Numismatica Ars Classica Zurich

Auction 132  –  30 - 31 May 2022

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Numismatica Ars Classica Zurich, Auction 132

Greek, Roman and Byzantine Coins

Part 1: Mo, 30.05.2022, from 6:30 PM CEST
Part 2: Tu, 31.05.2022, from 2:00 PM CEST
Pre bids are accepted until:
Part 1: Mo, 30.05.2022, until 12:30 PM CEST
Part 2: Tu, 31.05.2022, until 8:00 AM CEST

Description

Septimius Severus, 193 – 211
Aureus circa 200-201, AV 7.16 g. SEVERVS AVG – PART MAX Laureate bust r., wearing lion’s skin. Rev. AETERNIT IMPERI Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Caracalla facing r. and bare-headed and draped bust of Geta facing l. C 1 var. (only laureate). BMC –, see p. 191, 184 note. RIC 155a. Calicó 2599 (these dies). Very rare and in exceptional condition for the issue, undoubtedly among the finest specimens known. Three superb portraits of excellent style and a spectacular reddish tone. Virtually as struck and almost Fdc EX M&M sale 93, 2003, Bally-Herzog, 209. Privately purchased from Egger in 1906 and probably from the Cologne-Gertrudenstrasse Hoard of 1909. In AD 197, Septimius Severus went to war against Vologases V of Parthia after the latter attempted to dislodge Roman forces from Oshrhoene. Severus’ vengeance was swift. Descending on Mesopotamia, the Emperor quickly rolled back the Parthians and marched his legions down the Euphrates River into Babylonia, where he captured the old city of Babylon and sacked the Parthian capital at Ctesiphon in 198. These impressive victories were followed up by somewhat less successful attacks on Hatra in 199 and 200. Nevertheless, the severe blows against the Parthian Empire inflicted by Severus permitted him to assume the title of Parthicus Maximus and celebrate a triumph in 202. The present gold aureus was struck in the context of the Parthian triumph, which also coincided with the decennalia (tenth anniversary) of Severus’ reign. The obverse legend names the Emperor as Parthicus Maximus while the treatment of the portrait serves to compare the victories over the Parthians to Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 334-329 BC. Septimius Severus is shown wearing a large aegis in imitation of a famous portrait type of Alexander the Great known as the Alexander Aigiochos (”Aegis-bearer”). The reverse type builds on the triumphal message of the obverse with an advertisement of the sons of Severus, as if to say that the victories of the father would be continued by his heirs, Caracalla and Geta. While the message of the Emperor’s personal victories over the Parthians was on target, the dynastic message was somewhat questionable. The aureus suggests that Severus presided over a stable household with two sons ready to succeed him and lead the Empire to future glories. Unfortunately, the truth was that Caracalla and Geta hated one another and could not work together without the influence of their father. Within a year after the death of Severus in 211, Caracalla had not only ordered the murder of Geta, but also the removal of his image from public monuments.

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