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Sulla’s Triumph

527958. SOLD $850

L. Sulla and L. Manlius Torquatus. 82 BC. AR Denarius (19mm, 4.00 g, 3h). Military mint moving with Sulla. Helmeted head of Roma right, wearing single drop earring and pendant necklace / Sulla driving triumphal quadriga right, holding branch and reins, being crowned by Victory flying left; L・SVLLA・ IMP in exergue. Crawford 367/5; Sydenham 757; Manlia 4. Attractive iridescent blue toning. EF.

As consul for the year 88 BC, Sulla was awarded the coveted assignment of suppressing the revolt of Mithradates VI of Pontus, but political maneuvers resulted in this assignment being transferred to Marius. In response, Sulla turned his army on Rome, captured it, and reclaimed his command against Mithradates. His prosecution of the first Mithradatic War was successful, but he spared the Pontic king for personal gain. In 83 BC, Sulla returned to Italy as an outlaw, but he was able to win the support of many of the leading Romans. Within a year he fought his way to Rome, where he was elected dictator. It was during this campaign to Rome that this denarius was struck. The obverse type represents Sulla's claim to be acting in Rome's best interest. The reverse shows Sulla enjoying the highest honor to which a Roman could aspire, the celebration of a triumph at Rome.