Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 155

Estimate: 15'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 12'000 CHF Price realized: 20'000 CHF
Octavian as Augustus, 27 BC – 14 AD. Aureus, Lugdunum 8 BC, AV 7.87 g. AVGVSTVS – DIVI F Laureate head r. Rev. C CAES Caius Caesar galloping r., holding sword and shield in l. hand; behind, aquila between two standards. In exergue, AVGVST. C 39. Bahrfeldt 233. BMC 498. RIC 198. CBN 1466. Calicó 174a.
Very rare. A gentle portrait of fine style struck in high relief, about extremely fine
Ex Helios sale 3, 2009, 80. From the Collection of a Retired Banker.
After the death of his favourite nephew Marcellus, Augustus’ hopes for the succession turned to the young Caius and Lucius Caesars, his grandsons via his daughter Julia and his close friend and confidant, Marcus Agrippa. Caius was born in 20 BC and Lucius three years later. After the death of Agrippa in 12 BC, Augustus formally adopted both boys and accelerated their progress up the cursus honorum, or ladder of public offices. He also carefully supervised their education and displayed them at public events to endear them to the populace and army. “Augustus gave Caius and Lucius reading, swimming and other simple lessons, for the most part acting as their tutor himself,” writes Suetonius. Cauis was officially presented by Augustus to the public in 5 BC, and he became Consul in AD 1 at the age of 21. This was an extremely young age for so high an office, although Augustus probably viewed his own consulship at age 19 as an adequate precedent. During Caius’ consulship, Augustus sent him on a tour of the eastern frontier with special powers to reassert Roman authority in Armenia. Augustus took care to select experienced advisors for the youth, and the expedition was largely successful. But a brief border conflict broke out with the Parthians in AD 3, and Caius received a wound during a siege. Though not mortally wounded, the injury sapped his energy and he grew ill and depressed. He died at Limyra in Asia Minor, en route back to Italy, in February of AD 4. Lucius had likewise fallen ill and had died in Massalia two years before, and the deaths left Augustus utterly bereft and devastated. Their demise also cleared the way for Tiberius, Augustus' dour son-in-law via his wife Livia, to succeed to imperial power, and rumours abounded that Livia had somehow conspired in the deaths of Caius and Lucius. Such speculation makes for lurid reading and viewing (most notably in the book and television series, "I, Claudius"), but the disparate circumstances of their deaths leaves little doubt regarding Livia's innocence. This rare gold aureus, struck in the Gallic capital of Lugdunum (modern Lyon) in 8 BC, depicts Caius Caesar as a junior cavalry officer, charging headlong on his mount with sword and shield. As Caius would have been, at most, 12 years old at the time of striking, the coin indicates how seriously Augustus took the military training of his grandson.

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