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Unsavory Victory

Triton XXII, Lot: 1046. Estimate $1000.
Sold for $950. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Vitellius. AD 69. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.04 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck circa late April–20 December AD 69. [A] VITELLIVS GERMAN IMP TR P, laureate head right / Victory seated left on stool, holding patera in her extended right hand, cradling palm frond with her left arm. RIC I 88; BMCRE 19; BN 49; RSC 119. EF, toned with underlying luster, struck slightly off center, flan a bit irregular.

From the Viggo Collection. Ex W. B. and R. E. Montgomery Collection (Heritage 3012, 2 January 2011), lot 24662; Rauch 64 (9 December 1999), lot 147.

The Victory celebrated on the reverse of this type can only be the critical Civil War battle of Cremona (or Bedriacum) over the rival pretender Otho. Suetonius notes with distaste the unsavory delight Vitellius took in the slaughter of his countrymen: “When he reached the plains on which the battles were fought, some of those around him being offended at the smell of the carcasses which lay rotting upon the ground, he had the audacity to encourage them by a most detestable remark, "That a dead enemy smelt not amiss, especially if he were a fellow citizen."”