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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: A Very Rare and Exquisite Denarius of Antonia, Mother of Claudius 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: A Very Rare and Exquisite Denarius of Antonia, Mother of Claudius  (Read 171 times)
spqrclaudius
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« on: May 21, 2020, 09:40:45 am »

I'm excited to share this new acquisition: a very rare denarius from the time of the emperor Claudius portraying his deceased mother, Antonia Minor. This represents the second time in Roman history that a woman was portrayed on a denarius and identified by name in the attendant legend (the first was Agrippina Senior under Caligula). For those who don't know their Julio-Claudian politics, Antonia is one of the most fascinating figures in all of Roman history.

Antonia was the youngest daughter of Mark Anthony and Octavia and grew up in the imperial household amidst almost half a dozen siblings and half-siblings, evidence of dynastic alliances made and unmade by connivance, divorce, and death. Famous for her dignity and beauty (she was the inspiration for the famous Clytie bust, one of the crown jewels in the British Museum's collection), Antonia was married to Livia's son Drusus and gave him three children: Livilla, Germanicus, and Claudius. After her husband's untimely death from a riding accident, Antonia refused to remarry, remaining a "univira," a one-man-woman. Instead, she focused on helping to raise her grandchildren and the princes and sundry royal hostages from around the empire who were being brought up with the imperial family, including future king Herod Agrippa. She was proud of her son Germanicus for his military victories, but disappointed in Claudius for his physical infirmities, calling him a monster of a man only half begun by Mother Nature. According to Suetonius, Augustus so trusted her judgment that he wrote to his wife Livia that she was free to share his letter with Antonia inquiring what was to be done with the drooling, stuttering, and limping Claudius at public events.  

In the reign of Tiberius, Antonia was horrified to see her daughter-in-law Agrippina exiled and her grandchildren Nero and Drusus murdered. She blamed these events on the influence of Tiberius' praetorian prefect Sejanus (played memorably by Patrick Stewart in I, Claudius). With the emperor out of the loop in Capri, Antonia took it  on herself to expose Sejanus' treachery in a letter to Tiberius. She implicated her own daughter Livilla in Sejanus' schemes when evidence emerged that Livilla had poisoned her husband, Tiberius' son, to clear the way for Sejanus to take the throne. The tragic Livilla was evidently handed over to her mother for punishment, and she was subsequently locked in a room and starved to death by Antonia. Broken, Antonia lived to see Caligula become emperor. But when Caligula killed her grandson, Livilla's son Gemellus, Antonia committed suicide in protest. She had previously been honored as high priestess of Augustus by Caligula, but they did not get along; she had discovered him in incest with his sister when he was young, and he even dared to tell his grandmother "remember, I can do whatever I want!" when he became emperor. Sadly, Antonia thus did not live to see her son Claudius become emperor, who honored Mark Anthony's daughter with this coin.

According to RIC, this coin has a rarity of R-2. It shows Antonia wearing a crown made of ears of corn, associating her with Ceres, and a hairstyle modeled on that of Livia, linking her to the first Augusta, her mother-in-law. I love the delicacy and pride in this portrait, which can be compared to the physiognomy of the famous Clytie. The reverse shows two torches linked with a fillet, linked to the worship of the divine Augustus. Margaret Tyzack's performance as Antonia in I, Claudius is one of the highlights of the series for me, capturing all the intensity and tragic dignity of the Julio-Claudian princess.
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Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2020, 02:02:31 pm »

Beautiful coin.
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Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2020, 03:20:44 pm »

I agree.  Gorgeous coin
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« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2020, 02:59:32 pm »

Great coin and details... Thumbs Up

Congratulation

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Qui risus classe devicta multas ipsi lacrimas...


« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2020, 09:13:53 pm »

The portrait is particularly nice.
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SRukke
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« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2020, 01:19:17 am »

An extremely nice and regal portrait of a rare coin.
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« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2020, 01:30:28 am »

Hi spqr,

Nice coin! Smiley

Meepzorp
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Roman Coins (Moderator: Severus_Alexander)  |  Topic: A Very Rare and Exquisite Denarius of Antonia, Mother of Claudius « previous next »
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