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Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D., SPQR (Vindex?) Countermark
Legend claims Nero fiddled while Rome burned. While this rumor is probably not true, Nero did sing and play the lyre at other times. He even composed songs that were performed by entertainers across the empire. At first, Nero only performed for private audiences, but in 64, when this coin was struck, he began singing in public in Neapolis. Nero craved the attention, but also he was encouraged to perform in public by the Senate, his inner circle and the people. Nero's famous dying words were "Qualis artifex pereo," which translates, "What an artist dies in me!"
The S P Q R countermarks were applied by Gallic rebels probably under Vindex. They appear on Lugdunum mint sestertii, dupondii and asses of Nero. RB86167. Orichalcum as, RIC I 454, Mac Dowall WCN 570, BnF II 110, Cohen I 244, BMCRE I -, Hunter I -, SRCV I -; c/m: Pangerl 26, F, some legend unstruck, pitting, weight 10.457 g, maximum diameter 28.7 mm, die axis 195o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 65 A.D.; obverseNEROCLAVDCAESAR AVG - GERMP M TR P IMP P P, bare head right, globe at point of neck; countermark: S P Q R in a rectangular punch (on neck); reversePONTIF MAX - TR POT IMP P P (high priest, holder of Tribunitian power, imperator, father of the country), Nero as Apollo Citharoedus, advancing right in flowing robes, singing and playing the lyre, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field, I (mark of value) in exergue; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Incitatus Coins (2012); very rare variety with the same titles in the obverse and reverse legends; $300.00 (€255.00)
Roman Republic, L. Cassius Longinus, 63 B.C.
This coin honors the moneyer's ancestor, L. Cassius Longinus Ravill. The obverse alludes to his appointment as quaesitor in 113 B.C. for the retrial of three Vestal Virgins accused of unchastity. The reverse commemorates his successful proposal of the Lex Cassia Tabellaria in 137 B.C., changing the Republic's voting system to the secret ballot. To vote on a law, Roman ballots were marked V for uti rogas, meaning "as you ask," or the negative A for antiquo, meaning "maintain things as they are." For judicial votes, not guilty ballots were marked either A for absolvo or L for libero. Guilty ballots were marked either C for condemno or D for damno.
The obverse control letters come only from the moneyer's praenomen and nomen, L CASSI. A reversed S was used to indicate the second S in his name. RR86173. Silver denarius, BMCRR I Rome 3929 (same A control letter), Crawford 413/1, Sydenham 935, RSC ICassia 10, SRCV I 364, gVF, toned, bumps, banker's marks, reverse off center, weight 3.811 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 63 B.C.; obverse veiled bust of Vesta left, kylix behind, A (control symbol) before; reverse voter standing left, dropping tablet (ballot) inscribed V into a cista, LONGIN III•V• downward behind; from the Lucas Harsh Collection; $300.00 (€255.00)
Roman Republic, A. Plautius, c. 55 B.C.
In 67 B.C., Aristobulus II rebelled against his older brother Hyrcanus II, the king of Judaea. Both brothers appealed to Pompey's deputy Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, who, bribed by a gift of 400 talents, decided in favor of Aristobulus. When Pompey arrived in Syria in 63 B.C., both brothers sent delegates to Damascus, but Pompey did not make an immediate decision. Aristobulus' followers refused to open the gates of Jerusalem and Romans forces besieged and captured the city. Pompey deemed Hyrcanus II, the elder, weaker brother a more reliable ally. Hyrcanus was restored as high priest, but not as king. Aristobulus was taken to Rome as a prisoner. In 57 B.C. Aristobulus escaped to Judaea and instigated another rebellion. A young cavalry commander, Marc Antony, led several men to scale Aristobulus' fortifications leading to his recapture. At the time this coin was struck in 55 B.C., Aristobulus was a prisoner in Rome. Julius Caesar released him in 49 B.C., hoping to turn Judaea against Pompey, but on his was to Judaea he was poisoned by a Pompey supporter. With help from the Parthians, Aristobulus' son Antigonus rebelled against Rome and became king in 40 B.C. He was defeated by Rome and killed in 37 B.C.
This special issue was struck by an Aedile Curule. Aediles supervised public works and staged games. Since this issue bears turreted Cybele, we may speculate it was to finance a building project. RR86165. Silver denarius, RSC IPlautia 13, Sydenham 932, Crawford 431/1, BMCRRRome 3916, Russo RBW 1540, SRCV I 395, aF, porous, bankers mark, weight 3.308 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 182o, Rome mint, 55 B.C.; obverse AED • CVR • S • C downwards on left, A • PLAVTIVS downwards on right, turreted head of Cybele right, wearing cruciform earring, hair rolled and in knot at the back, locks falling down neck; reverse Bacchius Judaeus (Aristobulus II High Priest and King of Judaea) kneeling right, with left hand holding reins of camel standing right on his far side, raising olive branch in right hand, IVDAEVS upward on right, BACCHIVS in exergue; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Vaughn Rare Coin Gallery, ex Ettinger Collection; $100.00 (€85.00)
Roman Republic, D. Junius L.f. Silanus, 91 B.C.
