Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 54

Estimate: 40'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 32'000 CHF Price realized: 40'000 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. (this reverse die)
Rare. A very elegant portrait, work of a skilled master engraver,
virtually as struck and almost Fdc


Sold by Frank Sternberg & Giorgio Apparuti, Zürich, auction XIX, 18 November 1987, lot 679.

Sold by Numismatica Ars Classica, Zürich, auction 78, 26 May 2014, lot 1015.

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. One of the most famous victims of Commodus was his own wife Crispina, the daughter of one of his father’s comrades-in-arms. She was said to have been exceptionally beautiful, and was married to Commodus when he was fifteen, and as yet only Caesar. We are told that with the passage of time both husband and wife partook in extramarital affairs – Commodus more openly and extravagantly than Crispina. We need not consider ourselves too judgmental when we describe their marriage as an unmitigated failure. Indeed, it came to an end in 182 when Crispina was banished to the island of Capri and was there strangled to death, presumably on Commodus’ orders. The official explanation for Crispina’s severe treatment was her adultery, but historians are rightly suspicious that it was her real or imagined complicity with her sister-in-law Lucilla in a failed plot to assassinate Commodus.

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