DETAIL: This is a very handsome and somewhat uncommon silver denarius produced in the imperial city of Rome itself, sometime during the year 148 B.C., under the authority of the Roman Senate, by the "moneyer" Quintus Marcius Libo, whose name is abbreviated on the reverse of the coin beneath the two galloping horses ("Q. MARC"). The coin is in very good condition showing moderate levels of wear from circulation in ancient Rome. Nonetheless the themes are quite plain, and the legends, inasmuch as they existed when struck, remain legible. We say "remain legible" because as was common to coins during the era, the strike was a bit off-center. If you look carefully, you'll see than the obverse strike is a little low and left, meaning the back of Roma's head crowds the left side of the flan (the edge of the coin). So the legend which is supposed to be behind Roma's head, "LIBO", is almost entirely off the flan (the edge of the coin). Only the top of the "L" and "I" in "LIBO" are visible, and what appears to be the top of the "B" and "O" are both heavily worn from circulation and so rather indistinct.
Likewise (in mirror image) the reverse side of the coin is struck a little low and to the right (you'll see a blank area to the left of the horsemen, but at the right flan, the horses crowd the right flan, and in fact part of the legends and themes are lost "off the edge" of the flan. Of course twenty-two centuries ago the Romans produced their coins by hand, and the coins were struck using dies and a hammer. So these types of imperfections, particularly off-centered strikes and smallish planchets (coin blanks which are a little too small to capture the entirely of the intended themes and legends) were the rule, not the exception. Nonetheless the coin was well struck, and both with respect to the obverse and reverse, the themes are in high profile and easy to discern. And though the planchet was a little smallish (though we might note it is the "standard" 17mm in diameter), it is nonetheless a thick and heavy coin.
The obverse of the coin depicts the bust of the Roman Goddess "Roma", Goddess of the Romans, of the city of Rome, and of the Roman Empire (more history below). She is depicted wearing the winged helmet of Mercury, alluding to her role as herald of victory. Behind her head near the edge of the coin is what remains of the legend "LIBO", which refers to the identity of the Roman Moneyer authorized by the Roman Senate to produce this coinage more detail two paragraphs below). The reverse of the coin depicts the "Dioscuri Twins", known to both the ancient Romans as well as to the Greeks as Castor (or Kastor) and Pollux (sometimes called Polydeuces). In legend they were the twin sons of Leda and the brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. They were the gods of warlike youth and contests, and protector of travelers and especially mariners in distress. They are known as the Gemini, Latin for twins, and were worshipped in Sparta and Olympia along with the other heroes such as Herakles.
The twins are depicted as horsemen galloping, with couched lances, and stars above their pilei (pointed felt caps). Beneath the horses are two inscriptions; the first being "Q.MARC" directly beneath the horses. If you look closely at this specimen, the "Q" is quite obvious, neat the center of the lower portion of the coin. If you follow the head of the leftmost horse in a straight line down, you'll run right smack into the "Q". Following the "Q", a little less distinct, one can nonetheless make out with certainly the letters "M" and "A", which are rather spread out, not compact, as they are run together (see the example below). The "R" may also be discerned, though it is even less distinct due to circulation wear. Finally it appears that only a portion of the last letter, "C", was originally present on the specimen due to the fact that the strike was off-center right, and so the very rightmost extreme of the strike was off the edge of the planchet. Whatever portion of the "C" which may originally have been on the coin, has been worn almost smooth (or entirely smooth) due to circulation wear. Finally, since the coin was struck low, the bottom most legend "ROMA" is off the planchet entirely. It does appear that perhaps the upper parts of the letters "ROMA" may originally have been visible on the coin, but inasmuch as whatever portion of that legend was right on the edge of the coin, it has been obliterated by circulation wear.
