The Roman Republic
Estimate: 750 CHF
Starting price: 600 CHF
Price realized: 850 CHF
Quadrigatus, Roma circa 225-214, AR 6.64 g.
Description: Laureate Janiform head of Dioscuri. Rev. Jupiter, holding sceptre and hurling thunderbolt, in fast quadriga r. driven by Victory; below, ROMA incuse in raised tablet. References: Sydenham 64
Crawford 29/3 and pl. V, 1-2
Historia Numorum Italy 334 Condition: Perfectly struck and centred on a full flan, old cabinet tone and good extremely fine Provenance: 51 Gallery sale 13 November 2015, 122 Note: Long before the introduction of the denarius, the Romans had issued silver didrachms on an occasional basis starting in 326/5 B.C. The designs of these didrachms were ever-changing, and it appears as though the circumstance for each new issue was episodic. The final didrachm issue, best known as a quadrigatus, was by far the largest and most complex of these early Roman silver coinages.
Unlike the miserly didrachm issues of earlier times, the quadrigatus was Rome’s first massive issue of coined silver. It was produced in very large quantities at several mints over a period of perhaps thirteen years starting in about 225 B.C. Quadrigati initially may have been struck in modest quantities – following the model of earlier didrachm types – and that production began to occur on a large scale only after the Romans had declared war on Carthage in the spring of 218. Though the precise chronology of Roman coinage in the Second Punic War is not known, sometime between c.214 and 212 the denarius replaced the quadrigatus, a shift in Roman monetary policy that proved decisive.
The designs of the quadrigatus coinage are of some interest. The obverse depicts a Janiform male head adorned with a laurel wreath. Though often described as the god Janus, the youthful, clean-shaven appearance has led many to conclude that it is the Dioscuri portrayed in an unusual manner. A youthful presentation of Janus, however, is not out of the question: on earlier Roman didrachms the god Mars is portrayed both as a mature man with a full beard (Cr. 13/1) and as a clean-shaven youth (Cr. 25/1 and 27/1), and a parallel may be drawn to the similarly diverse portrayals of Heracles on Greek coins.
The reverse bears the inscription ROMA beneath an energetic quadriga scene, from which this coinage derives its familiar name, quadrigati nummi, as cited by Livy (xxii.52.2 and xxii.58.4) in the history of Rome that he composed some two centuries afterward. The chariot, driven by Nike, bears the figure of Jupiter, who wields a sceptre and raises a thunderbolt as if ready to deliver a punishing blow.