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A Coin's Tale

For those of you who have not yet started the Antonius Trilogy adventure or if you're in the middle of it, my ebooks are now available on Kindle Unlimited for an unspecified time. Be sure to check them out!

This week, I have a special post I've been saving until after I finished the Antonius Trilogy. I have probably mentioned this before, but my Dad introduced me to coin-collecting when I was probably only 4-5 years old. Actually, I think it was a combination of "I'll get her going on it and that way get to do it myself!", because that's how it turned out. Whenever I wanted to get something special for Dad, it always came in a minute cardboard frame with cellophane stretched across each side so you could see them both. He had a preference for American coins, but he loved collecting foreign ones, too. During the Cold War, we lived in Florida in my teenage years, and I remember clearly that one night, a Russian ship docked downtown and Dad hopped in the car with a handful of coin-books and (Cold War, who CARES!) somehow managed to board that ship! He was gone until about 1am and Mom was frantic, thinking he was on his way to the USSR!

I bought him his first Roman coin and after that, whenever I was traveling abroad, I'd often drop by a coin store to see what they had available. Once, in Grand Cayman, I bought him a Spanish piece of eight, which got him pretty fired up. Then I started writing and along came a coin show to our area.

I went, expecting to purchase a Christmas coin for Dad, but wound up finding one that I wanted. Stunned that the seller met my price, I left with a denarius once minted by my main character, Marcus Antonius. Since my birthday was coming up, my husband's gift to me was to have the coin made into a pendant. It's one of my favorite pieces of jewelry now.​

Wouldn't it be fantastic if this coin could talk? Oh, the tales it could tell! Well, even though numismatists have to read between the lines a bit, coins DO tell tales. This one's story began toward the end of Antonius's life. War with Octavian was imminent, and the propaganda war was well underway. Mud was slinging from both sides, but one of the most insulting things Octavian said about Antonius was that he was "no longer Roman".

In the middle of all of this, during the preparations for what would be the Battle of Actium in what was probably 32 to early 31 BC, Antonius and Cleopatra were in Patrae, Greece. Since he had to mint coinage to pay his legionaries from the war-chest, Antonius apparently made the decision to honor his legions with this series of coins. And the imagery here is clear: his statement?


Look carefully at the first photo of my coin. Between two signa (standards) was the aquila (eagle standard). Legionaries swore to protect the eagle at all cost--sometimes sacrificing their lives for it--much like American soldiers do for the Stars & Stripes. Nobody BUT a Roman would have minted a coin with Roman insignia on it like this. At the bottom is the name of one of Antonius's legions. On my coin, it's the Sixth Ferrata (Ironclad). Romans loved to abbreviate, and you'll notice this a lot with this coin. The word LEC(G) stands for "legion" here.

On the flip side, Antonius identifies himself. Arcing across the top is his name and the priestly office he held for life in Rome--that of augur. You'll see the letters clearly etched: ANT*AVG. Again, an augur was a Roman priesthood and one that an individual held for life.

Then there's the ship--representing the incredible fleet at his fingertips that Cleopatra built for him. However, keep in mind that he wasn't necessarily identifying himself with her as much as he was showing off the sea-power he now wielded, since Octavian and Agrippa had it too. Agrippa had spent the past several years training Rome's first official fleet at Misenum, near what's now the Bay of Naples.

Therefore, it's my personal opinion that coins DO tell tales. They're chock full of history and a little mystery. And in this case, full of LEGEND, too.

So read on, everybody!

And should you be interested in an adventure of the Roman kind, check out my Antonius Trilogy!

Brook Allen Bio

Brook Allen has a passion for ancient history—especially 1st century BC Rome. Her Antonius Trilogy is a detailed account of the life of Marcus Antonius—Marc Antony, which she has worked on for the past fifteen years. The first installment, Antonius: Son of Rome was published in March 2019. It follows Antony as a young man, from the age of eleven, when his father died in disgrace, until he’s twenty-seven and meets Cleopatra for the first time. Brook’s second book is Antonius: Second in Command, dealing with Antony’s tumultuous rise to power at Caesar’s side and culminating with the civil war against Brutus and Cassius. Antonius: Soldier of Fate is the last book in the trilogy, spotlighting the romance between Antonius and Cleopatra and the historic war with Octavian Caesar.

In researching the Antonius Trilogy, Brook’s travels have led her to Italy, Egypt, Greece, and even Turkey to explore places where Antony once lived, fought, and eventually died. While researching abroad, she consulted with scholars and archaeologists well-versed in Hellenistic and Roman history, specifically pinpointing the late Republican Period in Rome. Brook belongs to the Historical Novel Society and attends conferences as often as possible to study craft and meet fellow authors. In 2019, Son of Rome won the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year Award. In 2020, it was honored with a silver medal in the international Reader’s Favorite Book Reviewers Book Awards and is currently listed as a finalist in the CIBA Chaucer Division Awards for 2020.

Though she graduated from Asbury University with a B.A. in Music Education, Brook has always loved writing. She completed a Masters program at Hollins University with an emphasis in Ancient Roman studies, which helped prepare her for authoring her present works. Brook teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district near Roanoke, Virginia. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and two amazing Labrador Retrievers. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.

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