Denarius
Rome
ValueOne Denarius
Mass3.80[1] g
Diameter18[1] mm
Orientation12 o'clock[1]
Years of minting43 BC to 42 BC
Obverse
Brutusidescropped.jpg
DesignerLucius Plaetorius Cestianus
Reverse
Brutus & L. Plaetorius Cestianus, denarius, 42 BC, RRC 508-3 (reverse).png
DesignerLucius Plaetorius Cestianus

The Ides of March coin also known as the Denarius of Brutus or the EID MAR is a rare version of the denarius coin issued by Marcus Junius Brutus from 43 to 42 BC. The coin was struck to celebrate the March 15, 44 BC, assassination of Julius Caesar. It features a bust of Brutus, who was one of the assassins, on the obverse while the reverse features a pileus cap between two daggers. The coin was minted in both silver and gold. Approximately 100 of the silver coins are known to exist, but only three of the gold examples have survived. The coin is considered one of the rarest ancient Roman coins.

Background

The coin was struck with the words EID MAR (short for Eidibus Martiis – on the Ides of March) to commemorate the assassination of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BC.[2] The assassin Brutus appears on the coin's obverse with a bust of him, looking to the right. The reverse of the coin displays a pileus cap flanked by two daggers. EID MAR appears on the reverse below the daggers to commemorate the assassination of Caesar during the Ides of March.[3] The pileus cap was a Roman symbol of freedom, and was often worn by recently freed slaves.[4] The daggers represent the weapons which were used to kill Julius Caesar.[5]

The minting of the coins took place between 43 and 42 BC, coinciding with the Liberators' civil war. The coins were struck by a "military mint" which traveled with Brutus.[6] The coins were ordered by Brutus and produced by Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus, possibly to pay Brutus' army.[7] The issuance of the coin suggests that the assassination was legitimized by the state, but it was not. The assassination of Caesar was not supported by the majority of Romans.[citation needed] The minting of the coin may also be a political statement or propaganda commissioned by the assassins of Caesar.[8][page needed] An interpretation of the coin's symbols is that the Roman state was liberated from slavery with the assassination of Caesar.[9]

Scarce gold version of the Eid Mar
Scarce gold version of the Eid Mar

Varieties

The coin is roughly the size of the American nickel coin,[10] and it is considered collectable and rare. It was called the number 1 coin in Harlan Berk's 2019 book, 100 Greatest Ancient Coins.[11]

The majority of the coins were struck in silver, but there is an exceedingly scarce variety of the coin struck in gold. On October 29, 2020, one of the gold variety sold at the Roma Numismatics auction in London, for £3,240,000 (US$4,188,393).[6][12] There are approximately 100 known examples struck in silver and only three known examples of the gold variety.[10] One of the surviving gold coins has a hole made in it during the Roman period.[13]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Museum number 1860,0328.124". The British Museum. The British Museum. Archived from the original on 30 January 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  2. ^ Phang, Sara Elise; Spence Ph.D., Iain; Kelly Ph.D., Douglas; Londey Ph.D., Peter (2016). Conflict in ancient Greece and Rome : the definitive political, social, and military encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 819. ISBN 978-1610690195. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  3. ^ "An Ides of March Coin". University of Oxford. 2022. Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  4. ^ πίλεον λευκόν, Diodorus Siculus Exc. Leg. 22 p. 625, ed. Wess.; Plaut. Amphit. I.1.306; Persius, V.82
  5. ^ "Denarius of Brutus". Fitz Museum. University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  6. ^ a b Starck, Jeff (6 November 2020). "EID MAR gold example sets record for ancient coin selling price". Coin World. Archived from the original on 15 November 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  7. ^ Conflict in ancient Greece and Rome : the definitive political, social, and military encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. 2016. p. 819. ISBN 978-1610690195. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  8. ^ Graham, Abigail (2020). The Romans : an introduction (4th ed.). London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1138543898. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  9. ^ Orlin, Eric M. (2021). Social and Cultural History of Republican Rome. [S.l.]: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 21. ISBN 978-1118357118. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 15 March 2022.
  10. ^ a b Cohen, Howard (5 November 2020). "Julius Caesar 'Assassination Coin' Sells for Record $4.2M". Instore Magazine. Archived from the original on 15 May 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  11. ^ Berk, Harlan J. (2019). 100 greatest ancient coins (Second ed.). Pelham, AL: Whitman Publishing, LLC. p. 100. ISBN 978-0794846329. Archived from the original on 15 March 2022. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  12. ^ Clarke-Ezzidio, Harry (30 October 2020). "An ultra-rare coin celebrating Julius Caesar's assassination sells for a record $3.5 million". CNN. Archived from the original on 17 December 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  13. ^ Kennedy, Maev (14 March 2010). "Beware the Ides of March: 'Medal' for killing Caesar shows at British Museum". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 August 2021. Retrieved 15 March 2022.