Featured Q. Caecilius Metellus supporter of Sulla

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Feb 8, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    upload_2020-2-7_16-8-39.png This recently acquired coin, gives me a reason to return to the story of Sulla and the War with Mithridates VI of Pontus. After hastily wrapping up with Mithridates, Sulla began his return to Rome (related post here). During his absence from Rome, Sulla had been exiled as an enemy of the state by Marius, however he still had allies and supporters.

    Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius joined Sulla with troops in 83 BC. He was cousin to Sulla's wife Caecilia Metella - their fathers were brothers. Political lines between the elder Metellus and Marius had been drawn by events surrounding war with Numidia.

    In three days he (Marius) crossed the sea with a favouring wind, and was at once welcomed gladly by the populace (of Rome), and after being introduced to the assembly by one of the tribunes, he first made many slanderous charges against Metellus, and then asked for the consulship, promising that he would either kill Jugurtha or take him alive.
    - Plutarch, Lives, Marius 8.5

    Further, the elder Metellus was later banished from Rome by the efforts of Marius in 100 BC. The son, Q. Caecilius Metellus, earned his name "Pius" for his efforts, eventually successful, to return his father to Rome in 98 BC with help from Quintus Calidius. In 84 BC, while Sulla was fighting Mithridates, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius was driven out of Italy by the Marians. He returned to Italy in late 84 and joined Sulla on the Appian Way.

    In the spring of 83 Sulla’s fleet set out for Italy, sailing in two divisions. The first of these came ashore at Tarentum (Taranto) and the second at Brundisium (Brindisi). The signs, both human and divine, seemed to foretell a swift victory. The Brundisians, who might have opposed Sulla’s landing, instead opened their gates to his troops and welcomes them, won over, like so many other Italians, by his promise to respect their newly acquired rights.
    - Arthus Keaverney, Sulla the Last Republican, 2005, p.108
    There is no shortage of books written on this period. The final battle of Sulla’s return or of the "Second Civil War", was the Battle at the Colline Gate, fought on the first day of the month (kalends) in November 82 BC. Velleius gives an account, as does Appian. It must have been a gruesome scene in Rome with some 50,000 dead, severed heads on display on spears in the Forum. 8000 prisoners taken and then murdered on Sulla's orders. According to Appian, Sulla had the severed head of Marius the Younger, consul in 82 and son of his rival, displayed in the forum, mocking the dead man with a line from Aristophanes: “first learn to row, before you try to steer”.

    This coin took a long break on a post-office shelf, forgotten after a business trip. I caught it the day before it was about the be returned to sender. The old French tag shown below, arrived with the coin. This coin has good details, and the not-overly-processed look that I prefer.
    Q Caecillius Metellus Blu.jpg Caecilia Provenance.jpg
    Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, 81 BC, AR Denarius, North Italian mint
    Obv: Diademed head of Pietas right, wearing earring; stork before
    Rev: IMPER in exergue, jug and lituus within laurel-wreath
    Ref: Crawford 374/2; Sydenham 751; Caecilia 44

    Roberta Stewart (1997) in "The Jug and Lituus on Roman Republican Coin Types: Ritual Symbols and Political Power", doi:10.2307/1088493, provides an overview of all RR coins with these symbols, the earliest being Sulla, Crawford 359. She makes a compelling argument for me that, when command could be questioned, "Symbols of the augury and sacrificial rituals invoked the traditional religious sanctions of political power and represented the commander’s right to command, most immediately to his army."

    Corrections, and observations are always appreciated. Post coins from the Metelli family, or of this time period from any region and anything else you find interesting or entertaining.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2020
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  3. shanxi

    shanxi Well-Known Member

    Interesting post.

    Here is my Mettelli coin:


    M. Caecilius Metellus
    Denarius, 127 BC, Rome
    Obv.: Helmeted head of Roma right, star on helmet, star below, ROMA upward behind.
    Rev.: M.METELLVS.Q.F., Macedonian shield with elephant's head in central boss, surrounded by laurel wreath.
    Ag, 3,90g, 18 mm
    Ref.: Crawford 263/1a, Syd. 480.
    Ajax, Severus Alexander, TIF and 7 others like this.
  4. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Interesting write-up and very nice coin @Sulla80!
    Sulla80 likes this.
  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Very nice example with sharp details @Sulla80 . Here is my less well detailed example plus an elephant issue by the Metellii

