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M. Porcius Cato

Portraits on Republican Era Coins

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It's been said that Caesar was the first to depict himself on a coin. Can anyone provide an earlier example?

 

Your dessire is my command.

 

sullacoinqs6.jpg

 

Circa DCLXXII AUC (82 bc).

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It's been said that Caesar was the first to depict himself on a coin. Can anyone provide an earlier example?

 

Your dessire is my command.

 

sullacoinqs6.jpg

 

Circa DCLXXII AUC (82 bc).

 

An important note on the Sulla coins is that these were issued by Q. Pompeius Rufus in 54 BC. Yes they pre-date Caesar, but they were not issued by the man whose portrait appears on the coin. There are many portraits prior to Caesar, but Caesar was the first Roman to actually put his own portrait on the coin while living (though not for long in this case). Sulla did put himself in quadriga on a coin while living, but its just a distant image of him riding a chariot and is not a portrait. This was also a rather common coin form.

 

I know this isn't what was asked, but a Macedonian sample would be Ptolemy I after Alexander's death.

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It's been said that Caesar was the first to depict himself on a coin. Can anyone provide an earlier example?

 

I've heard this as well. Which is why the Romans soured when a coin with Caesar on it was issued when he was in power. While it was normal for family members in power to have coins issues celebrating the achievements of their own ancestors, issuing a coing of a living leader was considered bad form. I have a coin issued in 106 BC by a member of the Claudii family (cognomen Pulcher), and the coin celebrates the victory of their ancestor C. Pulcher - then a Consul - against the Lugurians and Istrians in about 174 BC (I'm going on memory, but it's in that decade). C Pulcher was awarded a Triumph by the Senate. The coin issuer must have been a Quastor or equivalent.

 

Interestingly enough, I believe there is an existing law in the US that makes it illegal for any living president to have their likeness appear on currency or postage stamps, so instead, Congress has buildings and aircraft carriers named after them instead, which is legal. Likewise, the Romans in power also put their names on public monuments so that people knew who was in charge and had the power.

 

Gregg

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A debatable coin is that of Publius Cornelius Scipio (later earning Africanus) 236-183 BCE.

 Roman Republic
Carthago Nova (Carthaginian city of Qart Hadasht) Roman Occupation by Scipio (later Africanus)
ca. 209-206 BCE
Bronze Unit
22.8mm, 9.1g
Carthago Nova mint
OBV: Bare head l, Roman style (Scipio?)
REV: Horse standing r
Rare
Sear/Seaby Vol 2 6575; SNG BM Spain 127-128; Burgos 552
ex FORVM

 

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