The Battle for Caesar's Story

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kirispupis, Mar 18, 2021.

  1. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    Here's the text from Nousek's article:

    The necessity of securing his legionaries' loyalty should not be underestimated. Still, minting 22.5 million coins required vast amounts of silver bullion, and, as evidence of a proposed minting date in early 49, one need not look far to find a probable source. On April 1st, 49, Caesar addressed the remnants of the senate and the popular assembly in Rome,19 promising grain distribution and a gift of 75 denarii per mail (Dio Cass. 41.16.1). He then proceeded to the treasury at the Temple of Saturn and demanded access to the aerarium sanctius, where Rome's public wealth was stored. Although he met with stubborn opposition, Caesar managed to make off with 15,000 bars of gold, 30,000 of silver, and, we are told, a great quantity of silver coins.

    Here is her footnote:

    The incident was widely recorded: Plin. HN 33.46; cf. Cic. Att. 10.4.8; Caes. B Civ. 1.33.3; Luc. 3.114-168; Plut. Pomp. 62; Caes. 35.3-4; App. B Civ. 2.41; Dio Cass. 41.17.2. For modern discussions, see Broughton 1951-86: 2.259 and Gelzer 1968: 209-210. Harl (1996: 55 and n. 52) explicitly links the seizing of the treasury and the minting of the elephant denarius.

    That looks pretty straightforward, but if anyone here has better sources than Pliny, Plutarch, Cassius Dio, and Caesar's own writing, then please share them here for the benefit of humanity.
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  3. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    Carthage is typically spelled with a K by German speakers. I don't think I've ever seen that in English.

    Phil Davis
  4. Valentinian

    Valentinian Supporter! Supporter

    Later, yes. Here is a coin of Diocletian minted at Carthage. The legend ends "FEL KART"


    Much later when Justinian recovered Carthage from the Vandals, he minted coins with the mintmark "KAR":

    Justinian, 527-565, years 13 (the first year of the reformed coinage at Carthage)
    41-38 mm. 20.17 grams.
    Mintmark KAR (The K is very weak, but other examples show it clearly)
    Sear 260

    However, they were not consistent. Here is a lousy small 5-numia piece of Justinian with it spelled "CAR":


    14 mm. 1.67 grams.
    Sear 276.
  5. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Great post, and I like the way you turned it into a story! I wrote a post on this coin some time ago looking at the meaning of the reverse, and it prompted some interesting discussion: I also indulged in a little story telling. :D

    I consulted the interesting Nousek article too, among others. I think the only historical issue in your post is this one: if it's true that Caesar took the silver for the elephant denarii from the temple of Saturn, then it can't be true that he brought your coin across the Rubicon with him, because the temple of Saturn incident took place after he crossed the Rubicon.

    caesar elephant.jpg
  6. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    I didn't even notice that. April vs. January. Do we know exactly when the elephant denarii were minted?
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  7. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    I see. That makes sense. So, then presumably this coin was minted in the mint travelling with the army on the way to the Battle of Pharsalus? If so, then while I was mistaken, the significance of the story remains - since that battle was what decided the manner. It would then seem likely that this coin was sitting somewhere in the baggage train while the battle occurred.
    Severus Alexander likes this.
  8. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    It's been a while since I immersed myself in this stuff, but as I recall the hoard evidence indicates the issue was the first of Caesar's during the civil war, but that the coin continued to be produced over some time. Could some have been minted before he crossed the Rubicon? It's conceivable but would be surprising since the war hadn't started yet and he still had hopes of standing for consul in absentia... in which case he wouldn't have particularly needed a new issue of coins.

    The Civil War was a very complex conflict taking place on multiple continents. Probably the elephant denarii were issued at more than one (travelling?) mint. Certainly the "dumpy elephant" style came from a different mint... if memory serves the hoard evidence indicates probably Spain. Yours is the non-dumpy variety like mine, so more likely to have been produced in Italy. From there it could have gone anywhere!

    Most definitely true! It's a great coin with enormous historical significance.
    Orfew, zumbly, Limes and 2 others like this.
  9. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    Here's another type associated with the temple of Saturn incident. It's an issue of M. Acilius Glabrio, a supporter of Pompey, and a large portion of this issue may have been in the temple when Caesar looted it.

