Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 97   |   12 December 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 74

Estimate: 40'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 32'000 CHF Price realized: 38'000 CHF
The Roman Empire
Gaius, 37 – 41. Aureus, Roma 40, AV 7.66 g.
Description: C CAESAR AVG PON M TR POT III COS III Laureate head of Gaius r. Rev. GERMANICVS CAES P C CAES AVG GERM Bare head of Germanicus r. References: C 6
BMC 26
RIC 25
Calicó 324 Condition:Very rare. Two attractive portraits struck on a full flan, good very fine / about extremely fine Provenance: Heritage sale 3010, 2010, 20110 Note: When Caligula became emperor in 37, many were overjoyed that the seemingly endless age of Tiberius had ended. He had been replaced by a young and promising emperor – the only surviving son of Germanicus, the martyred hero of the Rhine legions. But such optimism, which Philo cheerfully described as the return of the ‘golden age’, was misplaced: not only did Caligula lack any experience in government or military, but he suffered increasingly from what can only be described as insanity. Despite his instability, Caligula was intelligent, and he recognized the weakness of his qualifications. Thus, he played his strongest hand by celebrating his illustrious ancestors. Initially he issued coins honouring his great grandfather the divine Augustus, and his great uncle the late emperor Tiberius. He followed with coins honouring his mother and father, both of whom perished during the troubled reign of Tiberius. It is in this light we should see this aureus honouring Germanicus, and the one portraying his mother Agrippina (see previous lot). His relationship to his parents is made clear in the coin inscriptions with the abbreviations P C CAES (Pater Caii Caesaris) and MAT C CAES (Mater Caii Caesaris), respectively the father and mother of Caligula. For Caligula this was not only an overdue celebration of his martyred parents, but an essential political move that played to his only obvious strength – his illustrious pedigree. Germanicus was extensively honoured on coinage by his relatives in the imperial family. During his lifetime provincial coins were struck in his name by his uncle Tiberius, and after his death he was honoured by his son Caligula and his brother Claudius with a full range of imperial gold, silver, orichalcum and copper coins, as well as silver and base metal coins in the provinces. To these we may add his inclusion more than six decades after his death in the ‘restoration’ coins of Titus and Domitian.

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