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2530217

Struck the Year of Sejanus’ Death

253, Lot: 217. Estimate $300.
Sold for $975. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

SPAIN, Bilbilis. Tiberius. AD 14-37. Æ As (30mm, 11.71 g, 2h). L. Aelius Sejanus, praetorian consul. Struck AD 31. Laureate head right / Large COS within wreath. RPC I 398; Burgos 284. Fine, rough green patina.


Lucius Aelius Sejanus came from an up-and-coming equestrian family. Early in his career, Sejanus served with Augustus' grandson Gaius in the east, and may have accompanied Drusus Caesar north to quell the mutinies that broke out upon Augustus' death. Initially he had been his father's colleague as praefectus praetorio, but when Strabo was promoted to the more prestigious post of praefectus Aegypti, Sejanus retained sole command of the Guard, a post which, according to later historians, he used to his advantage. Consolidating the Praetorians in a permanent encampment at the eastern edge of the city, he used the Guard to increase his power and influence over Tiberius. In AD 23, upon the death of Drusus Caesar, Sejanus proposed marrying Drusus' widow Livilla, with whom he was allegedly having an affair. So indispensable had he become in maintaining order in the capital that Tiberius called him "the partner of my labors," a position that Sejanus carefully built upon following the emperor's retirement to Capri in AD 26. Using the emperor's absence to his advantage, Sejanus imprisoned Germanicus' widow, Agrippina Senior, her sons Nero and Drusus Caesars, and their supporters on charges of treason. In AD 31 Sejanus served as consul with Tiberius – the first step, he hoped, to acquiring tribunician power and becoming the imperial heir. At the height of this power, however, Tiberius, made aware of Sejanus’ machinations, condemned his consular colleague in a letter to the Senate. Harsh reprisals against Sejanus and his adherents followed, including the removal of his name from public monuments as well as this coin type.