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Imperatorial Rome

Moneyer: L. Plautius Plancus
Held Office: 47 BC
Denomination: AR Denarius
Mint: Rome 47 BC
Obverse: Facing mask of Medusa with dishevelled hair, without serpents; "L•PLAVTIVS" below
Reverse: Aurora (Victory) flying right, head slightly left, holding reins and conducting four rearing horses of the sun; "PLANCVS" below.
Reference: RRC 453/1c; HCRI 29a; RSC Plautia 14. RCVM 429.
Weight: 3.8 gms
Diameter: 19.6 mm

Lucius Plautius Plancus

Lucius Plautius Plancus was the brother of the L. Munatius Plancus who was praefectus Urbi under Caesar in 45 BC and two years later, as proconsul of Gallia Comata, was the founder of the colony of Lugdunum (modern Lyon). Plautius Plancus had been born Gaius Munatius Plancus but had been adopted by a Lucius Plautius whose praenomen and nomen he thereupon assumed, retaining only the cognomen of his original name. The unusual elegance of the reverse type of his silver denarii suggests that the design was inspired by some specific work of art and this may, perhaps, be identified with the picture by the celebrated mid-4th century BC painter Nicomachus of Thebes which was placed in the Capitol by L. Munatius Plancus on the occasion of the celebration of his Gallic triumph in 43 BC. This notable picture may well have been in the possession of the moneyer during his period of office and have been reproduced as a coin type in celebration of Caesar's military successes in 48 and 47 BC. It could have become the property of his brother, Munatius Plancus, following Plautius' proscription by the triumviral government in 43 BC resulting in his execution and the confiscation of his property: there is certainly more than a hint of suspicion that Munatius bore some responsibility for Plautius' tragic end. The significance of the Medusa head on the obverse of these denarii still awaits a convincing explanation, though presumably it is in some way related to the history of the family into which the moneyer had been adopted.

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