Denarius (Coin) Portraying King Ancus Marcius

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of silver.


56 BC, issued by L. Marcius Philippus


Roman; minted in Rome

About this artwork

Portraits of important people appear on local currency all around the world. The same was true in ancient Rome, which began producing its first coinage in the late 4th century BC. Early coins depicted the heads of gods and goddesses on the front side, often in profile, while the back depicted animals, natural resources, symbols, and references to historical events. It was not until 44 BC that the portrait of a living person—Julius Caesar—appeared on coins. Thereafter, profile portraits of rulers or other members of the imperial family became the standard subject on coins throughout the Roman Empire. In the mid-50s BC, it became common to portray ancestors that reinforced an important family lineage. The politician Lucius Marcius Philippus, who commissioned this coin, traced his lineage to the legendary King Ancus Marcius, who was believed to have lived in the late seventh century BC.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 153


Ancient Roman


Denarius (Coin) Portraying King Ancus Marcius


Roman Empire


56 BC




Diam. 1.8 cm; 4.19 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions