Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 193

Estimate: 17'500 CHF   |   Starting price: 14'000 CHF Price realized: 26'000 CHF
Elagabalus, 218 – 222. Aureus, Antiochia circa 218-219, AV 7.18 g. IMP C M AVR ANTONINVS P F AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. SANCT DEO SOLI Slow quadriga r., on which is the Stone of Emesa surmounted by eagle, surrounded by four parasols; in exergue, ELAGABAL. C 265. RIC 143. BMC 273. CalicóVery rare and an issue of great historical interest. About extremely fine
Ex NAC sale 67, 2012, Huntington part I, 197. Ex HSA 8054. From the Huntington and the Retired Banker collections.
Few emperors are known almost exclusively for their peculiarities and perversions, but on the short list of qualified applicants, Elagabalus rises to the top. The 19th Century antiquarian S.W. Stevenson, ever a delight for his artfully delivered comments, did not fail to deliver in his summary of Elagabalus whom he called: "...the most cruel and infamous wretch that ever disgraced humanity and polluted a throne..." Elagabalus and his family had lived in Rome during the reign of Caracalla, who was rumoured to have been Elagabalus' natural father. When Caracalla was murdered, his prefect and successor, Macrinus, recalled the family to their homeland of Syria. Upon arriving, Elagabalus assumed his role as hereditary priest of the Emesan sun-god Heliogabalus. For the Roman soldiers in the vicinity, who engaged in the common practice of sun worship, and who had fond memories of the slain Caracalla, Elagabalus was an ideal candidate for emperor. He was soon hailed emperor against Macrinus, who was defeated in a pitched battle just outside Antioch. Conservative Rome was introduced to their new emperor's eccentricities and religious fervour when they learned of his overland journey from Emesa to Rome, with a sacred meteorite in tow. The journey, which took a year or more, in this collection is depicted on two aurei, this piece from Antioch and another from Rome. Both show the sacred conical stone of Emesa – in all likelihood a meteorite – being transported in a chariot drawn by four horses. The stone is usually emblazoned with an eagle, which on the Rome piece is uncommonly bold.

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