42-40 BCE, issued by Roman Republic, Sextus Pompeius Magnus
Roman, minted in Sicily
About this artwork
The front (obverse) of this coin portrays the head of Pompey the Great, facing right. Priestly instruments, a praefericulum (tall vase with handle) and lituus (staff), appear to left and right. On the back (reverse), Anapius and Amphinomus carry their parents; between them, Neptune stands with his foot on a ship prow.
Coins were an efficient form of publicity, particularly when new rulers needed to legitimize their succession or strengthen their reputation. After Pompey’s defeat by Julius Caesar, his sons tried to revitalize their father’s reputation and thereby enhance their own stature by issuing coins with Pompey’s portrait, such as this one.
Obverse: MAG PIVS IMP [ITER]
Reverse: PRÆF (above) CLAS ET ORÆ / MARIT EX S C
Diam.: 2 cm (13/16 in.)
Gift of Martin A. Ryerson
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Karen B. Alexander and Mary Greuel. Private Taste in Ancient Rome: Selections from Chicago Collections. Exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1990), cat. 63.
Karen B. Alexander, “From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” in Karen Manchester, Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), p. 29.
Theresa Gross-Diaz, “Cat. 32 Denarius Portraying Pompey the Great: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).
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