Social War coinage of the Marsic Confederation

, 90-88 BC

Campana 83 (D53/R72); Sydenham 637; HN Italy 425, Superb Extremely Fine

Campanian mint. C. Paapius C.f. Mutilus, moneyer. Viteliú (in Oscan) behind, draped bust of Mars right, wearing slight beard and crested Corinthian helmet with plume at side; behind neck, x with pellet above and below. Reverse: C. Paapii C. (in Oscan) in exergue, oath-taking scene: youth kneeling left, looking right, holding pig; around, four standing soldiers pointing their swords.

The Roman military power wielded to defeat Hannibal and to conquer an empire in the Greek East depended heavily on the contributions of Italic allies (Latin socii) bound to Rome through unequal alliances. In the early first century BC, the Italic allies, particularly the Marsii and Samnites, began to demand greater involvement in decisions of foreign policy and more equitable rewards for their military contributions. When this was not forthcoming and the tribune of the plebs fighting for their rights was assassinated in 91 BC, the allies rose in revolt known as the Social War (91-88 BC). Together they founded their own republic of Italia with its own coinage modeled heavily on the Roman denarius. The conflict that ensued was so bloody and posed such a serious threat to Rome’s existence that many of the Italic communities ultimately received Roman citizenship, first in 90 BC as a reward for those who had not joined the revolt and in 89 BC as a means of drawing belligerents back to the Roman fold. In the end the hard won citizenship rights proved to be of little value since the manipulation of the voting tribes at Rome guaranteed that Italic voters could do little to influence Roman policy.