Cleopatra & Mark Antony

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Jan 21, 2021.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    CNG Triton XXIV Auction that ended yesterday featured some spectacular coins of Mark Antony & Cleopatra. Pictured below is a tetradrachm from Antioch, Syria that pictures both of them.

    915_1.jpg Seleucis & Pieria, Cleopatra & Mark Antony, circa 36-34 BC. AR Tetradrachm: 26 mm, 15.03 gm, 12 h. Estimate $50,000, hammer price $70,000.

    Despite being married to Octavian's sister, Mark Antony & Cleopatra were carrying on an illicit affair out in the open :jawdrop:. Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) was well aware of what was going on, & this illicit affair was the hot topic of gossip in the city of Rome :shame:. As this affair continued a strong propaganda backlash grew against both of them, especially Cleopatra. Mark Antony ended up marrying Cleopatra & having 7 kids with her while still being married to Octavia :p!

    979_1.jpg The Triumvirs, Mark Antony & his wife Octavia, Summer 38 BC, Athens Mint. AV Aureus: 20 mm, 8.03 gm, 12 h. Extremely rare, 8 specimens known. Estimate $75,000, hammer price $220,000 :rolleyes:.

    Seeing both of these coins triggered a memory of an exhibition I read about 3 years ago at the British Museum, A Special Exhibition on Dissent. One of the featured objects is pictured below.

    Terracotta Oil Lamp, featuring a caricature of Cleopatra. Roman, c. AD 40-80.

    Cleopatra is depicted standing on the back of a crocodile (a symbol of Egypt) while squatting on a giant phallus :hilarious:. This oil lamp was part of a propaganda campaign made by supporters of Octavian to focus on the decadence of the queen of Egypt. Objects like this strengthened the ambition of the virtuous Octavian to become the 1st emperor of Rome at the expense of Antony's folly.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2021
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  3. Dialupsux

    Dialupsux Well-Known Member

    she seems so happy
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Would love to own a tet like that.

    I have no Cleo, just this budget MA.

    Mark Antony and Octavian (41 B.C.)
    AR Denarius
    M. Barbatius Pollio, quaestor pro praetore
    O: Bare head of Mark Antony right.
    R: Bare head of Octavian right, wearing slight beard.
    Ephesus mint, Spring-early summer 41 B.C.
    Crawford 517/2; CRI 243; Sydenham 1181

    This series of coins commemorates the establishment of the second Triumvirate of November 43 B.C. between Antony, Octavian and Lepidus. Both sides bear the inscription "III VIR R P C", meaning "One of Three Men for the Regulation of the Republic. Within a few years Antony would depart Italy for the Eastern provinces.

    The moneyer for this coin is M. Barbatius Pollio who was also a Questor in 41 BC. Barbatius bears the title of "Quaestor pro praetore" abbreviated to QP a distinction shared by his colleague L. Gelllius.
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Just curious: If the oil lamp really dates to 40-80 AD, how could it have been part of a propaganda campaign by Octavian's supporters 70+ years earlier?
    Scipio, Volodya, Alegandron and 2 others like this.
  6. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Many of these objects continued to be made long after Augustus, Antony & Cleopatra left this earth. I guess they were popular reminders of the depravity & hypocrisy of the upper class, & of course they must have been humorous to the plebeians :smuggrin:.
    Alegandron, Ryro, Evan Saltis and 2 others like this.
  7. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Whether it's Cleopatra or Octavia, they sure look like Mark Antony. I can't imagine that the die engravers did not know what they looked like. Or did they not? Or is it some form of propaganda? E.g. Faustina, or Iulia Domna do not look like their respective partners on coins.
    Ryro and DonnaML like this.
  8. jdmKY

    jdmKY Well-Known Member

    Here’s my Antony and Cleopatra - 34 BC DD438EDC-54FF-496C-B2FF-F2FCAFAAEA00.jpeg
  9. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter

    Stunning examples, with equally stunning hammer prices, net buyer's commission.

  10. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    jdmKY likes this.
  11. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    I'm sure there were no official busts of Antony or Cleopatra, so engravers probably went by word of mouth descriptions. Both of them did spend time in Antioch, so I'm sure some of the population got a glimpse of them :wideyed:.
  12. savitale

    savitale Active Member

    It's too bad Cleopatra's portrait on these coins is so darn ugly. If they looked anything like modern interpretations, Cleopatra VII coins would be ten times as popular.

    AuldFartte likes this.
  13. ma-shops

    ma-shops Active Member

    This RAW XF-described Cleopatra sold for $215,000 in January 2019 at the New York Invitational.
  14. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    They were well aware of what she looked like. The woman of Rome all began wearing Egyptian dress to emulate her style. Cleopatra spent plenty of time in Rome with Octavian's adopted father Julius Caesar... while he was still married as well!
  15. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    I would be too if I had a pet crocodile to ride
  16. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    That movie staring Liz Taylor is one of my favorites :D. They don't make 4 hour movie extravaganzas like that anymore :rolleyes:. My favorite painting of Cleopatra is pictured below. It was done by Guido Cagnacci in 1658, Kunsthistorishches Museum, Wien.
    -Guido_Cagnacci_1658, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Viena.jpg
    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  17. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    That Tet is the finest known example of that coin type :D.
    ma-shops likes this.
  18. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Well-Known Member

    Cleopatra desperately wanted to become Queen of the Roman Empire, & when her affair with Julius Caesar didn't produce that result she hooked up with Mark Antony, thinking he would become the next emperor of Rome.
    ancient coin hunter and Ryro like this.
  19. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Enrich the soldiers...ignore all others

    Some great coins in the thread.

    Marsyas Mike likes this.
  20. Dialupsux

    Dialupsux Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't want to sit on what she is sittin on !
  21. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    CNG currently has another example of the same coin -- I don't think it's the same example -- on sale in its Coin Shop for the bargain price of only $95,000:
    Broucheion likes this.
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