Mediterranean peoples: Roman coins [part 2] on humiliated captives kneeling or on the ground (first century BCE on)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Mediterranean peoples: Roman coins [part 2] on humiliated captives kneeling or on the ground (first century BCE on),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified March 19, 2023,

Marius’ conquest of Celts / Gauls (ca. 101 BCE)

Silver quinarius coin (RRC 326/2; issued by C. Fundanus) depicting Marius’ defeat of the Celts (ca. 101 BCE) in the form of a naked captive Celt / Gaul kneeling before a trophy alongside personified Victory who crowns the trophy (head of Jupiter on the other side):

RRC 326.2

Memmius’ conquest of Bithynian or Pontic tribes (56 BCE)

Obverse of silver denarius coin (RRC 427/1; 56 BCE) depicting a trophy and a kneeling captive of an unknown tribe of Bithynia or Pontos with the legend “C. Memmius imperator” (minted by Memmius for his uncle Memmius, who had been praetorian commander in Bithynia and Pontus, with the goddess Ceres on the other side):

Julius Caesar’s conquest of Celts / Gauls (48-45 BCE)

Silver denarius coin (RRC 452/4; National Library of France; 48-47 BCE) depicting a trophy (with Celtic shield) and Celtic captive beneath with exaggerated wild hair and head surrounded by the caption “Caesar” (with a woman’s head on the other side):

Augustus’ conquest of northwestern Iberians (25-23 BCE)

Silver denarius coin (RIC I Augustus 6; minted by P. Carisius, legate; ca. 25-23 BCE) depicting the defeat of northwestern Iberian tribes in Spain with a naked Iberian captive kneeling before a trophy (consisting of a helmet, breastplate, and shield):

Titus’ conquest of Britons or Judeans (?) (79-81 CE)

Silver coin (RIC II.1 Titus 1; British Museum; 79 CE) depicting a captive (possibly a Briton or Judean) kneeling towards the right beneath a trophy (and bust of Titus on the other side):

Comments: Much like the coins depicting a defeated people as a dejected woman (link), these coins picture the humiliated enemy bound and kneeling or sitting, sometimes naked. Often the conquered is pictured beneath a Roman trophy consisting of military equipment. Overall, these propagandistic images may be understood as a stark statement of Roman claims to dominance. For further discussion of the main types of coins depicting conquerors and conquered, see Cody 2002.

Complete series on representations of peoples on Roman coins:

  • Part 1 (link): Personifying the conquered as a mourning woman
  • Part 2 (current post): Depicting the conquered as humiliated or subservient (kneeling) captives
  • Part 3 (link): Depicting subordinate peoples kneeling in supplication or adoration of Roman authorities.

Works consulted: J.M. Cody, “Conquerors and Conquered on Flavian Coins,” in Flavian Rome: Culture, Image, Text, ed. A. Boyle and W.J. Dominik (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 103–123; R.M. Schneider, Bunte Barbaren: Orientalenstatuen aus farbigem Marmor in der römischen Repräsentationskunst (Worms: Wernersche, 1986), 22-25.

Source of images: All coins courtesy of, except items identified as coming from the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0), the National Library of France, and the American Numismatic Society (reuseable for non-commercial purposes).

Leave a comment or correction

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *