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Republican 'Salus' Denarius

This coin was minted by the gens Acilia in 49BC, and the Mn.Acilius on the reverse is most likely Manius Acilius M'. f. M'. n. Glabrio (Manius Acilius Glabrio son of Manius grandson of Manius). Manius Acilius Glabrio was a lieutenant of Caesar during the civil war and is mentioned in Caesar's De Bello Civili: 'loquuntur ambo ex navibus cum M. Acilio et Statio Murco legatis; quorum alter oppidi muris, alter praesidiis terrestribus praeerat' (They both spoke from their ships with the legates Manius Acilius and Statius Murcus, one of whom was in command of the walls of the town, the other of the land garrisons). Manius Acilius Glabrio was also defended by Cicero on multiple occasions in court.

obv denarius salus

Note the greek style of the bust as well as the phallic earing

rev salus


The obverse reads Salutis and bears the laureate head of Salus, the goddess of health and well-being. On the reverse we see a female leaning on a column and holding a snake. The legend gives her the name VALETU. Valetudo is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Hygieia, grandaughter of Apollo and goddess of cleanliness and hygeine, which derives from her name. While Hygieia had always been associated with the snake of Aesculapius, the standing figure also represents Salus. Despite differing functions Salus and Hygieia were increasingly equated and treated as one goddess. Hence, Salus took on some of the features of Hygieia, including the snake. Interestingly, Salus was first depicted with a snake six years earlier, in 55BC on a coin minted by none other than Manius Acilius Glabrio.