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The Social War


The Social War. AR. 90-88 BC. AR Denarius (20mm, 3.92 g, 12h). Bovianum(?) mint. Struck 89 BC. Laureate head of Italia left, wearing single drop earring and pearl necklace; viteliú (in Oscan) to right / Soldier standing facing, head right, foot on uncertain object, holding spear and sword; recumbent bull to right; Oscan C in exergue. Campana, Monetazione 124 (D85/R108); Sydenham 627; RBW 1218 var. (letter in exergue); HN Italy 407. Deep iridescent toning. EF. Fine style. Rare.

Ex Dr. Nicholas Lowe Collection; Numismatica Ars Classica 21 (17 May 2001), lot 184.

The revolt of Rome's Italian allies (socii, hence ‘Social War’) broke out toward the close of the year 91 BC and was the culmination of longstanding grievances occasioned by the Senate's inept handling of foreign relations. The Marsi were especially prominent in this movement, hence the name ‘Marsic Confederation,’ which is often applied to the rebel state. The main fighting was in the years 90-89 BC and the rebellion assumed alarming proportions when both consuls for 90 BC were defeated by rebel armies. Rome appeared to be in serious danger of defeat, but the movement collapsed as suddenly as it had begun. The victory was probably achieved largely through the political concession of granting Roman citizenship to the enemy. Thereafter, all of Italy south of the Po was united by this common bond. The coinage of the Marsic Confederation is of great interest, consisting principally of silver denarii, some of which bear the names of the rebel generals.