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Proscribed by the Triumvirate

Today's post looks at another coin from the unraveling Roman Republic. This coin issued in 47 BC only a few years before the assassination of Julius Caesar (Ides of March 44 BC) and in the midst of Caesar's civil war with Pompey's allies (49-45 BC).


The coin comes with a story of the proscriptions under Mark Antony, Octavian, & Lepidus as the triumvirate they took control. The moneyer responsible for this coin (along with Cicero and hundreds or thousands of others) was on the list assembled by the triumviri as they contemplated the elimination of enemies and sought funding for their campaigns.

"As soon as the triumvirs were by themselves they joined in making a list of those who were to be put to death....The number of senators who were sentenced to death and confiscation was about 300, and of the knights about 2000. There were brothers and uncles of the triumvirs in the list of the proscribed, and also some of the officers serving under them who had had some difficulty with the leaders, or with their fellow-officers."
-Appian, The Civil Wars, IV.5.1

The Second Triumvirate, Figures de l'histoire de la République, 1799, Public Domain via archive.org


After the assassination of Julius Caesar, a group of uneasy rivals for power, Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus, formed the Second Triumvirate, an arrangement giving them nearly unlimited power that was formalized on 27 November 43 BC by lex Titia.


Their first act upon returning home was to proscribe (sentence to death) thousands of political enemies and wealthy senators and knights to both solidify their authority and raise capital for their alliance. 64-year old, Cicero was among the first to be executed, captured as he escaped his home, carried on a litter. He was beheaded by Mark Antony's men and his head and hands displayed on the rostra in the forum.

The Death of Cicero, 709 AUC (date from the founding of Rome). Figures de l'histoire de la République, 1799, Public Domain via archive.org

Murder of Cicero, Cassell’s Illustrated Universal History; Rome, Edmund Ollier, 1883, Public Domain via archive.org.


Cicero had made no secret of his antipathy for Caesar and Mark Antony. In his Philippics, 14 speeches against Antony, he wrote:

"Well then, is there anyone, apart from those who were happy to see Caesar king of Rome, who did not want this to happen or disapproved of the act? So we are all guilty. And so, all decent men killed Caesar so far as it was in them to do so: some lacked design, some courage, some opportunity; none lacked the will."
-Cicero, Philippic 2

Among those proscribed was C. Antius Restio the moneyer responsible for this coin.


This coin was issued 4 years before the forming of the triumvirate, before the assassination of Julius Caesar, and in the midst of Caesar's civil war (49–45 BC) initiated by Pompey the Great and Caesar. Pompey was killed 28 September 48 BC but his followers continued to fight Caesar and the last battle of Battle of Munda (17 March 45 BC) was fought in southern Spain with Pompey's son, Gnaeus Pompeius, and Titus Labienus defeated and killed.

Roman Republican, moneyer issues of Imperatorial Rome, C. Antius C.f. Restio, 47 BC, AR denarius (17.5mm, 3.65 g, 6h), Rome mint

Obv: Jugate, diademed heads of Dei Penates right

Rev: Hercules advancing right, holding club and trophy

Ref: Crawford 455/2b; CRI 35; Sydenham 971; Antia 2; RBW 1594

Notes: Iridescent toning, a few light scratches under tone, bankers' marks on obverse, reverse slightly off center. VF.

Provenance: ex CNG eAuction 518 Lot 409 from the Dean Kinzer Collection xx Herakles Numismatic inventory 18735denr.


The rescue of C. Antius Restio

Restio was saved from proscription by a loyal slave and scaped to safety in Sicily according to a story in Valerius Maximus in book IV 8.7 a Chapter on the fidelity of slaves.

Antius Restio, proscribed by the Triumvirs, seeing all his household servants busy plundering and looting, stole out of his home in the dead of night in a flight as secret as he could make it. He had a slave whom he had put in chains and branded with inexpiable letters on the face to his extreme indignity. This slave watched his furtive egress with curious eyes and, following his master’s wandering footsteps with benevolent eagerness, crept up to his side as his voluntary companion. By such studied and dangerous service he had more than filled the most perfect measure of unlooked-for loyalty

While those whose condition in the house had been happier than his were intent on gain, he, who was nothing but the shadow and semblance of his punishments, saw his greatest profit in the life of one who had chastised him so severely. Where it would have been more than enough to forgive, he added affection. Nor did his will to help stop there; he also used a remarkable stratagem to save him

For when he saw that the bloodthirsty soldiers were upon them, he put his master out of the way and built a pyre, on which he threw an indigent old man whom he had seized and killed. When the soldiers asked where Antius was, he pointed to the pyre and answered that he was being burned there after having made atonement for the cruelty to himself. Since what he said sounded plausible, his words were believed.
- Valerius Maximus, de Factis Dictisque Memorabilibus, VI.8.7

A variant of this story told by Appian:

When Restio fled, thinking that he was alone, he was followed secretly by a slave of his own rearing, who had been very well treated by him formerly, but had lately been branded for bad conduct. While Restio was stopping in a marsh the slave came up to him. He was startled at the sight, but the slave said that he did not feel the pain of the brand so much as he remembered the former kindness shown to him.

