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CNG Feature Auction 118

Lot nuber 1092

Pertinax. AD 193. AV Aureus (20mm, 7.43 g, 12h). Rome mint. 2nd emission.

CNG Feature Auction 118
Lot: 1092.
 Estimated: $ 20 000

Roman Imperial, Coin-in-Hand Video, Gold

Sold For $ 32 000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Go to Live

Pertinax. AD 193. AV Aureus (20mm, 7.43 g, 12h). Rome mint. 2nd emission. IMP CAES P HELV PERTIN AVG, laureate and draped bust right / PROVID DEOR COS II, Providentia, draped, standing left, raising right hand toward large star high at left, left hand on breast. RIC IV 11b; Lempereur Type 10, 124a (D38/R80 – this coin); Calicó 2390b; BMCRE 11 (same rev. die); Biaggi 1044. Lustrous, tiny edge bump and scratch on reverse. EF. Wonderful portrait.

Ex New York Sale IV (17 January 2002), lot 378; Markov 8 (25 April 2000), lot 129; Coin Galleries (24 February 1984), lot 13; Leu 13 (29 April 1975), lot 459.

If AD 69 is known as “The Year of the Four Emperors,” then AD 193 should be called “The Year of the Five Emperors.” On 31 December AD 192, the maniacal emperor Commodus was assassinated. The plotters appear to have predesignated the aged Helvetius Pertinax as Commodus’s successor, a decision that was likely influenced by two prominent Romans: Claudius Pompeianus, a patron of Pertinax and second husband of Lucilla, and Flavius Sulpicianus, an ex-consul who was Pertinax’s father-in-law. Pertinax had followed a long and winding path to the imperial throne. His father was a former slave who upon freedom became a successful wool merchant. With his wealth, he was able to have his son educated, and Pertinax became a grammaticus. In AD 161, he left his teaching position, opting instead for a military career and greater pay. Once there, he quickly distinguished himself and was rapidly promoted from commander of a cohort to military tribune, then to consul, and eventually to proconsul in several provinces, including Upper and Lower Moesia, Dacia, Syria, Britain, and Africa. During his tenure in the army and as proconsul he acquired a reputation for probity and severity, which led on occasion to mutinies, one of which almost cost him his life. In AD 189, Commodus appointed him urban prefect of Rome, and from this position he was offered the throne upon the death of Commodus on 31 December AD 192. Unfortunately, the strict measures Pertinax instituted to reform the government and military antagonized important factions, and the emperor was assassinated by disgruntled Praetorians on 28 March AD 193, after a reign of only 87 days.

After the death of Pertinax, it was clear that there was no clear successor to the throne. Two prominent Romans, the aforementioned Flavius Sulpicianus, and Didius Julianus, a senator and perhaps the wealthiest man in Rome, approached the Praetorians and made a bid for their support as the new emperor. Legend has it that the Praetorians compelled the two men to make competing bids in an auction-for-empire. While it was conventional for new emperors to distribute a sum of cash to the Praetorians upon their accession to the throne, such bidding for power was an affront to conservative Romans. Didius Julianus made the higher offer, and was given the support of the Praetorians, who presented him to a Senate that was obliged to confirm their choice. At the same time, the new emperor’s wife, Manlia Scantilla, and daughter, Didia Clara, were given the rank of Augusta. Clara was then given in marriage to Cornelius Repentinus, who was presumably Julianus’ candidate for successor.

The reaction to the situation in Rome precipitated the acclamation of three provincial governors by their troops, each to the throne: Clodius Albinus, governor of Britain; Septimius Severus, governor of Upper Pannonia; and Pescennius Niger, governor of Syria. Severus was the closest of all three, and a little more than two months after Julianus’ elevation, marched on Rome at the head of his legions. In light of Severus’ imminent arrival, on 1 June AD 193, the Praetorians quickly shifted their allegiance and murdered Julianus. When the new emperor took possession of the capital he granted an interview to Scantilla and Clara, and agreed to their request that the remains of the late emperor should be deposited in his family tomb. Both were stripped of their imperial rank and Clara lost her inheritance. They retired into private life and nothing further is known of them.

Before his arrival in Rome, Severus had already begun preparing to deal with Albinus and Niger. He offered Albinus the rank of Caesar and heir to the throne should Albinus join him. Sensing his own tenuous position, Albinus prudently threw his support behind the much-stronger Severus by accepting the latter’s offer, and the two shared the consulship in AD 194. Once Severus secured his position in Rome, he deployed an army east to deal with Niger. A series of battles ensued between the two, with each one slowly eroding Niger’s legions and support. Eventually, faced with certain defeat, Niger attempted to flee to Parthia, but his plan failed, and he was captured and executed along with his entire family.

The alliance between Severus and Albinus was short-lived. In AD 196, while Severus was away in the east fighting Pescennius Niger, he learned of Albinus’ proclamation of himself as emperor. Severus responded by declaring Albinus a public enemy, and, in turn, appointed his eight-year-old son, Caracalla, to the rank of Caesar. Rallying his troops in Britain to begin a march on Rome, Albinus and his army were stalled in Gaul. A battle between Albinus and Severus occurred near Lugdunum (Lyon) on 19 February AD 197. After making initial gains, Albinus’s army was routed, and he committed suicide when he became trapped in a house near the Rhône. Now, Septimius Severus became sole emperor of Rome.

The final winners of all CNG Feature Auction 118 lots will be determined at the live public sale that will be held on 13-14 September 2021. CNG Feature Auction 118 – Session Three – Roman Provincial Coinage Part 2 through Roman Imperial Coinage Part 1 will be held Tuesday morning, 14 September 2021 beginning at 9:00 AM ET.

Winning bids are subject to a 20% buyer's fee for bids placed on this website and 22.50% for all others.

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