Roman Empire, Augustus - The Ancile

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The Ancile was the legendary shield of the god Mars, said to have fallen from heaven upon Numa Pompilius during a plague that had devastated the city. The plague was stayed, and at the same time, a voice was heard which declared that Rome should be mistress of the world while the shield was preserved.
Though there was but one Ancile that fell from heaven, there were twelve preserved, called the Ancilia; Numa, by the advice, as it is said, of the nymph Egeria, ordered eleven others, perfectly like the first, to be made. This was so that if anyone should attempt to steal it, as Ulysses did the Palladium, they might not be able to distinguish the true Ancile from the false ones. These Ancilia were preserved in the temple of Mars, and were committed to the care of twelve priests of Salii, instituted for that purpose by Numa. They were carried every year, in the month of March, in procession around Rome, and on the 30th day of that month, were again deposited in their place.

Augustus AR Denarius. P. Licinius Stolo, moneyer. Rome, 17 BC. AVGVSTVS TR•POT, bare head right / P•STOLO III•VIR, Apex Flaminis between two ancilia. RIC 343; BMC 74; C. 438. 3.99g, 19mm, 7h.


Rare. Good Very Fine.