Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXVAuction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 797

Price realized: 75,000 GBP   (Approx. 84,488 USD / 86,068 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:

Quintus Labienus AR Denarius. Uncertain mint in Syria or south-eastern Asia Minor, early 40 BC. Q•LABIENVS•PARTHICVS•IMP, bare head to right / Horse standing to right on ground line, wearing saddle with quiver attached and bridle. Crawford 524/2; CRI 341; Hersh Labienus 11a (E/10, this coin); BMCRR East 132; Sydenham 1357; RBW 1809; S. Bourgey and G. Depeyrot. La République romaine: fonds Bourgey, p. 199, 527 (this coin); CNR 4 (this coin); RSC 2. 3.78g, 18mm, 5h.

Extremely Fine; an exquisite specimen, exhibiting a wonderful old cabinet tone and a striking portrait of Labienus. Very Rare in this condition; certainly among the finer specimens to come to auction in the past decade.

This coin published in S. Bourgey and G. Depeyrot. La République romaine: fonds Bourgey (Paris, 1988);
This coin published in A. Banti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum, Monetazione Repubblicana (Firenze, 1980-1982);
This coin cited in C. Hersh. "The Coinage of Quintus Labienus Parthicus" in SNR 59 (1980);
From the Vogelberg Collection (Switzerland), formed c. 1960-1985;
Ex Manuel Vidal Quadras y Ramón Collection (1818-1894), Bourgey, 4 November 1913, lot 707.

It should perhaps not come as a surprise that Quintus Labienus, the son of Titus Labienus who was an important general to Caesar during the Gaul Campaign and then broke ties with him to form an alliance with Pompey, also became a traitor during his lifetime. After the assassination of Caesar, the younger Labienus joined Cassius and Brutus who sent him as an ambassador to Parthia to request support from King Orodes II. This mission proved to be unsuccessful and thus contributed to Cassius and Brutus being defeated in the battle of Philippi by Octavian and Antony in 42 BC.

It is at this point that some may call Labienus a coward, and some an opportunist. He knew if he returned home he would face punishment, and the chances of advancement for himself would all but disappear. However, if he stayed with the Parthians he could perhaps have the opportunity to fulfil his military ambitions. Labienus therefore decided to stay and convince Orodes to invade Syria on the pretence that several areas under Antony and Octavian were not well protected. In 40 BC he jointly commanded forces with Orodes' son Pacorus II that invaded areas of Syria and Asia Minor. Labienus and Pacorus were able to achieve much success and overtook Apameia, Antioch, and Cilicia. His success was short lived though, as in 39 BC he was defeated, captured and executed in an attack orchestrated by Antony and Octavian and carried out by Publius Ventidius.

It is around the time of his military victories that he began striking coinage to pay the many soldiers he was acquiring through his conquests. This coin in particular strikes a balance between Roman and Parthian characteristics. The obverse depicts a very serious, yet commanding portrait in Roman style, but with a legend naming him PARTHICVS. The reverse depicts a horse with a bridled saddle and quiver, making reference to the infamous Parthian soldiers who were known for their accuracy and efficiency as horse archers.

Estimate: 40000 GBP