his collection? I’ve done some searching but all I have found is records of sales. Mine also still has what I assume is his original circular tag. He definitely had great taste in coins.

    That is a wonderful addition of a very relevant coin type. The mystery behind these is fascinating. I also think that there is a lot of evidence to support the theory that the monogram examples were struck with RR gold.

    Nice example with clear legends. Thanks for sharing.

    What’s up buddy! It seems like I haven’t run into you as much on here lately. Great additions!

    Also lol to your observation about the reverse. It does seem a bit of an awkward way to walk around. Though I suppose if Pompey was having people attacked on their way to the forum like Domitius was it would make since to have people with club-axe-thingys walk around with you. :D

    Your Sextus Pompey coin is a real stunner (actually all of them are). It is amazing how recognizable Pompey is in his coins and busts and yet Julius Caesar’s depictions are far from consistent.

    Thanks @Clavdivs ! Those are some great imperatorial coins, especially the denarii. The Caesar elephant is especially worth of note. Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks AA! You know the coin you show might well be one of my favorite coins of yours. I remember well when you played it in the 2017 Tournament. Great coin!

    Holy gold and silver Batman! :wideyed::wideyed: These coins are both exceptional! It’s not everyday you see imperatorial gold.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2021
  18. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Wonderful coin, photos and write-up @Curtisimo. Here is my "anonymous" coin of Brutus with Libertas.
    Roman Republican, Q. Servilius Caepio (M. Junius) Brutus, 54 BC, AR Denarius, Rome mint
    Obv: LIBERTAS, head of Libertas right
    Rev: The consul L. Junius Brutus walking left between two lictors, each carrying axe over shoulder, preceded by an accensus, [BRVTVS] in exergue
    Ref: Crawford 433/1
  19. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Great posts, photos, and coin, Curtis! Here's yet another ex Michael Kelly Brutus lictores for the thread. How many did the guy have?! :)

    RR - Brutus - Libertas Holed Ex Kelly 2986.jpg
    AR Denarius. 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
  20. Curtisimo

    Curtisimo the Great(ish) Supporter

    I have noticed I haven’t seen you around as much. There have been a lot of long time posters holding back recently. You are one of my favorite posters Brian so I am glad my thread tempted you to show some of your excellent coins!

    You have quite an impressive imperatorial set! That Scipio coin is now on my list because of CT. :)

    PS: Thanks for showing the other popular Brutus type. I do think there is some resemblance to the statue in my OP.

    Lol. Great “anonymous” type. :pics::) Despite the flat strike on the bottom that is a great coin with some nice detail.

    Thanks for the kind words as well.

    Apparently Michael Kelly really liked Brutus denarii :) I can’t blame him after seeing his ex examples.

    Your example is awesome and it is cool that it was actually worn by someone in Ancient Rome.

    Your example really shows the back arch that @Cucumbor mentions above. I can’t help but think of the leaders of the Republic walking around the city like this.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2021
  21. Alegandron

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

    Thank you!
    Curtisimo likes this.
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