Republican Rome   :|:   Document

Caius Fonteius Coin

ref. : en.1769.2018 | 28 November 2018 | by Francis Leveque
coins | Fourth quarter of IIe century BC
Rome, Rome ( Italie )
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First member of his family to exercise this trust, Caius Fonteius is a new man from Tusculum.

Silver denier 20 mm in diameter, weighing 3.80 g.

Name of the workshop : Rome

Date : 114-113 av. J.-C.

Recto :

Translation : “/
Description : Janiform beardless head of Fons or Fontus or Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux, Gemini); D on the left under the chin; mark of value (XVI) in monogram on the right under the chin; three globules below.

Verso :

Translation : Caius Fonteius // Roma” (Caius Fonteius // Roma)
Description : Galley sailing on the left with a pilot and three rowers, the acrostolium at the stern of the ship under the aplustre.

Comment :
On the right, the janiform head of Fons or Fontus, son of Janus, could constitute a play on words with the people Fonteia who claimed to descend directly from this god for whom the Fontinalia had been instituted and took place on October 13th. For Crawford, it is rather a Janiform representation of the Dioscuri by analogy with the denier struck in 108-107 BC (RCV 184). The same author recalls that the Fonteia people were from Tusculum where the famous twins (Castor and Pollux) were honored.
As for Caius Fonteius, monetary triumvir (monetals) in 114-113 BC. J.C., he performs a function there that is not yet part of cursus honorum and therefore does not yet lead to the consulate. He is legate proprietor, in 91-90, of Cnaeus Servilius Caepio who puts an end to the Social War. Other members of his family occupy the same position: Manius Fonteius 108-107, Marcus Fonteius in 87, Manius Fonteius C.f. in 95 (the same as in 108-107?) and P. Fonteius P.f Capito in 55.

The reverse has a galley profile to the left. The hull is rounded and decorated with 2 lines in fish scales. The bow has a spur with three blades above which another blade protrudes from the bow. A huge stolos ended with a button composes the top of the bow.The stern rises slightly higher, by an aphlaston whose disc is recognized and 3 ribbons above and 2 below (acrostolium). A rope belt vertically grips the stern at the helmsman’s level. A series of 5 oars comes out of a case of oars. We do not distinguish a bridge over the oars (it is a aphract galley).

For Crawford, this setback would be an allusion to the marine origin of Telegonus, founder of Tusculum. It could also be an allusion to P. Fonteius Capitus, ancestor of the monetary, praetor in Sardinia in 169 BC and who would have won a naval victory.

Obviously the accent is on the characters on board this galley. The helmsman stands straight, looks proud, his left arm down to a rudder, the right arm to the horizontal, passing over a cabin and holding a vertical stick (a cane?). The head of 3 passengers exceeds (they are not rowers because the oars are 5 in number and their forward orientation would be an error). A second double-pitched roof cabin is also in front of the passengers.

This little galley can not be a quinquérème because they are always cataphracte (thus provided with a bridge over the oars). A graffito of Alba Fucens allows to recognize a quadrirème.

For this guy, Crawford found an estimate of 142 wedges and 177 corners. At right, the alphabet is not always accompanied by globules under the bust. I present only one variant on another denier of C. Fonteius . Many other variants are to be discovered on


Bibliography :

  • J.F. MOLINA, M.F. CARRERA, X. CALICO ESTIVILL , Catàlogo Monogràfico de los denarios de la Repùblica Romana (CMDRR) , n° 713
  • E. BABELON, Description historique et chronologique des monnaies de la République romaine (B), Rollin et Feuardent, Paris et Londres , 1885-1886, n° 1, (Fonteia)
  • H.A. Gruber, Coins of the roman republic in the British Museum (BMC/RR), Londres , 1910, n° 599 var.
  • E.A Sydenham, The Coinage of the Roman Republic (CRR), Londres , 1952 (réimpr. 1976), n° 555
  • M.H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage (RRC), Cambridge , 1970, n° 290 /1
  • H. A. Seaby, Roman silver coins (RSC) , 1978-1987, n° 1
  • L. Basch, Le musée imaginaire de la marine antique (MIMA), Institut hellénique pour la préservation de la tradition nautique, Athènes , 1987, p.420, n° 902
  • D.R. Sear, Roman coins and their values, the millenium edition (RCV), Spink and Son Ltd, Londres , 2000-2014, n° 167
  • R. ALBERT , Die Münzen der Römischen Republik (MRR), Gietl Verlag, Battenberg , 2003, n° 1068