Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 94   |   6 October 2016
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Lot 20





Estimate: 275'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 220'000 CHF Price realized: 325'000 CHF
The Roman Republic
Imperatorial Issues
M. Iunius Brutus with L. Plaetorius Caestianus. Denarius, Northern Greece circa 43-42, AR 3.51 g. BRVT IMP – L·PLAET·CEST Bare head of Brutus r. Rev. EID·MAR Pileus between two daggers. C 15. Babelon Junia 52 and Plaetoria 13. Sydenham 1301. Sear Imperators 216. Kent-Hirmer pl. 27, 98. Cahn, EIDibus MARtiis, Q. Tic. 18, 1989, 22d (these dies). RBW –. Crawford 508/3.
Very rare and in exceptional condition for this issue of tremendous importance
and fascination. A bold portrait perfectly struck and centred on a very
broad flan. Good extremely fine
Privately purchased through Antiqva from CNG and Jonathan Kern.

I started this collection in the early 1990’s. At that time I always knew I wanted an EID MAR in the collection. I had begun working with Steve Rubinger and asked him to keep an eye out for me and let me know if he ever saw one he thought would be a good fit for my collection. I had asked him about several that came up for auction and he always advised against them for one reason or another. Then one day out of the blue he called and told me he had found the EID MAR that I needed to buy. This was that coin. MSG.
Perhaps no coin of antiquity is as familiar, or as important, as the ‘Eid Mar’ denarius of Brutus: its dagger-flanked liberty cap and explicit inscription are a simple and direct monument of one of the great events in western history. This type is so remarkable that, unlike the anonymous mass of ancient coinage, it elicited commentary from the ancient historian Dio Cassius (XLVII.25). The murder of the dictator Julius Caesar in the Senate House on the Ides of March, 44 B.C., is one of the major turning points in western history. It is impossible to know how the Roman world would have changed had Caesar not been murdered on that day, but the prospect certainly taxes the imagination. Caesar was a populist and an opportunist bent upon dismantling the traditional arrangement of senatorial authority that concentrated power in the hands of the ancient and elite families. In the minds of Brutus and his fellow conspirators, theirs was a struggle to maintain the traditional hold on power, and with that aim they struck down Caesar. This class struggle was couched in the terms of the ancient form of Republican government, and of Rome’s hatred for kings and autocrats; thus it is no surprise that the two leaders, Brutus and Cassius, follow the twin-symmetry of the two consuls, and even of Castor and Pollux, the mythical saviors of Rome. The designs are worth visiting individually, in detail. The reverse testifies to the murder of Caesar by naming the date of the event, by showing daggers as the instruments of delivery, and by displaying the pileus, or freedman’s cap, which symbolizes the professed goal of the assassins’ work. Though dozens of men were involved in the plot against Caesar, all are represented by only two daggers – a clear allusion to Brutus and Cassius as leaders of the coup and, subsequently, of the armed opposition to Antony and Octavian. The portrait is also of great interest and importance. The only securely identifiable portraits of Brutus occur on coins naming him imperator: the Eid Mar denarii of Plaetorius Cestianus and the aurei of Servilius Casca and Pedanius Costa. Indeed, all other portraits on coins or other media are identified based upon these three issues. S. Nodelman has made careful study of the Eid Mar series from the art-historical view, and H. A. Cahn has similarly done so from the numismatic perspective. The former has divided Brutus’ inscribed coin portraits into three main categories: a ‘baroque’ style portrait on the aurei of Casca, a ‘neoclassical’ style on the aurei of Costa, and a ‘realistic’ style on the Eid Mar denarii of Cestianus. Nodelman describes the Eid Mar portraits as "the soberest and most precise" of all, and he divides them into two distinct categories, ‘plastic’ and ‘linear’, suggesting both were derived from the same sculptural prototype.

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