L. Memmius Galeria. Rome, 106 BC

L. Memmius Galeria. Rome, 106 BC


AR Serate Denarius, 3.92g (18mm, 5h). Laureate bust of Saturn left; •F before; ROMA and harpa behind / Venus driving biga right; Cupid flying above with laurel wreath; L•MEMMI GAL in two lines in exergue

Pedigree: Ex Roma 8, 28 September 2014, lot 850

References: Crawford 313/1b. Syd. 574a

Grade: Lovely toning. Good VF  (rr1006)

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Most Roman moneyers are unknown in modern times. A handful have gained both notoriety but the majority are understood only through the denarii that have been cast down to us. This coin in particular is a moneyer that would be otherwise unknown if not for the famous Roman poet Virgil who included the family in his masterpiece, the Aeneid. The Aeneid is the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who struggles to fulfill his destiny of finding his homeland. His descendants Romulus and Remus were responsible for the creation of Rome.

Just as North Americans sometimes tie their lineage to the early colonists from Britain, the people of Virgil’s time would tie themselves to the Trojan warriors. In the Aeneid, Virgil derives the names of several Roman families to Trojan heroes. In this case, the family Memmii came from Mnestheus, a lieutenant under Aeneas. The connection is somewhat quizzical however as the Memmii family was not of high status, a mere plebeian family and one that would normally not have been associated with someone of such great stature.