Roman Republicans Nos. 64 & 65: T. Cloelius and Q. Fabius Maximus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by DonnaML, Nov 26, 2021.

  1. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I am not ready yet to start thinking about a Top 10 Roman Republican coins list, or whether I'll even be able to narrow things down that much. I just figured out that I've bought 23 Republican coins this year, including these two, with one coin still to bid on in another week or so -- not that I'm optimistic! (I'm closer to being able to begin contemplating one or more lists of other kinds of coins, since I"m waiting only for the arrival of one more Imperial coin, hopefully in the next few days, to see what it looks like in hand.)

    I very much doubt that either of these two will make my list this year; they're certainly nothing special in terms of condition, or of the possibilities for interesting write-ups.. Nevertheless, I find the designs interesting and like them very much: I don't buy coins that don't appeal to me, visually or otherwise.

    The first one, wholly apart from the formal description and write-up below, should be more famous. As few people know, it tells the beginning of the story of the day when Victory went out for a drive in her biga, and her horses were badly frightened when they noticed a flying ear of corn (British style) beneath their hooves. So much so that they reared up high on their hind legs, almost vertically, and poor Victory fell out backwards on her head, damaging her wings and causing a concussion. I wish I had the animation skills, like @TIF and others, to show the rest of what happened. But I recall reading that she was never really the same again. I think the incident may be mentioned in Gibbon somewhere. Even though it was before the Empire even began, never mind rose and fell.

    Roman Republic, T. Cloelius, AR Denarius Rome 128 BCE. Obv. Head of Roma right wearing a winged helmet, single drop earring, and pearl necklace, wreath behind neck and ROMA beneath; no mark of value / Rev. Victory in biga right, holding reins in both hands in attempt to restrain horses rearing high (or “galloping with high action” [BMCRR Vol. I 1079 at p. 165]); below horses, an ear of grain right; in exergue, T•CLOVLI. Crawford 260/1, RSC I [Babelon] Cloulia 1 (ill. p. 32), BMCRR Vol. I 1079 & Vol. III Pl. xxix no. 5, Sear RCV I 136, RBW Collection 1055 (ill. p. 219), Sydenham 516. 19 mm., 3.83 g. Purchased Nov. 2021 from Künker France - Poinsignon Numismatique.*

    T. Cloelius denarius.jpg

    *Crawford states at Vol. I p. 285 that the moneyer was perhaps the T. Cloelius mentioned by Cicero (Rosc. Am. 64), and was “doubtless the father” of T. Clovli Q., the Marian supporter who was moneyer in 98 BCE and issued the coins of Crawford 332. He does not ascribe any special significance to the wreath on the obverse, given that the obverse type is copied “as a whole” from that of No. 239/1, issued by C. Servilius in 146 BC (a denarius with a reverse showing the Dioscuri riding in opposite directions). Id. However, it seems obvious that the wreath must bear some relationship to the depiction of Victory on the reverse; both “evidently record some victory gained by an ancestor of the moneyer.” See BMCRR Vol. I p. 165 n. 1.

    As for the ear of grain (Brit. corn) on the reverse beneath the horses, see id. at p. 166 (n. 1 cont.), suggesting that it may be connected with “some special distribution of corn in the year that Cloelius held the office of moneyer. See also Crawford Vol. II at p. 729, discussing the trend during this period of moneyers somewhat older than the usual (i.e., holding the office within ten years of consulship) using the moneyership as a substitute for the aedileship; “self-advertisement was a feature of both offices.” (See Plebei: the four aediles in Rome “were responsible for maintenance of public buildings (aedēs) and regulation of public festivals,” among other things.) Crawford specifically mentions this coin among those he describes as “aedileship types,” some referring both to circus games and corn distributions, and this one referring as it does only to corn distributions -- “as if the moneyers concerned placed on their coins an indication of what they would have provided if they had been elected Aediles.” Id.

    Current scholarship, based on hoard evidence, still appears to agree with Crawford that T. Cloelius was moneyer ca. 128 BCE. See Kris Lockyear, Patterns and Process in Late Roman Republican Coin Hoards, 157-2 BC (British Archaeological Reports 2008) (available at, passim (using this specific issue, and the date 128 BCE, as the cut-off point for a number of his hoard analyses). Thus, given the absence of any mark of value, this denarius also has some interest as the first one since the introduction of the XVI monogram -- * -- approximately eight years earlier in 136 BCE to signal the re-tariffing of the denarius at 16 asses (see the denarii of L. Antestius Gragulus and C. Servilius, Crawford 238/1 and 239/1 respectively), to omit that “XVI” monogram. Indeed, it appears to be the only denarius issued between 136 BCE and approximately 119 BCE (see Crawford 281/1, issued by M. Fouri L.f. Phili), i.e., a run of more than 40 issues, to have no mark of value at all. (There were several between 128 and 119 BCE that used the old “X” mark of value despite the fact that the denarius presumably continued throughout to be valued at 16 asses.) Grueber, in 1904, also noted this issue’s “omission for the first time of the mark of value on the denarius” (BMCRR Vol. I at p. 166, n. 1 cont.), even though he assigned a somewhat later date to the issue. David Sear, in RCV I at p. 99, states that “[t]he omission of the mark of value [on Crawford 260/1] at this time is most unusual.” He suggests, however, that “it may possibly be concealed in the spokes of the chariot’s wheel” (id.). But I see nothing different about this chariot wheel from any other, either on this specimen or any other I’ve seen, that might support Sear’s speculative proposal. If there truly was no mark of value, and it wasn’t simply hidden somewhere, I have seen no explanation for the omission other than artistic choice.

