Roma Numismatics Ltd.   |   Auction XVII   |   28 March 2019 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 710

Estimate: 30'000 GBP   |   Starting price: 24'000 GBP
Tiberius AV Aureus. Lugdunum, circa AD 18-35. TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head of Tiberius right / PONTIF MAXIM, Livia, as Pax, seated right, holding sceptre and olive branch; chair with ornate legs, feet on footstool, single line below. RIC 29; Calicó 305a; C. 15; BMCRE 46. 7.53g, 20mm, 4h.

Fleur De Coin. Wonderful deep red-gold toning. The most visually stunning Tiberius aureus this cataloguer has ever handled - if one were to own any Tiberius, it should be this one.

Ex Hess-Divo 333, 30 November 2017, lot 73;
From the Boscoreale hoard of 1894.

The famous Boscoréale hoard, recovered in 1895, consisted of 109 pieces of gold and silver plate, along with over 1,000 gold aurei. The hoard had belonged to the owners of a wine-producing villa rustica on the south-eastern slopes of Vesuvius near the modern-day village of Boscoréale, hence its name. The hoard was placed in an empty cistern in the wine cellar of the villa when its owners fled before the eruption of AD 79, and while the villa began to be excavated in 1876 the coins remained undisturbed until 1895.

Following a series of early issues honouring Divus Augustus and Tiberius' military triumphs, the mint at Lugdunum settled upon striking one single type: 'Pontif Maxim'. Numismatists identify the seated figure depicted on this ubiquitous reverse type as Livia, the wife of Augustus and mother of Tiberius, in the guise of Pax, the roman personification of peace. The type was struck continuously for twenty three years and throughout that time, only minor changes were made to the portrait of Tiberius and the ornamentation of the throne. Despite the vast output of the ‘Pontif Maxim’ coinage, the significance of the type is not immediately clear - the depiction of Livia as Pax may represent a universal matronly ideal; Livia may be intended as the personification of what Seneca the Younger described in AD 55 as the ‘Pax Romana’ (‘Roman Peace’), the period of peace and stability marked by Octavian’s victory over Mark Antony at the battle of Actium in 31 BC, which brought to an end to the prolonged period of civil war. Certainly, during the last decade of the 1st century BC Livia began to appear more frequently in the preserved sources, and L. Brännstedt (Femina princeps: Livia's position in the Roman state) suggests that “her role as mater and uxor at this time was becoming an integral part of Augustus’ political program, and being made publicly manifest on a large scale.” Brännstedt furthermore asserts that “the appointment on March 6, 12 BC of Augustus as pontifex maximus was crucial for the development of Livia’s mater-role... Augustus’ religious role was identified as that of a father to his family. Strengthening the paternal connotations of Augustus’ leadership, the appointment of him as pontifex maximus would also have favoured Livia’s impact as mater”. The identification of Livia with Pax therefore strongly associated the imperial family with the continued prosperity of the empire, and hence should be seen as primarily a propagandistic instrument for the reinforcement of the imperial cult.

In contrast to the official portrayals of Livia as a matriarch who embodying traditional Roman ideals, contemporary sources were often highly critical of her, describing her as a murderess who was determined to secure the succession for her son Tiberius. Cassius Dio describes how Livia was blamed for the death of Augustus’ nephew Marcellus, who having married the emperor’s daughter Julia was favoured as an heir, and later, the deaths of Gaius and Lucius Caesars (55.33.4 and 55.10a.10). Tacitus moreover suggests that Livia convinced Augustus to banish his then only surviving grandson, Agrippa Postumus, on this basis that his character was not in keeping with Augustan ideals (1.1.3). Dio recounts that following years of banishment, a visit undertaken by Augustus to reconcile with his grandson drove Livia to poison her husband in order to secure the succession for Tiberius (56.30.2). These accusations are however mainly dismissed as malicious fabrications spread by political enemies of the dynasty.

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