Leu Numismatik

Auction 15  –  1 June 2024

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Leu Numismatik, Auction 15

Celtic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine Coins and Aurum Barbarorum

Sa, 01.06.2024, from 1:00 PM CEST
Pre bids are accepted until:
Sa, 01.06.2024, until 6:00 AM CEST

Description

★ A beautiful medallion of Commodus with a delightful untouched turquoise patina ★

Commodus, 177-192. Medallion (Bronze, 40 mm, 57.00 g, 12 h), Rome, 186. M COMMODVS ANTONINVS PIVS FELIX AVG BRIT Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Commodus to right, seen from behind. Rev. P M TR P XI IMP VII / COS V P P Commodus standing right in slow quadriga, extending his right hand and holding eagle-tipped scepter in his left; the chariot ornamented with Victory and Mars standing facing each other. Cohen 509. J. M. Fagerlie: Roman and Byzantine Medallions in the Collection of the American Numismatic Society, in: MN 15 (1969), p. 81 and pl. IX, 10 ( same dies ). Gnecchi -. MIR 1112-1/37. Kaiser-Raiß -, cf. pl. 13, 5 (differing bust type). Very rare. A beautiful medallion with a delightful untouched turquoise patina. Minor spots of corrosion and with very light doubling on the obverse and an old scuff on the reverse edge, otherwise, about extremely fine.

The coinage of Commodus from the year 186 is characterized by a variety of impressive military types. We find the legends FID(es) EXERC(itus) and CONC(ordia) MIL(itum), and we see the emperor during the adlocutio, the address to the troops, as well as - as on our impressive medallion - in a triumphal quadriga. In contrast, there is a complete absence of contemporary reports about victories against external enemies. However, Herodian, who is our only source about the events, reports about a major uprising (the so-called Bellum Desertorum ) led by the deserter Maternus, who took the lead in social unrest in Germania Superior and declared himself emperor. The revolt apparently spread widely and is said to have spilled over into Gaul and Iberia. Potentially, an inscription from the Legio VIII Augusta in Urbinum, referencing a nova obsidio (a 'new siege'), along with a wax tablet from Rottweil noting the 'liberation' of the Legio VIII, may also allude to the activities of Maternus. Should this be accurate, it underscores the immense challenge faced by Roman authorities in quelling the revolt. It was only a massive military counterstrike under the future Emperor Pescennius Niger that spelled doom for Maternus, who fled to Italy and was executed in March 187 after an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Commodus.

Furthermore, we know of unrest in Britain, where the three legions stationed there mutinied after the victorious conclusion of the Bellum Britannicum in 184 and offered the imperial title to the new legate, Pertinax. However, the future emperor managed to prevent a general uprising among the soldiers and swore them once again to the legitimate Princeps Commodus. In light of this context, it becomes apparent that the coinage of Commodus from the year 186 primarily addresses his own troops. The emperor's appeal in a symbolic adlocutio to the loyalty of the army and the unity of the soldiers aims to simultaneously encourage the severely pressed units in Germania and the mutinous legionnaires in Britannia, while the portrayal of Commodus as a triumphant conqueror recalls the successes achieved under his auspices in the Bellum Britannicum, which earned him the victory title Britannicus mentioned on the obverse.

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