• sulla80

Roma, She-wolf and Twins

It's been a while since I last purchased a Roman republican coin. Although my interest hasn't moved away - the coins that I am looking for are not commonly available, or at least not at a price / quality combination that I like. Today I received a much anticipated FedEx package - cautiously, suspiciously handled, as required in the current era of COVID-19.


This coin ticks all the boxes for me : historically interesting, good style, well struck, nice condition and toning. It is from 2-3 years before Sulla distinguished himself in the Jugurthine War (112 BC). I admit that trying to link this coin to Sulla is a stretch - the only connection I can come up with: he existed when it was issued. This is one of the most beautiful republican denarii, in my view, and more so for its anonymity in a sea of coins of self aggrandizement. The mysterious and unobtrusive graffito, ΚΛЄ on the obverse, does not detract. The imagery simple, iconic: Roma, peacefully absorbed with the scene of birds and the she-wolf suckling twins, a founding myth of Rome:

Anonymous, 115-114 BC, AR Denarius, Rome mint

Obv: Helmeted head of Roma right wearing a winged Corinthian helmet, with curls on her left shoulder; X (mark of value) behind, border of dots

Rev: Roma, wearing Corinthian helmet, seated right on pile of shields and a helmet beside, holding spear in left hand, birds in flight to upper left and right; to lower right, she-wolf standing right, head left, suckling the twins Romulus and Remus.

Size: 3.8g, 18.5 mm

Ref: Crawford 287/1


Roma seated on shield(s) appears many times on Roman imperial coins, but not usually in this elegant and relaxed form. This is the first time Roma appeared with Corinthian helmet on an obverse. Crawford 281 in 120 BC shows a Roma in Corinthian helmet on the reverse standing. An aureus of Titus as Caesar in 77-78 AD revives this reverse, and among many others, this more modest antoninianus from >350 years after the RR coin, of Gordian III, illustrates the imposing version of Roma seated:

Roman Empire Gordian III, AD 238-244, AR Antoninianus, Rome mint, 2nd officina, 3rd-4th emissions, AD 240

Obv: Radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right

Rev: Roma seated left on shield, holding Victory and spear

Size: 4.39g, 22mm

Ref: RIC IV 38; RSC 312

And Roman Britannia, personified and deified in the 2nd century, armed with a trident and shield and wearing a Corinthian helmet - appears 17 centuries later, looking familiar:

George III, Half Penny 1807, Soho Mint

Obv:Laureate bust of King George III facing right, wearing robes, the surrounding legend reading 'GEORGIUS III-D:G-REX.', with the date,1807, below. Mysterious graffito left, 5.

Rev:Britannia seated upon a rock facing left, extending the symbolic olive branch of peace to all, a shield by her side, "ruling the seas" with a man o' war in full rigging at her feet in the distance and holding the trident spear of Neptune, the legend reads 'BRITANNIA', SOHO mint mark below shield.

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