Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXVAuction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 912

Price realized: Unsold
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Lot description:


Cnaeus Pompeius Junior and M. Minatius Sabinus AR Denarius. Corduba, 46-45 BC. CN•MAGN IMP, head of Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus to right / Personification of Corduba, turreted, standing to right amidst heap of arms, holding transverse spear and welcoming Pompeian soldier who debarks from stern of ship; PR•Q to left, M•MINAT SABIN in exergue. Crawford 470/1a; CRI 49; C. 5; Sydenham 1036; Buttrey, ANSMN 9, 1960, p. 76, type A and pl. VII, obv. 3, rev. c; RSC Minatia 2 and Pompeia 11. 3.88g, 20mm, 2h.

Mint State; in extraordinary condition for the type. Very Rare.

From the Shackleford Collection.

The eldest son of Pompey Magnus, Cnaeus Pompeius (also commonly referred to as Pompey Junior) and his brother Sextus grew up in the long shadow of their father's fame as the greatest general of his age. The elder Pompey had seemed to hold the whole Roman world in the palm of his hand, yet in the struggle for mastery of the Republic against his former friend and ally Caesar, Pompey was forced to abandon Italy with his family, and was utterly undone at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Defeated, Pompey and his family took flight to Egypt where the general believed they would be safe, since the boy king Ptolemy XIII was indebted to the friendship and the help Pompey had given to his father. Upon their arrival in Egypt however, Pompey was treacherously murdered by a former comrade on the orders of the Egyptian king, who had been advised that this would forestall further civil war, and ingratiate him with Caesar. Stabbed to death by sword and daggers, his head severed and his unclothed body thrown into the sea, Pompey died the day after his sixtieth birthday. Horrified, his family put back out to sea.

Cnaeus and Sextus joined the remainder of the resistance to Caesar in Africa, and after the defeat at Thapsus the brothers escaped to the Balearic islands, whence they crossed over to the Spanish mainland with Titus Labienus, a former lieutenant of Caesar. Struck at Corduba, which became the Pompeian military headquarters, this coin is laden with symbolism. The reverse is as imaginative and unusual as any reverse in the Republican series, and propagandises the welcome received by the brothers in Spain, which readily provided them with the means with which to continue the fight against Caesar. The obverse bears the first securely datable portrait of their dead father Pompey Magnus, whose success in bringing the Sertorian War to a close in 71 BC would still have been remembered in Spain. The legend names 'Cnaeus Magnus Imperator', a pious statement that the authority behind the striking of this coinage is that of the wronged and murdered Pompey Magnus, on whose behalf the resistance to Caesar was taken up by his son.

This coin must have been struck only shortly before the Pompeian and Caesarian armies met on 17 March 45 BC; the extreme rarity of the issue argues for a limited production run. At the Battle of Munda, some 70,000 troops commanded by Cnaeus, Sextus, and Titus Labienus met Caesar's battle-hardened veteran force of 40,000. The result of the contest was a decisive victory for Caesar; Labienus was killed along with around 30,000 Pompeian troops, and the brothers Cnaeus and Sextus were once again forced to flee. Cnaeus was quickly captured and executed, but Sextus would survive his brother in Sicily for over a decade.

Estimate: 25000 GBP