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M. Aemilius Lepidus. 58 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.99 g, 4h). Rome mint. Laureate and diademed female head (Rome?) right; palm frond to left / Equestrian statue of M. Aemilius Lepidus, holding trophy over shoulder. Crawford 419/1c; Sydenham 830a; Aemilia 22a. Light cabinet tone with golden iridescence around devices. EF. A rare Crawford number.

A wily and wealthy nobleman, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus parlayed his position as Julius Caesar's colleague in the consulships of 46 BC into the role of power broker between the rivals Mark Antony and Octavian after the great dictator's murder. He won wide-ranging Triumviral powers in the settlement of 43 BC, but took no part in the campaign against Brutus and Cassius and soon lost influence. He helped Octavian defeat Sextus Pompey in 36 BC, but afterward overreached and was easily outmaneuvered by Octavian and stripped of all real powers, retaining only the post of Pontifex Maximus, which he held until his death in 12 BC. This denarius was struck at the outset of his political career. The statue on the reverse honors his great-grandfather of the same name, consul of 187 and 175 BC, a highly successful politician and statesman described by Polybius as “the handsomest man of his time.”