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    Description

    Parthian Standards Returned

    Augustus (27 BC-AD 14). AV aureus (19mm, 7.90 gm, 7h). NGC Choice XF 5/5 - 4/5. Spain, Colonia Patricia (?), ca. June 18-June 17 BC. S · P · Q · R · IMP · CAESARI · AVG · COS · XI · TR · POT · VI, bare head of Augustus right / CIVIB · ET · SIGN · MILIT · A · PART · RECVPER, triple triumphal arch surmounted by facing quadriga (driven by Tiberius?) on central arch, flanked two inward-facing figures atop lesser arches holding signa (standard, on left) and aquila (eagle, on right). RIC 133. BMCRE --. Calicó 194 (same dies). Very rare and seldom-offered, among the finest surviving specimens.

    This rare and remarkable aureus type celebrates the recovery of the legionary standards lost to the Parthians through the disastrous campaigns of Crassus and Mark Antony in 53 and 36 BC. Augustus accomplished this triumph through diplomacy backed by military muscle. In 20 BC, Augustus embarked on a tour of the eastern provinces while his stepson Tiberius led a large army into Armenia, which had recently risen in revolt against its Parthian-installed king, Artaxes. Tiberius drove Artaxes into exile and crowned in his place Tigranes, who had been living as an honored exile in Rome for 10 years. The Parthians, who were beset by dynastic difficulties of their own, reacted meekly to this show of force and handed over the Roman standards that had been prized possessions for many decades. Augustus treated it as a military victory and the return of the standards was celebrated in poetry, prose and imagery throughout the empire. The Senate voted a triumphal arch be erected, which is depicted on the reverse of this aureus type from a Spanish mint, perhaps Colonia Patricia (the dates of 25-22 BC listed in Calico cannot be correct as the standards were not recovered until 20-19 BC, with the erection of the arch soon thereafter). Interestingly, the arch shown here is a complex triple-structure surmounted by statuary depicting a triumphal quadriga and two figures (soldiers?) holding two of the returned standards. The standards were eventually placed in the newly built temple of Mars Ultor in 2 BC.




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    April, 2018
    20th-23rd Friday-Monday
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