25 June 2023
A silver version of the 'Eid Mar' (or 'Ides of March') coin, described as among the finest known, was recently sold at Heritage Auctions.
Following on from the return of the rare gold ‘Eid Mar’ to Greece in March, a silver version of the coin, described as among the finest known, was offered by Heritage on 3 May (lot 30051).
This extremely rare denarius was struck to mark the assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March (15 March) in 44BC.
A bare-headed Marcus Brutus is depicted on the obverse. Along with Cassius, he was a ringleader of the plot to kill Julius Caesar during a session of the Senate. On the reverse, a pileus or cap of liberty (traditionally given to slaves who had received their freedom) is shown between the daggers that executed Caesar.
The ‘Eid Mar’ denarius is one of the very few specific coins mentioned by classical authors. In his account of the Roman civil wars of 49–31BC, the Roman historian Dio Cassius writes: ‘Brutus stamped upon the coins which were being minted his own likeness and a cap and two daggers, indicating by this and by the inscription that he and Cassius had liberated the fatherland.’
Brutus left Rome in April and joined Cassius in Macedonia to assemble a pro-Republican power base, to wage war against Caesar’s successors, Marc Antony and Octavian. When Brutus began to strike coins in northern Greece to pay his growing army, the ‘Eid Mar’ issue broke the old Republican taboo by placing his own portrait on the obverse. This is highly ironic, given that one of the reasons for Caesar’s assassination was putting his own portrait on coins. Along with the image of Brutus, an inscription ‘BRVT-IMP-L PLAET CEST’ on the obverse names Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus as the ‘moneyer’ who produced the coin.
Brutus eventually took his own life following his defeat in battle. The relative rarity of Eid Mar denarii today is believed to be because the coin was recalled and melted down by the victors, Marc Antony and Octavian.
SOLD FOR £575,000