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What a great story


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What a great story, I didn't know this one!

'The history of this coin is the history of two Roman emperors, two Armenian kings and a Parthian royal couple, for in 20 BC, Augustus' stepson and future heir, Tiberius, led a military campaign to Armenia to replace the Armenian king, Artaxias, II with his brother, Tigranes III. The swift Roman reaction to an Armenian embassy expressing their discontent with Artaxias II impressed the Parthian king, Phraates IV (38-2 BC), so much that he accepted the Roman supremacy over the long-contested Kingdom of Armenia. The king also returned the legionary eagles captured from Crassus in the battle of Carrhae in 51 BC, in exchange for the return of one of his sons who had been held hostage in Rome. It was one of the major diplomatic victories of Augustus, who celebrated the success with a broad propagandistic campaign, which included this very rare coin emission depicting Armenia not as an ally, but as a captured and subjugated kingdom. Aside from concluding peace between the two superpowers of their time, the diplomatic embassies between Augustus and Phraates had a certainly unexpected consequence: in his son's entourage, there was a beautiful slave girl named Musa, whom Phraates would eventually marry and accept as his queen. To his fatal misfortune, Musa turned out to be a highly talented but ruthless power seeker, and in 2 BC, she poisoned her husband and replaced him with their mutual son, Phraatakes, whom she married as his mother-wife.'

Augustus, 27 BC-AD 14. Denarius (Silver, 19 mm, 3.41 g, 1 h), Pergamum, circa 19-18 BC. Bare head of Augustus to right. Rev. CAESAR - DIV F / ARMEN - CAPTA / IMP - VIII Armenian standing facing, wearing bashlyk and long garnments, holding spear in his right hand and bow set on ground in his left. BMC 678 and pl. 16, 19 = RIC 519 corr. (reverse legend) and pl. 9 (same dies). Cohen 59. Very rare. Minor deposits and with light scratches, otherwise, good fine.
(source: Leu Numismatik Lot 2077 | Web Auction: 25)


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An interesting story indeed, with a nice game-of-thrones-flavour to it...! 

Octavian/Augustus did his best to make sure the populace knew about his 'victory'. Various coins commemorate the return of the standards lost by Crassus and the 'victory' over the Parthens. Your example is quite explicit, but there's also this issue with a lovely arch depicted.

I have this issue, commemorating the same event. I really like this issue, its something different because it lacks a portrait. Maybe a throwback to republican times?


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There's quite a few varieties of Augustus' Signis Receptis coinage.  Clearly he wanted to make sure everybody knew what he had accomplished.  Here's a variety showing Mars carrying one of the recovered standards:


The reign of Phraatakes and Musa (2 BCE- 4 CE) was relatively short, as they were overthrown by the Parthian nobles.  Many Parthian kings had married their own sisters, but marrying your own mother was apparently just too far...



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Silver Coin (AR Denarius) minted at Lugdunum during the reign of AUGUSTUS in 18 B.C. Obv. S.P.Q.R.PAREN.CONS.SVO.: Triumphal emblems; legionary eagle, embroided toga draped over tunic decorated with palms, wreath. Rev. CAESAR.AVGVSTO.: Triumphal quadriga r., surmounted by miniature team of four horses. This coin refers to Augustus Triumph after recovering the lost (by Crassus) legionary standards from the Parthians. As a great honor, since Augustus refused a full triumph, his Triumphal emblems were carried in the tensa of Mars Ultor and then displayed in that god‘s temple. RCS #482. RSCI #78. RIC #99 pg.48. DVM #55 pg.67. RHC #52.  

AAB-313 OBV.jpg

AAB-313 REV.jpg

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