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Research Coins: Feature Auction

 
11100668
CNG 111, Lot: 668. Estimate $3000.
Sold for $5000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Nero. AD 54-68. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.30 g, 5h). Rome mint. Struck circa AD 65-66. NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right / VESTA above, hexastyle temple of Vesta with domed roof, on podium of four steps; within, statue of Vesta seated left, holding patera in right hand and long scepter in left. RIC I 62; RSC 335; BMCRE 104-6; BN 230. EF, toned. Wonderful portrait and details on the temple of Vesta.


Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 40 (16 May 2007), lot 666.

Central to the prosperity of the Roman state was the Temple of Vesta, one of the oldest and most sacred temples in Rome. Its distinctive, circular architecture was reminiscent of the fact that the worship of Vesta, goddess of the hearth, originally took place in the privacy of the home. Never officially consecrated, the temple housed the sacred, undying fire, upon which the fate of Rome lay and, within the inner sanctum, “sacred things that may not be divulged” purportedly including the Palladium, brought from Troy by Aeneas, as well as important state documents. Tended to by the Vestal Virgins, whose purity and dedication was seen to guard the city from danger, it was said that if the fire were to be extinguished it would be interpreted as "an omen that portends the destruction of the city." Ironically perhaps, the temple was destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt on numerous occasions, including after the great fire of AD 64, supposedly started by Nero himself. Historical accounts, including that of Ovid, state that there had previously been no cult statue within the temple and earlier coins depicting the temple appear to corroborate this, such as the denarius of Q. Cassius Longinus and the rare dupondius of Augustus. Although it is possible that the newly built temple did contain a statue, such as is depicted here, Philip Hill suggests that the more likely explanation is that this reverse shows the Aedicula Vestae on the Palatine Hill, a small shrine erected near the house of Augustus in 12 BC which, although also destroyed and rebuilt after the great fire, incorporated a new shrine of Vesta within it.