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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Imperators| ▸ |Sulla||View Options:  |  |  |   

Lucius Cornelius Sulla, c. 138 B.C. - 78 B.C.

This page includes the coins of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, his followers and his enemies.

Sulla was one of the great men of Roman history. His rival, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, described Sulla as having the cunning of a fox and the courage of a lion - but that it was the former attribute that was by far the most dangerous. Sulla marched his armies on Rome twice, and after the second time he took the office of dictator. He used his power to reform the Roman constitution, attempting to strengthen the Republic by ending the struggle between optimates and populares. The former sought to maintain the power of the oligarchy through the Senate, while the latter sought populist reforms. He then stunned the Roman World (and posterity) by resigning the dictatorship, restoring normal constitutional government, and retiring to private life. Despite his efforts, Sulla's did not strengthen the Republic. Instead, he set the precedent for Julius Caesar's dictatorship, and the eventual end of the Republic under Augustus.


Athens, Attica, Greece, c. 86 - 84 B.C., New Style Tetradrachm, Issued by Sulla

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On 1 March 86 B.C., after a 5 month siege, Sulla began his midnight sack of Athens. The city had been occupied by the forces of Mithridates VI of Pontus under the command of Archelaus. Blood was said to have literally flowed in the streets, it was only after the entreaties of a couple of his Greek friends (Midias and Calliphon) and the pleas of the Roman Senators in his camp that Sulla decided enough was enough. This issue was struck for Sulla, either at Athens or outside Athens during the siege, to pay his legions and expenses during the war against Mithradates. The silver was collected from Greeks who supported the Romans against Mithradates and requisitioned from the sacred temple treasuries at Epidaurus, Olympia and Delphi. The ancients admired these Roman-Athenian coins and called them "flats of Lucullan." The MARKOY monogram may refer to Marcus the brother of the Roman general and politician Lucullus.
SH70948. Silver tetradrachm, cf. Thompson Athens 1293; Svoronos Athens pl. 78, 11; Dewing 1653; Boehringer AMUGS V, pp. 28-31 and pl. 9, 10; Kraay-Hirmer pl. 120, 366, gVF, attractive style, well struck, nicely toned, centered on a crowded slightly irregular shape flan, weight 16.581 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 0o, Athens mint, c. 86 - 84 B.C.; obverse helmeted head of Athena Parthenos right, triple-crested helmet decorated with a griffin right above the raised earpiece, and protomes of horses above visor; reverse owl standing right on amphora on its side right, head facing, MARKOY monogram left, TAMIOY monogram right, A on amphora, all within olive wreath; ex John Jencek; rare; SOLD


Roman Republic, Dictatorship of Julius Caesar, L. Aemilius Buca, January 44 B.C.

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"Sulla's Dream." The reverse of this rare type refers to the famous dream Sulla (an ancestor of the moneyer) experienced in 88 B.C. Sulla dreamed Luna came to him and put a thunder-bolt in his hand, and naming his enemies one by one, bade him smite them with it; and they were all smitten, and fell, and vanished away. Encouraged by the vision, at break of day he marched his legions towards Rome to attack Marius.
SH57752. Silver denarius, Crawford 480/1, Sydenham 1064, RSC I Aemilia 12, BMCRR 4160, Sear CRI 164, SRCV I 476, F, rough, weight 3.699 g, maximum diameter 19.1 mm, die axis 270o, Rome mint, obverse L BVCA, diademed head of Venus right; reverse Sulla reclining against rocks; Luna on right descending from mountain holding a torch; Victory standing facing behind, wings spread, palm frond in raised right; very rare; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Sulla, 81 B.C.

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RR51287. Silver denarius, Crawford 376/1, RSC I Cornelia 44, Sydenham 763, aF, weight 2.684 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 270o, uncertain mint, 81 B.C.; obverse head of Venus right, uncertain control letter (D?) behind; reverse cornucopia, S C left, EX right, all within wreath; extremely rare and desirable type; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 B.C.

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L. Manlius Torquatus was proquaestor to Sulla during the Mithridatic war (he was later Consul - 65 B.C.); this issue was struck for the civil war in Italy 82 B.C.
RR87766. Silver denarius, Crawford 367/3; Sydenham 759; RSC I Manlia 7; BMCRR II p. 461, 13; Russo RBW 1384 (scarce); SRCV I 287, gVF, mint luster, with light toning, well centered on a crowed flan, final T weak, weight 3.835 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 30o, travelling military mint, 82 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right, PROQ (proquaestor) behind, L MANLI T (T upright) before; reverse Sulla walking triumphal quadriga right, reins in right hand, caduceus in left hand, crowned by Victory flying left above, L SVLLA IM (imperator) in exergue; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 B.C.

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L. Manlius Torquatus was proquaestor to Sulla during the Mithridatic war (he was later Consul - 65 B.C.); this issue was struck for the civil war in Italy 82 B.C.
SH85110. Silver denarius, Crawford 367/5; Sydenham 757; RSC I Manlia 4; BMCRR II p. 461, 5; Russo RBW 1386; SRCV I 286, EF, lustrous, weak legends, reverse a little off center, edge cracks, nearly as struck except areas of slightest porosity, weight 3.926 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 90o, military mint, 82 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right, PRO Q (proquaestor) downward behind, L MANLI upward before; reverse Sulla walking in a quadriga right, holding reins in right hand and caduceus in left, crowned by Victory flying above, L SVLLA IM (imperator) in exergue; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 B.C.

