From Art to Artifact:  Making Sense of Roman Coins

Denarius of M. Junius Brutus

Portraits of Ancestors

Q. Pompeius Rufus, like Brutus, depicted his ancestors on his coin (54 BCE, Craw. 434/1). Portraits of his two grandfathers, Sulla and Q. Pompeius Rufus (both Consul in 88 BCE), per haps show Rufus’s support for the potential sole rule of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey) as dictator. Sulla was dictator in the late 80s BCE. Brutus’s denarius responds to those claims by depicting L. Junius Brutus and Ahala, both heroes of Republican values. This coin and the Brutus denarius were the first two Roman coins to show ancestral portraits on both sides of the coin, and are further linked by their contrasting political messages.