The head on this famous coin has long been identified as that of Vercingetorix, the defeated Gallic leader who graced Caesar’s triumph in Rome. This can not be proven but the head does have remarkably individualistic and natural features, and it must surely represent an actual Gaulish captive seen by the die engraver.
The gens Hostilia was an ancient family at Rome, which traced its origin to the time of Romulus. The most famous member of the gens was Tullus Hostilius, the third King of Rome; however, all of the Hostilii known from the time of the Republic were plebeians. Several of the Hostilii were distinguished during Punic Wars.
The traditional identification of the Gallic warrior depicted on the obverse of this issue as Vercingetorix, leader of the great Gallic rebellion against Caesar in 55-54 BC, is sometimes challenged as unprovable and unlikely. However, there is ample precedent for Romans placing portraits and images of defeated enemy rulers on their coinage (most prominently Philip V and Perseus of Macedon), and there is no reason to rule out such an attribution. The head is quite distinctive in its features, showing a rather haggard and emaciated warrior with his hair in wild disarray, perhaps reflecting the appearance of a man held captive by Caesar for four long years since the surrender of Vercingetorix at Alesia in 52 BC. Ultimately, it would be another two years before he was finally paraded through the streets of Rome in chains in Caesar’s great triumph of 46 BC, after which he was ritually strangled.
Head of captive Gallic warrior right (Vercingetorix?), bearded, chain around his neck; behind, Gallic shield
Nude Gallic warrior, standing left, wielding spear with right hand and holding shield in left hand, in biga galloping right driven by charioteer, holding reins and raising whip; Moneyer mark above and below
L•HOSTILIVS / SASERN
A perfect choice for Numismatists, Historians, Military Veterans, Collectors.