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Research Coins: Electronic Auction


Varus - General at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

206, Lot: 369. Estimate $100.
Sold for $1900. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

PHOENICIA, Berytus. Augustus. 27 BC-AD 14. Æ 22mm (6.87 g, 12h). P. Quinctilius Varus, legate. Struck 6-4 BC. Bare head right / Two aquilae. RPC I 4535.19 (this coin); AUB 35-6; Rouvier 493. Good VF, dark green patina, light earthen deposits.

From the J.S. Wagner Collection.

The general and politician P. Quinctilius Varus had a successful career under Augustus up until AD 9. He had been consul in 13 BC along with the future emperor Tiberius and served as governor of Africa, Syria (where he had sent two legions into Judaea to quell local unrest after the territory was made a Roman province) and Germania. It was in Germania that Varus suffered the defeat he is best remembered for. The Cherusci, under their chieftain Arminius, along with other allies, ambushed Varus in the Teutoburg Forest of northwest Germany, and annihilated the XVII, XVIII, and XIX Roman legions in a battle that lasted for three days. Varus, sensing doom, committed suicide, and when Augustus heard of the disaster, it is recorded that he tore his clothes and exclaimed, “Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!” No further attempts were made to subdue the Germans beyond the Rhine until the reign of Domitian.