@Fugio1's comment below.] 1. Roman Republic, M. Aurelius Cota [Cotta], AR Denarius 139 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right, wearing winged helmet ornamented with stylized representation of gryphon’s head [N.B.: I don't see it], earring with three pellets, and necklace of pendants [not beads]; hair arranged in three symmetrical locks; to right below chin, COTA; behind, mark of value X / Rev. Hercules in biga of centaurs right, holding reins in left hand and club in right hand; centaurs each carry branch in left hand; below, M•AVRELI (AVR ligate); in exergue, ROMA. 19 mm., 3.78 g. “Removed from a ring mount; otherwise very fine.” Crawford 229/1b; BMCRR I 916-917 (& Vol. III Pl. xxvi. 2); RSC I Aurelia 16; Sear RCV 1 106, RBW Collection 959 (ill. p. 201). Purchased from Dix Noonan Webb Auction 253, 13 April 2022, Lot 1240; ex. Spink Numismatic Circular May 1984, No. 2625 at p. 125 (ill. p. 137).* The image from Spink Numismatic Circular, May 1984, together with the original Spink tag accompanying the coin: * Moneyer & Date According to Crawford (Vol. I p. 263), the moneyer “is perhaps M. Aurelius Cotta, father of C. Aurelius Cotta, M. Aurelius Cotta and L. Aurelius Cotta, Co[nsuls] 75, 74 and 65; he may also be a younger son of L. Aurelius Cotta, Cos. 144 . . . , born therefore c. 160 or later.” Mattingly agrees with Crawford’s date for this issue: “M. Cotta. . . should go in 139. He was the father of three consuls of the 70s and 60s, and as the younger brother of the consul of 119 [another L. Aurelius Cotta], he must have been born ca. 160. Like C. Scribonius, he would have been moneyer at an unusually young age.” See the chapter entitled “Roman Republican Coinage ca. 150-90 B.C.” in Harold B. Mattingly, From Coins to History: Selected Numismatic Studies (2004) pp. 199-226 at p. 216. Grueber notes (BMCRR I p. 128 n. 1) that the L. Aurelius Cotta who, according to Crawford, may have been the moneyer’s father and was consul in 144, was also tribune of the plebs c. 154. He states (id.) that the moneyer may also have been descended from the M. Aurelius Cotta who was legate of L. Cornelius Scipio, B.C. 189, during the war against Antiochus the Great. Reverse Design Insofar as the reverse design (Hercules in a biga of centaurs) is concerned, Grueber stated in 1904 that it “has not been satisfactorily explained” (BMCRR I p. 128 n. 3). 70 years later, Crawford characterized it as still “extraordinarily obscure” (Vol. I p. 263). See also John Melville Jones, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990), entry for Centaur at pp. 50-51: "A denarius of 139 BC (M. Aurelius Cot(t)a) has the unusual reverse type of Hercules driving a biga drawn by centaurs. If this is anything more than a variant on the regular scene of Hercules driving a chariot as a symbol of victory, the reference is not now understood." [TLDR: "We have no idea what this is all about."] Perhaps surprisingly given the rather prominent place held by centaurs in Greco-Roman mythology -- including more than one battle or other encounter between Hercules and various centaurs such as Chiron and Nessus (see https://stefanosskarmintzos.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/centaurs-and-centauromachy-in-the-greek-world/; http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Ca-Cr/Centaurs.html; https://www.greeklegendsandmyths.com/centaurs.html) -- this coin is the second and last of only two occasions on which a centaur or centaurs appeared on a Roman Republican coin. (The first was Crawford 39/1, a bronze triens issued ca. 217-215 BCE with a reverse depicting Hercules fighting a centaur.) Crawford rejects Babelon’s theory that the reverse refers to family history, namely the victories of M. Aurelius Cotta, Scipio’s legate, over Antiochus at Thermopolyae in 191 BCE, by means of an allusion to the mythical battles of Hercules with the Centaurs in the same geographical area: “It is not recorded that the Legate played any major part in the victory nor is it likely that he was senior enough to do so.” Id. Instead, Crawford cites parallel examples of Hercules drawn by centaurs as an artistic motif, and suggests that the coin type “should be regarded as an artistic variation of a normal Hercules in a biga type, perhaps chosen to highlight Hercules as a conqueror.” At BMCRR I p. 128 n. 3, Grueber cites Babelon as noting “a certain resemblance” between this reverse and the reverse type of Juno in a biga of goats issued by C. Renius at around the same time (see Crawford 231/1, minted in 138 BCE), and suggesting that the two moneyers could have been colleagues at the mint. Or, I would suggest, perhaps they merely shared the sense of the absurd – and/or connectedness to myth -- that appears throughout the history of Roman Republican coinage, in depicting bigas drawn by a wide variety of animals and mythical creatures other than horses. 2. Roman Republic, C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, AR Denarius 125 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right wearing winged Phrygian helmet with crest in form of head and beak of eagle (i.e, griffin); behind, ROMA downwards; before, mark of value * (= XVI) [off flan] / Rev. Jupiter, crowned with wreath by flying Victory above, in biga of elephants left, holding thunderbolt in left hand and reins in right hand; in exergue, C•METELLVS (ME ligate). 17 mm., 3.90 g. Crawford 269/1, BMCRR I 1180-1182 (& Vol. III Pl. xxx 8), RSC I Caecilia 14, Sear RCV I 145. Purchased from Dix Noonan Webb Auction 253, 13 April 2022, Lot 1247; ex. Spink Numismatic Circular Dec. 1985, No. 8404 at p. 334.* The image from Spink Numismatic Circular, Dec. 1985, together with the original Spink tag accompanying the coin: *The moneyer “is presumably C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, Cos. 113” (Crawford Vol. I p. 293), who was born ca. 160 BCE, and served under Scipio Aemilianus at the siege of Numantia in 133 BCE in the Third Punic War; he died sometime after 102 BCE. BMCRR I p. 182 n. 1; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaius_Caecilius_Metellus_Caprarius. For the biga of elephants on the reverse, Crawford refers (see Vol. I p. 293) to his explanation (id. p. 287) of the elephant head on the reverse of Crawford 262, a coin issued by another moneyer from the Caecilius Metellus family: the reference “recalls the victory of L. Caecilius Metellus, Cos. 251, over Hasdrubal at [the Battle of] Panormus in 250 [BCE], and the capture of Hasdrubal’s elephants.” As Grueber notes in his discussion of the elephant biga design, the captured elephants were afterwards exhibited at Metullus’s triumph at Rome. BMCRR I p. 182 n. 2. In addition to C. Caecilius Metellus Caprarius, a number of other moneyers belonging to the Caecilii Metelli issued denarii with elephants or elephant heads to commemorate their ancestor’s famous victory. See Crawford 262/1 (Anonymous, probably Caecilius Metellus Diadematus or Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus, 128 BCE); Crawford 263/1 (M. Caecilius Q.f. Metelllus, 127 BCE); Crawford 374/1 (Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, 81 BCE); and Crawford 459/1 (Q. Caecilius Metullus Pius Scipio, 47-46 BCE). Here are my examples of those four: Crawford 262/1 Crawford 263/1: Crawford 374/1 Crawford 459/1: Please post your centaurs and elephants, Roman Republican or otherwise. And please share any brilliant, novel insights you may have on the meaning of the reverse of the M. Aurelius Cotta denarius!