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Home > Members' Coin Collection Galleries > Carausius > Imperatorial (49-27 BCE)
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Crawford 511/3, ROMAN IMPERATORIAL, Sextus Pompey, AR Denarius
Rome, The Imperators.
Sextus Pompey, Summer 42-40 BCE.
AR Denarius (3.82g; 20mm).
Sicilian Mint (Catana?).

Obverse: MAGPIVSIMPITER; bare head of Pompey the Great, facing right, flanked by jug and lituus.

Reverse: PRAEF/CLASETORAE/MARITEXSC; Neptune standing left with foot on prow and holding aplustre, between the Catanaean brothers, each carrying a parent on their shoulders.

References: Crawford 511/3a; HCRI 334; Sydenham 1344 (R4); BMCRR (Sicily) 7; Pompeia 27.

Provenance: Ex Phil Peck ("Morris") Collection [Heritage 61151(26 Jan 2020) Lot 97155]; Professor Angelo Signorelli Collection [P&P Santamaria (4 Jun 1952) Lot 732].

Sextus Pompey was younger son of Pompey the Great. After Caesar's assassination, in 43 BCE, Sextus was honored by the Senate with the title "Commander of the Fleet and Sea Coasts" (Praefectus Classis et Orae Maritimae), which title is abbreviated on the reverse of this coin. Near the same time, Cicero recommended him for augurship; however, Sextus would not actually received augurship until after the Pact of Misenum in 39 BCE. Instead, shortly following the Senates designation of Sextus as Commander, the Second Triumvirate was formed and they placed Sextus' name on their proscription list. Sextus soon occupied Sicily with his fleet where he provided haven to other Romans proscribed by the Triumvirs. He retained control of Sicily from 42 to 36 BCE. In 42 BCE, Octavian sent Salvidienus Rufus to dislodge Sextus, but Rufus was defeated. It was likely between this defeat of Rufus and the Pact of Misenum with the Triumvirs (39 BCE) that Sextus struck much of his coinage, including this type.

Piety, or devotion, was an important character trait to the Romans on multiple levels including devotion to parents and family; devotion to the state; and devotion to the gods. The surname Pius was adopted by Sextus in recognition of his dutiful continuation of the struggle of his father in support of the Republic, and this notion of piety is strongly depicted on Sextus coinage. The obverse of this coin shows Pompey the Great, reflecting Sextus devotion to his fathers memory. Pompeys head is flanked by symbols of the augurate, perhaps alluding to both Sextus claim to the augurate following Ciceros recommendation and Sextus devotion to the gods. The rough seas around Sicily were beneficial to Sextus and particularly rough on his enemies, thus Neptune is prominently displayed at the center of the reverse. The reverse also depicts the Catanean brothers of Sicilian myth, Amphinomus and Anapias, helping their elderly parents escape the deadly lava flow of Mount Etna. Representing devoted children, the Catanean brothers may be allegorical references to Sextus surname Pius, or an indication of the Sicilian city (Catana) in which this issue may have been struck, or both.

This is a particularly complete example of this difficult type which frequently comes off-struck or on small flans.

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Feb 11, 2020
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Jay GT4  [Feb 11, 2020 at 05:07 AM]
That's great
Mat  [Feb 11, 2020 at 05:39 AM]
Sweet addition
shanxi  [Feb 11, 2020 at 11:47 AM]
okidoki  [Feb 11, 2020 at 01:16 PM]
Interesting reverse
Anaximander  [Feb 11, 2020 at 10:11 PM]
PMah  [Feb 12, 2020 at 02:47 AM]
Very well-centered for this type, with all the key elements. Nice.
quadrans  [Feb 14, 2020 at 08:57 PM]
wow, great coin,
okidoki  [Feb 18, 2020 at 09:05 PM]
nice party on the reverse
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