|Lot 165. L. Titurius L.f. Sabinus. 89 B.C. AR denarius (17 mm, 3.82 g, 6 h). Rome. SABIN behind, A · PV before, bare head of King Tatius right; below chin, palm branch / L · TITVRI in exergue, Tarpeia, facing, buried to her waist in shields, with raised hands she tries to thrust off two soldiers who are about to cast their shields onto her; above, star in crescent. Crawford 344/2c; Sydenham 699a; Tituria 5. Popular mythological type. Clear details. Fine.
From the Expatriate Collection. Ex Kölner Munzkabinett E5, 254.
The story of Tarpeia as depicted on this coin was well-known in ancient Rome, and is recounted by Livy: "The last of these wars was commenced by the Sabines and proved the most serious of all... Spurius Tarpeius was in command of the Roman citadel. Whilst his daughter had gone outside the fortifications to fetch water for some religious ceremonies, Tatius bribed her to admit his troops within the citadel. Once admitted, they crushed her to death beneath their shields, either that the citadel might appear to have been taken by assault, or that her example might be left as a warning that no faith should be kept with traitors. A further story runs that the Sabines were in the habit of wearing heavy gold armlets on their left arms and richly jeweled rings, and that the girl made them promise to give her 'what they had on their left arms,' accordingly they piled their shields upon her instead of golden gifts. Some say that in bargaining for what they had in their left hands, she expressly asked for their shields, and being suspected of wishing to betray them, fell a victim to her own bargain" (Livy I, 11.5-9). Tarpeia's body was then hurled from a steep cliff on the southern summit of the Capitoline Hill, and the Tarpeian Rock, as it became known subsequently, was where notorious traitors were executed in ancient Rome.
The head of Titus Tatius, king of the Sabines, relates to the Sabine origin of the moneyer's gens. On one variety of this type, in place of the palm branch which alludes to Roman successes in the Social War, is found a TA monogram, identifying the head as that of King Tatius. A most unusual feature of the obverse is the addition of the letters A PV (argentum publicum), meaning that the issue was struck by metal owned by the Roman state. Noting that a particular coinage was struck by state-owned metal is not without precedent, and in fact it occurs on coins of eight different moneyers during the Republican period. However, it seems unnecessary: presumably all official coinage was made from metal owned by the Roman state, and its significance here is not readily apparent.
Estimate: US$ 75