Where in the world is Decius Mus?

To get inspiration for writing the book today I opened up Rosenstein’s latest, very readable, introduction to the Imperial Republic. He starts at Sentinium and how P. Decius Mus’ self-sacrifice provided a turning point in Rome’s conquest of Italy.  He and his father and his son, all bearing the same name, became a standard exempla of dedication unto death to the fatherland; Cicero mentions them thirty times in his extant works (cf. Van der Blom, p. 101).  And yet unlike so many exempla with wide communal resonance, they appear no where on the republican series that we can see.  Noteworthy by their absence.  Crawford thinks the line died out and without ancestors numismatic commemoration was unlikely.  Interestingly the lack of commemoration was so keenly felt that the Emperor Trajan made up a type to ‘restore’ in his name (see image above).  The image he chose to augment with Decius’ name is this type:

The carnyx and shield clearly link the otherwise completely standard type with Celtic victories.  And, the Decii did engage with the Celts as well as the Samnites, but it is unlikely that Trajan has any ‘inside’ knowledge 300 years later about who made the original type.  Instead it is filling a void in the numismatic record.  The Decii deserved a coin type so the must have had one.  Did Trajan do the same for other republican heroes?   There are some modern copies for Cocles.  I’ve not see an authentic specimen yet, but two are listed in RIC so perhaps they do exist:



Philip VI Andriscus Overstrike


I don’t want to reiterate what appears in the Triton catalogue on this specimen, as you can read it yourself by clicking on the image.  In the article I linked to earlier today, Callataÿ mentioned the phenomenon of these coins of a “pretender” to the Macedonian throne being overstruck on denarii.

The one above is apparently using this type as its flan:

The Crawford type is re-dated by the overstrike, just pushed down a couple of years.  It’s striking [always my favorite numismatic pun] that two of the known specimens of Andriscus are known to have been overstruck on the this same type.   Here’s the link to the other one.  The obverse dies are linked but the reverses are unique.  Another un-die-linked specimen is overstruck on a Thesalian League type.  Of course, Callataÿ is right that it shows use of the denarius in the East, at least sufficient to allow Andriscus to produce a (small?) series.

The other minor mystery is whatever is Andriscus wearing on his head.  Macedonian head gear is always a wee bit baffling, but more on that some other time: