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Research Coins: Feature Auction

Sale: CNG 73, Lot: 713. Estimate $200. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 13 September 2006. 
Sold For $600. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

TROAS, Ilium. Hadrian. AD 117-138. Æ Semis (7.55 g, 1h). Laureate and draped bust right / Aeneas advancing right, head left, leading Ascanius by the hand, and holding Anchises on his shoulder; in exergue, she-wolf left, suckling twins. Bellinger T134; SNG München -; SNG Copenhagen -. VF, black-green patina with blue-black overtones. A reverse with pointedly Roman mythological symbolism.

The city of Ilium was founded by the emperor Augustus on the site of the legendary city of Troy. According to Vergil (Aeneid, Book 2), Aeneas, the son of the goddess Venus and the Trojan Anchises, fled with some remnants of the city’s inhabitants as it fell to the Greeks, taking with him his son, Ascanius, his elderly father, Anchises, and the Palladium, or ancient sacred statue of Athena. The Trojans eventually made their way west to resettle in Italy. There they intermarried with the local inhabitants and founded the town of Lavinium, and thereby became the nucleus of the future Roman people. One of the descendants of Aeneas’ son Ascanius (known now as Iulus) was Rhea Silvia. Impregnated by the god Mars, she gave birth to the twins, Romulus and Remus. Exposed by their great-uncle, Amulius, the twins were suckled by a she-wolf, but they were eventually rescued. Romulus later founded the city of Rome, and consequently the image of the she-wolf and the twins became the symbol of that city. The mythological depictions on this coin reinforce the importance of Ilium, not only as the seedbed of the future Roman people, but also as the mother city of the future caput mundi.