L. Cornelius Lentulus and C. Claudius Marcellus (consuls) 49 BCE, AR Denarius. Sicily, Apollonia, or Asia, 4.09 g, 18.5mm.
Obv: Triskeles with winged head of Medusa in centre and corn ears between legs.
Rev: LENT – MAR / COS Jupiter/Zeus standing facing, holding thunderbolt and eagle.
Babelon Cornelia 64 and Claudia 9, Sydenham 1029a, Sear Imperators 4, RBW 1562, Crawford 445/1b, Foss RHC 12 (Caesar).
From the zumbly collection; Ex Numismatica Ars Classica Auction 92, 23.05.2016, lot 1690 (realized 700 CHF).
EF, light tone, impeccable surfaces. Superlative example of a rare, popular, and historically important type, issued by the Pompeians to raise troops against Caesar. In our opinion, Mattingly (1960) and Kopij (2012) are correct in assigning this issue to Sicily, if not as mint, then as the target for circulation, to be paired by the collector with Caesar's elephant denarius as the first two issues of the civil war.
As consul-designate in 50 BCE, Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Crus helped block Caesar’s interests at every turn, as tension mounted to fever pitch. Along with the other issuer of this coin, C. Claudius Marcellus, he assumed consular duties in January and by the 7th helped persuade the senate to declare Caesar an enemy of the state, and to place the armies of the Republic in Pompey's hands. This of course prompted Caesar to cross the Rubicon, initiating civil war. This coin was issued shortly after, while the consuls were recruiting troops and ships in Asia and Sicily. The triskeles is the symbol of Sicily, along with the ears of grain representing Sicily’s importance as a breadbasket. The issue is likely connected with Cato's efforts on the island until it was claimed for Caesar by Curio. The statue of Jupiter on the reverse matches descriptions of a famous 460 BCE statue of Zeus by Myron which had pride of place in Syracuse, further supporting the connection to Sicily. It is interesting to note that the statue was of Zeus Eleutherios, the Liberator, intimating that the consuls were fighting for Sicily’s freedom.
It seems Marcellus was primarily involved with the naval effort, and may have died at sea during the war. Lentulus fled with Pompey to Egypt after the latter's defeat at Pharsalus in 48, and both were put to death by Ptolemy XIII in an attempt to curry favour with Caesar. While Caesar publicly regretted Pompey’s demise, it seems he was not so displeased by the death of Lentulus. Afterwards, Caesar accused Lentulus of encouraging the civil war so as to enrich himself, and Cicero attributed to Lentulus “an aversion to taking the trouble to think.”
|Price realized||1'150 CAD 18 bids|
|Starting price||500 CAD|