ACTA ACCLA, February 2003


Roger Burry

Roman Republic siver denarius
Roman Republic

Silver denarius 4.04 g struck at the mint in Rome in 48 BCE. L. Hostilius Saserna, Moneyer. Obverse: Head of captive Gallic woman with long disheveled hair facing right; carnyx behind. Reverse: Cult figure of Artemis holding spear right with hand on stag left. Legend: L. HOSTILIVS SASERNA. Sear 419; Roman Republican Coinage (Crawford) 448/3; Coinage of the Roman Republic (Sydenham) 953.

The woman on the obverse of this silver coin is very striking. Her hair is long and perhaps limed, forming dreadlocks. Her face is pretty in contrast to the women on most Roman coins. The carnyx shown behind the woman is a Gallic/Celtic war trumpet. It was played vertically and apparently made a very loud sound. Diodorus Siculus [about 60-30 BCE] wrote "Their trumpets are also of a peculiar and barbaric kind which produce a harsh, reverberating sound suitable to the confusion of battle."

The reverse which depicts Artemis in a Greek fashion, has been suggested as commemorating Caesar's taking of Massalia [current Marseille, France] in 49 BCE. Massalia was an ancient Greek city founded as a colony of Phokia in about 600 BCE. Artemis was the chief goddess of Massalia.

There seem to be at least two versions of this coin. In the obverse of the coin shown, the carnyx is almost vertical and is well back of the head. In the second version the carnyx is at an angle of about 20 degrees left and actually covers part of the lower hair. The second version also seems to have a slightly different rendition of the woman.

The moneyer, L. Hostilius Saserna, was one of three brothers who were strong supporters of Julius Caesar. They did not gain further offices.


Crawford, Michael Roman Republican Coinage.
Scullard, H. From the Gracchi To Nero; A History of Rome 133BC to AD 68.
Gallic/Celtic Web Site.
Sear, David Roman Coins and Their Values.


ACTA ACCLA edited by Michael J. Connor.