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Julius Caesar Lifetime Portrait Denarius 44 BCE

Julius Caesar. AR Denarius, 44 BC.

(19.00 mm 3.68 g)

Obv:. Laureate head right; before, CAESAR IMP; behind, star of eight rays.

Rev: P. SEPVLLIVS MACER. Venus standing left, holding Victory and sceptre (resting on star?).

Cr. 480/5b RSC 41 BMC 4165 Syd 1071Sear (2000) 1412

A very elegant portrait. Perfectly struck on broad flan. Areas of flatness and scratch on obverse, otherwise about VF.

Ex: Artemide Asti E-Auction 43 E, June 9, 2018.

This coin features a lifetime portrait of Julius Caesar as dictator. It took me a while to find one that I liked. When these come up for auction there is much competition for them. It is not that they are particularly rare, one can find numerous examples for sale at any given time, it is the fact that these are sought after by many collectors. A lifetime portrait of Julius Caesar is a major purchase (at least for me), and would be the centerpiece of many ancient coin collections.

This particular coin features a portrait of Julius Caesar on the obverse with the legend “Caesar Imp”, meaning Julius Caesar Imperator. At this time “Imperator” did not exactly mean emperor it was more like victorious general. On the reverse we see Venus standing and the name of the moneyer who issued the coin. Venus is important as Julius Caesar claimed he was a descendant of Venus. The moneyer’s name is P. Sepullius Macer. On some other lifetime denarii the obverse legend is “Dict Perpetuo” or dictator for life. For some Romans this was too much to stand for. The Romans had a troubled history with their kings and did not want to return to those times. Some believe that this coin so troubled high ranking Romans that it led to the assassination of Ceasar.

One fascinating aspect of these lifetime denarii is that they were minted before the assassination. This coin in particular was issued near the end of February which means it was minted mere weeks before the death of Julius Caesar on March 15. One of the ideas that attracted me to ancient coins in the first place concerned holding a piece of important history in one’s hand. It can be argued that the life and death of Caesar were very important to history. Holding one of these coins takes us back to an important and fascinating historical period.

As to the coin itself, it is struck on a large flan, the portrait is well centered, the obverse legend is very easy to read, and the reverse is quite pleasing as well with good details preserved. The obverse portrait has a deep scratch across the head. However, given the other qualities of the coin this was easy to overlook.

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