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Sulla's Warning

I guess I like this coin from the time of Sulla's dictatorship as I have all three varieties identified by Crawford: 1a, 1b, and 1c...the third one falls somewhere close to the top of my list of favorite coins. Crawford lists 19 dies for this variety:

C. Marius C.f. Capito, 81 BC, AR Serrate Denarius, Rome mint

Obv: Draped bust of Ceres right, wearing wreath of grain ears; XI at end of legend

Rev: Husbandman with yoke of oxen plowing left; XI above

Ref: Crawford 378/1a; Sydenham 744; Maria 7

Here's my example of 378/1b which is the most unusual of the three variants variant with only 6/125 dies described in Crawford. I liked the grasshopper/cricket in exergue, even though it falls off the flan.

C. Marius C.f. Capito, 81 BC, AR Serrate Denarius, Rome mint

Obv: C•MARI•C•F•CAPIT•XXVIII, draped bust of Ceres, wearing wreath of grain ears; XXVIII before

Rev: Ploughman with yoke of oxen left; XXVIII above, S • C and cricket in exergue. Crawford 378/1b; Sydenham 744a; Maria 8

C. Marius C.f. Capito, 81 BC, AR Serrate Denarius, Rome mint

Obv: Bust of Ceres right; behind, CAPIT·T(upside down)XXXXVIII, Below chin, unidentified symbol

Rev:Ploughman with a yoke of oxen left; above, T(upside down)XXXXVIII. In exergue, C·MARI·C·F / S·C

Ref: Babelon Maria 9; Sydenham 744b; Crawford 378/1c

In 88 BC, just before his attack on Rome, Sulla was driven to the home of Marius by a murderous mob, raised by Sulpicius to promote the cause of Marius with the senate. This mob of Marius supporters murdered Sulla's son-in-law Quintus, the son of Pompeius married to Cornelia Sulla, and others. [see:Lives] The republic was damaged as Sulla turned six legions against Rome when he didn't accept the manipulation of the senate that gave Marius command of "his" legions.

Loyalty and service to the republic became confused with the ambitions of powerful and egotistical leaders (e.g. Marius and Sulla) and their supporters. The senate and laws became pawns in their ambitions. Julius Caesar was formed during this period - and his confrontation with Sulla at this time is another interesting story. Quintus Lucretius Ofella dared to bid for consulship in 81 BC, defying Sulla. Sulla had him killed (see: Appian, Bellum Civile 1.11.101) - here is how Sulla told this story:

Then Sulla assembled the people and said to them, "Know, citizens, and learn from me, that I caused the death of Lucretius because he disobeyed me." And then he told the following story: "A husbandman was bitten by fleas while ploughing. He stopped his ploughing twice in order to clear them out of his shirt.When they bit him again he burned his shirt, so that he might not be so often interrupted in his work. And I tell you, who have felt my hand twice, to take warning lest the third time fire be brought in requisition."

Michael Harlan in his book on Moneyers 81-64 BCE wonders if, perhaps, the story might have inspired the coin or the coin inspired the story...

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