Denarius coin with head of Venus (obverse) and Aeneas carrying Anchises and palladium (reverse) - 950.56.279_1_3k


Denarius coin with head of Venus (obverse) and Aeneas carrying Anchises and palladium (reverse)

Medium:Struck silver
Geography: Minted in Africa in a mint moving with Julius Caesar
Date: 47-46 BCE
Period: Roman Republican period, under Julius Caesar
1.76 cm, 3.88 g
Object number: 950.56.279
Credit Line: A.E. Ames Collection
Not on view

This coin was struck in a military mint travelling with Julius Caesar to pay his army while on campaign in Africa. Having defeated his rival Pompey-the-Great, Caesar travelled to Egypt where he put Cleopatra VII on the Egyptian throne, overthrowing her brother the Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII. Caesar remained in Egypt to conduct a love affair with Cleopatra and had a son with her.

The imagery on both sides reinforces Caesar's claim to importance within the Roman Republic as a descendant of the founders of Rome and of a Roman goddess.

The reverse (the 'tails' side) shows the Trojan hero Aeneas escaping from the city of Troy as it was destroyed by the Greeks. In his right hand he carries the palladium, a statue of the goddess Athena rescued from the sanctuary at Troy, and he carries his father Anchises on his left shoulder. After many adventures and hardships Aeneas settled in Italy where his son Iulus (a.k.a. Ascanius) became the first of the kings of Alba Longa. Romulus, a descendant of Iulus, founded the city of Rome after killing his twin brother Remus. The gens Julia, the family of Julius Caesar, claimed descent from Iulus.

The obverse (the 'heads' side) of the coin features the head of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and mother of Aeneas, thus stressing Julius Caesar's descent from a goddess.

Roman World
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