(77) Nero - AE sestertius, A.D. 64-66, 27.04 g. (inv. 91.140).
Obverse: Laureate bust of Nero r.; NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG(VSTVS) GER(MANICVS) P(ONTIFEX) M(AXIMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) P(OTESTATE) IMP(ERATOR) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, with tribunician power, imperator, father of the country.
Reverse: Triumphal arch with garland across arch; above, emperor in facing quadriga led on l. by Victoria holding wreath and palm, on r. by Pax holding caduceus and cornucopia; below quadriga to l. and r. of attic, figures of soldiers; in niche on l. side of arch, figure of Mars standing r., holding spear in r. and shield in l.; reliefs on piers and bases of arch; S(ENATVS)-C(ONSVLTO): by decree of the Senate.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1959.
Bibliography: C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage I: from 31 BC to AD 69, rev. ed. (London 1984) 147; F. Kleiner, The Arch of Nero in Rome (Rome 1985).
Just prior to Nero's accession, the Parthians, people who had long threatened the eastern borders of the empire, captured Armenia. Nero appointed the distinguished general Domitius Corbulo to take charge of the Roman interests in the region, and his successful campaigns from A.D. 58 to 62, as much diplomatic as military, caused the Parthians to withdraw. The triumphal arch depicted on the reverse of this sestertius is thought to be the arch the Senate awarded Nero for the peace that resulted. It was located on the Capitoline Hill.
No traces of it remain; it was probably destroyed after Nero's death.
On top of the arch, Nero in his triumphal quadriga is escorted by Victoria and Pax, representing the peace achieved through the victory in Armenia. The statue of Mars in the niche should be understood as Mars Ultor, in whose temple were kept the Roman standards captured by the Parthians and recovered by Augustus (see nos. 63, 64), thus equating Nero's recent success with the Parthians with that famous achievement of Augustus.
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