Roma Numismatics Ltd.   |   Auction XVII   |   28 March 2019 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
Online bidding ends:  28 March 2019 10:00 CET

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Lot 722

Estimate: 50'000 GBP   |   Starting price: 40'000 GBP
Clodius Macer AR Denarius. Carthage(?), April - October(?) AD 68. Helmeted head of Roma right; ROMA before, S-C across fields / L CLODI MACRI, trophy. RIC 31 var. (SC below); BMCRE p. 287 note var. (same); Cohen 9 var. (same); Hewitt, NC 1983, pl. XII, 47 var. (same); CBN -. 3.47g, 18mm, 6h.

Extremely Fine; minor nick on cheek, well-struck on good metal with an attractive iridescent tone. An apparently unrecorded variety of an extremely rare type.

Ex Numismatica Ars Classica AG, Auction 101, 24 October 2017, lot 161;
Ex Barry Feirstein Collection IV, Numismatica Ars Classica AG, Auction 45, 2 April 2008, lot 95;
Ex Pegasi Numismatics, Auction II, 8 June 1996, lot 298;
Ex Frank Sternberg, Auction XXVI, 16 November 1992, lot 290 (illustrated on the cover).

Clodius Macer led a revolt in North Africa against Nero in the spring of AD 68. Described by RIC as “short and ineffectual” (see RIC 1, p. 230), the revolt spanned several months which included the end of the Julio-Claudian dynasty with the suicide of Nero and the beginning of the ‘Year of Four Emperors’, a period described by Tacitus as “rich in disasters, terrible with battles, torn by civil struggles, horrible even in peace.” (Histories I.2). His coinage is extremely rare and several of his types are only known to us through a single example.

Though barely mentioned in the ancient literature (there are only two short references to him in Tacitus’ Histories), Clodius Macer was officially legatus Augusti propraetore Africae and was able to establish himself in North Africa with the support of Legio III Augusta and Legio I Macriana. It is very likely that he controlled Carthage and the mint there since a group of his denarii depict the obverse bust of CARTHAGO. If so, he had control over an important naval base and posed a threat to the corn supply from North Africa to Rome. The purpose of the revolt cannot be said to establish Clodius Macer as emperor, rather the numismatic evidence generally points to a desire to return to the ideals of the Republic and the end of imperial rule. Many of the types used by Clodius Macer can be traced to Republican coins, as exemplified by the current coin with the trophy reverse type which is very similar to a coin issued by Brutus (cf. CRI 209). In addition, many of Clodius Macer’s coins use the formulaic SC (senatus consulto), not used on Roman silver coins since around 40 BC (See NAC Auction 101, lot 161). This was a tactic also possibly employed by Galba on his ‘African’ issues, if indeed they were struck by Galba and not merely issued in his name. Further similarities have been pointed out between the coinage of Clodius Macer and Galba such as the use of the genitive case for their names and the decision (not sustained for long by Galba) to not appear laureate (see The Coinage of L. Clodius Macer (AD 68) by K. V. Hewitt (1983), pp. 64-80). These similarities perhaps point to a unity in purpose while Nero was still alive, a wish to overthrow the emperor. However, Clodius Macer’s continual rebellion against imperial rule once Galba had ascended to power led to his execution in October 68 (see Tacitus Histories I.7).

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