Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 99   |   29 May 2017 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 19

Estimate: 35'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 28'000 CHF Price realized: 105'000 CHF
Crispina, wife of Commodus. Aureus 180-182, AV 7.28 g. CRISPINA – AVGVSTA Draped bust r., hair in coil at back. Rev. VENVS· FELIX Venus seated l., holding Victory and sceptre; below seat, dove standing l. C 39. BMC 48. RIC Commodus 287. Calicó 2377c.
Rare. A very elegant portrait, the work of a skilled master engraver. A perfect Fdc

Few Romans of high station in the government and the army could have felt secure during the reign of Commodus, a man whose cruel autocracy gave rise to plots against him, and whose suspicious mind is said to have invented plots when actual threats were absent.
The daughter of a nobleman who had campaigned alongside Marcus Aurelius against barbarians on the northern border of the empire, Crispina reportedly was an exceptionally beautiful woman, a fact which the portrait on this coin supports. She was married to the fifteen-year-old future emperor Commodus, but as he steadily became more paranoid and megalomaniacal, their relationship disintegrated, and they both partook in extramarital affairs. In 182 Crispina was banished to the island of Capri where she met her end by strangulation, presumably on the orders of her husband. The official reason given for her severe treatment was her adulterous activities, but more than likely it was because she, along with her sister-in-law Lucilla, was implicated in a failed plot to assassinate Commodus.

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