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Leu Numismatik AG
Auction 2  11 May 2018
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Lot 281

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Estimate: 50 000 CHF
Price realized: 44 000 CHF

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Macrinus, 217-218. Aureus (Gold, 20 mm, 7.31 g, 6 h), Rome, circa March-June 218. IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust of Macrinus to right, seen from behind. Rev. LIBERALITAS AVG Macrinus and Diadumenian, both togate, seated left on platform, extending their right hands and holding rolls in their left; behind to right, officer standing left; to left, Liberalitas standing left, holding counting-board in her right hand and cornucopiae with her left; at foot of platform, citizen standing right, raising his hands. BMC 71 and pl. 80, 9 (same dies). Calicó 2947. Clay Issue 3, Die 8/Rev 27-30. Cohen 43. RIC 79 and pl. I, 9 (= BM example, same dies). Very rare. A lustrous and exceptionally attractive example, well struck in high relief and with a splendid portrait of the finest style. Good extremely fine.


Born in 164 or 166 in Caesarea in Mauretania, today's Cherchell in Algeria, Macrinus was one of the many North Africans to pursue a career in Rome under Septimius Severus. We do not know if he was the first of his family to become an eques, but it is evident from the vehement rejection of his reign by the senatorial historiography that his origins must have been rather humble. In Rome, Macrinus pursued a civil career as a lawyer and administrator and eventually became one of the two Praetorian Prefects of Caracalla in 212. As such, he accompanied the emperor on his Parthian campaign during which he formed a plot that lead to the assassination of Caracalla in early 217. Macrinus' accession to the throne aroused opposition among the military, and when the new emperor agreed to a humiliating peace treaty following a defeat against the Parthians in 218, Julia Maesa sparked off a rebellion in Emesa. The few forces that remained loyal to Macrinus - most notably the Praetorian Guard - were defeated by Severan troops near Antioch on 8 June 218. Macrinus subsequently sent his son Diadumenian east to seek refuge in the Parthian Empire. The prince was, however, captured in Zeugma before being able to cross the border, whereas his father, who had hoped to find support from the Senate in the West, surrendered near Kalchedon. Both of them were eventually executed and their heads presented to the new emperor Elagabalus.
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