The "Q.MARC" legend on the reverse of the coin together with the "LIBO" legend on the obverse of the coin, together form the legend "Q.MARC.LIBO", an abbreviation for the moneyer ("coinage manufacturer") "Quintus Marcius Libo" who produced this coinage under the authority of the Roman Senate (for more about Roman moneyers see here) in 148 B.C. The legend "ROMA" which should be found beneath his name is the Roman name for the city of Roma (not the tomato). The Goddess Roma, depicted on the front of the coin, was the personification Rome. A personification isn't really a deity or goddess, it is rather a symbol much like the Statue of Liberty symbolizes both America and the abstract concept of freedom and liberty. In Roman context, these are the values at the heart of the Via Romana, the Roman Way, and are thought to be those qualities which gave the Roman Republic the moral strength to conquer and civilize the world. In this case, Roma represented precisely to the Romans what the State of Liberty means to Americans, and what Britannia means to the British. It is more than merely a national symbol.
With respect to the legends and themes struck on the reverse side of the coin, it's rather difficult to see and conceptualize what is to be found on the reverse of the coin, and what is missing unless you know where to look, and what you are looking for. But if you look below, left, for illustrative purposes, we have provided a museum-quality example where these reverse side features are easier to discern. Please note this specimen is NOT the specific coin for sale. It is for illustrative purposes, however all the rest of the images in this offering ARE of the specific coin offered for sale.
The Goddess Roma, depicted on the obverse side of this coin, was the deification of the spirit of the Roman Empire Empire. Roma stood for all the strong and benevolent power of the Empire. From the earliest recorded history it was the presentiment of Romans that Rome would be "the eternal city". And so from the spirit of the eternal city, from the "genius of Rome", they created "Roma". They paid divine honors to her; erected temples and altars to her honor; created a priesthood to perform sacrifices to this deity of their own manufacture. Roma is usually portrayed helmeted, in armor, often accompanied by a shield, typically holding a small figure (trophy) of Victory (the Greek Goddess "Nike"), a wreath, or a parazonium (a short sword generally worn by Roman military officers) or less commonly, a scepter or spear (or "hasta pura"). If depicted holding a statue of Victory, oftentimes the statue itself is depicted holding the wand of Mercury (the Greek God Hermes); an allusion to her role as herald of victory, and in many coins of the Republic she is depicted wearing the winged helmet of Mercury.
The "hasta pura" Roma is often depicted holding is a type of ceremonial lance (spear, pike) without an iron head, oftentimes with a knob at the end, the forerunner of the standard pilum issued to Roman soldiers. The hasta was derived by the Roman from the Etrurians, who called it a "corim". By the Sabines it was called a "quiris", their king called "coritos" as the spear was to them an attribute of royalty. The Hasta was the symbol not only of power, fortitute and valor, but also of majesty and even divinity. It is one of the insignia of the Gods, and of the Emperors and Augustae after their apotheosis, implying that they had become objects of worship. It is generally found in the hands of female divinities, as the war-spear is in those of warriors and heroes.
The first temple to Roma was erected in Smyrna as far back as 195 BC. But the worship of Roma was the first step toward the deification of the Roman Emperors of the future. It was no great step to think of the spirit of Rome being incarnated in one man, especially someone as charismatic as Caius Julius Caesar, and indeed, the worship of the Emperor began with the worship of Julius Caesar after his death. In 29 B.C. Emperor Augustus granted to the provinces of Asia and Bithynia permission to erect temples in Ephesus and Nicea for the joint worship of the goddess Roma and the deified Julius Caesar. At these shrines Roman citizens were encouraged and even exhorted to worship. The step was taken when Augustus gave permission to Roman Provincial Authorities in Pergamum in Asia and in Nicomedia in Bithynia, to erect temples for the worship of Roma and Augustus himself.
So Roma was worshipped as a deity, though principally in the provinces. She was worshipped as a deity as early as the second century B.C. in many cities in Asia Minor. The goddess Roma was still a typical feature of Roman coinage even after the empire became Christian, as the goddess was not so much considered a pagan deity as she was considered the personification of Rome. In Roman art Roma was typically depicted with imagery closely akin to that of Tyche (the Greek goddess of prosperity), with a mural crown on her head and with all of the attributes of prosperity and power. Under Augustus (Julius Caesar's heir) her cult in Hellenic cities was united partly with that of (the deified) Augustus, partly with that of (the deified) Julius Caesar. In Rome itself Roma was typically depicted in a military theme, sometimes with imagery closely akin to that of Minerva (Roman Goddess of War; from the Greek Athena). Between the old Forum and the Coliseum the Emperor Hadrian erected a temple in honor of Roma and Venus, as ancestors of the Roman people.
