Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 105   |   9 May 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 64

Estimate: 60'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 48'000 CHF Price realized: 85'000 CHF
Geta caesar, 198 – 209. Aureus 203 – 208, AV 7.23 g. P SEPTIMIVS – GETA CAES Bare headed, draped and cuirassed bust l. Rev. PRINC IVENT / COS Septimius Severus, Caracalla and Geta galloping r. C –. BMC 451 note. RIC 37d. Calicó 2913.
Of the highest rarity, apparently only the second specimen known and the only one in
private hands. An elegant and unusual left portrait of fine style struck on a
very broad flan. An interesting and symbolic reverse composition.
Good extremely fine


From the Karnak Hoard of 1901.

Sold by Numismatica Genevensis SA, Geneva, auction 4, 11 December 2006, lot 205.

This rare aureus may have been struck to celebrate the first consulship of Geta alongside his brother Caracalla in A.D. 205 since the reverse exergue legend explicitly refers to this consulship. However, it could have been produced any time between A.D. 205 and Geta’s assumption of his second consulship (COS II) at the beginning of A.D. 208. The obverse carries an attractive left facing portrait of Geta as Caesar under his father, Septimius Severus. He had held this position since A.D. 198, when Caracalla had received the superior position of junior Augustus. This disparity in powers created a deep rift of jealousy and hatred between the brothers that required the mediation of their mother while Severus lived. After he died in A.D. 211, less than a year elapsed before Geta was murdered at the instigation of Caracalla.

The reverse type refers to one of the perks that came with Geta’s lesser title of Caesar. It identifies him as a designated heir and princeps iuventutis (”prince of the youth”), a traditional courtesy title given to imperial heirs since the time of Augustus (27 B.C.-A.D. 14). As princeps iuventutis, Geta will have led the travectio, an annual parade of the iuvenes (members of the equestrian order under 35 and members of senatorial families under 25) on horseback through the city of Rome. Although this reverse type featuring three riders is normally described as Septimius Severus with Caracalla and Geta, it might in fact depict Geta leading two iuvenes (perhaps members of the board of seviri – ”six men” – who normally commanded the squadrons of iuvenes in the travectio). There is no sign of Severus’ distinctive bearded visage or Caracalla’s laurel crown on any of the riders. Instead all are bareheaded, which befits depictions of both Geta and members of the iuvenes outside of the imperial house. The leading figure on the right is distinguished by a nimbus as a sign of his special status and must therefore represent Geta as princeps iuventutis. Although the nimbus is most commonly associated with saints in the Christian tradition, it can be found in numismatic depictions of emperors going back to the time of Antoninus Pius (A.D. 138-161). This iconographic feature is thought to have originated with the Kushan rulers of Central Asia, before it was adopted in Rome.

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