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Classical Numismatic Group > Auction 94Auction date: 18 September 2013
Lot number: 889

Lot description:

LESBOS, Mytilene. Julia Livilla. AD 18-41/2. Æ (20mm, 6.81 g, 12h). Struck under Caligula. Draped bust left / Caligula standing left, with toga drawn up over head (capite velato), holding patera. RPC 2348; SNG Fitzwilliam 4387; Trillmich pl. 14, 1; Vagi 576. VF, earthen green patina. Very rare issue in the name of Livilla, and the only type where her portrait appears alone. Perhaps the 11th known, with the majority in museum collections.

The youngest child of Germanicus and Agrippina Senior, Julia Livilla was born on the island of Lesbos during her parents' tour of the eastern provinces. She is best known, like her sisters Agrippina Junior and Drusilla, for the alleged incestuous relationship she had with her brother, Caligula. Suetonius, the earliest historian to make this scandalous accusation, claims that the incest even took place during banquets (Gai xxiv), "when much company was present", and that the emperor "placed each of them [his sisters] in turns below him, while his wife reclined above him." It is telling that the tales of incest go unmentioned by historians such as Seneca and Philo, who actually lived during the reign of Caligula, and there is serious scholarly doubt if there is any truth to these claims. Nonetheless, the tales were often repeated by later chroniclers, and the incestuous relationship between Caligula and his sisters is fixed in popular imagination as one of great scandals of the Roman emperors.

Estimate: 1000 USD