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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: Triton V, Lot: 1830. Estimate $2000. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 16 January 2002. 
Sold For $2100. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio, Imperator. 47-46 BC. AR Denarius (3.94 gm). Struck in Utica. CRASS IVN LEG PRO PR, turreted head of Utica right; caduceus before, prow below, grain ear behind / METEL PIVS SCIP IMP, trophy between lituus and jug. Crawford 460/3; Sear, CRI 42; Sydenham 1049; BMCRR (Africa) 6; Caecilia 52. Lightly toned, good VF, small obverse banker's mark. Rare. ($2000)

Metellus, the father-in-law of Pompey, took an active role in the Senate's attempt to strip Caesar of his Gallic command. When the Pompeian party fled Rome for the east in 49 BC, Metellus was given command of the forces in Syria. He exacted funds from the cities of Asia Minor with brutal efficiency. He had set up his headquarters in Pergamon and was proceeding to loot the treasury when, early in 48 BC, he was ordered to link up with Pompey in Greece to meet Caesar's invasion. Attempts to coordinate the various forces in the Republican army fell apart in the face of quarrels among the commanders (frequently involving Metellus) over the division of spoils of a war not yet won. After the defeat at Pharsalia, Metellus fled to Africa where he once again plundered the countryside in search of supplies. It was only with great difficulty that Cato prevented him from sacking Utica, the main town held by Pompeian forces. He committed suicide by jumping into the sea after losing a naval battle off Hippo Regius in 46 BC. Metellus is described as cruel, avaricious and vindictive, and in neither Asia nor in Africa did his conduct reflect well on the Republican cause. His depredations in Asia and Africa are marked by this rare issue of tetradrachms from Pergamon and a series of denarii struck in Africa.