    My particular example was part of the Quidenham hoard, which was buried at the time of Boudicca's revolt c. 60-61. I find it pretty cool that the coin may have been requisitioned by Caesar in Rome and then a over hundred years later been buried by a Roman later killed in the revolt of the Iceni in Britain. How cool is that!! :D

    boudicca hoard.jpg
    Puckles, svessien, Orfew and 6 others like this.
  10. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Apparently, yes, maybe. On Byzantine coinage of Justinian I and Justin II the mint mark for Carthage uses a K. Now some might dismiss this as the encroaching Greek lettering on late Eastern Roman coinage but the language of those two emperors is still mostly in Latin on their coinage. We are on firmer ground with coinage of Maxentius where Seth Stevenson in his Dictionary of Roman coins (1889) mentions brass coinage of that emperor using the inscription FELIX KART on some reverses and Sear, Vol, IV number 14937, a solidus, has FELIX KARTHAGO as the reverse inscription of this Maxentius piece. There may be others. That's all I could find and I don't have any such coins to post images of.
    DonnaML likes this.
  11. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    This thread had more drama than I’ve seen here in a long time.

    for the record, I love everyone here. I do not harbor any negative views against anybody, though sometimes it is surprising when a member acts a little rough in the chat here.

    Though I lack any seniority here, I think I can speak for many when I say: we are all here to learn, and no matter what we should always be here to help others.

    I’ve been corrected MANY times - I had a featured thread here where several members corrected my incorrect facts regarding early Christian baptisms.
    And I also corrected others when they’re wrong, but I like to cite a source, or at least give a reason why I think the way that I do

    Please, my good friends, I have gained so much knowledge, gifts, and favor from everyone. Can we please kumbayaa?
  12. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Would it possibly have been in the Temple of Saturn because it was recently minted? The following is from my footnote to my description of the coin:

    "Harlan suggests that the specific inspiration for the depictions on this coin was Pompey’s grave illness around the time the coin was issued, and that the coin equated the health of Pompey with the health of the Republic: “If the coin is dated to 50, by the end of the year, anyone who saw Salus and Valetudo on the coinage could only call to mind the national concern, and then the universal relief and thanksgiving over Pompey’s return to health. Whatever the intended meaning, certainly by the end of the year 50 the coin could easily be seen as a piece of Pompeian propaganda proclaiming that they are the ones protecting the state and Caesar is the threat to the safety of the Republic.” (RRM II at pp. 232-233.) Harlan also estimates, based on the number of known different obverse and reverse dies, that nearly 11 million of these denarii were minted (the most during this time-period), and suggests that they were intended to be used to pay the 130,000 troops that the Senate authorized Pompey to raise in preparation for the coming conflict. (Id. p. 234.)"
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  13. Pickin and Grinin

    Pickin and Grinin Well-Known Member

    I thought you were talking to me. Sorry, If I intrude again.

    I postured. I was taught as the little man to always defend freedom of speech. The war on "silencing" our basic values lies dear with me. The problem with any type of the here say you listen to today is flawed by the man who holds office. We used to cross the isle and shake hands, and that's usually the last thing we do today.

    Instead of despise and belittle your neighbor how about , Shaking that hand and inviting him and his family him over for dinner.

    What has been talked about is not what we want for "Our" future,
    I hope it isn't yours.

    Carry on,
  14. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    I've mostly appreciated this discussion. As is typical here, I've learned a lot.
    • Latin names use a 'c', while Greek may use either (but I can choose a 'k')
    • Caesar actually stole the silver from the Treasury after he crossed the Rubicon
    • Carthage was sometimes spelled with a 'k'
    I certainly appreciate being corrected, but only in a polite manner. Saying "Caesar crossed the Rubicon in January, but took the Treasury in April" is polite. Saying "read a damn book" is not, and is in fact extremely rude. Continuing to insist facts are wrong without providing any citations or facts of one's own are the mark of a troll.

    So, I do take strong offense at Claudivs remarks. I would expect such treatment if I were debating gun control or the intelligence of particular political leaders and those who support them, but not when discussing the history being a coin minted over 2000 years ago.

    But, every single other person here has been extremely nice, and I look forward to more discussions with you.
  15. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Welcome, @kirispupis! Congrats on the excellent acquisition. I'll offer up an elephant of the "dumpy" variety. Please keep the coins (and entertaining stories) coming! :)

    Julius Caesar - Den Elephant ex Kelly new 2987.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.91g, 18.4mm. Military mint traveling with Caesar (in northern Italy?), April - August 49 BC. Crawford 443/1; Sydenham 1006. O: Elephant advancing right, trampling on horned serpent; CAESAR below. R: Emblems of the pontificate: simpulum, aspergillum, securis, and apex.
    Ex Michael Kelly Collection
  16. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    You were incorrect as stated .. my responses were within the rules of the forum. As for your story you can easily swap in the corrections. I’m sure your audience will enjoy whatever version you wish to spin.
    As for the other talkative poster... I waste no time on you or your version of events... as fake as they are.
  17. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Unfortunately for you, every word I wrote is true. If you waste no time on me, stop insulting me or even referring to me.
    NewStyleKing and Orfew like this.
  18. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I don't know how Caesar could have carried any of these coins across the Rubicon because they were made from silver he seized from the Temple of Saturn in Rome.

