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Ancients: Julius Caesar as Dictator (49-44 BC). AR denarius (3.77 gm). ...

2011 September Long Beach Signature World & Ancient Coins Auction #3015

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Auction Ended On: Sep 7, 2011
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Long Beach Convention Center
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802


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Outstanding, Pedigreed Caesar Portrait
Julius Caesar as Dictator (49-44 BC). AR denarius (3.77 gm). Moneyer M. Mettius, March, 44 BC. CAESAR IMP, laureate head of Caesar right, lituus over culullus behind / M. METTIVS, Venus standing left, holding Victory in right hand and scepter in left, resting left elbow on shield; in field to left, G. Crawford 480/3. RSC 32, Alföldi, Caesar, pl. xii, 26 (this coin). Deeply struck in choice metal from dies of outstanding quality. Attractive old cabinet toning. Good extremely fine.

From the Rubicon Collection. Ex NAC 38 (21 March 2007), lot 1. Ex Leu 10 (1974), lot 8. Ex Lewis Collection (Naville XI, 1925) lot 157.

For two centuries, Rome had spurned the Hellenistic practice of placing the ruler's portrait on the coinage of the realm, much as they rejected the concept of kingship altogether. So early in 44 BC, many Romans must have been stunned to see the image of Julius Caesar, recently appointed dictator for an unprecedented fourth time, stamped on newly issued silver denarii. Like a profusion of other honors and titles, the right to place his image on coins had been bestowed on Caesar by the Roman Senate. Caesar's enemies may have had an ulterior motive in approving the honor, as it almost certainly would fuel the growing suspicion that Caesar intended to name himself king of Rome. If this was the intent, it succeeded, for within three months a conspiracy had been formed and Caesar was duly assassinated at a meeting of the Senate on March 15, 44 BC. This silver denarius carries a startlingly realistic, warts-and-all portrait of Caesar on the obverse and the image of the dictator's patron goddess, Venus, on the reverse. The obverse legend acclaims Caesar as "Imperator," or victorious general.

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