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    Description

    Nero (AD 54-68). AE sestertius (33mm, 24.73 gm, 6h). NGC VF 5/5 - 2/5, smoothing. Rome, AD 64. NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG-GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust of Nero right, aegis on left shoulder / ADLOCVT COH, Nero standing left on low platform, togate, with praetorian prefect at his side, raising right hand in address to three German guardsmen, of whom the two in front carry standards; in the background, the tiled roof and a column of the camp Praetorium (headquarters); S-C across fields. RIC I 134.

    From the Morris Collection. Ex V.J.E. Ryan Collection (April 1952), lot 2282.

    The soldiers depicted in this extremely rare "Adlocutio" ("addressing the troops") sestertius of Nero are probably not from the Praetorian Guard, as is often claimed. One of the soldiers is heavily bearded and all are shown without armor, wearing only tunics, cloaks and swords slung at their hips. The standards they carry are quite different from those depicted on Roman coins and sculpture, which bear a multitude of discs, banners and other emblems; these rather spindly standards have several hemispherical and one disc-shaped adornment each. These features indicate the troops Nero addresses are members of the Germani Corpori Custodes, the elite German Bodyguard that served the Julio-Claudian dynasty. German bodyguards were first employed by Julius Caesar and by the end of Augustus's reign they numbered between 500 and 1,000 men. They were briefly disbanded after the battle of the Teutoburg Wild, but were reconstituted by Tiberius and were the last force to remain loyal to Nero when his regime collapsed in AD 68.


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    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    26th Sunday
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