From Art to Artifact:  Making Sense of Roman Coins

Denarius of L. Cassius Longinus

Coin Information

Silver Denarius of Lucius Cassius Longinus
Rome, 63 BCE

Obverse: Veiled female bust facing left, likely representing a Vestal Virgin. Behind, a shallow vessel with a short base and two upright handles, identified as a culullus. Previously she has been identified with the goddess Vesta, but her headdress and culullus link her with the only permanent female priesthood in Republican Rome. The lack of descriptive legend makes identification more difficult and infers that the ancient Romans would know what was being represented.

Reverse: A male togate turning left, holding a tabella, inscribed with a V, in his right hand over a cista. Behind, LONGIN[us]•III•V[ir] downward. Border of dots. The inscription refers to the cognomen and title of the man responsible for the coin, Lucius Cassius Longinus. This type shows a vote being cast in the legislative courts. The V stands for Vti Rogas, or “as you ask”, signifying a positive vote; the opposite vote was initialed with an A for Antiquo, meaning “I reject any change.” These letters were scratched into a wax layer on a wooden tablet and deposited into the cista, or wicker basket, then counted.

The coin on display at the Hood Museum was struck off the flan and as a result is missing its mint mark. Based on the coin seen at left, tentatively minted with the same pair of dies, the lower left edge of the obverse field can be reconstructed and the mint mark can be determined as a C. The known mint marks of these coins use the letters of the praenomen and nomen of the tresvir monetales responsible for the minting: L C A S I.