Roman Republic, Denarius

This Roman denarius serratus, a 'serrated denarius,' was minted in 79 BC. The obverse depicts Juno Sospita, the goddess of fertility, childbirth and female affairs, recognizable from the goatskin on her head.

The main centre of the cult of Juno Sospita was the town of Lanuvium, some thirty kilometres southeast of Rome. Many moneyers originated from there, which is why Juno Sospita was often depicted on late republican denarii. Behind Juno's head is a serpent, which supposedly relates to Lanuvium, too, because feeding a snake was part of a fertility rite taking place next to her shrine there: On certain days a young virgin girl offered food to a snake; if the food was accepted, the land was to bear rich fruit.

The reverse shows a winged griffon, and below a little dog as mint control-mark. The inscription L. PAPI refers to the moneyer Lucius Papius.