Then he found a resting-place for his master in a cave, and by working procured such sustenance for him as he could. The soldiers in the neighborhood of the cave had their suspicions aroused concerning Restio, and went to it. The slave observed their movements and followed them, and, seeing an old man walking in front of them, he ran up and killed him and cut off his head. The soldiers were astounded.

They arrested him for a highwayman, but he said, "I have killed Restio, my master, the man who marked me with these scars." The soldiers took the head from him for the sake of the reward, and made haste to the city, to find their mistake. The slave brought his master away and conveyed him by ship to Sicily.
-Appian, The Civil Wars, IV.43 

Appian also mentions that "Antius’ wife bundled him up in a bag of bedclothes and paid some porters to carry him from the house to the coast, from where he escaped to Sicily."


C. Antius C.f. Restio is presumed to be the son of the C. Antius Restio the tribune of 68 who enacted a law to reduce corruption. The Romans commonly made extravagant entertainment a form of bribery to gain political favors. Another coin from this moneyer has the portrait of his father with the same reverse:

"‘After Sulla’s death Lepidus moved a law as consul, calling it a “rations” law (Cato, in fact, gives that name to sumptuary laws). Then after a few years Antius Restio brought another law before the people — an excellent law, yet rendered null and void, not because it was formally repealed, but because luxury was firmly planted and the vices were united in an unshakable alliance. Still, one memorable thing is recalled about Restio, the law’s mover: afterwards, and for as long as he lived, he never dined out, lest he witness the disdain heaped on the law that he himself had carried for the common good."
-Macrobius, Saturnalia, iii.13

also referenced in Gellius, Attic Nights:

"Then the law of Antius,​ besides curtailing outlay, contained the additional provision, that no magistrate or magistrate elect should dine out anywhere, except at the house of stipulated persons."
-Gellius, ii.24.13 

The poet Catullus writes of a speech of Publius Sestius, friend of Cicero, speaking against candidate Antius Restio (the father of the moneyer).

"I wanted to go to dinner with Sestius, and so I read a speech of his against the candidate Antius, full of poison and plague."
-Catullus, 44 

Why Dei Penates on the obverse? The subject matter of ancient coins was used for promoting the moneyer and the moneyer's family to support his political career. The connection could be that the Antius family came from Lavinium, the town founded by Aeneas where he first set up a shrine to the Penates of Troy (household gods) which were later moved.

"The first town of the Roman line which was founded in Latium, was Lavinium; for there are our Penates. This was named from the daughter of Latinus who was wedded to Aeneas, Lavinia. Thirty years after this, a second town was founded, named Alba; it was named from the alba ‘white’ sow. This sow, when she had escaped from Aeneas’s ship to Lavinium, gave birth to a litter of thirty young; from this prodigy, thirty years after the founding of Lavinium, this second city was established, called Alba Longa ‘the Long White City,’ on account of the colour of the sow and the nature of the place. From here came Rhea, mother of Romulus; from her, Romulus; from him, Rome."
-Varro, On the Latin Language, V.144

For more on the Dei Penates and Aeneas' arrival from Troy see this related post (and another coin featuring the Dei Penates): New Beginnings & Ancient Symbols. The Dei Penates became one with the Dioscuri when they were introduced later to Rome.

"The Dioscuri were identified with the Dei Penates who must have been worshipped in Rome long before the arrival of Castor and Pollux. While each early Roman household had a private cult of its own penates(the spirits that presided over the store-cupboard,penus),those of the king were especially regarded by the community and later became known as the Penates Publici. These Penates Dei had a temple on the Velia, on the site once occupied by the house of King Tullus Hostilius, When the Dioscuri were introduced into Rome, the two groups were merged, and thus archaic statues of the Dioscuri as the Dei Penates stood in the temple."
-Scullard, Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic,pp.65-66

Why Hercules on the reverse?

Detail from the painting by Gustave Moreau (1826–1898), The Daughters Of Thespius (Thestius) (c 1853-, unfinished), oil on canvas, 258 x 255 cm, Musée National Gustave-Moreau, Paris. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


The Antius gens claimed descent from Hercules via his son, Antiades, by Aglaea, daughter of King Thespius. 18-year-old Hercules en route to slay the lion of Cithaeron was entertained by King Thespius. There are several versions of the story - in this version the king tricks the young Hercules into fathering 50 children with his 50 daughters (Antiades was one of these children who are collectively called the Thespiadae) :

"Now this Thespius was king of Thespiae, and Hercules went to him when he wished to catch the lion. The king entertained him for fifty days, and each night, as Hercules went forth to the hunt, Thespius bedded one of his daughters with him (fifty daughters having been borne to him by Megamede, daughter of Arneus); for he was anxious that all of them should have children by Hercules. Thus Hercules, though he thought that his bed-fellow was always the same, had intercourse with them all. And having vanquished the lion, he dressed himself in the skin and wore the scalp as a helmet."
-Apollodorus, Library 2.4.10 

The trophy that Hercules carries is not an attribute of Hercules and this may be a reference to Caesar's military victories.


References (in addition to those linked inline)

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