    Finally, Professor Yarrow specifically cites T. Cloelius and his son in footnote 45 at the end of this passage at p. 20 of her recent book, as among the moneyers for whom evidence may exist of their private commerce in the form of bone tesserae bearing their names and those of their slaves or workers:

    Yarrow p. 20 - passage re bone tesserae & moneyers, w. fn. 45 citing Cloelius as example.jpg
    See Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021) at p. 20 & n. 45 at p. 213.

    Roman Republic, Q. Fabius Maximus, AR Denarius, 127 BC. Obv. Head of Roma right in high relief, wearing winged helmet and triple-drop earring, ROMA downwards behind, Q•MAX (MA ligate) upwards before, mark of value (* = XVI ligate = 16 asses) below chin/ Rev. Cornucopia with grapes overflowing, superimposed on thunderbolt placed horizontally in background, all surrounded by wreath composed of ear of barley, ear of wheat, and assorted fruits. Crawford 265/1, BMCRR Vol. I 1157 & Vol. III Pl. xxx no. 1; RSC I [Babelon] Fabia 5 (ill. p. 46); Sear RCV I 141 (ill. p. 100); RBW Collection 1073 (ill. p.223), Sydenham 478. 17 mm., 3.85g. Purchased from Kirk Davis, Catalogue No.78, Fall 2021. Ex. Harlan J. Berk Ltd. Buy or Bid Sale 210, April 1, 2020, Lot 122.*

    USE THIS Q. Fabius Maximus denarius photo from HJB BBS 210, April 2020 (from acsearch).jpg

    *See Crawford Vol. I at p. 290: “The moneyer is presumably Q. Fabius Maximus, Cos. 116. For the reverse type note the close association in time of the Cerialia (12 April) and the festival of Jupiter Victor and Jupiter Libertas (13 April)” -- i.e., explaining the association between Jupiter’s thunderbolt and the abundance of the cornucopia, associated with Ceres among others. “There is also a deity Jupiter Frugifer.” Id.

    At BMCRR Vol. I p. 178 n. 2, Grueber notes that this coin’s reverse type (the cornucopia crossing a thunderbolt) is identical with that on bronze coins of Valencia in Spain, which also have a helmeted head (Roma?) on the obverse. . . . It may be an allusion to the victory gained near that city by Q. Fabius Maximus Aemillianus over Viriathus, B.C. 144, or to the subsequent success of Q. Fabius Maximus Servilianus in the same district, B.C. 142.” See this example sold by Fritz Rudolf Künker GmbH & Co. KG in October 2018, dated at 136 BCE, with a description stating that the type “may have inspired the republic denarius of Quintus Fabius Maximus,” and that the portrait of Fortuna/Tyche on the obverse “here bears features of the goddess Roma.”

    Valentia bronze 136 BCE sold by Kunker, cornucopia crossing thunderbolt on reverse.jpg


    In addition, at p. 182-183, Professor Yarrow’s book (Liv Mariah Yarrow, The Roman Republic to 49 BCE: Using Coins as Sources (2021)) discusses the resemblance between the reverse designs on this and other denarii and certain coinage issued independently by the Greek colony of Paestum on the Tyrrhenian Sea in Southern Italy, even after it became Roman in 273 BCE -- a coining privilege granted to Paestum for its loyalty against the Carthaginians. See Prof. Yarrow states that a connection between the Roman Republican coinage and the independent coinage of Paestum “is indisputable.” She specifically cites (id.) as one example a Paestum triens (HN Italy 1123) “that combines two reverses that were produced in the same year [127 BCE] in Rome but by different moneyers,” namely the cornucopiae crossing a thunderbolt of this issue (Crawford 265/1), and the Macedonian shield of Crawford 263/1, both issued in 127 BCE. Here is a specimen of that Paestum issue, sold by CNG in 2018. See

    Paestum AE bronze (Macedonian shield - cornucopiae crossing thunderbolt).jpg
    Note, however, that the resemblance is not exact: unlike Crawford 263/1, there is no elephant at the center of the Paestum triens’s Macedonian shield, and the design of the crossed cornucopiae and thunderbolt is not as close to Crawford 265/1 as is the Valentia coin reproduced above. In any event, the Paestum coin has not been dated more precisely than the later second century BCE, and Prof. Yarrow draws no specific conclusion as to the reason why Paestum decided to issue a coin combining themes used in Rome in a particular year, other than to state that “the Paestum type tell( s) us that coins of a given year could be thought of a ‘belonging together’ and that their imagery could travel together both temporally and geographically.”

