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Research Coins: Electronic Auction

 
4510388

LEG I ITAL

451, Lot: 388. Estimate $100.
Sold for $240. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Gallienus. AD 253-268. Antoninianus (22.5mm, 4.23 g, 12h). “Legionary series” issue. Mediolanum (Milan) mint. 2nd emission, AD 261. GALLIENVS AVG, radiate head left / LEG I ITAL VII P VII F, taurocamp to right. RIC V 321; MIR 36, 987c; Toffanin 79/1; RSC 458a; Cunetio –. Lightly toned. VF. Excellent silver quality.


Legio I Italica was first recruited by Nero in AD 66, with the intention of sending it east to bolster the frontier with Parthia. All of its men were supposed to be at least six (Roman) feet tall, and Nero reportedly called it “the Phalanx of Alexander the Great.” Sent into Gaul to in AD 68 suppress the rebellion of Vindex, it arrived too late for battle, but ended up declaring its support for Vitellius, governor of Germany, the following year. I Italica helped Vitellius win the First Battle of Bedriacum in the Spring of AD 69, but lost the Second battle to the forces of Vespasian in the fall of that year. After this it was stationed at Novae in Moesia, near modern Svistov, Bulgaria, where it was fully engaged in the frontier wars of the next two centuries, earning the additional epithets Felix Victrix Pia Semper Ubique (”Fortunate, Victorious, and Dutiful Always, Everywhere”). The Notitia Dignitatum still records its presence at Novae early in the fifth century AD.

The taurocamp is an interesting mythological animal with the body of a fish and the head and front legs of a bull. It and the boar were the two official military insignias of this legion.