Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 192

Estimate: 30'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 24'000 CHF Price realized: 38'000 CHF
Caracalla augustus, 198 – 217. Aureus, Laodicea ad Mare 198, AV 7.13 g. IMP CAE M · – AVR ANT AVG Laureate bust r., wearing cuirass decorated with aegis. Rev. SPES PV – BLICA Spes advancing l., holding flower and raising skirt. C 598 var. (different bust and legend). BMC 646 and pl. 43, 18 (these dies). RIC 333. Calicó 2821 (this coin).
Very rare. A lovely portrait, work of a very skilled master-engraver, perfectly centred
on a broad flan and a lovely reddish tone. Virtually as struck and almost Fdc
Ex Egger 20 April 1904, 194; Sotheby’s November 1986, Deceased nobleman, 106; NFA XX 1988, 271; NFA 29, 1992, 390; Sotheby’s 1993, 106 and Heritage 3032, 2014, 23621 sales. From the Andre Constantine Dimitriadis and the Retired Banker collections.
It was a special honour for a subsidiary imperial mint to strike in gold, and this remarkable aureus of Caracalla was struck at the branch mint of Laodicea in Syria, where the imperial family had resided during war against Pescennius Niger in A.D. 193-194. At the time this coin was struck in A.D. 198, Severus along with his family was again in the East, having just waged a successful war against the Parthians in retaliation for their invasion of Roman territory while he was in Gaul eliminating his final adversary, Clodius Albinus. He sacked the city of Ctesiphon, and after enslaving the population and carrying off much booty – which it should be noted is the likely source of the gold that was used to strike this coin – he took the title Parthicus Maximus. He also elevated the positions of both his sons: Caracalla, his eldest son, was promoted from the rank of caesar to augustus, and Geta, his youngest son, was given the title of caesar. The obverse of this aureus, which belongs to one of the first issues struck for Caracalla as emperor, shows the youthful emperor wearing a cuirass or breastplate centrally embossed with the figure of a gorgoneion. The gorgoneion is often depicted as part of the aegis, a tasseled animal skin thought to be ageless and which extended an aura of immortality to the wearer. As part of the emperor's armour its obvious purpose would have been to serve as a protective amulet during battle. The reverse depicts the goddess Spes, the personification of hope, and here expresses the stability that the Severan dynasty represents for an empire having just suffered several years of civil war. In Antioch on January 1, A.D. 202, Severus and Caracalla jointly assumed the consulship, and soon thereafter returned to Rome, taking the overland route the entire journey. The family's reception once back in the capital was attended with much fanfare. Rome had not only conquered its implacable enemy, Parthia, but Severus celebrated his decennalia with many festivities, including of course generous donatives to the people and the praetorian guardsmen, each of whom received ten gold aurei according to Dio Cassius.

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