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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Pompeius Macer
Confirming a Suspected Identification

Triton XXI, Lot: 475. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $4500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

IONIA, Priene. M. Pompeius Macer. Procurator of Asia, temp. Augustus, 27 BC-AD 14. Æ (12mm, 1.71 g, 12h). ΠOM[ΠEI]-OΣ MAKЄP, bare head of Macer right / ΠPIHNЄΩN, Bias standing left; tripod to right . Stumpf 161 = Regling 186 = FITA 388 = Waddington 1928 = RPC I 2687 (same dies). VF, dark earthen green patina. Extremely rare, one listed in RPC and a second in supplement (in Paris and Oxford, respectively). Apparently the third known and the only example in private hands.

There has been some debate about the identity of the figure on the obverse, as the left hand portions of the Paris and Oxford specimens are illegible (others have suggested the portrait is of Clodius Macer or Aemilius Macer). The obverse legend on the current specimen clearly begins ΠOM..., thus leaving no doubt that the portrait is of Pompeius Macer.

Strabo (Geog. 13.2.3) mentions a Marcus Pompeius, the son of a Mytilenean aristocrat named Theophanes, who was appointed procurator of Asia by Augustus, and who was “counted among the first of the friends of Tiberius.” Although it is not entirely certain, this figure has traditionally been identified with the Pompeius Macer, who was a close friend of the poet Ovid (Pont. 2.10) and whom Augustus appointed to organize his library (Suetonius 56.7).