The Brutus Coin

As in minted by Marcus Junius Brutus, assassin of Gaius Julius Caesar, complete with a crystal clear image of his ignominious mug.

The Brutus coin, minted 42 BC

Brutus and his conspiratorial friends assassinated Julius Caesar on March 15th, 44 BC. On March 20th he cleverly observed that everyone hated him for having killed the most popular man ever, and he hightailed it out of town to Greece.

He whiled away a couple of years studying philosophy and raising money for an army which would lose to Antony and Octavian at the Battles of Philippi in 42 BC. How better to raise money than to mint it? Hence the Brutus coin, one day’s wages for a foot soldier, dated 42 BC.

This amazing coin was unearthed under highly shady looting-like circumstances, and sold to a British coin dealer. The Greek government caught the sellers on their way out of the country, confiscated the ill-gotten gains, and then scored the coin back from the British dealer.

I actually feel a little bad for the poor dealer who gets neither a refund nor the coin, but them’s the breaks when you’re dealing with suspicious provenance. Especially nowadays. Countries like Greece and Italy are seriously hounding other countries to turn over stolen artifacts, and they’ve been remarkably successful.

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