Novaesium, alias Neuss

Roman coins, republic and empire

von Carol Humphrey Vivian Sutherland   
I. The beginnings V. Early imperial mint policy
II. Introduction of the denarius VI. Portraits and types
III. Control and content of the coinage VII. The 4th century and after
IV. Caesar and after VIII. Literatur

III. Control and content of the coinage

The coinage was controlled by the Senate, acting for the sovereign people; and the conduct of the mints was in the hands of boards of junior magistrates, the tresviri. From about the mid-2nd century, each of a mint's three tresviri normally issued coins bearing his own name, and on special occasions these were supplemented by issues of quaestors, curule aediles, prefects, or praetors; these were distinguished by special inscriptions such as ex s(enatus) c(onsulto) and ex a(rgento) p(ublico). The function of all these officials was quantity and quality control.

The moneyers' names at first were shown as simple monograms. The Dioscuri reverse was followed by Diana or Victory in a biga (two-horse chariot), and these again by figures of Jupiter, Juno, or Apollo in a quadriga, with the moneyers' names in fuller form. In the mid-2nd century BC, however, newer tendencies appeared, as when Sextus Pompeius Fostlus paired the Roma obverse with a reverse showing his traditional ancestor Faustulus discovering the wolf and twins; the reference was to the greatness of Rome, but it was to be seen through the lineage of a moneyer. Later republican denarii gave keen expression to party politics, as when corn ears recorded c. 100 the purchase of grain by the quaestors Piso and Caepio, or the head of Ceres with ploughing oxen proclaimed the program of the Marians, or Sextus Nonius Sufenas advertised the games that he had staged as praetor.

It was in the provinces, however, that the republican coinage took the decisive steps toward its finally imperial character. Campaigning generals began, in the 1st century BC, to operate mints for paying their troops in the field. In Italy mint policy had usually looked beyond personal politics to the state. But the military coinages of the imperatores equated the state with the personalities of the generals. Such were the aurei and denarii struck from eastern mints c. 82-81 by Sulla, with, obverse, L. SVLLA and head of Venus (his family patroness) and, reverse, IMPER(ator) ITERVM, priestly jug between trophies. Pompey issued comparable aurei c. 61 (also in the east). From these precedents the earlier coinage of Julius Caesar followed naturally in the late 50s and early 40s, with, obverse, CAESAR and elephant (the family badge) and, reverse, priestly symbols, or obverse, head of Venus (his traditional ancestress) and, reverse, CAESAR, Gaulish trophy, and captives. Such coinages still avoided the portraiture of a living man, the only examples of which hitherto had been on provincially struck coins.



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