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511981. Sold For $795

M. Aemilius Scaurus and Pub. Plautius Hypsaeus. 58 BC. AR Denarius (18.5mm, 3.83 g, 6h). Rome mint. Nabatean king Aretas kneeling to right, holding reins and olive branch before camel standing right / Jupiter driving quadriga left, holding reins and hurling thunderbolt; scorpion below horses. Crawford 422/1b; Sydenham 913; Aemilia 8. Lightly toned and lustrous, small scuff and light scratch on obverse. EF. Unusually well-struck for this notoriously sloppily produced issue.

The design celebrates an act of political bribery. King Aretas II of Nabataea had been expanding his realm into northern territory, threatening the “definitive” settlement of powers by Pompey the Great. The Roman Senate sent Scaurus and a military task force to Arabia to stop Aretas and bring him to heel. Instead, Aretas bribed Scaurus with 300 talents of silver and retained his newly won territory. On the coin, Aretas is shown kneeling before a camel, symbol of Arabia, in “supplication” to Roman power; in fact he had simply bought it off.