Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXVAuction date: 22 September 2022
Lot number: 950

Price realized: Unsold
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Lot description:


Nero Claudius Drusus (father of Claudius) AR Denarius. Rome, circa AD 41-45. NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERMANICVS IMP, laureate head to left / DE GERMANIS, two oblong shields crossed, over vexillum, four spears and two trumpets. RIC I 74 (Claudius); BMCRE 107; RSC 6; BN 109-10 (Claudius). 3.79g, 19mm, 1h.

Good Extremely Fine. Very Rare.

From the Shackleford Collection.

Roman history, like that of any enduring Empire, allows for speculation about how the course of events might have changed had certain people died, or in this case, not died. A perfect study in this is Nero Claudius Drusus, the younger brother of the future Emperor Tiberius. Unlike Tiberius, whom Augustus had always disliked, Drusus was much beloved by Rome's first Emperor. When Augustus wrested Livia from her first husband, she was already pregnant with Drusus and gave birth to him months after her marriage to Augustus. It is commonly understood that Livia's first husband had sired Nero Claudius Drusus, and had been legally declared the father before the couple divorced - but it is not impossible that Augustus was the father. Speculation aside, Augustus took instantly to the newborn Drusus and treated him as if he was a son of his own blood. The same cannot be said for Drusus' brother Tiberius, who was already four years old when he came to live in Augustus' household. Augustus saw personally to Drusus' education and arranged his marriage to his noble and wealthy niece Antonia. Drusus' career advanced quickly, having in 19 BC been granted the ability to hold all public offices five years before the minimum age requirement, and after a spell commanding alongside his brother he spent three years leading a campaign in Germania.

In his lifetime Nero Claudius Drusus was one of the most celebrated military commanders of the age, leading the first Roman legions across the Rhine and rapidly accruing a string of victories and conquests in Germania; in the course of his Germanic campaigns Drusus sought out multiple (at least three) Germanic chieftains, challenging and beating them in single combat. The sources are ambiguous, but imply that at some point he claimed the spolia opima (the arms and armour taken by a a Roman general from the body of an opposing commander slain in single combat) from a Germanic king, thus becoming the fourth and final Roman to gain this honour, the most prestigious any Roman general could aspire to.

Drusus dedicated the great Altar of Lugdunum to Augustus on August 1, 10 BC, the very day that his youngest son, Claudius (who struck this denarius in posthumous remembrance 50 years after his death) was born. But Drusus' great possibilities ended tragically in 9 BC when he died of injuries he received falling off a horse at age 29. This reverse type celebrates his German campaign - for which his eldest son, Germanicus, was renamed.

Estimate: 7500 GBP