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Description

Armenia Subdued

Augustus (27 BC-AD 14). AV aureus (8.00 gm). Pergamum, 19 BC. AVGVSTVS, bare head of Augustus right / ARMENIA above, CAPTA in exergue, Victory kneeling right on the back of a recumbent bull, grasping its horns and pulling its head back. RIC I 514. RCV I 1576 (this coin illustrated), Calicó 160. Very rare! A few surface marks. Good very fine.

From the Rubicon Collection. Ex Stack's (July 2006, lot 96). Sear RCV plate coin!

The evocative scene on the reverse of this rare aureus is often described as Victory cutting the throat of a recumbent bull, symbolizing Armenia. A closer examination shows that Victory is not holding a knife; rather, she is restraining and controlling the bull by tugging on its horns, an image more in keeping with Augustus' artful statesmanship employing pressure and persuasion rather than deadly force. The 'Armenian Question' long vexed Roman leaders, as Armenia lay between the Roman and Parthian Empires and controlled crucial trade routes to the East. When the Parthians attempted to install an Armenian king favorable to their interests, Augustus sent a legionary task force under his adoptive son Tiberius to redress the situation; emboldened, the Armenians expelled the Parthian candidate and raised their own, Tiradates, who was more favorable to Rome. Tiberius was later able to use Roman prestige and the threat of force to regain the legionary standards lost to the Parthians by Crassus in 53 BC without shedding a drop of blood.

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Auction Dates
September, 2011
7th-12th
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