Marc Antony and the Numismatic Legacy of His Legionary denarii
Marc Antony was a pivotal figure in the annals of Roman history, not only as a storied military general and the famed lover of Cleopatra but also as an influential issuer of various ancient coins. Antony’s coinage provides numismatists with a trove of historical information, symbolic designs, and testimony to his role in the monetary world of Rome.
Denarii of the Legions
The most renowned coins struck by Marc Antony are his legionary denarii minted in 32-31 BC. These coins were produced in mass to pay his legions in the lead-up to the Battle of Actium against his rival, Octavian (later Augustus).
The obverse depicts a galley, while the reverse showcases the standards of a particular legion, with an inscription naming that legion.
- ANT AVG: Short for “Antonius Augurus,” a declaration of Antony’s priestly title and his rightful position.
- III VIR R P C: Short for “Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae,” referring to his role as one of the Triumvirs for the Constitution of the Republic.
- LEG XI: Denotes the eleventh legion.
The inscriptions on the coin have several different meanings. The abbreviation AVG stands for Augustus, a title that was given to Mark Antony in 43 BC by the Roman Senate. The title III VIR R P C refers to the Second Triumvirate, a three-person ruling body established in 43 BC to restore order to the Roman Republic.
The legion number on the coin’s reverse identifies the specific legion to which the coin was issued. There were several legions, and each was commemorated with its denarius, making these coins a fascinating study for those keen on understanding Roman military organization and the propaganda value of numismatics.
The Battle of Actium between Antony’s and Octavian’s fleet (led by Marcus Agrippa) took place on September 2, 31 BC. The Decisive battle was the Final War of the Roman Republic. Octavian later became Augustus, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire.
The Marc Antony Legionary Denarius is also a popular coin among collectors. The coins are relatively common, but they can be expensive to purchase, especially in good condition.