Obverse: Head of Juno Sospita facing right, clad in a goat's skin headdress, control symbol, oil jar behind, bead and reel border. 

Reverse: Gryphon leaping right, control symbol, oil lamp below, L PAPI in ex., bead and reel border.

RRC: 383/1. Sear: 311. CRR: 773. RSC: Papia 1. [Rome, 79 BC].

Diameter: 19 mm. Weight: 3.2 g.

An Iconic Republican denarius serratus struck by the moneyer L. Papius in 78 BC. Although the history of L. Papius is unknown, the presence of Juno Sospita on the obverse connects him with the town of Lanuvium where she was the patron goddess. Like other moneyers of this period, L. Papius used serrated flans and control marks in order to keep track of production. Each set of dies had a symbol on the obverse with a different symbol on the reverse, each pair relating to one another. In this case we have an oil jug with a spout and handle on the obverse, and an oil lamp on the reverse. There are at least 211 pairs of dies! The wonderful depiction of the Gryphon on the reverse is complemented by this passage from Aelian's On the Nature of Animals:

“The Gryphon, I hear is a four-legged Indian animal like the lion and it has especially strong claws most nearly resembling the lion. They say that it is winged and the colour of feathers along the back is black and the front feathers are red, while the wings are neither such colour but white. Ctesias narrates that its neck is variegated with dark blue feathers. It has an eagle-like beak and head just like artisans paint and shape them. He says that its eyes are like flames. It makes its nest in the mountains. Full grown gryphons are impossible to capture, but the young are captured. The Bactrians, who are neighbors of the Indians, say the gryphons are the guardians of the gold there, and they say that they dig it from the ground and weave nests from it and the Indians take what falls off.”

An Iconic silver coin in excellent condition with a wonderful mythological reverse type and subtle cabinet toning.

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