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Roman Voting Laws

This coin honors a relative of the moneyer who was responsible for voting reforms. 63 BC was an eventful year with many familiar names:

Lucullus and ally of Sulla and key general in the Third Mithridatic War, holds a triumph and retires. Pompey the Great is conquering in the East and will earn a third triumph in Rome after his return, in 61 AD. Marcus Tullius Cicero, foils the Cataline conspiracy, and is elected consul. Julius Caesar, the one of the Ides of March fame, is elected Pontifex Maximus and praetor for 62 BC. Cato the Younger is elected tribune of the people for 62 BC.

L. Cassius Longinus, moneyer, AR Denarius minted at Rome, 63 BC.

Obv: Draped bust of Vesta veiled left, kylix behind, letter before

Rev: Male figure left, dropping inscribed tablet into a cista

Ref: Crawford 413/1; Syd. 935; Cassia 10

The moneyer has quite the family tree:

L Cassius Longinus (moneyer) brother of one of Julius Caesar's assassins and son of Gaius Cassius Longinus Varus (consul of 73) son of L Cassius Longinus (consul of 107) son of L Cassius Longinus Ravilla (consul of 127)

In 113 BC L Cassius Longinus Ravilla was special prosecutor in the case of three Vestal Virgins accused of violating their vows of chastity.

Lucius Cassius [Longinus Ravila, consul 127, censor 125] was (as I have already often noted) a man of greatest severity. As often as he was a quaesitor in some trial in which inquiry was being made concerning the murder of a man he would advise and even instruct the jury as to what Cicero is now advising: that they should consider in whose interest (cui bono) it was that the man perish whose murder they were investigating. Because of this rectitude, on the occasion on which Sextus Peducaeus the tribune of the plebs [113] indicted Lucius [Caecilius] Metellus [Delmaticus] the Pontifex Maximus [from before 114 to 103] and the whole College of Pontiffs on the grounds of having improperly passed judgment [December 16 and 18, 114] on the chastity of the Vestal Virgins, because they had condemned only one, Aemilia, but exonerated the other two, Marcia and Licinia, the Populus appointed this Cassius to investigate the same Vestal Virgins. He condemned the two of them, and several others besides, with too great asperity (as people think).

- Asconius note 32 on Cicero's Pro Milone

Lex Cassia tabellaria one of four laws replacing oral declaration with secret ballot:

  • 139 BC lex Gabinia tabellaria : secret ballot for election of magistrates

  • 137 BC lex Cassia tabellaria : secret ballot for juries except in cases of treason

  • 131 BC lex Papiria : secret ballot in the passing of laws

  • 107 BC lex Caelia : secret ballot expanding Cassia to cases of treason

Here is another denarius with voting Theme:

P. Nerva, 113-112 BC, AR Denarius, Rome mint

Obv: Helmeted bust of Roma left, holding shield and spear; crescent above, mark of value to left

Rev: P. NERVA, Three citizens voting on comitium: one voter receives ballot from attendant below, another voter places ballot in cista; P on tablet above bar

Ref: Crawford 292/1

Here are two coins with control marks related to voting, the first with a voting tablet - this one probably the most difficult to find given there is only one set of dies that produced this coin and on few of there known. Other than my coin below, I only find one in ACSearch: C Piso Frugi with ballot tablet control mark.

C. Calpurnius L. f. Frugi, AR Denarius, Rome 61 BC

Obv: Laureate head of Apollo to right; behind, voting tablet

Rev: C PISO L F FRVG, naked horseman galloping right, holding palm branch; above, wheat fractional sign

Ref: Crawford 408/1a (dies 33/38), BMCRR Rome 3782

The V or VR on the tablet stands for VTI ROGAS, “as you propose”, a vote for the new law or "ANTIQUO" a vote to retain the old law.

This second coin has a voting urn:

C. Cassius Longinus, AR denarius, 126,

Obv: Head of Roma with winged helmet right; behind, mark of value * and voting-urn

Rev: C. CASSI / ROMA, Libertas in quadriga right, holding reins, rod and pileus

Ref: Crawford 266/1, Syd. 502

The urn refers to the governance innovation of secret vote which was applied in all jury trials except in cases of high treason (perduellio) by Lex Cassia of 137 BC. The law was proposed and promoted by C. Cassius Longinus, consul in 124. The moneyer may be the son of the consul.

"A law for the establishment of the ballot was brought forward by Lucius Cassius. The people thought that its liberties were at stake; the chief men of the state dissented, and in a matter affecting the safety of the nobles, they feared the rashness of the multitude, and the licentiousness of the ballot."

- Cicero, Pro Sestius, 103

Several other coins for this theme (ACSearch links, not my coins)

- a coin of C. Malleolus, A. Albinus, and L. Caecilius Metellus 96 BC with voting tablet

- a coin of L. Papius 79 BC with a voting tablet and voting urn

- a coin of Caius Cœlius Caldus 51 BC with a voting tablet


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