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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Practical Affairs of Waging War

CNG 106, Lot: 771. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $13000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Marcus Aurelius. AD 161-180. AV Aureus (20mm, 7.62 g, 12h). Rome mint. Struck AD 176-177. M ANTONINVS AVG GERM SARM, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / TR P XXXI IMP VIII COS III P P, DE GERM in exergue, pile of arms and armor. RIC III 362; MIR 18, 368-15/37; Calicó 1845 (this coin illustrated); BMCRE 737; Biaggi –. Good VF.

Ex Continental Collection; Numismatic Fine Arts XXIX (13 August 1992), lot 379; Numismatic Fine Arts XXVII (5 December 1991), lot 134; Numismatic Fine Arts FPL 35 (Summer 1988), no 130.

It was a great misfortune that Rome’s most philosophically-minded emperor spent much of his reign preoccupied with the practical affairs of waging war. The Parthian War (AD 161-166) demanded that many troops stationed in the northern provinces be moved east. The Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatiae all quickly capitalized on the decreased military presence and swarmed southward, even posing a threat to Italy. Marcus took personal command in AD 167 and managed to establish peace through a series of hard-fought victories, which this scarce issue commemorates. It was during these campaigns that Marcus began writing his famous philosophical work, Meditations.