    Here is my example plus some images of the Temple of Saturn.

    Julius Caesar Ele O.jpg Julius Caesar Ele R.jpg

    Temple of Saturn today in the Roman Forum.

    Temple of Saturn Ruin.png

    An artist's conception of how it looked.

    Temple of Saturn concept.png
  19. kirispupis

    kirispupis Well-Known Member

    The following are from the rules of this forum:

    There will be absolutely no cursing or swearing allowed. Any words that wouldn't have been aired in a 1950s television show, are unwelcome here as well.

    Personal attacks are not permitted. All Coin Talk members, young, old and in between, will treat all other members with respect and be civil at all times. You are expected to act as responsible individuals, there will be no name calling or flame wars.

    The word "damn" was first broadcast in 1965. Even then, it was used as "Damn thing probably doesn't even keep time." Use in a personal attack would have been censored.

    So, telling someone to "read a damn book" is both offensive and cursing, and has absolutely no place on this forum based on its rules. You later softened your wording, but not before it was quoted. In total, three of your posts were direct attacks and were reported.

    I've been contacted privately with statements that you're actually a very nice guy and they have no clue why you keep attacking me. If so, then prove it by admitting that your remarks were out of line and you are sorry for offending me, and we can be rid of the matter.
    DonnaML likes this.
  20. svessien

    svessien Senior Member Supporter

    Welcome to the forum!

    I like storytelling too. I wrote this post on the Ides of March last year:

    «Actually, I was one of Caesars legionaries in one of my previous lives. No kidding.
    Just an ordinary soldier, of course. No big shot.
    Yeah, so we followed him around everywhere. What a mess. But the money was good. In North Africa, after having given old Cato a good whipping, we got these:
    Sear 1402 Caesar denarius.jpg

    After that we went to Spain. Not on holiday. Those pesky sons of Pompey were still around, and the Big C couldn't have that. He was a total control freak, you know. Had his hands in everything, and was not interested in any loose ends when it came to conflict. So we defeated the last of the Pompeians in Spain, and got paid again.

    Sear 1404 Caesar den.jpg

    After that, there was less work for a while, but not long. The big man still had a lot of enemies, and got assassinated. It was a big shame. Dishonest and cowardly it was. So when Caesars family and old friends set out to avenge him, I signed up again. Of course I did. I loved Caesar. And I was broke, having spent most of my money on girls, wine and gambling, and just squandering the rest.
    However, it seemed like the brass had some money trouble as well. Payment under Octavian, Mark Anthony and Lepidus wasn't as steady as with Big C. After having beaten Cassius and Brutus at Philippi we were allowed to sack and plunder though. That was great. I found this coin on one of the fallen. It looked like it had come straight from the mint:

    Sear 1447 Cassius.JPG

    Other coins were less shiny, as was the relationship between the three bosses. They were soon down to two:

    Sear 1504 Marcus Antonius.jpg

    And they couldn't keep the peace either. They had half of a gigantic kingdom each, and that still wasn't enough. So there was still work to be done for a simple legionary. Eventually the youngest won. He was an outsider for sure, but he showed them all. Strange guy, but smart as f. And a little vain. He never got enough of reminding us about his military successes too, although he was furthest from a warrior among all those that fought. But he was great. Perhaps the greatest of them all.

    Sear 1611 Augustus.jpg

    My man was Big C though. Always was. Every ides of March since he died, I share a keg of wine with him, pouring a cup over the base of a small Venus figure, while drinking the rest myself. I will do so this year too. It's a good tradition.»

    Some people here find a post like that funny, and others found it silly. Those who found it silly just passed over it and didn’t critisize. (I wasn’t asked to prove that I was a Roman soldier in an earlier life, luckily.)
    Those that found it funny had something positive to say.
    I personally think this is the best way to operate. It’s a hobby forum about coins, and not very important, to be honest. The most important thing is that we keep having fun and stay positive, I think.
  21. Alegandron

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

    I think you posted something like this before, and I really enjoyed it! Thanks again!

    We are of kindred minds. LOL, I may had been on the other side, though. :)
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