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    Carus: Abortive Dynasty

    Carus (AD 282-283). AV aureus (20mm, 4.69 gm, 6h).  Siscia, AD 282. IMP C M AVR CARVS P F AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Carus right, seen from front / VICT-OR-IA AVG, Victory standing left on banded globe, holding laurel wreath in outstretched right hand and palm branch over left shoulder. RIC 95. Cohen 84. RCV 12154. Calic├│ 4284. Rare. Attractive reddish toning. Small pockmarks on neck and in obverse field; apparently holed in antiquity and skilfully repaired. NGC (photo-certificate) Choice XF 5/5 - 1/5, plugged.

    From The Andre Constantine Dimitriadis Collection. Ex Dreesmann Collection (Spink London, 13 April 2000), lot 58; Giessener Munzenhandlung 30 (Munich, 19 November 1984), lot 2827. 

    A native of Narbo in southern Gaul, Carus was a career military man who rose through the ranks during the chaotic round of civil wars and invasions of the mid-third century AD. Appointed Praetorian Prefect by Probus in AD 276, the late summer of AD 282 he was mustering troops in Raetia when a groundswell of revolt swept through the ranks, perhaps prompted by Probus' demand that the soldiers keep themselves occupied with labor-intensive public works. The Gallic legions proclaimed Carus  Emperor, launching a chain-reaction which soon led to the murder of Probus. Carus bestowed the rank of Caesar on his two grown sons, Carinus and Numerian, and the army was pleased by the promise of a long-lived dynasty. After a quick campaign against the Sarmatians and Quadi, Carus pressed forward with his predecessor's plan to invade Persia and avenge the humiliating capture of Valerian two decades previous. Preparing for the assault, Carus raised both of his sons to the rank of Augustus; Carinus remained at Rome while Numerian accompanied him on the eastern campaign. Long years of military innovation had once again turned the Roman army into an efficient killing machine, and the legions swept all before them in their march to the Persian capitol of Ctesiphon, which was captured and sacked. But at the apex of his triumph, Carus was found dead in his tent following a violent thunderstorm. His death was attributed to a lightning strike, although treachery by one of his officers seems more likely. His entire reign had lasted less than a year, and his two sons would not long survive him.

    The coin portraiture of Carus is interesting in that he is shown proudly bald-headed, where other allegedly bald rulers concealed their pates beneath wigs, wreaths or other headgear.

    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: 9
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