In 91 BC., the tribune Marcus Livius Drusus proposed extending Roman citizenship to allied Italian cities. He was assassinated, leading to the Social War. RR86172. Silver denarius, BMCRR 1798 ff. (same obverse control - I), SRCV I 225, Sydenham 646, Crawford 337/3, RSC IJunia 15, VF, well centered, toned, weight 3.658 g, maximum diameter 17.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 91 B.C.; obversehead of Roma right in winged helmet, I (control mark) behind; reverseVictory in a biga right, reins in both hands, VII (control numeral) above, D•SILANVS L•F / ROMA in exergue; from the Lucas Harsh Collection; $100.00 (€85.00)
Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Caesaraea-Eusebia, Cappadocia
Kayseri, Turkey was originally named Mazaca. It was renamed Eusebia by Ariarathes V Eusebes, King of Cappadocia, 163 - 130 B.C. The last king of Cappadocia, King Archelaus, renamed it "Caesarea in Cappadocia" to honorCaesarAugustus upon his death in 14 A.D. Muslim Arabs slightly modified the name into Kaisariyah, which became Kayseri when the Seljuk Turks took control, c. 1080 A.D.RS86472. Silver hemidrachm, RPC II 1659; Metcalf 17; SydenhamCappadocia 94; BMC Galatia p. 47, 17; SNGvA 6362, aVF, toned, obverse slightly off center, marks and scratches, weight 1.666 g, maximum diameter 15.0 mm, die axis 0o, Cappadocia, Caesaraea-Eusebia (Kayseri, Turkey) mint, c. 69 - 79 A.D.; obverse AYOKP KAICAP OVECΠACIANOC CEBA, laureate head right; reverseNike right, wreath in extended right hand, palm over left shoulder in left hand; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Vaughn Rare Coin Gallery; $100.00 (€85.00)
Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.
In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius spawned a deadly cloud of volcanic gas, stones, ash and fumes to a height of 33 km (20.5 miles), spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima bombing. The towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were obliterated and buried underneath massive pyroclastic surges and lava. An estimated 16,000 people died from the eruption. Historians have learned about the eruption from the eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, a Roman administrator and poet. RS86168. Silver denarius, RIC II-1Vespasian 1084; RSC II 384; BMCRE IIVespasian 265; BnF III 237; SRCV I 2642, F, light toning, well centered on a tight flan, a few bumps and scratches, edge cracks, weight 3.120 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, as caesar, 79 A.D.; obverseCAESARAVG F DOMITIANVS COS VI, laureate head right; reversePRINCEPS IVVENTVTIS (the first of youths), Salus standing left, legs crossed, leaning against column, feeding snake from patera; from the Lucas Harsh Collection; $80.00 (€68.00)
Roman Republic, L. Marcius Censorinus, 82 B.C.
The moneyer selected the design to play on his name, Marsyas sounds like Marcius.
Marsyas found Athena's flute. Inspired by the breath of a goddess, it played beautifully. Foolishly he challenged Apollo to a musical contest. Apollo won by singing to the music of his lyre. As a just punishment for his presumption, Apollo flayed Marsyas alive. His blood was the source of the river Marsyas, and his skin was hung like a wine bag in the cave out of which that river flows. RR86171. Silver denarius, Crawford 363/1d, Sydenham 737, RSC IMarcia 24, SRCV I 281, F, toned, bumps, scratches, banker's marks, weight 3.739 g, maximum diameter 18.2 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, 82 B.C.; obverse laureate head of Apollo right, no control mark; reverse the satyr Marsyas standing left, bald, right arm raised, wine skin over shoulder shoulder in left hand, L·CENSOR downward before, a column topped with Victory behind, no control mark; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Warren Esty; scarce; $80.00 (€68.00)
Vespasian, 1 July 69 - 24 June 79 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt
Victory or Nike is seen with wings in most statues and paintings, with one of the most famous being the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Most other winged deities in the Greek pantheon had shed their wings by Classical times. Nike is the goddess of strength, speed, and victory. Nike was a very close acquaintance of Athena and is thought to have stood in Athena's outstretched hand in the statue of Athena located in the Parthenon. Victory or Nike is also one of the most commonly portrayed figures on Greek and Roman coins. RX86439. Billontetradrachm, Geissen 276; Milne 393; BMC Alexandria p. 29, 236; Curtis 262; Emmett 205, RPC I 2412; Dattari 360 corr. (obv. leg.), VF, well centered, porous, edge cracks, weight 13.323 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 69 - 28 Aug 70 A.D.; obverse AYTOK KAIΣ ΣEBA OYEΣΠAΣIANOY, laureate head right, LB (year 2) before; reverseVictory flying left, filleted wreath in extended right hand, palm frond in left hand; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Vaughn Rare Coin Gallery; $80.00 (€68.00)