Mars, not Roma (again)

RRC 469/1

I was looking up Mars in the index of Woytek’s Arma and Numma to make sure I hadn’t missed something on the reverse of 494/16. (I was tweeting about this latter type yesterday, wondering if it’s Mars was at all related to the testimony of the vowing of a temple to Mars Ultor on the eve of the battle of Philippi, Suet. Aug. 29.2; Ov. Fast. V.569‑578). What I found instead was his ID of the above obverse as Mars not Roma, and I could not agree more.

Mars not Roma was blind spot for Crawford. I’ve blogged about other misidentified types and Woytek’s conclusion only strengthens my views.

Relevant types

RRC 345/1Blog post

RRC 388/1Blog post with comparative iconography

RRC 14/2Blog post (here Crawford saw Minerva, rather than Mars (or Roma).

RRC 21/2

RRC 25/5

RRC 27/6

Update 3-9-23:

The same type of question also arises in other iconographic contexts (link).

5-5-23 update:

Getty 81.AN.76.143

3 thoughts on “Mars, not Roma (again)”

  1. Do you have any thoughts on the Mars vs. Minerva question for the obverse of Crawford 389/1, the denarius of L. Rustius with a ram on the reverse? Here is my description, without further elaboration on the issue except to note which sources identify the obverse as Mars and which as Minerva:

    Roman Republic, L. Rustius, AR Denarius, 76 [or 74 or 72] BCE, Rome Mint. Obv. Head of Minerva or young Mars right, wearing crested helmet, S•C downwards behind helmet; beneath chin, * [= XVI; mark of value] / Rev. Ram standing to right; L•RVSTI in exergue. Crawford 389/1 [Minerva]; RSC Rustia 1 (ill. p. 85) [young Mars]; BMCRR I Rome 3271 [young Mars]; Sear RCV I 320 (ill. p. 132) [young Mars]; RBW Collection 1423 (ill. p. 293) [Minerva]; Harlan, RRM I Ch. 17 at pp. 104-108 [Minerva] [Michael Harlan, Roman Republican Moneyers and their Coins, 81 BCE-64 BCE (Vol. I) (2012)]; Farney pp. 284-285 [Minerva] [Gary D. Farney, Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome (Cambridge U. Press, 2007) (cited pp. available on Google Books)]. 18 mm., 3.87 g., 5 h. Purchased from Roma Numismatics Ltd, Auction XXV, 22 Sep 2022, Lot 706 [obv. identified as Mars], ex Tauler & Fau, Auction 95, 2 Nov 2021, Lot 194 [obv. identified as Mars] (Poinssot sale).

    A photo of my specimen, from Tauler & Fau (a more realistic rendition than the Roma Numismatics photo!) can be seen at or at

    Personally, I go back and forth on which seems correct to me, based on the different arguments (although I never give credence to sources’ opinions on whether a portrait looks more “masculine” or “feminine”)! I was leaning towards Mars, but then read Farney’s arguments for Minerva and thought they were more persuasive than Harlan’s, which seemed a bit convoluted.

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