Cr. 394/1a C Postumius AR denarius, 73 BC, Rome
Roman Republic AR Denarius(18mm, 3.81g, 7h). 73 B.C., Rome mint. Draped bust of Diana right, with bow and quiver over shoulder / Hound running right; spear below. C POSTVMI and TA monogram in exergue. Crawford 394/1a
Ex Sayagaki, eBay, 19 December 2019, ex CNG e-Auction 449, 31 July 2019, lot 473, ex CNG e-Auction 319, 29 January 2014, lot 344, ex Ronald J Hansen Collection
Diana makes regular appearances on the coins of the Postumii, and the family's association with the goddess of the hunt goes all the way back to the Roman Kingdom, well before Rome was the Mediterranean superpower it would have been circa 73 B.C. when this denarius was minted.
At this time Rome was still vying for power over the tribes and villages around it. The Latin tribes joined with Rome to build a temple to Diana which they had decided to place in Rome, in imitation of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. As the story goes, a Sabine man had raised a massive and beautiful heifer which he intended to sacrifice at the temple. Soothsayers foretold that the state of the citizen who sacrificed this heifer would become the seat of an empire. As the Sabine approached the altar with his victim, a Roman priest who had heard the prophecy tricked the man, telling him he should cleanse himself in the Tiber before the sacrifice. When the man left, the priest promptly sacrificed the heifer to Diana, to the great satisfaction of the Roman people.
This prophecy was fulfilled later, circa 498 or 496 B.C., shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic. The Romans expelled king Tarquinius Superbus, only to quickly find themselves at war with the Latin League, lead by their recently expelled monarch. In the face of this attempted invasion, the Romans appointed their consul, Aulus Postumius Albinus, to the role of dictator. The dictator-lead army of the Romans defeated the Latin League at the Battle of Lake Regillus and the Latin League abandoned the field and acknowledged the leadership of Rome. This was of course just one in a series of wars and battles that would see Rome's area of influence expand across the Mediterranean and beyond, but an important early milestone in their conquest and one that is not surprising to see commemorated on coinage. It is also believed that the early Dioscuri denarii reverses likely also refer to this battle, but that's a discussion for another time.
Image copyright Classical Numismatic Group