Following the conquest and annexation of Galatia (Asia Minor) under Caesar Octavianus Augustus in 25 B.C., a magnificent temple was erected in Ancyra (the administrative capital of the newly established Roman province) in honor of the Emperor and of the Goddess Roma, divine personification of the conquering city. The temple still stands in the capital city of Ankara, Turkey. Finally in the city of Rome itself a temple to Roma (as well as a temple to Venus) were situated on the Valia Hill in Rome. Emperor Hadrianus started building the Temple of Roma in 121 A.D., sited between the old Forum and the Coliseum, and the temple was inaugurated around 140 A.D. by Emperor Antonius Pius. Both Hadrian and Antoninus Pius struck a series of coins commemorating the construction of the temple, with the legend, "Romae Aeternae", from whence it is believed came the slogan, "Rome, the eternal city". The temple eventually became known as the templum urbis, and the ruins still remain until today.
The "reverse" of the coin depicts the "Dioscuri Twins", also known contemporarily as the "Gemini Twins". In Greek mythology, Castor (or Kastor) and Pollux (sometimes called Polydeuces) were the twin sons of Leda and the brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. They were the gods of warlike youth and contests, and protector of travelers and especially mariners in distress. They are known as the Gemini, Latin for twins, and were worshipped in Sparta and Olympia along with the other heroes such as Herakles. According to Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, kastor is Greek for "beaver", and poludeukeis means "very sweet". They are called the Dioscuri (dios kouroi), meaning the "Sons of Zeus". The Dioscuri in myth had the same mother, the Queen Leda. Leda according to myth made love with her husband King Tyndareus of Sparta, and from the union was eventually born Castor, who of course was mortal. However Leda also made love the same night to Zeus, and gave birth to Helen (of Troy) and Castor's brother, Polydeuces, both of whom were immortal.
The two twin brothers were affectionate brothers, always acting in concert, never dissension between them, the ideal brothers. The Greek God Poseidon gave them the power the help shipwrecked men, and the power to still the waves and the winds. When Theseus (the seducer "Paris") abducted their sister, Helen, they rescued her. They were the Hero Twins of Sparta, mentioned in Homer's Iliad. According to myth Polydeuces was a powerful boxer, and Castor a great horseman. Castor was also reputed to be a martial arts expert, and taught Herakles ("Hercules") to fence. In Roman mythology, Castor was venerated much more often than Polydeuces. To the Romans he was known as Castore, his brother was "Pollux".
The twins accompanied Jason on the Argo. During the voyage, Polydeuces killed King Amycus in a boxing match. Castor and Polydeuces abducted and married Phoebe and Hilaeira, the daughters of Leucippus. In return, Idas and Lynceus, nephews of Leucippus (or rival suitors), killed Castor. Some alternate accounts claim that though Castor was killed by the brothers, it was when the twins were fighting against Athens, and the brothers were involved in the attack against Sparta. In any event, since Castor was mortal, Castor and Polydeuces were separated by death. Castor was sent to the underworld, Polydeuces refused to ascend to Olympus without his brother.
Eventually the Gods of Mount Olympus relented, and allowed the two brothers to spend eternity together, half the year on Mount Olympus and half the year in the underworld. Zccording to the legend, in reqard for their brotherly devotion, Zeus set them in the sky as the constellation of the twins ("Gemini"), or the morning and evening stars. They had their own (substantial and early) temple in the Roman Forum, the "Temple of Castor and Pollux", and their festival was celebrated on July 15. The were especially venerated in Rome's port city of Ostia in the role as protectors of mariners. Some anthropolgists and historians have suggested an Indo-European origin for the myth of the divine twins. The constellation Gemini is said to represent these twins, and its brightest stars Castor and Pollux are named for them. There are also ancient sources which identify them with the morning and evening stars.
