Since this will probably be my penultimate presentation of a new Roman Republican coin this year, my standard detailed description is even more so than usual, with not one, not two, but three separate footnotes accompanying it! For those without the patience to read all that I wrote, I hope you enjoy the coin anyway. Roman Republic, C. Vibius Varus, AR Denarius, 42 BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Bacchus (or Liber)* right, wearing earring and wreath of ivy and grapes / Rev. Spotted panther [leopard]** springing left towards garlanded altar on top of which lies a bearded mask of Silenus or Pan,*** and against which leans a thyrsus with fillet (ribbon); C • VIBIVS in exergue, VARVS upwards to right. Crawford 494/36, RSC I Vibia 24, Sydenahm 1138, BMCRR 4295, Sear RCV I 496. 17 mm., 3.60 g. Ex. Numismatica Ars Classica NAC AG, Auction 83, May 20, 2015, Lot 83; ex. Frank Sternberg Auction 17, Zurich, May 1986, Lot 519. *The identification of the obverse head as Bacchus or Liber is essentially immaterial. See Jones, John Melville, A Dictionary of Ancient Roman Coins (Seaby, London, 1990) at p. 33 (entry for “Bacchus”): “For the Romans . . . . [Bacchus] was generally identified with the Italian deity Liber, whose name is probably derived from the same root as the word ‘libation,’ suggesting that in Italy he was an earth or vegetation spirit who could be worshipped by pouring offerings upon the ground. . . . Bacchus appears rarely upon Roman imperial coins (and when he is given a name, he is called Liber). He is shown as a youthful male figure, nude or partly draped, perhaps with a wreath of ivy leaves. He may bear a thyrsus and be accompanied by Ariadne, a bacchant or maenad, or a panther.” ** There is little doubt that the big cats generally referred to as “panthers” in ancient coin reference works are actually leopards (or, occasionally, cheetahs), particularly when their spots are visible, as on this coin. There is, of course no such separate species as a panther; even a black panther is simply a melanistic leopard (or, in the Western Hemisphere, a jaguar or cougar) with black fur obscuring the spots. The classical world was well aware that pantherae usually had spots. See the many ancient mosaics and other works of art depicting Dionysos/Bacchus with a spotted panther/leopard, such as this mosaic from the House of the Masks in Delos, from ca. 100 BCE, in the Archaeological Museum of Delos: See https://www.pinterest.dk/pin/441423200974714028/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaics_of_Delos#House_of_the_Masks. See also the following passage from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History at 8.23, concerning the spots on the panthera: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0137:book=8:chapter=23 “The spots of the panther are like small eyes, upon a white ground. It is said that all quadrupeds are attracted in a most wonderful manner by their odour, while they are terrified by the fierceness of their aspect; for which reason the creature conceals its head, and then seizes upon the animals that are attracted to it by the sweetness of the odour. It is said by some, that the panther has, on the shoulder, a spot which bears the form of the moon; and that, like it, it regularly increases to full, and then diminishes to a crescent. At present, we apply the general names of varia and pardus (which last belongs to the males), to all the numerous species of this animal, which is very common in Africa and Syria.” (Footnotes omitted.) For a detailed discussion of this passage in Pliny, and the terms panthera and pardus in general as used in the classical world, see the dissertation by Benjamin Moser of the University of Western Ontario, entitled The Ethnozoological Tradition: Identifying Exotic Animals in Pliny's Natural History (available at https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2566&context=etd), Chapter 3.1 at pp. 86-96, “Identifcation of the Panthera and Pardus.” (Moser argues, among other things, that while the term pardus -- from which the word leopard derives, after being combined with “leo” -- was used in the ancient world in Pliny’s time to refer only to male pantherae, the term varia “was not reserved for females but [was] just another word to describe the panthera which arose from the spotted nature of these cats.”) ***The mask has more frequently been identified with Pan than with Silenus, but because the moneyer’s branch of the gens Vibia lacks the cognomen “Pansa” (a reason for the appearance of Pan on the coins of moneyers with that cognomen, as a pun), Silenus appears to be a more likely identification, especially given the association of Silenus with Bacchus. See Jones, supra at p, 289, identifying Silenus as “[a]n elderly attendant of Bacchus.” See also id. at p. 234 (entry for “Pan”), noting that “[a] bearded head which appears on [the obverse of] a silver sestertius of T. Carisius [46 BC), with a reverse type of a panther bearing a thyrsus, has been identified as Pan but is more likely to be a Silenus, matching the Bacchic reverse type.” If anyone is interested, they can see my earlier presentation of the numismatic panther = leopard argument at https://www.cointalk.com/threads/from-lydia-philadelphia-dionysos-and-a-spotted-panther.363050/, in connection with my posting of this Republican Provincial AE 17 coin from Philadelphia in Lydia (Seaby II 4720), dating to the late 2nd/early 1st Centuries BCE, depicting Dionysos on the obverse and a spotted panther (leopard), carrying a thyrsos, on the reverse: Feel free to post your ancient coins depicting Bacchus/Liber/Dionysos, or masks of Pan or Silenus, or panthers -- especially spotted ones! -- or anything else you think is relevant.