PUB LENTULUS SPINTHER
Cornelia 58
Circa 74 BC. Roman Republic silver denarius. Mint - Rome.

 

On the front of this coin is the head of Hercules, facing right. Behind his head are the letters Q SC, which means Quaestor, senatus consulto.



Ref: Cornelia 58; Crawford 397/1; Sydenham 791; Sear 333.





On the reverse side of this coin is the Genius of the Roman People seated on curule chair, facing with cornucopia in right hand and a scepter in the left. Right foot is on a globe. Nike, or the Goddess Victory, is flying above and crowning Genius. The letters P LENT P F are to the left of the image and L N are to the right. Of the letters LENT, the NT are in monogram.

~ NOTES ~

Some have speculated that the 'Genius of the Roman People' is in fact what the Romans also called the Genii; which were abstract powers or spirits of individual places or people. The Genii in ancient Roman were are commonly depicted as holding a cornucopia and patera over an altar, such as in a genius loci.


Re: the Cornelia 58, David R. Sear notes - "Another restricted issue produced by special decree of Senate, doubtless reflecting the unsettled conditions of the period (war with Sertorius in Spain and with Mithradates in the East) and clearly asserting Rome's claim to universal domination."
Roman Coins and Their Values by David R. Sear (2000) pg. 134



~ HISTORY ~

Publius Cornelius Lentulus was nicknamed Spinther because of his likeness to a popular Roman actor with that name.
He first attained public office in 63BC, the same year of Marcus Tullius Cicero's consulship. Spinther was given the rank of curule aedile with the responsible for maintenance of public buildings, the regulation of public festivals and with the power as a magistrate to enforce public order. In the latter’s capacity he assisted Cicero in the suppression of the Catiline conspiracy. This was when Lucius Sergius Catilina (110BC?-62BC), a Roman politician, attempted to overthrow the Roman Republic.
Spinther occasionally offended many Romans by his often appearing in public wearing a toga with purple strips, a color considered for royalty only, of which he had no right. But this did not affect Spinther’s career and he was elected praetor in 60 BC and later as pro-praetor in 59BC when he received the governorship of Hispania Citerior (Hither Spain). It was in Spain that Spinther struck coins which bore his name and nickname, or 'Spinther' admittedly to distinguish himself from other in the Cornelia gens who bore the same name as he.
Then, in 58BC, Cicero fell out of grace with some Roman leaders who exiled him. Spinther received support from Julius Caesar when he sought election to Rome's top job - the consulship in 57BC. His first act, on the very day of his consulship (January 1st 57BC) was to recall Cicero from exile. For this reason Cicero spoke of Spinther in friendly and grateful terms. He even addressed a long letter to him when P Cornelius Lentulus Spinther was proconsular governor in Cilicia (Cyprus) from 56BC to 53BC. This letter has survived and is published in most anthologies of Cicero's letters. As governor of a wealthy province of Cyprus in the East, Lentulus struck large silver coins (known as Cistophoric Tetradrachms) from a provincial mint at Apameia in Phrygia that bear his name - P LENTVLVS P F IMPERATOR.
One of the main people to assist Spinther in his political career was always Julius Caesar. In spite of his indebtedness to him, Spinther tended to support the patrician Senatorial class and their leader Pompey, rather than with Caesar and his popularist supporters. This increasingly distanced him from Caesar and when civil war broke out between the supporters of Pompey and Caesar in 49 BC; although a good governor, Spinther was a lousy soldier. Caesar's troops besieged Spinther at Corfinium, a city just east of Rome. It was here that Spinther was forced to surrender but Caesar treated him kindly in defeat, mostly due to their old friendship and instead of being put to death Spinther was forced into exile to the Italian city of Puteoli. After a brief stay in imposed ‘retirement’ he fled and rejoined Pompey's main army in Greece.
In 48 BC, Pompey's main army confronted that of Julius Caesar and his lieutenant Marc Antony at the now infamous battle of Pharsalus which lead to a decisive defeat for the Pompeian forces. Pompey himself fled to Egypt where he was murdered by Ptolemy. As for Spinther, he escaped and fled to Rhodes where he inevitably was given asylum but later murdered. Other sources claim that Spinther fell into Caesar's hands at Pharsalus where he was put to death. In truth, his fate has always been debatable.
However, if his death at Caesar’s hand is true, it may explain why his son, P Cornelius P f P n Lentulus Spinther, joined the assassins Brutus and Cassius. His son also struck coins for both of them during their civil war against the forces of Marc Anthony and Octavian. And, like his father before him, the younger Spinther also put his own name and nickname 'Spinther' on the reverse of his coins. History shows that Spinther's son most likely was later killed at Philippi.
Cornelia 58a
Circa 74 BC. Roman Republic silver denarius.  Mint - Rome.

 

On the front of this coin is the head of Hercules, facing right. Behind his head are the letters Q SC.




Ref: Cornelia 58; Crawford 397/1; Sydenham 791; Sear 333.






This coin is almost identical to the Cornelia 58 except the letters on the reverse side are PN, to right, instead of LN.
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93
Greek coin: Phrygia, Apameia. P. Cornelius P. F. Lentulus Spinther. Circa 56-54 BC. AR Cistophoric Tetradrachm (10.21 gm). Cista mystica with serpent; all within ivy wreath / [P]-LENTVLVS-P[F] / IMPERATOR in two lines above bow-case with serpents; monogram to left, Capricorn to right, MUISKOU below. Stumpf, Numismatische Studien zur Chronologie der Römischen Statthalter in Kleinasien, 74, pl. II, 26; BMC Phrygia pg. 73, 27-28; SNG Copenhagen 158.

Note: Spinther was born in 74 BC and assumed the toga virilis in 57 BC, and in the same year was elected to the college of augurs. The reverse type of this coin refers to Lentulus' appointment to the college of augurs and is one of the few instances in imperatorial coinage in which a moneyer used a reverse type that was personal to himself.