Roman Imperators, Marc Antony and Lucius Antony - The Perusine War

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Following the victory at Philippi over the Liberators Brutus and Cassius, Antony assumed direct control of the East. Ruling from Ephesus as a king in all but name, he consolidated Rome’s hegemony in the East, receiving envoys from Rome’s client kingdoms and intervening in their dynastic affairs, extracting enormous financial ‘gifts’ from them in the process. Meanwhle Octavian had returned to the West, tasked with the difficult and unpopular job of assigning land grants to the demobilised legionaries. Since there was insufficient state-controlled land to fulfil the alotments to the veterans, Octavian was faced with the difficult choice of alienating the citizen-body by confiscating private land, or alienating many Roman soldiers who might back a military rebellion against the Triumvirate’s rule. Octavian chose the former; as many as eighteen Roman towns through Italy were affected by the confiscations, with entire populations driven out.

Exploiting the hostile sentiments of the Senate over the issue of the land grants, Antony’s wife Fulvia schemed with Antony’s younger brother Lucius, who was consul that year. Together they encouraged the Senate to oppose Octavian’s land policies; Fulvia it seems hoped to delay the land settlements until Antony returned to Rome, so that he could share credit and the gratitude of the soldiers. The conflict between Octavian and Fulvia caused great political and social unrest throughout Italy. Tensions escalated into open war when Octavian divorced Clodia Pulchra, Fulvia’s daughter from her first husband.

Together Fulvia and Lucius raised an army to oppose Octavian militarily. They raised eight legions and held Rome for a brief time before being forced to retreat to Perugia. Lucius had expected that his brother’s legions in Gaul would come to their aid, but Antony, facing the grave political embarrassment caused by Fulvia’s actions, gave no instructions to his legions. Octavian laid siege to the city, eventually causing it to surrender out of starvation. While Octavian pardoned Lucius for his role in the war and even granted him the governorship of Spain, Fulvia was exiled along with her children to Sicyon in Greece.

Struck in early 41 BC prior to Lucius and Fulvia taking up arms against Octavian, this extremely rare aureus type, which was accompanied by a significant issue of denarii, is evidence of Antony’s pride at his younger brother’s assumption of the consulship.

Marc Antony and Lucius Antony AV Aureus. M. Cocceius Nerva, proquaestor pro praetore. Mint moving with M. Antony in the East, 41 BC. M·ANT·IMP·AVG VIR·R·P C·M·NERVA PRO Q·P, bare head of Marc Antony / L·ANTONIVS COS, bare head of Lucius Antony to right. Bahrfeldt 80 var. (III VIR); Sydenham 1184 var. (same); C 2 var. (same); Sear Imperators 245a; Calicó 111; Crawford 517/4b. 8.13g, 22mm, 12h.

Extremely Fine. An extremely rare variant (only 6 specimens known) of an already extremely rare type; in exceptional condition for the issue, and certainly finer than the example of NAC 250, 18 November 2013, lot 250 (CHF 350,000).