The 'Lean and Hungry' CassiusC. Cassius Longinus, Assassin of Caesar and Imperator (44-42 BC). AR denarius (3.49 gm).
Sardis(?) or military mint moving with Cassius and Brutus, summer 42 BC. C. CASSI. IMP., laureate head of Libertas right / M. SERVILIVS LEG, aplustre (stern-mounted galley pennant), the branches terminating in flowers. Crawford 505/2. CRI 225. Very rare! Perhaps the finest-known specimen. Crisply struck from fresh dies and beautifully toned. Mint state.
From the Rubicon Collection.
Shakespeare accurately depicts the "lean and hungry" Cassius as the primary ringleader in the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, motivated more by envy than by any love of liberty. Born into a senatorial family but lacking any real talent for politics, Gaius Cassius Longinus joined the triumvir Crassus on his doomed expedition against the Parthians in 53 BC. Cassius managed to rescue himself and a handful of others from the massacre and escaped to Roman Syria. He returned to Rome as a war hero in 51 BC and fell in with the Pompeian faction, serving as tribune and commander of Pompey's fleet during the civil war of 49-48 BC. After Pompey's defeat, Cassius accepted a pardon from Caesar and loyally served him for the next four years. Cassius perhaps hoped to attain supreme power once Caesar retired, but it soon became apparent the dictator had no intention of stepping down. Thus, Cassius suborned his close friend Marcus Junius Brutus into a conspiracy, and he was one of the first to plunge his dagger into Caesar on the Ides of March, 44 BC. After fleeing Rome, Cassius returned to Syria and commandeered several crack legions and a fleet, which he used to attack and pillage the wealthy island of Rhodes. He joined forces with Brutus in 42 BC and marched into Thrace to meet the pro-Caesarian legions led by Mark Antony and Octavian. Though their army outnumbered the Caesarians, Cassius and Brutus seemed oddly fatalistic and made a suicide pact should either meet defeat or capture. At the first clash at Philippi in early October, Cassius suffered a reverse and rashly fell on his sword before he could be told that Brutus had counterattacked and saved the day. Demoralized by his friend's death, Brutus was easily defeated three weeks later and took his own life. This rare and remarkable denarius was struck for Cassius by his lieutenant Marcus Servilius, most likely at Sardis in Asia Minor. The head of Liberty on the obverse reflects the Republican party line against supporters of the dead tyrant Caesar, while the naval pennant, or aplustre, refers to Cassius' victory at Rhodes.
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