    Please show me any Republican coins you deem appropriate, or any coins of any type showing chariot wrecks or other unfortunate misadventures -- whether befalling deities or mere mortals.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
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  3. Ryro

    Ryro The last of the Diadochi Supporter

    LOVE EM!!! And both during one of my favorite periods of the Republic... the time of the Gracchi Brothers:bookworm::pompous::cigar:
    And had a good laugh at your Chariot wreck:hilarious:
    Of course this gives me a great chance to share 2 RR MSC chariot wrecks that were also in my top ten from last year:shame: and this year (!) and then take you down a rabbit hole of MSCness.
    And all around this remarkable time period:woot:
    T. Quinctius Flamininus, 126 BCE, AR denarius. Rome, 3.91g, 18mm.
    Obv: Helmeted bust of Roma right; flamen's cap behind; XVI ligate below chin
    Rev: The Dioscuri riding right, each holding a couched lance, stars above; Macedonian shield between T-Q below; ROMA in exergue.
    Crawford 267/1
    Purchased from AMCC2 Nov 2019
    "The key feature of the type – the Macedonian shield on the reverse – is very clear on this example.

    Issued by a descendant of the more famous Flamininus, a philhellene who prosecuted the second Macedonian War against Philip V and proclaimed freedom for Greece."

    And this shield is about to take OUT that chariot!

    Acilius. Denarius. 125 BC. Rome. (Ffc-92). (Craw-271/1). (Cal-64). Anv.: Head of Roma right, ROMA below, BALBVS, (interlace AL), behind, if below chin, all in laurel-wreath. Rev.: Jupiter and Victory in quadriga right, round Macedonian shield below horses, MN. ACILI. (interlace MN), in exergue. Ag. 3,71 g. Choice VF/VF. Purchased from Tauler & Fau 4/2021

    And to further back up Prof. Yarrow's connection between Rome and Paestum, though that MSC reverse isn't much like my example is not nearly as lovely as yours Donna:

    It does bare a strong reassembled to the, admittedly, much later imperial Macedonian issues of the emperors. A few examples for comparison:
    1859577_1619351691.l-removebg-preview.png 1859578_1619351692.l-removebg-preview.png 5bqQ4Ho3s2Azae6BaEL49RtKdyR7S8-removebg-preview.png share2215171666144766673.png

    The more intriguing coin in my opinion, my smoking gun if you will, is this coin minted in Macedonian after the Roman takeover through the end of the Republic:
    Macedon under roman administration 130-30 BC.
    Æ Obv Macedonian shield w/ 4 semi circles around omphalos. Rev: MAKEΔΟΝΩΝ surrounded by dotted circle14 mm., 2,91 g.very fine

    Ex: Savoca
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021
  4. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Nice coins. I like the first one presented by @DonnaML the most - I wasn't aware of the Victory story.
    DonnaML likes this.
  5. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    You know that's because I made it up as a silly joke, right? Just checking!
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  6. Alegandron

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

    I definitely think you need to get a few Denarii from the culmination of the Grachii legacy! The Social War Denarii! No, not Roman... the REAL legacy of whom they were fighting for... The Marsic Confederation, The Italians...
    DonnaML and Ryro like this.
  7. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    A photo of all 65 of my Roman Republican coins sitting in their tray, in Crawford number order, reverse sides up with one exception. (I haven't had a chance yet to turn them over and photograph the obverses.) I took it by a window on this rainy afternoon with my phone camera, without any artificial lighting, and didn't even try to make sure that whatever light there was fell evenly on all of them. So some are much too dark (undoubtedly because they were farthest from the window) and others too light. Perhaps I'll try again on a sunny day, with the tray sideways instead of the coins facing me!

    Still, one can get at least an idea of what most of them look like by zooming in. The two new ones are in the first two rows.

    RR Tray 65 Revs 3.jpeg
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
    akeady, happy_collector, TIF and 4 others like this.
  8. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Got me! In my defense, it was very late in my time zone, after a horrible day at work so I was half asleep.
    Still like that coin anyway.
    DonnaML likes this.
  9. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Those are nice coins, @DonnaML, even if they won't make your top 10.

    I have goat bigas and elephant bigas of the Republic, but this is my only horse biga. It's not exactly ch EF, but I like it all the same. I wish the flans for these were large enough to contain the whole design. I purchased this one for Fulvia, not the reverse.

    L. Mussidius Longus, Moneyer 42 BC.
    Roman Republican AR denarius, 3.48 gm, 16.4 mm, 4 h.
    Rome, 42 BC.
    Obv: Draped bust of Marc Antony's 3rd wife, Fulvia, as Victory, right.
    Rev: L·MVSSIDIVS LONGVS, Victory in biga right, holding reins in both hands.
    Refs: RRC 494/40; BMCRR 4229; RCV 1517; Sydenham 1095; RSC Mussidia 4; Banti Mussidia 613.
  10. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    This one's not perfect either, but I think it's quite a bit better in that at least the coins in the bottom few rows are now easily identifiable if one zooms in!

    Nw 65 RR Revs 2.jpeg
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2021
  11. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Interesting idea,but I have never seen one like this - mine is plainly
    just a wheel

    Attached Files:

  12. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

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