As the saying goes, Beware the Ides of March (Eid Mar). A rare and famous coin commemorating the assassination of Julius Caesar is now on display at the British Museum.
A unique gold coin celebrating the assassination of Julius Caesar, which may have been worn as a boastful talisman by one of the emperor's killers, will go on display at the British Museum tomorrow – the Ides of March, marking the 2,054th anniversary of his death.
The British Museum was first shown the coin in 1932 but couldn't afford to buy it. Many private owners later, it has now been loaned to the museum, and will be displayed for the first time.
Caesar was struck down at the Senate, stabbed 23 times, in 44BC. The coin was among those issued by Caesar's former friend and ally, Brutus, leader of the conspirators, after they fled to Greece.
Although 60 surviving examples of the silver version are known, including several in the museum's coins and medals collection, there were only believed to be two in gold. Experts now believe one of those is a fake, making the newly displayed treasure unique.
The coin shows the head of Brutus on one side and, on the other, two daggers and the date, Eid Mar, the Ides of March, which would forever after be regarded as unlucky. The daggers flank a pileus, a freeman's hat, symbolising the conspirators' insistance that in killing Caesar they were toppling a tyrant who threatened the future of the Roman republic.
The coin was punched with a hole shortly after it was minted, probably so it could be worn – certainly by a supporter, conceivably by one of the conspirators.
The swaggering imagery displayed on the coin was already famous in antiquity. In the second century AD, the Roman historian Cassius Dio wrote: "Brutus stamped upon the coins which were being minted in his own likeness and a cap and two daggers, indicating by this and by the inscription that he and Cassius had liberated the fatherland."
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Beware the Ides of March: 'Medal' for killing Caesar shows at British Museum
Wayne Homren, Editor
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