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    Peak of Roman Portraiture

    Caracalla (AD 198-217). AV aureus (22mm, 6.46 gm, 6h).  Rome, AD 217. ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Caracalla right / VIC PART P M TR P XX COS IIII P P, Caracalla standing left in military attire, holding globe in right hand and scepter cradled in left arm, being crowned by Victory, who stands left behind him with laurel wreath and palm branch; bound captive seated left at emperor's feet. RIC 299a (R2). BMCRE 200. Cohen 652. Calic├│ 2840 (this coin illustrated). A remarkable coin, boldly struck on a medallic flan and displaying a portrait of great power and character. Small mark on emperor's brow and light scratch in field before face. NGC (photo-certificate) AU? 5/5 - 3/5, Fine Style, edge marks.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex McLendon Collection (Christie's New York, 12 June 1993), lot 164. 

    With Septimius Severus' death at York in February of AD 211, Caracalla and Geta's mutual hatred threatened to tear the Roman Empire apart. Their mother, Julia Domna, managed to patch together a detente and the family returned to Rome, but in December, Caracalla arranged to have Geta brutally murdered as he sought refuge in Domna's arms. A general massacre of Geta's friends and supporters followed, the first of many slaughters that indelibly dyed Caracalla's reign in blood. He much preferred the company of soldiers to the aristocracy of Rome and soon embarked on a series of military campaigns to divert attention from his atrocities. The German wars of AD 213 achieved little, so he developed an obsession with Alexander the Great that led him to prepare a massive invasion of Parthia. A trip to Egypt to visit Alexander's tomb in AD 215 led to another massacre of the populace, who had dared to make jests at his expense. With the Parthians divided by civil war, Caracalla's invasion the following year at first met with success, but resistance soon stiffened and he began to look for scapegoats among his staff. One of these officers, the praetorian prefect Macrinus, struck first, and Caracalla was assassinated as he stopped to relieve himself on a roadside near Carrhae on April 17, AD 217.

    The very peak of Roman portraiture, numismatic and sculptural, occurred during the Severan Dynasty, as illustrated by this amazing portrait. The artist subtly conveys the true nature of this homicidal ruler, much as did the sculptor who created the famous marble bust of Caracalla in New York's Metropolitan Museum. Caracalla took great pride in his brutish, "barbarian" looks, and the exceptional coin portraiture of the age accurately depicts him with curly hair, course features and an angry scowl.  

    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 Dates
    April, 2014
    10th-16th Thursday-Wednesday
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