Silver cistophorus of Mark Antony

Roman, around 40 BC
Minted at Ephesos, modern Turkey

Mark Antony as Dionysos on a coin commemorating his marriage to Octavia

Following the death of Julius Caesar a 'triumvirate for setting public affairs in order' was created. One member of the group of three, M. Aemilius Lepidus, soon became marginalised, but the other two, Octavian (Julius Caesar's elected heir) and Mark Antony, grew in power and in animosity towards each other. In 40 BC, a temporary halt was brought to the breakdown in relations between the two men by a pact made at Brundisium (modern Brindisi). Under the terms of the pact Antony married Octavian's sister, Octavia.

This silver cistophorus was produced at the mint of Ephesos, in part to celebrate the union. On the reverse appears the standard design of a cistophorus: a chest known as a cista surrounded by snakes. However, a bust of Octavia has been introduced above the cistophorus, which is flanked by Antony's title, IIIVIR RPC. The front of the coin is also remarkable in its treatment of the portrait of Mark Antony: he is given the ivy leaf crown of Dionysos. This somewhat orientalizing tendency conflicts with the typically Roman series of titles given to Antony: M. ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT, 'Imperator and Consul designate for the second and third time'.

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More information


K. Butcher, Roman provincial coins: an int (London, Seaby, 1988)

T. Cornell and J. Matthews, Atlas of the Roman world (Phaidon, 1987)

F.S. Kleiner and S.P. Noe, The early cistophoric coinage (New York, American Numismatic Society, 1977)

A. Burnett, M. Amandry and P.P. Ripollès, Roman provincial coinage, vol. 1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)

A.M. Burnett, Coinage in the Roman world (London, Seaby, 1987)


Weight: 12.240 g
Diameter: 27.000 mm

Museum number

CM PCR 301 (PCG VII A 5)



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