«PictureTours on interesting coins»

Roman Republic, Denarius

 back

Roman Republic, Denarius (obverse) Roman Republic, Denarius (reverse)

This denarius was struck by Quintus Cassius Longinus, a descendant of yonder Lucius Cassius Longinus Ravilla who had sentenced three Vestals to death for improper behavior in a famous trial in 113 BC. The obverse depicts Libertas, the goddess and embodiment of liberty, identified by the legend LIBERT to her left. On the right is the legend Q. CASSIVS, referring to the moneyer. The reverse of our denarius shows the temple of Vesta with symbols of legal actions: The curule chair in the temple is where the judge sat, and the urn is where votes were placed. The tablet has an A for "absolvo" (to acquit) and a C for "condemno" (to find guilty). The Vestals, priestesses living in the temple of Vesta, were the only female priests within the Roman religious system. The Vestal duty brought great honor, but in turn the priestesses had to observe absolute chastity for 30 years. The punishment for violating the oath of celibacy was to be buried alive, and this is what happened to the three Vestals Licinia, Marcia and Aemilia in 113 BC.

 back