Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 101   |   24 October 2017 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 36

Estimate: 10'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 8'000 CHF Price realized: 20'000 CHF
Q. Voconius Vitulus. Denarius 40 (?) or later, AR 3.43 g. Laureate head of Julius Caesar r. Rev. Q·VOCONIVS / S – C Calf walking l.; in exergue, VITVLVS·Q· / DESIGN. Babelon Voconia 1 and Julia 121. C 48. Sydenham 1133. Sear Imperators 331. RBW 1813. Crawford 526/4.
Very rare. A superb portrait perfectly centred on a full
flan and a lovely iridescent tone. Extremely fine
Ex NAC sale 21, 2001, 319.
In 40 B.C., the conflict between Octavian and Marc Antony reached a new peak and found an uneasy resolution in the Pact of Brundisium. Octavian had returned from the Battle of Philippi with the hard task of settling some 40,000 veterans on their promised lands. As Octavian acquired land in Italy by force, his popularity was threatened. While Antony was away in the East, his wife Fulvia and brother Lucius Antonius preyed upon Octavian's misfortune by harassing him with political attacks that stirred the veterans of Antony against those of Octavian. Lucius gathered his brother's veterans and gained permission to wage war on Octavian, who was able to intercept Lucius' northward trek and force him to take refuge in Perusia. The Perusine War (41-40 B.C.), which had all of the potential to become a new civil war, was reduced to a brief event when the threat of starvation caused Lucius to surrender in February of 40 B.C. Though Octavian took revenge upon the Perusians, he took no direct action against Lucius or Fulvia. Indeed, he pardoned Lucius and soon assigned him to a promagistracy in Spain, where he died soon thereafter. Fulvia also died in the aftermath of the war. The siege in Perusia, the deaths of his brother and wife, and perhaps more importantly, Octavian's assumption of power in Gaul upon the death of Antony's governor there, alarmed Antony who sailed West in October of that year. Upon arriving at the port of Brundisium in the spring of 40 B.C., Antony was refused entry to the harbor by Octavian's commander. Antony responded by besieging Brundisium and strengthening his ties with Sextus Pompey, Octavian's nemesis in the West. Hoping for damage control, Octavian hastily divorced his wife Claudia, married Sextus Pompey's sister-in-law, and led an army to the southern port. Fortunately for Rome, cool heads prevailed, and the triumvirs ironed out their differences. The resulting pact confirmed Antony's control of the East and Octavian's control of the West, and bound the men through the ultimately incendiary marriage of Antony and Octavian's sister, Octavia. The two men were now able to focus on their regional goals: Antony received legions from Octavian for his planned invasion of Parthia, and Octavian received war vessels from Antony to use against Sextus Pompey.
This rare denarius of the moneyer Q. Voconius Vitulus was struck in the midst of these alarming events. The reverse type of a standing calf is strictly personal, being a punning allusion to the cognomen Vitulus, which means calf.

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