In the year 49 BC war broke out between Gaius Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great). Pompey was commissioned by the Senate to defend Rome against the rebellious Caesar. However, when the latter crossed the River Rubicon with his legions and thus began the war, Pompey vacated Rome and retreated to Greece.
On his retreat Pompey struck denarii like this one to pay his soldiers. The piece depicts the head of the god Zeus on the obverse and on the reverse a scepter between an eagle and a dolphin.
Zeus was the Greek counterpart of the Roman Jupiter, the chief deity of Roman state. The scepter, the eagle and the dolphin are symbols for Pompey's authority on land and at sea.