Alexander the Great (336-323 BC), AR Tetradrachm, Amphipolis mint, Lifetime issue (336-323 BC), Price 51 (16.96 g, 25 mm)

Obverse: Head of Herakles right, wearing Nemean lionskin headdress

Reverse: AΛEΞANΔΡOY Zeus seated left, eagle in right hand, sceptre in left hand, eagle head monogram left

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Roman Republic: Lucius Cornelius Sulla (Sulla the Dictator) and Lucius Manlius Torquatus, AR Denarius, Struck at a mint moving with Sulla in the East, 82 BC, B.4 (Manlia) – BMC / RR.9 pl. 110/7 – CRR.757 (2) – RRC.367 / 5 – RSC.4

Lucius Cornelius Sulla had been given command of a Roman force against Mithridates but the Senate reverse this decision, giving it instead to his political opponent Marius. At this, Sulla marched his forces against Rome itself, capturing it though Marius escaped. He later returned to the East where he made peace with Mithridates before moving into Asia. Events in Rome forced him to return again with his army. The issue of this coin belongs to that phase, when he controlled vast wealth obtained from Mithridates and from the cities of Asia. In 81 BC he was back in Rome where he increased the number of Senators from 300 to 600 boosting his support. This was the first time that a living person, Sulla (138-78 BC), appeared on a currency of the Republic.

Lucius Manlius Torquatus was one of the lieutenants of Sulla and proquesteur Legate during the Mithridatic war. He would later become consul in 65 BC.

Obverse: Roma wearing a winged helmet facing right; around, L. M(ANLI) PROQ

Reverse: Sulla as triumphator advancing to right in horse drawn quadriga; above , Victory flying to the left in the act of crowning Sulla with a wreath; in exergue, [S]VLLA IM[P]

Julius Caesar, AR Denarius, African mint, 47-46 BC, Sear 1402, Crawford 458/1, RSC 12, CRI 55 (3.46 g, 17 mm)

Through this coin, Caesar emphasizes the divine ancestry of his family, the gens Iulia, which claimed descent from the goddess Venus and her son, the Trojan hero Aeneas, who saved his father from the fall of Troy and, as recounted in Virgil’s Aeneid, fled to Italy. The Romans traced their history back to him.

Obverse: Diademed head of Venus right

Reverse: Aeneas advancing left, carrying palladium from Troy in right hand and his father Anchises on left shoulder; CAESAR downwards to right.

Roman Republic: Sextus Pompeius Faustulus, AR Denarius, Rome mint, 137 BC, Crawford 235/1a, Sear 112, Syd 461 (3.8 g, 19 mm)

The origins of Rome are shrouded in myth. The story of its legendary founders began in the city of Alba Longa, where the Vestal Virgin Rhea Silvia became pregnant. The punishment for such sacrilege was to be buried alive. But Rhea Silvia claimed in her defense that the father of the unborn children was the god Mars!

Rhea’s death would have suited the king of Alba Longa, Amulius, who had usurped the throne from Rhea’s father and his brother, Numitor. Amulius had Rhea made Vestal Virgin in order to prevent her from having children of royal blood, who could lay claim to his throne. Rhea gave birth to twins. Amulius did not dare to harm them directly, for the fear of involing Mars’ wrath, but he had them put in a basket and cast into the river Tiber.

The basket washed up on the river bank. There, a she-wolf and a woodpecker, both sacred to Mars, suckled and fed the twins under a fig tree till they were found by the shepherd Faustulus. The coin depicts this legend. It was stuck by the moneyer Sextus Pompeius Faustulus, whose clan claimed descent from the shepherd Faustulus.

Obverse: Helmeted head of Roma facing right, X below chin

Reverse: [F-OSTLV-S]/SEX. PO/[ROMA]. She-wolf suckling the twins Romus and Remulus, birds on fig tree in background, the shepherd Faustulus standing right

Ionia, Smyrna, Bronze Homerium, c. 75-50 BC, Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey) mint, Milne 359; SNG Copenhagen 1207 (9.21 g, 21 mm)

Homer is a legendary ancient Greek epic poet, traditionally said to be the author of the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey. Smyrna was one of several cities that claimed to be the birthplace of the poet and at the source of the Meles River was a cave where the residents claimed he composed his poems. The city had a temple with a square portico in honor of Homer, which they called the Homerium. According to Strabo, they also called their bronze coins (this type) Homerium.

Obverse: Laureate head of Apollo right; laurel wreath border

Reverse: ΞMYPNAIΩN. The poet Homer seated left in himation, right hand raised to chin, left holding volume on his knees, transverse staff behind

Anonymous Jital citing “Malik of Kurzuwan”, minted in the month Rabi, 618 AH (May/June 1221 AD) in Kurzuwan in Khwarezm when it was besieged by Ghengiz Khan, Tye 324.1, Nyamaa 31, Album 1971 (Ex Robert Tye, 3.5 g, 20 mm)

This is a siege issue, minted while the city was beseiged by Ghengis Khan. The coins were minted in the name of the “Malik of Kurzuwan”, an enigmatic title. It is not certain who it belonged to, but it seems that someone within the city assumed the royal power of “malik” (King), while probably keeping a nominal allegience to Sultan Mangurbani. There are two types of this coin, one type dated Rabi II, and one dated Jumada I. This is the more common, and earlier month. Going by the scarcity of the coins, it is reasonable to suspect that the city fell sometime in Jumada I, literally weeks after the minting of this coin. Ghengis Khan completely destroyed the city and slaughtered the population. The strike on these is often weak and off center, not surprising given the circumstances of the minting.

Obverse: (central circle) Al-Malik (the king), (around) tarikh rabi al-ak(har sanat thaman asbar wa) sin mi’at (dated Rabi II, of the year 618)

Reverse: (in four lines) Kurzuwan/La ilaha illa allah/Muhammad rasool/Allah