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L. Manlius Torquatus was proquaestor to Sulla during the Mithridatic war (he was later Consul - 65 B.C.); this issue was struck for the civil war in Italy 82 B.C.
RR89777. Silver denarius, Crawford 367/5; Sydenham 757; RSC I Manlia 4; BMCRR II p. 461, 5; Russo RBW 1386; SRCV I 286, VF, well centered, light toning, light marks, small edge cracks, weight 3.898 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 270o, military mint, 82 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right, PRO Q (proquaestor) downward behind, L MANLI upward before; reverse Sulla walking in a quadriga right, reins in right hand, caduceus in left hand, crowned by Victory flying left above, L SVLLA IM (imperator) in exergue; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 B.C.

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L. Manlius Torquatus was proquaestor to Sulla during the Mithridatic war (he was later Consul - 65 B.C.); this issue was struck for the civil war in Italy 82 B.C.
SH27207. Silver denarius, Crawford 367/5; Sydenham 757; RSC I Manlia 4; BMCRR II p. 461, 5; Russo RBW 1386; SRCV I 286, VF, toned, weight 3.860 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 180o, military mint, 82 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right, PRO Q (proquaestor) downward behind, L MANLI upward before; reverse Sulla walking in a quadriga right, holding reins in right hand and caduceus in left, crowned by Victory flying above, L SVLLA IM (imperator) in exergue; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus, 82 B.C.

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L. Manlius Torquatus was proquaestor to Sulla during the Mithridatic war (he was later Consul - 65 B.C.); this issue was struck for the civil war in Italy 82 B.C.
SH47738. Silver denarius, Crawford 367/5; Sydenham 757; RSC I Manlia 4; BMCRR II p. 461, 5; Russo RBW 1386; SRCV I 286, gVF, toned, weight 3.741 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 225o, military mint, 82 B.C.; obverse head of Roma right, PRO Q (proquaestor) downward behind, L MANLI upward before; reverse Sulla walking in a quadriga right, holding reins in right hand and caduceus in left, crowned by Victory flying above, L SVLLA IM (imperator) in exergue; SOLD


Roman Republic, L. Cornelius Sulla, 84 - 83 B.C.

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Struck by a military mint traveling with Sulla in the east after his successful campaign against Mithradates VI. Venus was the patron goddess of Sulla. The two trophies of captured arms on the reverse advertise his two acclamations as imperator by his troops. With this, his first issue, Sulla was the first imperator to issue coinage to pay his legions without the authority of the senate, consequently breaking an important connection between the military and the government. Breaking another taboo, the types were overt propaganda advertising his personal power and accomplishments. Sulla's monetary "innovations" set the example for later imperators and contributed to Rome's transformation from republic to empire.
RR71323. Silver denarius, RSC Cornelia 29, Crawford 359/2, Sydenham 761, BMCRR East 3, SRCV I 276, aVF, both sides off-center but nearly all detail on flan, weight 3.682 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 0o, mobile military mint, 84 - 83 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Venus right, Cupid standing left holding long palm frond before, LSVLLA below; reverse capis and lituus between two trophies of captured arms, IMPER above, ITERVM below; scarce; SOLD


Roman Republic, Quintus Antonius Balbus, 83 B.C.

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Q. Antonius Balbus was a member of the Marian party and issued this coinage by special decree of the Senate to prepare for opposition to Sulla's return to Rome. In 82 B.C. he was appointed praetor in Sardinia. He was driven from Sardinia by L. Philippus, the legate of Sulla, and slain. Sulla prevailed and the Victory on the reverse of this type was proven a false hope. -- The Coinage of the Roman Republic by Edward A. Sydenham
RR86194. Silver denarius serratus, BMCRR I Rome 2732 (also M obv. control), Crawford 364/1b, Sydenham 742, RSC I Antonia 1a, SRCV I 279, RBW Collection 1373 var. (no control), EF, broad flan, slightly off center, weight 3.468 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 83 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Jupiter right, SC behind, M (control letter) below; reverse Victory in a quadriga right, wreath in right and reins and palm frond in left, QANTOBALB / PR (ANT and AL in monogram) in exergue; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

Babelon, E. Monnaies de la Republique Romaine. (Paris, 1885).
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Carson, R. Principal Coins of the Romans, Vol. I: The Republic, c. 290-31 BC. (London, 1978).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Crawford, M. Roman Republican Coinage. (Cambridge, 1974).
Grueber, H.A. Coins of the Roman Republic in The British Museum. (London, 1910).
Russo, R. The RBW Collection of Roman Republican Coins. (Zurich, 2013).
Rutter, N.K. ed. Historia Numorum. Italy. (London, 2001).
Seaby, H.A., D. Sear, & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Volume I, The Republic to Augustus. (London, 1989).
Sear, D. R. The History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49 - 27 BC. (London, 1998).
Sear, D. R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sydenham, E. The Coinage of the Roman Republic. (London, 1952).

Catalog current as of Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
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Sulla