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    Description

    Choice Mint State Commodus Gold Aureus with 1909 Provenance

    Commodus (AD 177-192). AV aureus (20mm, 7.25 gm, 6h). NGC Choice MS 5/5 - 5/5. Rome, AD 192. L • AEL • AVREL • CO-MM • AVG P FEL, laureate, draped bust of Commodus right, seen from behind / LIB AVG VIII P M TR P XVII COS VII P P, Liberalitas standing facing, head left, coin counter in right hand, cornucopia in left. RIC III 239a. Calicó 2281 (these dies). A superb gem with full cartwheel luster and outstanding pedigree.

    Private sale, Freeman & Sear, December 2004. Ex Arthur Bally-Herzog (1849-1912) Collection, (Münzen und Medaillen AG, Auction 93, 16 December 2003), lot 197; Sir John Evans (1823-1908) Collection, (Rollin & Feuardent, 26-27 May 1909), lot 164, to Spink & Son.

    This aureus presents us with a splendid image of one of Rome's most dissolute rulers, Commodus, who is credited by Edward Gibbon with nearly single-handedly instigating the Fall of the Roman Empire. He was not alone in this assessment: The Roman historian Dio Cassius said the accession of Commodus marked the Empire's descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust." Certainly other factors were at work, but Commodus' own personal qualities, a strange mixture of indolence and megalomania, played a crucial role in this decline. The polar opposite of Marcus Aurelius, his reserved, dutiful father, Commodus indulged his every whim while leaving the administration of Rome to a succession of corrupt favorites. After the execution of his last such vizier in AD 190, he lost all sense of control and launched a nonstop orgy of self-indulgence which all but bankrupted the Empire. His assassination on New Year's Day, AD 192 opened a Pandora's Box of civil war from which the Empire never fully recovered. Nevertheless, Roman art reached an astounding peak during this era, as witnessed by the many baroque portraits of Commodus and his often beautiful coinage, as seen here.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    17th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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