Denarius minted in Rome in 126 BC by the money magistrate Caius Cassius: is it the oldest known allegory of Liberty? C. Cassius, Denarius, Rome, 126 BC; Helmeted head of Roma r.; behind, voting-urn and ✱, Rv. Libertas on quadriga r., holding reins, vindicta and pileus; below, C CASSI; in ex. ROMA. Crawford 266/1; Cassia 1; Sydenham 502. In Rome the gens Cassia, a plebeian family, had a tradition: every Cassius, when in charge as a magistrate, would be a staunch supporter of Libertas, liberty. Libertas was the family's motto. In 137 BC Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla, as a plebeian tribune, proposed a law instating the secret vote, the Lex Cassia Tabellaria. Cicero wrote that it was adopted because "populus libertatem agi putabat suam", the people thought that its liberty was at stake. When a junior member of the family, Caius Cassius, became money triumvir in 126, he chose to commemorate this law on his denarii : an upside-down voting urn on the obverse, and on the reverse Libertas driving a quadriga, holding the vindicta and the pileus, symbols of Liberty. The vindicta was the stick with which the magistrate ritually touched the slave to turn him into a free man, the pileus was the freedmen's hat, symbolizing liberty (I don't know if freedwomen had to wear it too). This coin created the allegory of Liberty, a goddess holding a pileus as if she was going to put it on somebody's head. Under the imperial regime it became a very frequent reverse type on coins, from Claudius (41-54) to Julian of Pannonia (284-285). (not my coins) Under Diocletian the allegory of Liberty seems to have disappeared from coins and official iconography. It was only revived in the 18th c., for example in 1782 on a medal by Dupré celebrating the American Revolution : Liberty is figured with a vindicta topped by a pileus. Soon afterwards the French Revolution represented the pileus topping a lictor's fasces. Libertas Americana, Medal by Dupré, 1782; French coin, 1791 (not mine) In 1795, the image changed. Liberty was represented not holding, but wearing the pileus on her own head. In America it was still a freedman's pileus, while in France the pileus resembled more a Phrygian cap (an idea of Dupré's probably). Liberty on American and French coins, both of 1795 (not mine) In the following decades Liberty in America abandoned the pileus and wore a stephane instead, until Bartholdi in New York made her radiate like Helios... In France Liberty kept her Phrygian cap and in the late 19th c. there was a semantic shift and she was interpreted as the allegory of the Republic, what she is today. She even got a name: Marianne.