428/3. Cassia - denarius (55 BC)

AR Denarius (Rome, 55 BC)

O/ Head of Genius Populi Romani right, with sceptre over shoulder.

R/ Eagle on thunderbolt right; jug on right; lituus on left; Q CASSIVS below.

3.90g; 20mm

Crawford 428/3 (126 obverse dies/140 reverse dies)

- Naville Numismatics Live Auction 40, lot 567.

Quintus Cassius Q.f. L.n. Longinus:

Quintus belonged to the great plebeian gens Cassia, of whom the Longini were the only main branch. A prominent family, they could boast seven consulships in the last two centuries of the Republic. The relationship between the recorded Cassii is however quite difficult to establish as the filiations for the last consuls are missing in the Fasti Consulares. Sumner has made an attempt to draw the Longini's stemma, but it is somewhat speculative*.  He says that our Cassius was the grandson of Lucius Cassius Longinus, Consul in 107 BC, and a cousin of the assassin of Caesar.

In 52, Pompey chose our moneyer to go with him in Spain as Quaestor, without using the traditional lottery to assign provincial magistracies, therefore showing that the Cassii were in his influence; Caesar did the same that year with Mark Antony (Cicero, ad Atticus, vi. 6; ad Familiares, ii. 15).  In 49 however, Quintus, by now Tribune of the Plebs, betrayed his patron and sided with Caesar (ad Familiares, xvi. 11), who then appointed him as propraetor in Spain (Caesar, Civil Wars, ii. 19, 21; Livy, Periochae, 109, 111).  His cruelty and the mutiny of his legions there led to his replacement by Gaius Trebonius in 47. The lituus and jug on the reverse of this denarius show he was also augur.

Crawford considers that the eagle on thunderbolt on the reverse symbolises imperium and is a reference to the Lex Cassia de Senatu of 104, which stipulated that a magistrate convicted of a crime or stripped of his imperium could not sit in the Senate.  Lucius Cassius Longinus, the Tribune of the Plebs who passed it, wanted to expel Quintus Servilius Caepio -- the proconsul responsible for the terrible defeat of Arausio -- from the Senate.

* G. V. Sumner, The Orators in Cicero's Brutus: Prosopography and Chronology, University of Toronto Press, 1973.

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18 Nov 2018
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