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A fouree silver and base metal Rrepublican denarius of C. Memmius Caii filius showing Quirinus and Ceres Coin Type: Silver and base metal fourrée denarius of C. Memmius Caii filius, Roman Republic, 56 BCE
Mint and Date: Rome, 56 BCE.
Size and Weight: 19mm, 2.72g
Obverse: (C) MEMMI C(F) / QVIRINVS
Laureate head of Quirinus right, his long beard in formal ringlets.
Ceres seated right, ears of corn in right hand, torch in left, snake at feet.
Provenance: Antikacoins (eBay), July 2008
Ref: RCV (2000) 388; RSC Memmia 9.
BW Ref: 050 038 129
Click on the picture for a larger scale view of the coin

Note 1: From "A Dictionary of Roman Coins":

MEMMIA, a plebian family. Its surnames are uncertain. Its coins which in silver are common exhibit fifteen varieties. Some were restored by Trajan and are very rare. The bronze pieces of this family are parts of the as. One of the scarce types refers to the Cerialia, or festival of Ceres; it bears on its obverse a laureate head, with curled beard, and the inscription C. MEMMI C.F. QVIRINVS. —On the reverse Ceres sitting; a serpent at her feet; in her right hand three ears of corn; in her left a distaff, and MEMMIVS. AED. CERIALIA. PREIMVS. FECIT.

Whether the word Quirinus may be considered as a cognomen of the Memmia family, or whether it refers to the head as that of Quirinus or Romulus, or both together, is a point in dispute among the learned. But the reverse of this rare denarius teaches us that Memmius, in his edileship, was the first who celebrated at Rome the Cerialia, or feasts, in honour of the Goddess of Harvests, a ceremony held in much consideration by the Romans, but of the time of first celebrating it no mention is made by ancient writers. —We see Ceres with serpent, torch, and corn-ears, things dedicated to that divinity on account of the earth's fertility. The colus or distaff seems to point her out as presiding over the domestic care of matrons.

Note 2: Sear gives the held object as a torch rather than a distaff, and on some specimens this is not in doubt.

The content of this page was last updated on 12 August 2008