c. 42 BC (ND)
|Measurements and composition|
c. 20 mm
Sextus Pompey, emperor title
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The aureus of Sextus Pompey (67 BC–35 BC), a Roman general who opposed the Second Triumvirate, was issued circa 42 BC. It commemorated both his defeat of Salvidienus Rufus (?–40 BC) at Sicily and the bestowal of an important title to Sextus by the Senate. Prior to its eventual demonetization, the piece had a value equivalent to 1 aureus, or 25 silver denarii. It was produced at a Sicilian mint during Sextus' occupation of Sicily, but the exact facility from which the aureus was struck is uncertain.
Like all aureii of Rome, the piece of Sextus Pompey is composed of gold. It generally weighs between 7 and 8.5 grams and has a diameter of approximately 20 millimeters. The coin is irregularly round in shape and bears a plain edge.
Featured in the center of the obverse is a right-facing, bearded bust of Sextus Pompey. Printed along the peripheries of the piece is the Latin legend "MAG PIVS IMP ITER", abbreviated for Magnus Pius Imperator Iterum, which roughly translates to English as "Great Pious Emperor again". This title of Imperator Iterum was used by Sextus Pompey after he successfully defeated forces under Salvidienus Rufus at Sicily. The legend starts in an upwards direction at the bottom left of the coin, and after being separated between "PIVS" and "IMP", it proceeds downward before concluding at the lower right periphery. An oak (Quercus) wreath (the corona civica) extends along the outer boundary of the coin, enclosing the aforementioned bust of Sextus and the accompanying legend. Like the text on the obverse, the wreath is included on the piece to celebrate Sextus' victory over General Salvidienus. Because examples of the coin were cut and struck by hand, portions of the wreath may not be present.
Displayed in the middle of the reverse is a right-facing bust of Pompey (106 BC–48 BC), the father of Sextus. To the left of this illustration is a lituus, a staff used by the college of augurs, which Pompey was a part of. Engraved to the right of the image of Pompey is a left-facing likeness of Gnaeus Pompeius (75 BC–45 BC), the brother of Sextus. To the right of his bust is a tripod, which represents Pompeius' association with the quindecimviri sacris faciundis, a college with priestly duties. Accompanying the illustrations is the legend "PRÆF CLAS ET ORÆ MARIT EX SC", which is abbreviated for Praefectus Classis et Orae Maritimae ex Senatus Consultus ("Prefect of the Fleet and of the Sea Coasts, from the Senate"). Such a legend is included on the coin to celebrate the bestowal of that title by the Senate to Sextus Pompey in 43 BC. The first word "PRÆF" is inscribed above the illustrations of Pompey and Gnaeus Pompeius and their representative objects, whereas the remainder of the legend is engraved on two lines below the images, separated between "ORÆ" and "MARIT". A beaded border is often present along the rim of the reverse, but is usually not complete due to the hand-striking of Roman currency. For the same purpose, the legend on the reverse may lack certain portions, such as the "MA" in "MARIT".