Fucking Awesome: Celebrating the 2,054th Anniversary of the Ides of March

The inscription on the obverse side of the coin is BRVT(us) IMP(erator) L(ucius) PLAET(orius) CEST(ianus), so for Brutus, acclaimed “imperator” by his troops, and for Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus, the man who actually made the coins and ran Brutus’ mobile mint

Please, dear reader, someone send me a ticket to the UK so I can go visit the new exhibit at the British Museum which showcases the medallions minted by the Liberatores: Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus to celebrate the assassination of Julius Caesar.

While several copies of the silver version of the coin medallion are owned by the British Museum, there is only one known authentic gold medallion (owned by a private collector), probably worn by the conspirators themselves. The coin goes on display at the British Museum today.

From the article at the British Museum:

“This coin was struck in honour of Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the assassins of Julius Caesar. The reverse shows the cap of liberty given to freed slaves flanked by two daggers. This indicates Brutus’ intention of freeing Rome from Caesar’s imperial ambitions and the murder weapons employed to do so. Below is the day of the deed; EID.MAR, the ides of March.

Few coins capture a moment in history with such stark and brutal imagery. 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.

The assassins, or ‘freedom party’ as they regarded themselves, fled Rome to Macedonia to raise an army. However, they were defeated by Caesar’s allies led by Mark Antony and Octavian at the Battle of Philippi (42 BC). Brutus subsequently committed suicide.

The decision to flee east was probably influenced by the richness of the provinces of the eastern Roman Empire – raising an army was a very costly business. Supplies needed to be bought and soldiers needed wages. Amongst the coins the conspirators briefly struck to this end was this, the ‘Ides of March’ denarius.”

This would go on my lust list, but talk about waaaay out of my price range, the British Museum can’t even afford to buy it, so for now it’s on loan from a private collector.

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~ by K. Ritcheson on March 15, 2010.

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