C. Vibius Varus. Rome, 42 BC

C. Vibius Varus. Rome, 42 BC


AR Denarius, 3.35g (18mm, 12h). Laureate head of Hercules r. / C·VIBIVS – VARVS Minerva standing r., holding Victory and spear.

Pedigree: From the collection of E.E. Clain-Stefanelli

References:  Babelon Vibia 23. Sydenham 1139. Sear Imperators 193. RBW 1740. Crawford 494/37

Grade: Rare. A portrait of enchanting beauty work of a very skilled master engraver, wonderful old cabinet tone and extremely fine  (rr1054)

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There is very little known of the Roman moneyer C. Vibius Varus, however the year in which he had money struck was a time of extreme turmoil in Rome. Caesar had been assassinated on the Ides of March and his adopted son Octavian (later Augustus) was determined to hunt down his killers who had fled, Brutus and Cassius. The second triumvirate had been formed, composed of Octavian, Mark Antony and Lepidus. Money was necessary to build and stabilize the troops not to mention show the strength of the new leadership. 

This coin of Hercules struck under Varus is suggested to be an allusion to the then recently deceased Julius Caesar according to Crawford (p. 511 in his book RRC). The crown Hercules wears is suggested to be the crown of Alexander the Great. No small message during this tumultuous year. This coin holds historical interest but equally is special for its metaphors back to the man Julius Caesar was believed to be, or at least was suggested by his admirers.