Roman Empire, Commodus - Victory over the Sarmatians

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That this was the best example which could be found by either Biaggi for his superlative collection or by Calicó for his comprehensive illustrative work on the Roman aurei is an indicator of how rare this coin actually is. It is furthermore the only example present on CoinArchives, being the only specimen of its type to have been offered to the market since electronic records began.

The victory to which the reverse of this coin refers is that achieved by Marcus Aurelius over the Sarmatian Iazyges in AD 175, in the closing phase of the First Marcomannic War. After several military successes, Aurelius ended hostilities by signing a treaty with the Iazyges which secured the release of over 100,000 Roman captives, and which additionally required that 6,000 Sarmatian auxiliary cavalrymen be provided to the Roman army. Most of these (approximately 5,500) were immediately dispatched to Britain, a deployment which has been theorised by Susan V. Tomory (A New View of the Arthurian Legends, Institute of Hungarian studies) to have played a part in the development of the Arthurian legend.

This was a decisive victory for Aurelius, and indeed the Iazyges never again represented a threat to the empire. Assuming the title Sarmaticus, Aurelius and Commodus celebrated a joint triumph on 23 December 176, in commemoration of which the Aurelian column was erected to mirror the achievements of his predecessor Trajan. Four days later Commodus was granted the title of Imperator, and in the middle of the following year he was proclaimed Augustus to formally share power alongside his father.

Commodus AV Aureus. Rome, AD 177. IMP L AVREL COMMODVS AVG GERM SARM, laureate and draped bust right / TR P II COS P P, two captives seated at foot on trophy of arms, one with hands bound, the other in attitude of mourning; DE SARM in exergue. RIC 634 (Aurelius); Calicó 2239 (this coin); Mazzini 98 (this coin); Biaggi 985 (this coin). 7.20g, 19mm, 5h.

Near Extremely Fine. Extremely Rare.

Ex Numismatica Ars Classica 49, 21 October 2008, lot 291;
Ex Biaggi Collection, privately purchased in 1958.