AR Denarius. 3.57g, 17.1mm
MINTED: Patrae (?) mint, autumn 32 - spring 31 BC
REF: Crawford 544/25; CRI 362; Sydenham 1229; RSC 39
OBVERSE: [ANT AVG] above, Praetorian galley right with rowers, [III VIR R P C] below.
REVERSE: Legionary eagle (aquila) between two standards (signa), LEG XI across lower field.
Good/Fine. Some faint scratches on the obverse.
The named legion on this coin, Legio XI Claudia, was first formed by Julius Caesar in 58 BC when he was serving as proconsul in Gaul. The legion participated in his triumphant conquest of the Gallic tribes, and were also with him when he crossed the Rubicon to invade Italy in 49 BC and make himself master of Rome.
The famous Roman general Mark Antony struck his 'legionary' coinage in very large quantities as he and his lover Cleopatra VII of Egypt prepared for their great war against Antony's former ally turned nemesis, Octavian. Millions of these 'legionary' denarii, often struck on slightly debased metal, were used by Antony to pay his troops before the fateful naval Battle of Actium on 2 September 31 BC. As a result of their defeat at the battle, Antony and Cleopatra fled back to Egypt and both eventually committed suicide rather than surrender themselves to Octavian, who would go on to become Augustus, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire.
Twenty-three legions were honoured on Antony's 'legionary' coinage, and of these, most are named strictly with Roman numerals. There are, however, special titled legions for which there were special issues: Legios XII Antiqvae, XVII Classicae, XVIII Lybicae, and the special units of the cohortes speculatorum (COHORTIS SPECVLATORVM) and the cohortes praetoriarum (CHORTIVM PRAETORIARVM).
Many of the surviving examples of these coins are found in extremely worn condition, attesting to the fact that they were used as currency in the Empire for not just decades, but as long as one or two centuries after they were struck.
ROMAN IMPERATORS . Mark Antony, 32-31 BC . 'Legionary' Denarius . Legio XI
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