Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 94   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 97

Estimate: 8'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 6'400 CHF Price realized: 9'000 CHF
The Roman Empire
Gaius, 37 – 41
Sestertius circa 37-38, Æ 26.65 g. C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT Laureate head l. Rev. ADLOCVT Gaius, bare-headed and togate, standing l. on platform before low stool, haranguing with r. hand extended to five soldiers holding shields and aquilae. In exergue, COH. C 1. BMC 33. RIC 32. CBN 45.
Rare. Struck on a full flan and with a pleasant green patina,
good very fine / about extremely fine
Ex Hess-Leu 28, 1965, 372; NAC 27, 2004, 322 and NAC 52, 2009, 330 sales. A difficult type for Caligula seen here addressing the very troops who would later assassinate him. As such it is a very historically interesting piece. Quite rare and nice. MSG. The death of Tiberius in March, 37 left Rome with two heirs to the throne – his great-nephew Caligula and his grandson Tiberius Gemellus. The elder and apparently craftier of the two was Caligula, who attracted the allegiance of Sertorius Macro, who in 31 had replaced Sejanus as Praetorian prefect. With the help of Macro, Caligula was able to bar Tiberius Gemellus from any meaningful role in government before he eventually had him executed. From the very outset Caligula's authority was based in his support by the Praetorians, which represents the first time the guards backed a candidate for the throne. The approval of the senate was not open for serious discussion since the Praetorians had chosen their candidate and he was presented to the senate as a fait accompli. The adlocutio cohortis sestertii are clear reflections of the special arrangement between the new emperor and the Praetorians. Caligula immediately paid each of the Praetorians the award of 1,000 sestertii promised to them by Tiberius in his will, and for good measure he doubled that amount from his own purse. The precedent he and Tiberius established was dangerous, and only four years later his successor Claudius felt it necessary to offer a significantly larger amount, 15,000 sestertii per guard. The reverse scene makes clear a pact of mutual support, and the contrast between young Caligula, togate upon a platform, and the standard-bearing praetorians in full military attire could not have been lost on those who handled these coins: Caligula would be free to pursue his personal agendas as emperor knowing he was backed by the guards. Even more alarming to those who read the subtext of the design was the absence of the SC. Though the precise role of this formulaic abbreviation for senatus consulto or senatus consultum is not known, it is generally agreed that it acknowledges the senate in some capacity (even if it was merely nostalgic). For it to be absent from this bronze type when it was included on all other of Caligula's imperial aes, can only mean that it was intended to send a clear message to the senate that the emperor's relationship with the guard was the bedrock of his administration.

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