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511034. SOLD $625

Magnia Urbica. Augusta, AD 283-285. Antoninianus (23mm, 3.57 g, 6h). Rome mint, 6th officina. 5th emission of Carus’ dynasty, November AD 284. Draped bust right, wearing stephane, set on crescent / Juno standing left, holding patera and scepter; KAς. RIC V 341; Pink VI/2, p. 39, 14. Nearly full silvering. EF. Nice style.

Magnia Urbica is something of a mystery woman, as no evidence exists for her existence other than her coins. These scarce pieces, in gold, billon and bronze, name her as Augusta and depict a rather small-faced lady with a typical hairdo of the period. These clearly belong to the brief “dynasty” of Carus (AD 282-283) and his two sons, Carinus and Numerian (AD 283-285 and 283-284 respectively). Exactly whose wife she was is still the subject of intense debate. Carus, a man in his his 60s, is one candidate, in which case Magnia Urbica was likely the mother of Carinus and Numerian. However, there exist two unique coins, a gold binio and a billon quinarius, which depict dual portraits of Carinus with Magnia Urbica on opposite sides, suggesting they were special issues marking their marriage. This would probably make her and Carinus the parents of Nigrinian, a young boy who died and was deified during this two-year interlude and also had coins struck in his memory. But contemporary historians claim Carinus was a serial womanizer, marrying and divorcing nine women in total and seducing a host of other men’s wives, ultimately leading to his own assassination by a cuckolded husband on his war council. Magnia Urbica’s ultimate fate is as mysterious as everything else about her.