Roman Republic AR Denarius(18mm, 4.23g, 6h), Quintus Antonius Balbus, Praetor, 83-82 BC, Rome mint. Laureate head of Jupiter right; behind, S•C downwards. Border of dots / Victory in quadriga right, holding reins and palm-branch in left hand and wreath in right hand; in exerge Q•[ANT]O•B[AL]B PR. Border of dots. Crawford 364/1d; Russo RBW 1374; Antonia 1.
The Civil Wars of Marius and Sulla were a chaotic and violent period in Rome. Both the Marian and Sullan factions held the city of Rome at different times and with each change of control and military defeat came purges against the losing side. Many supporters of both sides lost their lives during this conflict including the individual responsible for the mintage of this coin.
Quintus Antonius Balbus was a member of the Marian faction and was appointed praetor of Sardinia in the elections of 83 BC. Before leaving for Sardinia, however, the Senate ordered him to take silver from the treasures of the temples(Valerius Maximus 7.6.4) and strike it into denarii to finance the armies that were being raised to resist the return of Sulla, including his own. The idea of a praetor(as opposed to a triumvir monetalis) being ordered to coin denarii might sound strange, but given the chaotic state of Rome at the time and the fact that the moneyer likely needed a large sum of money to finance his force in Sardinia, it makes sense that he might be required to oversee its mintage. Babelon even suggested that these denarii were minted in Sardinia, but Greuber in BMCRR points out that the good style and fabric of these denarii suggests the Rome mint and not a local mintage.
Unfortunately for Quintus, his command as praetor in Sardinia would be his last. His armies were defeated by Sulla's lieutenant-general L. Phillipus and he was evicted from his office and slain. Rome would also fall to Sulla's armies at the Battle of the Colline gate, and the much of the remainder of the Marian faction were either executed or slipped away from the city and went on the run.