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Rare Jovian Solidus of Sirmium

CNG 111, Lot: 815. Estimate $7500.
Sold for $9500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Jovian. AD 363-364. AV Solidus (30mm, 4.46 g, 6h). Sirmium mint. D N IOVIA NVS P F AVG, pearl-diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust right / SECVRITAS REIPVBLICE, Jovian standing left, in military attire, holding globe in left hand and vexillum with chi-rho banner in right; Persian captive seated on ground to left, looking right; *SIRM•. RIC VIII 110; Depeyrot 23/1; Biaggi 2228; Hunterian –; Jameson –; Mazzini 16. Superb EF, lustrous, faint roughness on cheek, small edge scuff. Rare.

From the Brexit Collection. Ex Hess-Divo 333 (30 November 2017), lot 221; Numismatica Ars Classica 100 (26 May 2017), lot 682; Numismatica Genevensis SA 6 (3 November 2010), lot 205 (hammer CHF 20,000).

Flavius Jovianus commanded Julian II’s household guard (Comes Domesticorum) and accompanied the emperor on his ill-fated invasion of Persia in AD 363. The Roman force was soon trapped without supplies deep in Persian territory, and on June 26 Julian died in battle. The following day, the deeply split leadership of the Roman army met to select a new emperor, settling on Jovian as a compromise choice. He wasted little time in signing a humiliating peace treaty with the Persians, handing over to them most of Roman Mesopotamia, even though the Romans had won every major engagement in the war. Returning to Antioch, Jovian tried to paint the debacle as a Roman victory, but few were fooled. His coins clearly indicate Christianity’s return to official favor. After a brief stay in Antioch, Jovian set out for Constantinople early in AD 364, stopping at Dadastana in Bithynia for a banquet. The following morning, February 17, he was found dead in his bedroom, apparently the victim of poisonous fumes from a smoking brazier.

This attractive gold solidus was struck at the Balkan mint of Sirmium, not far from Jovian’s birthplace. The reverse, stressing the “Security of the Republic,” mendaciously depicts a Persian captive bound at the emperor’s feet.