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    Carus (AD 282-283). AV aureus (21mm, 4.55 gm, 11h). NGC AU 5/5 - 4/5. Cyzicus. IMP C M AVR CARVS P F AVG, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Carus right, seen from front / VICTORI A-VG, Victory in biga galloping left, wreath upward in right hand, palm in left; crescent upward in exergue. Calic├│ 4283. RIC V.II, 116. Cohen 83.

    From the Morris Collection. Ex NAC 34, (November 24 2006), lot 68; CNG Triton V, (January 2002), lot 2125.

    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.


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