Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 153

Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 27'000 CHF
Marcus Antonius and Octavia. Aureus, mint moving with Marcus Antonius circa 38, AV 8.13 g. M·AN[TONIVS·]M·F·M·N·AVGVR·IMP·TER Bare head of Marcus Antonius r. Rev. [COS·DESIGN ·ITER]·ET·[TER·III·VIR·R·P·C] Head of Octavia r. Babelon Antonia 69. C 1. Bahrfeldt 90 and pl. 9, 6 (these dies). Sydenham 1200. RBW –. Crawford 533/3a. Calicó 112.
Of the highest rarity, only seven specimens known of which only three are in private hands.
An issue of tremendous importance and fascination. Struck on a very broad flan,
slightly double struck on reverse, otherwise good very fine / very fine
This aureus, portraying Octavia, the sister of Octavian, and her unwilling husband Marc Antony, is among the most cherished rarities in Roman coinage. It was struck at a point when Antony and Octavia seem to have been a devoted and satisfied couple, as it was not until a few months later, when Octavian insulted Antony by not attending a meeting in Brundisium which he himself had organised, that the troubles began. From that point onwards their relations worsened, with loyal Octavia suffering the consequences of being a pawn in the political contest between her brother and her husband.
Antony had married Octavia in 40 B.C. in an effort to bind himself ever closer to Octavian in a shared desire to dominate the Roman world. During the initial period of bliss Octavia bore Antony two children – Marcellus and Antonia, both of whom would figure strongly into the political landscape of the Augustan age. Afterwards, though, Octavia suffered Antony’s indifference for what remained of their eight-year marriage. The greatest insult she endured was Antony’s marriage to Queen Cleopatra of Egypt late in 37 B.C., even though he was to remain married to Octavia for the next five years.
Antony struck several coinages portraying Octavia, including two issues of aurei. The first (Cr. 527/1) was struck in celebration of their marriage, and the present issue soon followed. The aurei were supplemented with large issues of cistophori and copper “fleet coinage” that also bore portraits of both Antony and Octavia. All such coinages had ceased by late 37 B.C., at which time the pact between Antony and Octavian had been renewed and Antony had decided to devote himself to Cleopatra.

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