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Research Coins: Printed Auction

 

Shielding Rome

Triton XXII, Lot: 806. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $1400. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Q. Thermus M.f. 103 BC. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.96 g, 8h). Rome mint. Head of Mars left, wearing helmet ornamented with plume and annulet / Two warriors fighting, each armed with sword in right hand and shield in left; the one on the left protects a fallen comrade; the other wears horned helmet; Q • (THE)RM (MF) in exergue. Crawford 319/1; Sydenham 592; Minucia 19; BMCRR Italy 653-6; RBW 1174. Superb EF, lightly toned. Exceptional strike.


From the Alan J. Harlan Collection. Ex Mayflower (Sukenik) Collection (Heritage 3019, 25 April 2012), lot 23257; Heritage ANA Early Spring Auction (28 February 1991), lot 1687.

This dramatic type was struck within fresh memory of the catastrophic Roman defeat at Arausio (Orange) in southern Gaul in 105 BC. Two Roman armies were wiped out trying to halt a mass migration of two Germanic tribes, the Cimbri and the Teutones. The disaster prompted the Roman populace to elect the experienced military man Gaius Marius as Consul for the second time. In a sharp break with tradition, they would re-elect him the next four years. The denarius of Q. Thermus, with a helmeted Mars replacing the usual head of Roma, reflects Roman society being put on war footing anticipating the German invasion. On the reverse, a Roman legionary, on the left, confronts a barbarian warrior wearing a horned helmet. Both adopt a fighting stance, shields to the fore, swords raised above their heads, points forward. The Roman protects a fallen comrade at his feet. Although the scene may depict a deed performed by the moneyer’s ancestor, it also could be viewed as showing Marius, in the aftermath of Arausio, shielding Rome from the German menace.