Roman Republic (Imperatorial Period)

Julius Caesar, Dictator 44 BC

Crawford 480/13; HCRI 107d; Sydenham 1074; RSC 39, Superb Extremely Fine

Rome, lifetime issue. P. Sepullius Macer, moneyer. CAESAR DICT PERPETVO, wreathed and veiled head of Julius Caesar right. Reverse: P SEPVLLIVS MACER, Venus Victrix standing facing, head left, holding Victory and scepter; to right at feet, shield set on ground.

On February 15, 44 BC, Julius Caesar, who had been appointed dictator briefly in 49 BC and for a period of ten years in 46 BC, was named dictator perpetuo (i.e. without time limit). This new unlimited power to rule, combined with his growing taste for the trappings of kingship and divine aspirations created a rift between himself and many of his colleagues and ultimately led to his assassination on the Ides of March, 44 BC. While the reverse of this denarius is traditional in its advertisement of the Julian gens—Venus was the supposed divine ancestor of the family—the obvers, featuring the portrait of Caesar flies in the face of Roman Republican custom. Kings put their images on their own coins, not magistrates of the Republic.