According to ancient Roman historians, the worship of the Dioscuri, as divinities, had it's origin early in the history of Republican Rome. I all originated during the victory which the consul Postumius gained, near the lake Regillus, over the Latins and the sons of Tarquinius Superbus (B.C. 493 or 496). It was said that, after that engagement, the Dioscuri appeared in the forum of Rome. They stood resting upon their lances, beside their horses, which were drinking at a fountain. These twin heroes disappeared as soon as they had announced the news of the battle, at a moment when, on account of the distance from the scene of the slaughter, no one could have as yet become acquainted with the outcome of the fighting. It is also related that, during the action, two young men, mounted on two white horses, were seen fighting valiantly for the Romans.
This legend is alluded to in many depictions of the Dioscuri on Roman coinage. It also forms the subject of one of the most spirit-stirring poems in Macaulay's collection of poetry, "Lays of Ancient Rome", under the title of "the Battle of the Lake Regillus, as sung at the feast of Castor and Pollux, on the ides of Quintilis, in the year of the city CCCCLI." (B.C. 303). This characteristic tradition of supernatural powers crowning with victory the arms of the yet young republic, is, by the author's genius and his conversance with classic lore, filled to overflowing with warlike incident, and with patriotic animation. After proclaiming the Roman victory to a great throng of people, the two strange horsemen, are recognized by their pointed caps, and the stars above them, as the "Great Twin Brethren, to whom the Dorians pray".
The Dioscuri are oftentimes represented as two naked men, helmeted, standing together, front faced, armed with spears, which they hold transversely. In other depictions they stand holding their spears, with a horse on each side of them, and a star over each of their heads. However their most common depiction was on coinage of the Roman Republic, where they appear as horsemen galloping, with couched lances, and stars above their pilei (pointed felt caps).
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Your purchase includes, upon request, mounting of this coin in either pendant style "a" or "b" as shown here. Pendant style "a" is a clear, airtight acrylic capsule designed to afford your ancient coin maximum protection from both impact damage and degradation. It is the most "politically correct" mounting. Style "b" is a bezel wrap mount in either sterling silver or 14kt gold fill. Both pendant styles include a split ring for mounting your pendant onto a silver tone or gold tone chain, also included in the cost of your purchase. Upon request, there are also an almost infinite variety of other pendants which might well suit both you and your ancient coin pendant, and include both sterling silver and solid 14kt gold mountings, including those shown here. As well, upon request, we can also make available a huge variety of chains in lengths from 16 to 30 inches, in metals including sterling silver, 14kt gold fill, and solid 14kt gold. Please note, you must request and specify how you wish your coin mounted, as absent specific instructions to the contrary, the default shipment method is the unmounted coin.
HISTORY: Coins came into being during the seventh century B.C. in Lydia and Ionia, part of the Greek world, and were made from a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver. Each coin blank was heated and struck with a hammer between two engraved dies. Unlike modern coins, they were not uniformly round. Each coin was wonderfully unique. Coinage quickly spread to the island and city states of Western Greece. Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.) then spread the concept of coinage throughout the lands he conquered. Ancient coins are archaeological treasures from the past. They were buried for safekeeping because of their value and have been slowly uncovered throughout modern history. Oftentimes soldiers the night before battle would bury their coins and jewelry, hoping and believing that they would live long enough to recover them, and to return to their family. Killed in battle, these little treasure hoards remain until today scattered throughout Western and Eastern Europe, even into the Levant and Persia.
As well, everyone from merchants to housewives found the safest place to keep their savings was buried in a pot, or in some other secretive location. If they met an unexpected end, the whereabouts of the merchants trade goods or the household's sugar jar money might never be known. Recently a commercial excavation for a new building foundation in London unearthed a Roman mosaic floor. When archaeologists removed the floor, they found 7,000 silver denarii secreted beneath the floor. Even the Roman mints buried their produce. There were over 300 mints in the Roman Empire striking coinage. Hoards of as many as 40,000 coins have been found in a single location near these ancient sites. Ancient coins reflect the artistic, political, religious, and economic themes of their times. The acquisition of ancient coins is a unique opportunity to collect art which has been appreciated throughout the centuries.
