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    Magnificent Agrippina Senior Sestertius

    Agrippina Senior, mother of Caligula (died AD 33). Orichalcum sestertius (34mm, 32.06 gm, 6h). Rome mint. AGRIPPINA M F MAT C CAESARIS AVGVSTI, draped bust right / SPQR/MEMORIAE AGRIPPINA, carpentum drawn by two mules left. RIC 55 (Gaius). BMCRE 86-7 (Caligula). Dark green patina. A few small traces of deposits on the reverse, but otherwise an exceptional specimen. Good Extremely Fine.

    From The Dr. Patrick Tan Collection. Ex Triton XIV (4 January 2011), lot 639.

    Vipsania Agrippina was born in 14 BC to Julia the Elder, daughter of Caesar Augustus, and to his right-hand-man Marcus Agrippa. Though her Julio-Claudian family was the most powerful in the Empire, it was also shot through with intrigue, tension, and untimely death. Her father died when she was only two. A few years later Augustus exiled her mother for serial adultery, effectively orphaning her and her three brothers, who were taken into the imperial household and raised by the emperor and his wife, the arch-manipulator Livia Drusilla. In the drama-filled last decade of Augustus' reign, all three of her brothers died young, or were murdered, clearing the path for the succession of Livia's son Tiberius. Agrippina was also married during this span, between 1 BC and AD 5, to Germanicus, the charismatic nephew of Tiberius and her own second maternal cousin. Though supremely political, the union was also very happy and the couple eventually had nine children, including the future emperor Gaius 'Caligula' and empress Agrippina the Younger. All ancient historians agree Agrippina was a model of rectitude and matronly virtue; she also went beyond the traditional role of a Roman wife and mother in accompanying Germanicus on risky military campaigns and foreign postings. The Roman people admired her courage; however she also had an imperious nature and longed for the day when her husband would inherit supreme power. The mysterious death of Germanicus while on a diplomatic mission in the East in AD 19 dashed these hopes. Agrippina believed Tiberius and/or Livia had a hand in his demise and made no secret of her suspicions. This put her squarely in the crosshairs of Sejanus, Tiberius' unscrupulous Praetorian prefect, who waged a patient campaign to undermine her in the eyes of Tiberius and the public. In AD 29 she was charged with treason and banished to a remote island; repeatedly abused and starved, she died four years later. Upon the death of Tiberius, her son Gaius 'Caligula' became emperor and rehabilitated his mother's reputation, striking this handsome sestertius to mark the occasion when her ashes were formally returned to Rome and interred in the mausoleum of Augustus. 

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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