Coin (obverse), Denarius, of Caius Memmius Caii filius

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minted in Rome

Postcard of Coin (obverse), Denarius, of Caius Memmius Caii filius.
© National Museums Scotland

Coin (obverse), Denarius, of Caius Memmius Caii filius

This silver coin was minted in Rome by Caius Memmius, son of Caius, in 56 BC. It is a type called a denarius, the most common Roman silver coin. This picture shows the obverse of the coin.

The obverse depicts Quirinus, thought by the Romans to be a god of the Sabines (a tribe in Italy which was conquered by Rome), and later identified with Romulus. The legend 'QVIRINVS' identifies him, and 'C.MEMMI.C.F' the moneyer.

The main use of coin was to pay Rome's soldiers. In the 1st century BC, the wages of a legion were around 1,500,000 denarii, and more when Caesar raised the pay. With around 30 legions in active service in the Empire, this required huge sources of silver.

The Roman currency system included the denarius (plural: denarii), a small silver coin, as the most common coin in circulation. Classical historians regularly say that in the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire the daily wage for a laborer was one denarius. The denarius was first struck in 211 BC during the Roman Republic, valued at 10 asses, giving the denarius its name which translates to "containing ten". In 118 BC it was re-tariffed at 16 asses, to reflect the decrease in size of the As. The As was a bronze or copper coin. The denarius continued to be the main coin of the empire until it was replaced by the antoninianus in the middle of the 3rd century AD.

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Online ID: 000-100-065-733-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  H.C15301
Date: 56
56 BC
Material: Silver; reverse slightly off-centre, and pitted at 10.0; slight to moderate wear. Inscription: Obv. Laureate head of Quirinus to right; behind, QVIRINVS, downwards; in front, C . MEMMI . C . F, downwards / Rev. Ceres seated right, holding torch and corn-e
Dimensions: 20.00 x 17.50 mm D / Die Axis: 7.0
What: Coin Type: Crawford 427/2
Coin, denarius
Subject: Queen Street Coin Collection
Who: C. Memmius C. f. (Maker)
Where: Italy, Rome
Roman Republic
Description: Silver denarius of Rome, minted by C. Memmius C. f., 56 BC
  • Crawford, M.H. Roman Republican Coinage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. 
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