Coins of the Roman Empire most frequently depicted the Emperor on the front of the coins, and were issued in gold, silver, and bronze. The imperial family was also frequently depicted on the coinage, and, in some cases, coins depicted the progression of an emperor from boyhood through maturity. The reverse side of often served as an important means of political propaganda, frequently extolling the virtues of the emperor or commemorating his victories. Many public works and architectural achievements such as the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus were also depicted. Important political events such as alliances between cities were recorded on coinage. Many usurpers to the throne, otherwise unrecorded in history, are known only through their coins. Interestingly, a visually stunning portrayal of the decline of the Roman Empire is reflected in her coinage. The early Roman bronze coins were the size of a half-dollar. Within 100-150 years those had shrunk to the size of a nickel. And within another 100-150 years, to perhaps half the size of a dime.
One of the greatest civilizations of recorded history was the ancient Roman Empire. In exchange for a very modest amount of contemporary currency, you can possess a small part of that great civilization in the form of a 2,000 year old piece of jewelry. The Roman civilization, in relative terms the greatest military power in the history of the world, was founded in the 8th century (B.C.). In the 4th Century (B.C.) the Romans were the dominant power on the Italian Peninsula, having defeated the Etruscans and Celts. In the 3rd Century (B.C.) the Romans conquered Sicily, and in the following century defeated Carthage, and controlled the Greece. Throughout the remainder of the 2nd Century (B.C.) the Roman Empire continued its gradual conquest of the Hellenistic (Greek Colonial) World by conquering Syria and Macedonia; and finally came to control Egypt in the 1st Century (B.C.).
The pinnacle of Roman power was achieved in the 1st Century (A.D.) as Rome conquered much of Britain and Western Europe. For a brief time, the era of "Pax Romana", a time of peace and consolidation reigned. Civilian emperors were the rule, and the culture flourished with a great deal of liberty enjoyed by the average Roman Citizen. However within 200 years the Roman Empire was in a state of steady decay, attacked by Germans, Goths, and Persians. In the 4th Century (A.D.) the Roman Empire was split between East and West. The Great Emperor Constantine temporarily arrested the decay of the Empire, but within a hundred years after his death the Persians captured Mesopotamia, Vandals infiltrated Gaul and Spain, and the Goths even sacked Rome itself. Most historians date the end of the Western Roman Empire to 476 (A.D.) when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed. However the Eastern Roman Empire (The Byzantine Empire) survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain in the West, throughout most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, and into Asia Minor. Valuables such as coins and jewelry were commonly buried for safekeeping, and inevitably these ancient citizens would succumb to one of the many perils of the ancient world. Oftentimes the survivors of these individuals did not know where the valuables had been buried, and today, two thousand years later caches of coins and rings are still commonly uncovered throughout Europe and Asia Minor. Roman Soldiers oftentimes came to possess large quantities of "booty" from their plunderous conquests, and routinely buried their treasure for safekeeping before they went into battle. If they met their end in battle, most often the whereabouts of their treasure was likewise, unknown. Throughout history these treasures have been inadvertently discovered by farmers in their fields, uncovered by erosion, and the target of unsystematic searches by treasure seekers. With the introduction of metal detectors and other modern technologies to Eastern Europe in the past three or four decades, an amazing number of new finds are seeing the light of day 2,000 years or more after they were originally hidden by their past owners. And with the liberalization of post-Soviet Eastern Europe, new markets have opened eager to share in these treasures of the Roman Empire.
These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. Proceeds of the sales benefit the Southern Urals State Student Association for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies in Russia; providing both postgraduate and undergraduate students with meaningful part-time employment, notebook computers, and both reference and study materials. It also supports other institutions and organizations within Russia involved in the study of anthropology and archaeology. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price.
SHIPPING: These antiquities come from a number of collections which by and large originated here in Eastern Europe. As well, additional specimens are occasionally acquired from other institutions and dealers, principally in Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. All of these artifacts are now in the United States and are available for immediate delivery via U.S. Mail. All purchases are backed by an unlimited guarantee of satisfaction and authenticity. If for any reason you are not entirely satisfied with your purchase, you may return it for a complete and immediate refund of your entire purchase price. A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request.
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