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    Carinus: Enemy of the People?

    Carinus, as Caesar (AD 282-283). AV aureus (20mm, 4.84 gm, 6h).  Siscia, AD 282. M AVR CARINVS NOB CAES, laureate and cuirassed bust of Carinus right, seen from front / VICTO-RIA AVG, Victory standing left on banded globe, holding laurel wreath in outstretched right hand and palm frond over left shoulder. RIC --, cf. 190E (Victory carries trophy, possibly in error). Cf. Cohen 139 (same). RCV 12287 (this coin illustrated). Calic├│ 4372 (this coin illustrated). Well struck on a choice flan, with a remarkably detailed portrait. NGC (photo-certificate) AU 5/5 - 3/5.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex McLendon Collection (Christie's New York, 12 June 1993), lot 191. 

    Though hardly a household name like Caligula or Nero, Carinus is held as one of Rome's most sinister emperors, a despoiler of women and corrupter of youth who got his just desserts at the hands of a jealous husband. Born in around AD 250, Carinus was in his early 30s when his father, the respected general Carus, seized power in AD 282 in a coup against the Emperor Probus. With two grown sons, Carus named Carinus and his younger brother Numerian as joint Caesars in October of 282. With the Roman Empire threatened on every front, Carinus departed for Gaul to battle Germanic invaders while his father and Numerian headed east to deal with the Persians. Carinus returned to Rome in mid-283, where he celebrated a triumph and was hailed as Augustus, making him co-equal with his father. But Carus died only a few months later while on campaign in Persia later in the year, and the dynasty that had once looked so secure began to crumble. As the Eastern army marched back toward Roman territory, Numerian fell ill and died under suspicious circumstances late in AD 284. Instead of declaring its loyalty to Carinus, the Eastern army  acclaimed the general Diocletian as emperor.  Carinus mustered his own forces  advanced on Diocletian's eastern army, with the climactic clash coming in midsummer at Margum, near modern-day Belgrade. The legions of Carinus gained the upper hand and seemed on the verge of victory when he was suddenly stabbed to death by one of his own officers, whose wife Carinus had reportedly seduced. All fighting ceased and Diocletian was acclaimed as undisputed emperor, ushering in a new era of Roman history.

    This rare aureus depicts Carinus in fully military kit, including a scale-armor cuirass with decorated shoulder bands. As the piece was struck between October 282 and the end of the year, shortly after Carinus assumed the title of Caesar, the reverse either anticipates victory in the pending war against Sasanian Persia launched by his father, or celebrates the successful outcome of Carinus' own German campaign. 

    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
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