Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 207

Estimate: 40'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 32'000 CHF Price realized: 60'000 CHF
Probus, 276 – 282. Aureus, Lugdunum 281, AV 6.04 g. IMP C M AVR PROBVS AVG Helmeted and cuirassed bust r. Rev. VICTO – RIA PROBI AVG Victory advancing r., holding palm branch and wreath; in r. field, two captives seated at sides of trophy. C –. Bastien, Lyon 303 (these dies). RIC –. Calicó –.
Of the highest rarity, only the second specimen known. A portrait of enchanting
beauty and a reverse of great interest and fascination. A perfect Fdc
Ex Gemini sale VI, 2010, 564. From the Collection of a Retired Banker.
Probus was proclaimed emperor by the troops under his command at the death of Tacitus in A.D. 276. Unfortunately, the Praetorian Prefect, Florian, was also hailed emperor by his own troops. The two would-be emperors faced each other in Cilicia, where the summer heat and Probus’ refusal to give battle turned Florian’s officers against him. He was murdered after a reign of only two months, leaving Probus to reign as sole emperor. Between A.D. 278 and 280, Probus was occupied with the struggle against the flood of Germanic peoples crossing the Rhine and Danube frontiers into the provinces of Gaul and Germania. The campaigns of A.D. 278 pushed back the Alamanni, Longiones and the Franks with great slaughter and permitted the emperor to add Germanicus Maximus to his titulature. He further mounted punitive campaigns across the Rhine to strike the barbarians in their homeland. In A.D. 279 and 280, Probus and his generals were focused on defeating the Vandals who had crossed into Raetia and Illyricum as well as the Blemmyes, a nomadic desert people who had invaded Egypt. Despite these successes, Probus was beset by three rival emperors in A.D. 280-281. Julius Saturninus, the governor of Egypt, was proclaimed unwilling emperor in A.D. 280, but he was soon killed by his own troops. The commanders Proculus and Bonosus were proclaimed joint emperors at Lugdunum in the same year, but in A.D. 281 they were handed over to Probus by their duplicitous Frankish allies. Probus ordered their execution before returning to Rome. This beautiful aureus was probably struck for distribution to the army at the triumph celebrated by Probus at Rome in A.D. 281. This triumph honoured the emperor for his many victories as well as for his repression of the usurpers. The reverse type, which features a trophy composed of Germanic shields, focuses on Probus’ victories along the Rhine and Danube frontiers, but the two seated captives may perhaps allude to the dual usurpers, Proculus and Bonosus. The wonderful obverse portrait type, depicting Probus wearing an Attic helmet, is rare. This archaic helmet type had become associated with Alexander the Great on Roman medallions and provincial coins earlier in the third century A.D. Here it serves to cast Probus as the great Macedonian conqueror, the archetype of all Roman military emperors.

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