Roman Republic (Imperatorial Period)

Mark Antony, Triumvir 42 BC

Crawford 494/32; HCRI 149; Sydenham 1144; RSC 4, Extremely Fine

Rome. C. Vibius Varus, moneyer. Bare head of Mark Antony right, wearing short beard. Reverse: C · VIBIVS VARVS, Fortuna, draped, standing facing, head left, holding Victory and cornucopiae.

In 42 BC the events that had been building since the assassination of Julius Caesar two year earlier finally came to a head when the forces of the Second Triumvirate met those of Brutus and Cassius at the battle of Philippi. In the lead-up to this clash, both sides produced large volumes of coinage in order to both finance their armies and to advertise their causes. This denarius features a remarkable obverse portrait of Mark Antony wearing a short beard to signify his mourning for the murdered Caesar and the vow of the triumvirs to avenge his death. Caesar’s killers may have cast themselves as liberators, but here Antony is shown to express pietas, a much-prized Roman virtue comprising ideas of dutifulness and loyalty to both man and god. Since Caesar had been proclaimed a god, Antony could be seen to have pietas on both the human and divine levels.