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    Superb Tacitus Aureus

    Tacitus (AD 275-276). AV aureus (20mm, 4.55 gm, 12h).  Serdica, October AD 275-July AD 276. IMP C M CL TACITVS P AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust of Tacitus right, viewed from front / ROMAE AE-TERNAE, Roma seated left on shield, holding Victory set on globe in outstretched right hand and spear in left, S C in exergue. RIC V --; RIC Online 3918. Calic├│ 4096a (Antiochia). Hunter 40. Minor scratch in reverse field, otherwise a spectacular example, with a needle-sharp strike and brilliant, mirror-like luster. NGC MS 5/5 - 3/5.

    Lot comes with an official cultural property export license from France, dated 05/05/2015.

    The notoriously unreliable Historia Augusta claims that Marcus Claudius Tacitus, born around AD 200 in Umbria, was a descendant of the famous first-century Roman author P. Cornelius Tacitus, but most modern historians dismiss this as a fictional embellishment. The story of his accession, as recounted in the Historia Augusta, goes like this: After the murder of the Emperor Aurelian by a military cabal in mid-AD 275, the soldiers were so chastened by their own behavior that they asked the Senate to nominate the next emperor. Few senators were willing to stand for an office that had proven fatal to so many men in so short a time, so they threw the choice back to the Army, which once again deferred to the Senate. This back-and-forth supposedly went on for six months, until the Senate finally relented and elected Tacitus, a 75-year-old ex-consul with a personal fortune worth 280 million sesterces. In actuality, the "interregnum" probably lasted only a few weeks, during which Aurelian's wife Severina was nominal head of state, and Tacitus, while an Italian with considerable wealth, likely had considerable military experience and was thus acceptable to the Army. Assuming the throne in October or November of AD 275, Tacitus spent a few weeks signing new laws into effect before hurrying to the Balkans to take charge of the huge field army Aurelian had assembled for his planned invasion of Persia. In the meantime, however, the Empire had suffered further attacks from the Goths and Heruli in Asia Minor, and Tacitus was forced to intercept the invaders in Cilicia. After inflicting a severe defeat on the barbarians, Tacitus abruptly died at Tyana in Cappadocia in June or July of AD 276. His reign had lasted only seven or eight months at most, and various historical sources give different causes of death, ranging from simple overexertion, to disease, to assassination by a faction displeased by the new taxes he had imposed.  

    Whatever his origins, Tacitus does appear to have been cut from a different bolt of cloth than the rough-hewn Danubian soldier-emperors who came before and after him. His coin portraits depict a portly man with a carefully combed and curled set of chin-whiskers, quite distinct from the military crew-cuts and stubbly beards of the lean Danubians. The reverse of this splendid gold aureus evokes "Eternal Rome," a universal ideal that helped rally the Roman army in the empire's darkest days.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    13th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 942

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