Featured Rebuilding ancient Rome: the Curia Julia

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Limes, May 9, 2021.

  1. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    So far this year, I’ve acquired 12 coins of which 2 are on their way to their new home. 5 of these coins show a monument, temple, or otherwise ancient building on the reverse (I love these types!). Of these 5 coins, 4 show a monument/building that actually once stood on the Forum Romanum resp. still stands (partly obviously) on the Forum Romanum on this day. This small write up concerns one the latter coins: a denarius of Octavian, showing the Senate House. I’ll try to do small write ups of the other coin on a later date.

    A better struck, and overall beautiful specimen of this type is shown here, a coin by @Romancollector.

    I believe most of you will know, that this coin commemorates the completion of the new Senate House by Octavian. Work on the old House (the Curia Cornelia, by Faustus Cornelius Sulla) had commenced under Caesar, who wished to create more space for the Comitium - the important public square where various ceremonies and governmental actions took place. The work on the new Curia was interrupted due to the assassination of Caesar in the theatre of Pompey (which is quite ironic, if you think about it...) where the Senate met since it’s House was under construction. The precursor of the Curia Cornelia was the Curia Hostilia, and before that a former building served as an Etruscan temple. The location may have held a temple like structure with a ‘governmental function’ as early as 771 BC. After the construction of the Curia Julia, the building was damaged a few times again, and subsequently repaired by Domitian and Diocletian.

    Plan of the various Curia's, with the Curia Julia shown to the right. Source: wikipedia.

    The Curia itself is - but for its facade and decorative elements such as statues - still largely intact. The brick core remains to be seen for everyone today. What we see today is the core reconstructed under Diocletian in 283 AD, after the former building was (again) damaged due to a fire. The usage of the building was changed in late antiquity, when it became a church (San Adriano). What is also interesting, is that the original doors have survived. They have been resued as the doors of the Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran and can be seen completely functional to this date.

    The roof of the Curia Julia was decorated with several statutes. My coin has a strike error or weakness of some kind, but better examples clearly show the statue of victory on the top of the point of the roof, standing on a globe. It is believed that this specific statue is also depicted on an areus of Octavian.

    When I visited Rome in 2015, the Curia Julia’s inside were closed unfortunately. But there are many photo’s available online. What is noticable, is that several key features of the inside also remain intact. To the left and right walls, three low and broad stairs remain. This is where the chairs of the senators would have stood. In the back of the building, one can see the remains of the platform where the consul would have seated, with in the back an alter dedicated to Victory. One can also still see the highly decorated floor, restored in the time of Diocletian. Originally, bbout two-third of the inside walls would have been decorated with marmble as well, but little has remained.

    Curia Julia.JPG
    The Curia Julia as reconstructed by Diocletian is on the right. To the left, one can see the triumphal arch of Septimius Severus.

    The reason I wanted to add this coin to my collection, is because it displays an iconic building, which to me is synonymous with ancient Rome and the tragedy of the decline of the Republic. Even though there have been many Curia’s throughout Roman antiquity, the fact that the building is displayed on this coin and still largely stands today, make it all the more special. It truly makes history come alive.

    Thank for reading. Please add other coins with ancient buildings within the City of Rome, coins of Octavian, or any other coins you deem relevant.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Dank voor de write up, Limes.

    I can only add the Roma temple in Rome:

    Maximianus Herculius temple description.jpg Maximianus Herculius temple venus roma before.jpg Maximianus Herculius temple venus roma.jpg
  4. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    Absolutely fantastic coin and great write up, like you I have a great interest in these ancient buildings there architectural skills were second to none.
    I have one to show, the temple of Concordia rebuilt in Tiberius time, not much left of it nowadays, if you look through the arch on your pic you can see where it stood. Looking forward to seeing your other posts. Temple_Concordia-removebg-preview.png
    Tiberius Æ Sestertius.(33mm, 25.5gm) Rome, AD 35-36.
    Tiberius Æ Sestertius.(33mm, 25.5gm) Rome, AD 35-36. The Temple of Concordia: Concordia seated left on throne, holding patera and sceptre, above altar within hexastyle façade set on podium; entrance flanked by statues of Hercules and Mercury; pediment decorated with statues of Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and Victories in acroteria; wings of transverse cella with windows behind; pediments decorated with statues / TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVST P M TR POT XXXVII around large S•C. RIC 61; C. 69; BMC 116; BN 100. NGC graded Choice Fine. Stack's Jan NYINC, lot 22114.
    Joshg1928, galba68, Limes and 8 others like this.
  5. jdmKY

    jdmKY Well-Known Member

    4094FA7C-9D58-4A48-BB2B-CBF61568FEDF.jpeg Octavian denarius 36 BC
    Obv - Octavian with mourning beard
    Rev - Temple of Divus Iulius 87B268FA-64DF-40B8-97A9-CC823BD73E87.jpeg
  6. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    Not quite sure what tempel is depicted on this Domitian as 5 nr 0000 Domitianus Saeculares as 2_edited-1.jpg
  7. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    III Antoninus Pius 0994 temple as XXI 7-678.jpg The temple of Augustus on a rare denomination: as instead of the much more common sestertius. RIC 994
    paschka, Joshg1928, galba68 and 9 others like this.
  8. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    The fine coins are too expensive: the Macellum on a Nero dupondius. (RIC 400) I Nero 400 Macellum dupondius 4c-045.jpg
    paschka, Joshg1928, galba68 and 9 others like this.
  9. Romancollector

    Romancollector Well-Known Member

    Congrats on your denarius @Limes ! This type is not exactly easy to come by. Most examples have significant off-centring or weak strikes. With the exception of the left side of the roof, the curia on your coin is well struck. The portrait of Octavian is handsome as well! Well done!

    Thanks for mentioning me! Here's a newer, enlarged photograph of the coin.

    Octavian denarius curia.jpg
  10. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Thanks for the replies and sharing your great architectural coins.

    I wondered too about the reverse. I've looked at other examples, and one description by Lanz (1999) states the reverse shows the temple of Jupiter optimus, on the Capitoline. See also this more elaborate description the reverse. A very interesting coin indeed.
    galba68 and Archeocultura like this.
  11. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    Hi, Limes,
    Thanks for the reply and kind words. Jupiter Stator it apparently is - Nice! I'll add the information to my own description.
    Limes likes this.
  12. Archeocultura

    Archeocultura Well-Known Member

    Basilica Aemilia issued by Aemilius Aemilia lepidus 419-3.jpg Lepidus
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page