Res Publica Coin Gallery

Ancient coins in the collection of Jordan Montgomery, focused on the Roman Republic and related series. The attributions and information are all verified to the best of my ability but, if I have made a mistake, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to rectify it. For more information about the reference works listed, a bibliography is provided. Additionally, this site is made available purely for informational purposes and none of the coins are currently for sale.

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Cr. 393/1a Cn. Lentulus, quaestor, AR denarius, 76-75 B.C. Spanish(?) mint

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Roman republic, AR Denarius(3.90g) CN Lentulus, quaestor, 76-75 BC. Spanish(?) mint Obverse: Male bust right(Genius Populi Romani), draped hair tied with band, and with sceptre over shoulder; above, G P R. Border of dots. Reverse: Sceptre with wreath, globe and rudder; on left, EX; on right, S C; below, CN LEN Q. Border of dots. Crawford 393/1a; Cornelia 54; Sydenham 752; Russo RBW 1432.

Research points to this denarius having been minted somewhere between 76 and 74 BC at an unknown Spanish mint to pay troops under Pompey Magnus and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius who were fighting against the Roman and Iberian rebels lead by Quintus Sertorius in Hispania during what is now known as the Sertorian War. The revolt has its origins in the discontent of both the Iberian Lusitani tribe, wanting independence, and the Roman Proconsul Sertorius who, as a populist who had declared for Cinna, knew there was no place for him in Sulla's regime in Rome. The war is known for Sertorius's use of guerilla tactics and ran from 80 BC to 72 BC when Sertorius was assassinated by Marcus Perpenna Vento, a rival military leader who had been fighting in Hispania as well until, at the behest of his legions, he was forced to yield control to Sertorius. Unfortunately for Perpenna, though he could assassinate Sertorius, he was no replacement and Pompey was quickly able to subdue his legions and have him executed.

Some info on the particular issue itself(All taken from the description of Lot 3035 of The Pre-Long Beach Auction - Ancient and World Coins, June 2014): Here we follow Harlan's revised dating to 74 BC as opposed to Crawford's 76 BC for this issue (see M. Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and Their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE, 2012, pp. 83-91). The revised date is based on the slight down-dating of the terminus of the Roncofreddo hoard as evidenced by the Mesagne hoard, Cn. Lentulus' own cursus honorem which makes a date for this issue in 75 too early, and most importantly a letter from Pompey to the Senate in Rome requesting money to pay his troops. The letter from Pompey was recorded by Sallust (2.98), and was read before the Senate in January of 74. In it, Pompey states that he had already exhausted his own (considerable) personal resources and even gone into debt supporting his troops, yet they had only been paid for one year of service while they had already served for three. He threatened that if the Senate did not provide the necessary funds to pay his troops he would not only be unable to pursue the war against Sertorius, but that he would likely lose control of his legions and the war could be brought to Italy itself. With these dire warnings, the Senate found the money to pay Pompey's troops, authorizing Cn. Lentulus, ex senatus consulto, to strike the coins.

The year following this issue Cn. Lentulus struck an identical issue employing the same designs but with the unusual legend LENT CVR x FL, Curator denariorum flandorum. He did so because he was no longer quaestor with the responsibility of issuing coins to pay the troops, nor for that matter was he even a mint magistrate (thus the designation III VIR would not apply either), yet he was still responsible for making sure there was sufficient specie to finance military operations. We do not know if this title was official and had come from the Senate in Rome or if Lentulus merely invented the title to indicate his responsibility.


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