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The End of the Jugurthine War


Faustus Cornelius Sulla. 56 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 4.08 g, 3h). Rome mint. Diademed and draped bust of Diana right, wearing cruciform earring, necklace of pendants, and her hair collected into a knot at back of head, which is decorated with jewels; lituus to left, FAVSTVS downward to right / Sulla, togate, seated left on raised seat; on left, Bocchus, king of Mauretania, kneeling right, offering an olive branch; to right, Jugurtha, king of Numidia, kneeling left, his hands tied behind him; FELIX downward to upper right. Crawford 426/1; Sydenham 879; Cornelia 59; RBW 1525. Lightly toned. Choice EF.

Ex Nomisma 18 (11 April 2001), lot 65.

Faustus was the son of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the famous general and dictator of Rome (138-78 BC). The coin portrays Sulla's first great victory, in which he ended the Jugurthine War. Jugurtha, grandson of Massinissa of Numidia, had claimed the entire kingdom of Numidia and divided it between several members of the royal family, in defiance of Roman decrees. Rome declared war on Jugurtha in 111 BC, but for five years the wily king frustrated all efforts to bring him to heel. Finally, in 106 the popular general Marius was assigned command, with Sulla as quaestor in charge of cavalry. Before Marius could take to the field against the enemy, however, Sulla arranged with his ally Bocchus of Mauretania to have Jugurtha ambushed and captured. Sulla was acclaimed for the bloodless end of the war, gaining his first victory and the eternal enmity of Marius.