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Claudius, with Agrippina Junior. AD 41-54. AR Cistophorus (27mm, 10.62 g, 7h). Ephesus mint. Struck AD 51. TI CLAVD • CAESAR • AVG • P • M • TR • P • X • IMP • XIIX, laureate head of Claudius right / AGRIPPINA • AVGVSTA • CAESARIS • AVG, draped bust or Agrippina Junior right. RIC I 117; RPC I 2223; RSC 2; BMCRE 234-5; BN 294. truck on a broad flan; attractive old cabinet tone with bluish iridescence. VF. With a pair of fine portraits, particularly of Agrippina.

Ex Sternberg 35 (28 October 2000), lot 458; Dr. Meyer-Coloniensis Collection (Münz Zentrum 64, 15 April 1988), lot 89.

Agrippina Junior(also called Agrippina II, Minor or the Younger) was the great- granddaughter of Augustus, daughter of the paragon Germanicus and his admirable wife Agrippina Senior, and sister to the Emperor Gaius “Caligula.” With bloodlines such as these it was only natural that she chose not to play the traditional Roman woman’s role of dutiful subordinate. Her grand-uncle Tiberius arranged her marriage at age 13 to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, a Roman aristocrat who achieved the Consulship in AD 32. During her brother Caligula’s reign she was initially accorded high honors, including all the rights and privileges of the Vestal Virgins. During this period of favor she gave birth to a son, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. After Drusilla’s death in June of AD 38, Caligula’s affection cooled for his surviving two sisters, and in 39 both were exiled to the Pontine Islands. Agrippina’s exile lasted until Caligula’s assassination in January of AD 41; he was succeeded by his pedantic old uncle Claudius, who allowed all exiles to return. Her husband having died in 40, Agrippina courted and married another wealthy aristocrat, Gaius Sallustius Passienus Crispus, who died in AD 47, leaving her available when Claudius found himself in need of a new wife after executing Messalina in AD 48. The inconvenient fact that such a marriage would be incestuous was patched over with hasty legislation, and the two were wed on New Year’s Day, AD 49. Once installed in the palace she eliminated all rivals for Claudius’ affections and thrust her son into the succession arrangements. She soon became the most powerful woman Rome had yet seen, and her enhanced position is reflected in the Roman coinage, including this impressive silver cistophorus struck in AD 51, in which her portrait is given equal prominence with her husband’s.