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    Outstanding Vitellius

    Vitellius (AD 69). AR denarius (18mm, 3.53 gm, 6h). Rome, April-December AD 69. A VITELLIVS GERMAN IMP TR P, laureate head of Vitellius right / S P Q R / O · B / C S within oak wreath. RIC 83. BMCRE 15. RSC 86. Very rare reverse type! Struck from an obverse die of remarkable style in good metal. NGC AU? 4/5 - 5/5, Fine Style.

    This rare type celebrates Vitellius as having won the Corona Civica or oak crown, awarded to someone who had "saved the citizenry" of Rome.  The award had also been given to his predecessor Galba, whose regime Vitellius had helped to bring down.  An unlikely savior, Aulus Vitellius was born in AD 15 and raised in the luxury befitting a wealthy consular's son. While his father played the sycophant to Caligula, Claudius and Nero, the younger Vitellius developed a penchant for gambling along with a gourmand's appetites and physique. He served as Consul in AD 48, where he acquitted himself well, but resumed his disreputable habits in later years. The new emperor, Galba, appointed Vitellius governor of Germania Inferior, believing him a safe choice. But the Rhine legions grew disenchanted with Galba's parsimony and persuaded Vitellius to make a try for the throne. On January 1, AD 69, the troops proclaimed Vitellius emperor at the city of Colonia Agrippinensis (Cologne). His promise of lavish bonuses and easy discipline quickly won the legions of Gaul, Britain and Raetia to his cause and the combined forces marched on Rome, pillaging the countryside as they went. In the meantime, Galba was overthrown at Rome by Otho, who marched north with the Praetorian Guard. The hard-fought First Battle of Bedriacum in mid-April went to Vitellius' larger force, and Otho opened his veins. Arriving in Rome, Vitellius was confirmed as emperor by a reluctant Senate.  He treated his elevation as an excuse for one long banquet, reportedly spending the equivalent of $2 billion on delicacies. While he indulged his appetites, the armies of the East proclaimed the general Vespasian as emperor on July 1. The legions of the Danube joined in the revolt and invaded Italy on Vespasian's behalf. Vitellius offered to abdicate, but his German troops rioted and refused to let him step down. Within days, soldiers loyal to Vespasian forced their way into Rome, finding Vitellius hiding in the imperial doorkeeper's quarters. The Flavians hauled him to the Forum, where the onetime emperor was mocked, tortured, and slain. 


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    3rd-4th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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