Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 94   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 82

Estimate: 15'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 12'000 CHF Price realized: 17'000 CHF
The Roman Empire
Octavian, as Augustus 27 BC – 14 AD
Denarius, Lugdunum circa 13-14 AD, AR 3.85 g. CAESAR AVGVSTVS – DIVI F PATER PATRIAE Laureate head of Augustus r. Rev. TI CAESAR AVG – F TR POT XV Bare head of Tiberius r. C 2. BMC 507. RIC 226. CBN 1682.
Extremely rare and probably the finest specimen known. Two appealing portraits
perfectly struck, light iridescent tone and extremely fine
Ex NAC sale 29, 2005, 453.

When Augustus had run out of all other options it became necessary for him to name Tiberius as his successor. This coin type, along with the Altar of Lugdunum issues (as shown in lot 79) are the first issues in the long Augustan series to finally identify Tiberius. This coin exhibits a wonderfully realistic portrait of Tiberius and is particularly nice for the issue – which itself is scarce. MSG.

This denarius testifies to the definitive adoption and the ensuing appointment of Tiberius as Augustus' heir. It is worth mentioning how the minting of this extremely rare issue occurred so shortly before the death of the emperor, about whose demise various leading inferences have been made. We indeed know from sources that Augustus retired to Nola and, suspicious of his entourage, would eat only figs from his gardens. All the same, this cautious diet did not save him from a possible death by poisoning. Some have suggested the involvement of Livia, a powerful and controversial personality who may have been the shadowy orchestrator behind at least some of the inexplicable deaths of many heirs previously appointed by Augustus. The first to succumb to a sudden and questionable disease, in 23 BC, was his nephew Marcellus, son of the emperor's sister Octavia and most loved potential heir. Next in line for succession was now Agrippa, but he also was not to outlive the Emperor, for an untimely albeit natural death took him in 12 BC. Then it was the turn of Agrippa's son Lucius Caesar, who died of a suspicious illness in Gaul in 2 AD, his brother Gaius having died two years previously of a too fatal wound while at war in the East. Agrippa Postumus, younger brother of Gaius and Lucius, thus became the last male descendent of the Emperor who, if the truth be told, despised him for his intractability and madness, to the point of promoting a "senatus consultum" to have him transferred to an island, in perpetual isolation and surrounded by a body of soldiers (Suet., Augusti Vita, 65). But after Augustus' death the position of Agrippa, next of blood, as legitimate heir - madness notwithstanding - could not be challenged and so he was immediately disposed of by one of his guardians. Tiberius' path to the throne was finally clear.

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