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    Basiliscus: Incompetence is King

    Basiliscus, Eastern Roman Emperor (AD 475-476). AV solidus (21mm, 4.50 gm, 6h).  Constantinople, January AD 475 - August AD 476, D N bASILIS-CΜS P P AVG, pearl-diademed, helmeted and cuirassed bust of Basiliscus facing, head slightly right, holding spear over right shoulder and on left arm shield with horseman motif / VICTORI-A AVCCC, Victory standing left, holding long jeweled cross; star in right field, CONOB in exergue. RIC 1003 (R). Hahn 1a. Depeyrot 101/1. Rare and exceptional! Well struck and lustrous. NGC (photo-certificate) MS 4/5 - 4/5, light graffito.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Stack's (New York, 4 May 1995), lot 2019. 

    Basiliscus was the brother of the empress Verina, the formidable wife of Leo I. In 468 Leo put him in command of an immense task force sent to recover North Africa from the Vandals. The entire costly enterprise came to grief when the Vandals set fire to the fleet while at anchorage, a distaster partly caused by Basiliscus' failure to take basic precautions. Nevertheless, probably due to his sister's influence, he survived the debacle with his high standing intact. Upon the death of Leo in AD 474, Verina tried to arrange affairs so she could rule the Empire through two docile figureheads, her son-in-law Zeno and her infant grandson Leo II. When the boy died and Zeno showed signs of wanting to rule on his own, Verina hatched another scheme to put her lover, Patricius, on the throne with the help of Basiliscus, who controlled the city garrison. Zeno was duly induced to flee Constantinople, but Basiliscus seized the throne for himself and further enraged his powerful sister by executing Patricius. Basiliscus' position became even more precarious when it turned out he was a Monophysite heretic, pitting him against the Eastern Empire's Orthodox religious authorities. He also managed to alienate two leading generals, who switched their allegiance back to Zeno. After 20 chaotic months, Zeno reentered the capital in August, 476 and deposed Basiliscus in a bloodless coup. Basiliscus and his family were exiled to Cappadocia and starved to death, fulfilling Zeno's promise not to "shed their blood." The anarchy which gripped the Eastern Empire throughout AD 475-476 prevented it from intervening in Western affairs; consequently it went almost unnoticed when the Western Roman Empire slipped entirely under the control of the Germanic chieftain Odovacer, thus bringing it to an end.

    All Roman gold coins from the Dimitriadis Collection have been issued a photo-certificate by NGC. These may be sent in for encapsulation after the auction at the request of the buyer, free of charge. Please e-mail SamS@HA.com if you would like to utilize this option.


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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