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Spectacular Cassius Aureus

C. Cassius Longinus, Imperator and Assassin of Caesar (44-42 BC). AV aureus (19mm, 8.36 gm, 12h).  With moneyer M. Aquinus, mint moving with Cassius in Asia Minor, 43-42 BC. M • AQVINVS • LEG •  LIBER-TAS, diademed head of Libertas right / C • CASSI - PR • COS, ornamented sacrificial tripod with cauldron, decorated with two laurel branches. Crawford 498/1. Babelon Cassia 12. Cohen 2. CRI 217.  Calicó 63. Extremely rare! Struck on a large, medallic flan and well centered. NGC MS? 4/5 - 5/5.

From The Lexington Collection. Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 51 (Zurich, 5 March 2009), lot 108. 

Shakespeare 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. The Bard gets the basic facts right, but omits the details of Cassius' colorful career. Born into a senatorial family but lacking any real talent for politics, Gaius Cassius Longinus found soldiering more to his liking and 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, where he remained for another two years ably defending the province from Parthian attack. 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 and death, Cassius accepted a pardon from Caesar and loyally served him for the next four years. Cassius had a high opinion of himself and 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 and several other senators 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 with the other conspirators, Cassius returned to Syria and commandeered several crack legions and a fleet, which he used to attack and pillage the wealthy island of Rhodes in order to procure gold for the approaching civil war. He joined forces with Brutus in 42 BC and the two 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 gold aureus was struck for Cassius by his lieutenant M. Aquinius, 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

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Auction Dates
April, 2014
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