    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Diademed head of Pietas right, stork before
    REVERSE: IMPER in exergue, lituus and jug, all within laurel wreath
    Spanish Mint 81 BC
    3.8g; 20mm
    Crawford 374/2; Sydenham 751; Caecilia 44
    Ex: Barry Murphy
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Diademed head of Pietas right; stork standing right before
    REVERSE: Q C M P I beneath elephant walking left w/bell hanging from neck
    Northern Italy, 79 BC-77 BC
    3.75g; 18mm
    Caecilia 43; Crawford 374/1; Syd 750; Sear 301
    svessien, Volodya, Ajax and 11 others like this.
  6. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    I thoroughly enjoy your write ups and this is such a fascinating period. And the coin is just amazing!
    I recently bought another Metelli coin that I haven't shared before. Not to brag but it's probably Fleur de last;):
    Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio
    Denarius, 19mm 3.74g. (h). Africa, 47-46 BC. Obv: Laureate head of Jupiter right; Q METEL before, PIVS behind. Rx: Elephant walking right, SCIPIO above, IMP in exergue. Crawford 459/1.
    Sydenham 1046. RSC Caecilia 47. Sear, Imperators 45
    Ex Savoca
    After L. Caecilius Metellus' victory over Hasdrubal at Panormus and the capture of one of the Carthaginians' elephants, that beast became as a heraldic symbol to the gens Caecilia. It is ironic then that displayed on this coin it should be so reminiscent of Caesar's own earlier issue bearing an elephant on the reverse

    And my old one:
  7. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    Here's one:

    Phil (69).JPG

    Phil Davis
  8. Alegandron

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

    Prominent family! Here is a member 15 years earlier...
    RR Malleolus Albinus Caecilius Metellus AR Den 20.0mm 3.7g Rome 96 BCE ROMA - Roma seated L pile of shields spear and sword Vict Cr335-1b Syd611a

    Here’s anuther’n...

    RR Calidius Caecilius Fulvius 117-116 BCE AR Den Roma Biga Sear 160 Craw 284-1a
  9. Fugio1

    Fugio1 Supporter! Supporter

    Great coin with uncharacteristically sharp early reverse die state. Great writeup. I've looked at this issue frequently but never landed one. Congratulations.
    Sulla80 likes this.
  10. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Excellent denarii Metelli, including the rare, historic Fleur-de-Last from @Ryro and several of types that I hope to add some day e.g. @Bing's elephant, companion to the OP coin, @Alegandron's Q.MET, and any coin from the @Volodya collection, which are always exceptional. Here's one that hasn't made an appearance yet from Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus consul in 123 BC.
    Q Caecilius Metellus Balearicus.jpg
    Q. Caecilius Metellus, 130 BC, AR Denarius, Rome
    Obv: Head of Roma right in winged helmet decorated with griffin crest, mark of value XVI in monogram below chin, Q· METE behind (ME and TE ligatured)
    Rev: Jupiter driving triumphal quadriga right, holding palm frond, reins, and thunderbolt, ROMA in exergue
    Ref: Crawford 256/1

    Q. C. Met. Balearicus was the son of Q. C. Met. Macedonius, who is celebrated on the Macedonian shield coins of @Ryro and @shanxi - and first cousin to Numidicus, father to Pius. His name "Ballearicus" comes from his successful efforts to secure for Rome the Balearic Islands, off the east coast of Spain, in battles triggered by an influx of pirates.
  11. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    Thank you for the informative write-up and for showing your beautiful new acquisition! A great coin.

    It's particularly interesting that the obverse showing Pietas and her attribute, the stork, seems to refer to Q. Caecilius Metellus' celebratory cognomen, "Pius."

    I have the elephant denarius with the same obverse:
    Römische Republik – Denar, Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, Pietas Elefant.jpg
    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).
    Ryro, svessien, Volodya and 5 others like this.
  12. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you? Supporter

    Nice write-up by the OP. Here's my example for the thread:

    Q Caecilius Metellus Pius 374-2 Peus 2017.jpg
  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    The coin in the OP coin is Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Imperator (Q.C.M.P.I) and has Crawford number 374/2. There must be something about this series that the post office doesn't like. Here is the companion coin 374/2 that I received after >3 months, a surprise, with cross-Atlantic shipping challenges. Although this coin is less rare by number of dies known, it is more in demand as ancient elephants are popular. Seeing the date on the OP also leads to the reflection that, this year, "Feb was a long time ago!"
    Q Caecilius Metellus Elephant.jpg
    Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, 81 BC, AR Denarius, North Italian mint
    Obv: Diademed head of Pietas right; to right, stork standing right
    Rev: QCMPI Elephant walking left
    Ref: Crawford 374/1; Sydenham 750; Caecilia 43

    The reverse recalls the capture of somewhere between 60 and 142 of Hasdrubal's war elephants by L. Caecilius Metellus in 251 BC in the First Punic War as the Carthaginians attempted to recapture Panormus (Palermo, Sicily). Polybius tells the story here. It would take another 10 years to get to a peace treaty - and that didn't last long before The Second Punic War, with another Hasdrubal and of course Hannibal crossing the alps with more elephants.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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