Sale: 318  Lot: 245

Augustus. 27 B.C.-A.D. 14 Æ as. Lugdunum, ca. 10-7 B.C. Ex Mabbott Collection Varus Countermark.


Augustus. 27 B.C.-A.D. 14 Æ as (23 mm, 10.32 g, 10 h). Lugdunum, ca. 10-7 B.C. CAESAR PO[NT] M[AX], laureate head of Augustus right; c/m: monogram of Varus within square incuse / [ROM E]T AVG, front elevation of the Altar of Lugdunum, decorated with the corona civica between laurels, flanked by stylized male figures; to left and right, Victories on columns, presenting wreaths. RIC 230; Lyon 73; BMC 550; c/m: BN 1623; Grünwald 69, pl. IV, 13. Brown patina and light porosity. Nice clear monogram of Varus. Coin fine, countermark very fine.

Ex J. Hoare, Ontario 54 (24 October 1996), 67; Thomas Ollive Mabbott Collection, pt. II (H. Schulman, 27 October 1969), 4007.

In September A.D. 9, the Roman governor of Germania, Publius Quinctilius Varus, was preparing to lead his troops from their summer quarters at Vetera to Moguntiacum when news reached him via the Cheruscian prince, Arminius, that revolt was spreading in areas to his west. Despite warnings not to trust Arminius, Varus led the XVI, XVIII and XIX legions into the forests of northwestern Germany, never to return. The disaster of the Teutoburg Forest that befell the Roman legions that day was a pivotal event in early Imperial history, as it halted the Rome''s expansionist foreign policy for nearly a century. According to Seutonius, when news of the disaster reached the elderly emperor, Augustus tore his clothes and went unshaven for months afterward. Upon occasion he was heard muttering "Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!"

Varus had earlier countermarked coins in Syria while he was governor there, but those countermarks are totally different from that on the coin here. Here the countermark is Varus'' own monogram, and with but a single exception all known examples are found only on Altar of Lugdunum reverses of Augustus.

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