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    Stellar Labienus Denarius

    Quintus Labienus, rebel Imperator (40-39 BC). AR denarius (20mm, 3.80 gm, 6h). NGC AU 5/5 - 3/5. Antioch or uncertain mint in Syria or southern Asia Minor, early 40 BC. Q•LABIENVS-PARTHICVS•IMP, bare head of Labienus right, with unruly hair and long sideburn / No legend, cavalry horse standing right, with bridle and saddle, to which quiver and bow-case are attached. Crawford 524/2. BMCRR East 131. RSC 2. CRI 341. Sydenham 1357. Hersh, the coinage of Quintus Labienus Parthicus (dies G/18). Extremely rare, one of the most sought-after Imperatorial denarii. Solidly struck with high relief dies, the obverse particularly handsome with bright highlights against toned surfaces.

    Quintus Labienus was the son of Titus Labienus, one of Julius Caesar's best generals, who threw his support to Pompey and the Senate during the Civil War of 49-45 BC. Following the assassination of Caesar in 44 BC, Quintus fell in with the assassins Brutus and Cassius against the Caesarians led by Marc Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus. In the winter of 43-42 BC, Cassius ordered Quintus to cross into Parthia to gain the support of King Orodes II. Any attempt to treat with these dangerous enemies could be construed as traitorous, but Quintus showed no qualms and quickly gained the confidence of Orodes and his son, Pacorus. While the Parthians deliberated, Brutus and Cassius met defeat at Philipi in October 42 BC, leaving Quintus marooned in Parthia. But when Marc Antony began dallying with Cleopatra, Quintus saw an opportunity for revenge. He and Pacorus led a force of 20,000 Parthian cavalrymen into Syria early in 40 BC and quickly swept aside the scattered and demoralized Roman forces. The following year, Quintus invaded southern Asia Minor while Pacorus attacked coastal Phoenicia. Flush with victory, Quintus proclaimed himself Imperator and dreamed of reviving the lost Republican cause. But in late 40 BC, Antony pulled together an expeditionary force under the command of his loyal general P. Ventidius. In a series of brilliant campaigns, Ventidius defeated Quintus and pursued him into Cilicia. Quintus made a stand at the Cilician Gates, but Ventidius stormed his camp, took him prisoner and executed him. Within a few months, Pacorus had suffered a similar fate and Ventidius returned to Rome in triumph.

    This remarkable silver denarius was struck at the peak of Quintus Labienus' meteoric career, shortly after his invasion of Syria in 40 BC. The strong portraiture and careful engraving suggest an established mint, perhaps that of Antioch. Intriguingly, the reverse depicts a cavalry horse with a bowcase and quiver affixed to the saddle. Roman mounts were not equipped in this fashion, a tacit admission that the invading force he led was composed of Parthian horse-archers.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    15th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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