Sextus Pompey, Military mint in Sicily 42-40 BC

Sextus Pompey, Military mint in Sicily 42-40 BC


AR Denarius, 3.68g (17mm, 1h). [MAG.PIVS.IMP.ITER] Bare head of Cn. Pompeius Magnus to right; behind, jug; before, lituus / [PRAEF] / CLAS.ET.O[RAE / MARIT.EX.S.C] Neptune standing left, holding aplustre in his hand and with his right foot on a prow; to left and right, one of the Catanaean brothers bearing his parent on his shoulders

Pedigree: From the collection of W. F. Stoecklin, Amriswil, Switzerland, acquired from Hess AG in Luzern prior to 1975. Ex Hirsch 33, 17 November 1913, lot 1058

References: Crawford 511/3a. CRI 334. Sydenham 1344

Grade: Toned and with a splendid portrait of Pompey the Great. A stable but evident flan separation/crack at 10h on obverse. Struck on a very short flan with some striking flatness on the edges, otherwise, Good VF (rr1074)

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Sextus Pompey was one of the two sons of Cn. Pompeius Magnus otherwise known to the world as Pompey the Great. Sextus Pompey was the younger son of Pompey and Tertia Mucia. Sextus’ older brother Gnaeus fought alongside their father. At the battle of Pharsalus, which was to lead to the ultimate downfall of Pompey the Great, Sextus stayed behind with his stepmother Cornelia. Upon his defeat, Pompey met with Cornelia and Sextus and sailed to Egypt where they were attempting to seek refuge. Before setting food on Egyptian soil Pompey was assassinated before his son’s eyes. After this horrible event, Sextus fled to Africa to meet with his brother Gnaeus where Pompey’s remnant forces were stationed. They crossed into Spain where they gained command of the southern part of the province. Eventually Gnaeus Pompey was executed after a failed battle at Munda in 45 BC. Sextus was not at that battle as he stayed behind at the garrison at Cordoba. He continued the fight against Caesar and his generals. Once Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, Sextus made peace with the Roman Senate but still stayed away from Rome for fear of retaliation. This distrust was not unjustified. The Senate put him in charge of the Roman Fleet and he sailed for Sicily where he was successful in his task. Rome then promoted him to the elite priestly college of Augurs.

Despite the support of the Senate there were still problems lurking from the past. Sextus had supported Antony and while he was technically at peace with Rome after being asked to serve in Sicily, he certainly was not okay with Octavian, the adopted son of Caesar. A pact of peace was made between the second triumvirate and Sextus but Octavian quickly accused Sextus of breaking this pact and attacked him with forces. After several failed attempts, in 36 BC Octavian was finally successful in killing Sextus with the help of his capable general Vipsanius Agrippa.

This coin was struck in Sicily where Sextus was sent on behalf of Rome. The coins of Pompey the Great and his sons show a figure of Neptune as he held the office of Praefectus classis et orae maritimae (“admiral returned to sea”). Sextus even began to refer to himself as Poseidon which clearly showed his affinity for the sea.