The Most Famous Ancient Coin in History, The "Ides of March", Silver Denarius minted by Julius Caesar assassin Marcus Brutus will be auctioned by Heritage auction on 9 September 2011. The coin pre-auction estimate is $500,000+ and if it reach that, it will establish a record price for a Roman silver coin. The coin has been in collection of many famous people including Hollywood producer Sy Weintraub and the actor Peter Weller. It was also in the world-famous Nelson Bunker Hunt Collection. Since the early part of the 2000s, the coin has been part of a private Arizona holding.
The dime-sized silver coin depicts the head of Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the ringleaders of the assassination plot, on its obverse. The reverse depicts a dome-shaped liberty cap (traditionally given to freed slaves), flanked by two drawn daggers and the Latin inscription EID MAR “Ides of March”. The dome-shaped liberty cap and two drawn daggers indicates Brutus' intention of freeing Rome from Caesar's imperial ambitions and the murder weapons employed to do so. The coin celebrated an assassination of Julius Caesar on the 15 March 44 BC.
Marcus Junius Brutus were born about 85 BC. Brutus was from a long line of Romans famous for resisting tyranny and defending Republican liberty. He was a close friend and protégé of Julius Caesar, but when Caesar seized power as Dictator in 49 BC, Brutus joined the Republican forces opposed to him. After the defeat of the Republicans the following year, Caesar pardoned Brutus and gave him every preferment. As Caesar became more megalomaniacal, however, Brutus joined the conspiracy against him and is said to have delivered the fatal dagger thrust, prompting Caesar’s final words (spoken in Greek), “You too, my child?”
Brutus had carried out the attack with some fellow Roman Senators in 44 BC when Caesar had come unarmed to address the Senate on 15 March. This day was known to the Romans as the ides, or the middle day of the month and was recognised on a new calendar system that Caesar himself had established just two years before.
After the murder, the conspirators or “freedom party” fled Rome to Macedonia to raise an army. Brutus assembled a pro-Republican power base in Macedonia (Greece) where he could wage war against Caesar’s successors, Mark Antony and Octavian. Looting gold and silver from the local population, he began to strike coins to pay his growing army. Amongst the coins the conspirators briefly struck to this end was this, the 'Ides of March' denarius.
In a final twist of fate, Brutus used the same dagger he had plunged into Caesar to take his own life following his final defeat at the second battle of Philippi on 23 October 42 BC. The Eid Mar denarii became rare because the type was deliberately recalled and melted down by the victors, Mark Antony and Octavian.
Source: Heritage Auction, British Museum.
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