Timeless Roman coin of Brutus' betrayal goes on sale

“This EID MAR denarius tells the infamous story of Brutus and Julius Caesar in a tangible and dramatic fashion that remains unrivaled among ancient coinage.”
Amal Jos Chacko
The “EID MAR” Denarius of Brutus coin.
The “EID MAR” Denarius of Brutus coin.

Stack's Bowers 

The renowned numismatic auction house, Stack's Bowers Galleries, has unveiled an extraordinary ancient coin that is set to steal the spotlight in their upcoming August 2023 Global Showcase Auction in a press release

The highlight of the auction is the iconic EID MAR Denarius, minted by M. Junius Brutus, the infamous assassin of Julius Caesar and once a close confidant. The coin's significance in ancient numismatics is unparalleled, making it a timeless masterpiece.

This historically significant coin was minted around 42 B.C., approximately two-and-a-half years after Julius Caesar's assassination. The intriguing iconography on the coin tells a powerful tale—two daggers represent the means of Caesar's death, while the Phrygian cap symbolizes the Republic's freedom from tyranny. 

Additionally, the coin explicitly mentions the date of the assassination, referred to as "EID MAR" in the Roman calendar, commemorating the Ides of March when the treacherous act took place.

Experts predict that the EID MAR Denarius will fetch a remarkable price at the auction, given the recent surge in popularity of such ancient coins. Earlier this year, similar examples reached staggering prices of around $600,000 and $720,000. The rarity and historical significance of this coin ensures that the fervor at the Stack's Bowers auction will be equally enthusiastic.

The Intriguing Tale of Julius Caesar's Assassin

The story behind the EID MAR Denarius is as captivating as the coin itself. Julius Caesar declared himself "dictator in perpetuity" after a series of military victories, causing unrest among politicians who feared he desired to become a king. 

“Prior to Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, no living Roman had ever put his own portrait on a Roman coin,” said Liv Yarrow, a history professor at Brooklyn College, New York, and expert on coins of the Roman Republic, to Live Science.

A group of Roman senators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Cassius, orchestrated a plot to assassinate Caesar, ultimately ending his life on the Ides of March in 44 B.C.

While the assassins hoped for public support, the news of Caesar's death brought mixed reactions. While Caesar's allies, including Mark Antony and Octavian, waged a civil war to avenge his death, Brutus and Cassius fled Italy, taking control of the eastern provinces. This ensued in the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. resulting in Brutus and Cassius' defeat and untimely demise.

The EID MAR Denarius came to exist during the Battle of Philippi when Brutus minted the coin to pay his soldiers. Its obverse features Brutus' bust and the inscription "BRUT IMP," signifying Commander Brutus. 

On the reverse, the abbreviation "EID MAR" and the imagery of two daggers and a freedman's cap convey the message of freeing Rome from Caesar's perceived tyranny.

A Rare Coin's Journey to Auction

The upcoming auction at Stack's Bowers Galleries will be the third showcasing from the prestigious Dr. Michael Rogers Collection. Previous sales from this collection have already set impressive records, with gold aurei from Elagabalus, Macrinus, and Otho fetching remarkable prices.

The silver EID MAR Denarius, expected to fetch up to $300,000, is a remarkable find among ancient coins. Although hundreds of thousands of these coins were minted during its time, only about 100 specimens survive today. 

Most of them have been discovered in Greece, but some have surfaced in various other countries, revealing the coin's widespread circulation until at least 4 B.C.

As numismatic enthusiasts eagerly await the auction, the rare EID MAR Denarius stands ready to make history once again, drawing collectors from all corners of the world to vie for this timeless piece of ancient history. 

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