MAN AEMILIUS LEPIDUS SILVER DENARIUS – ARCHITECTURAL ARCH WITH STATUE ISSUE EX 19 CENTURY COLLECTION OF THE BERLIN SURGEON – XF ROMAN REPUBLIC COIN (Inv. 18824)
FPL V, 51 (18824). ROMAN REPUBLIC. MAN. AEMILIUS LEPIDUS, 114-113 BC.
Silver Denarius, 3.83 g, 18 mm. Issue of Rome.
Obv. ROMA, head of goddess right, X in left field. Rev. MN AE[MI]LIO, equestrian statue right on the attic of a three-bay arch labeled L-E-P.
Crawford 291/1; Sydenham, 554.
Ex Southern Collector; ex Berlin Surgeon, Hirsch 279, lot 2030, “acquired before 1895.”
The correct identification of the monument on the reverse of this denarius has long been controversial among scholars. It has been variously described as the Pons Aemilius (the oldest stone bridge in Rome, whose arches were constructed by P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus Aemilius and L. Mummius in 142 BC), a triumphal arch, or as the arches of the Aqua Marcia aqueduct across the Pons Aemilius. This extension began construction when M. Aemilius Lepidus and M. Fulvius Nobilior were censors in 179 BC but was only completed and named after Q. Marcius Rex in 144 BC, despite the opposition of another member of the gens Aemilii named M. Aemilius Lepidus. Comparison of the monument on this denarius with representations of bridges and aqueducts on Augustan issues has led to the conclusion that the arched structure here is most likely the aqueduct that extended the Aqua Marcia across the Pons Aemilius. It is used here by Manius Aemilius Lepidus to refer to the deed of his ancestor and perhaps as a slight against the gens Marcii for usurping the name of the aqueduct. It remains uncertain as to which goddess is depicted on the obverse and who the equestrian statue atop the aqueduct is intended to honor on the reverse.