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Numismatica Ars Classica
Spring Sale 2021  10 May 2021
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Roman Empire. Octavian as Augustus, 27 BC – 14 AD.
Aureus, Colonia Patricia (?) 27 June 18 – 26 June 17, AV 7.86 g. S P Q R IMP CAESARI AVG COS XI TRI POT.VI Bare head r. Rev. CIVIB ET SI – GN MILIT.A.P[ART RECVP] Triumphal arch surmounted by facing quadriga, at side of which, two figures holding respectively on l., standard and on r., aquila and bow. C 131. Bahrfeldt 169. BMC 427. RIC 131. CBN 1228. Calicó 193.
Extremely rare and an issue of tremendous historical importance. A banker's mark on
obverse and minor marks. Reverse slightly off centre, otherwise about extremely fine


Perhaps the greatest display of Augustus' authority occurred in 20 B.C., when he recovered Roman military standards that had been lost to the Parthians by Crassus in 53, Decidus Saxa in 40 and Antony in 36. It was a bloodless victory and a diplomatic coup, for the Parthian King Phraates IV was thoroughly intimidated by the presence of Augustus in the East, and by the brilliant military campaign of Tiberius in Armenia, where he replaced King Artaxias with his own candidate, Tigranes.

Soon afterwards, Augustus departed the East and returned to Rome in 19 B.C. He was greeted with much fanfare, entering the city on horseback and receiving a votive shield and an ovation. Augustus himself commissioned a temple he dedicated to Mars Ultor ('the avenger'), where the lost standards were consecrated.

Furthermore, the senate voted the construction of a triumphal arch in honour of Augustus' Parthian coup. That arch appears on this rare and important aureus, inscribed ET SIGN MILIT A PART RECVP (Civibus et Signis Militaribus a Parthis recuperatis). It is shown as a triple-arch, with each section of equal height. The top is decorated with a facing quadriga driven by Augustus, who is flanked by two Parthians, one offering a standard and the other an aquila. Hill notes that the new Parthian Arch must have replaced the one that a dozen years earlier had been built in the Forum for the victory at Actium, and that the combined obverse and reverse inscriptions of this coin represent the beginning portion of the inscription on the entablature of the arch.
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