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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Twelve Caesars ▸ VitelliusView Options:  |  |  | 

Vitellius, 2 January - 20 December 69 A.D.

Aulus Vitellius was declared emperor by his troops in 69 A.D. After defeating the forces of Otho, he took control of Rome but then spent more time at the banquet table then in governance. General Vespasian was then declared emperor in Alexandria, and the legions stationed along the Danube frontier marched against Vitellius. His forces were defeated, the emperor slain and his body dragged through the streets of Rome and dumped in the Tiber.


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Libertas (Latin for Liberty) was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty. The pileus liberatis was a soft felt cap worn by liberated slaves of Troy and Asia Minor. In late Republican Rome, the pileus was symbolically given to slaves upon manumission, granting them not only their personal liberty, but also freedom as citizens with the right to vote (if male). Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Brutus and his co-conspirators used the pileus to signify the end of Caesar's dictatorship and a return to a Republican system of government. The pileus was adopted as a popular symbol of freedom during the French Revolution and was also depicted on some early U.S. coins.
RS85542. Silver denarius, RIC I 105 (R), RSC II 47, BMCRE I 31, BnF III 67, Hunter I 11, SRCV I 2197 var. (obv. leg), F, rose toning, marks and scratches, tight flan, weight 2.716 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Jul - 20 Dec 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVG TR P, laureate head right; reverse LIBERTAS RESTITVTA (liberty restored), Libertas standing facing, head right, pileus in extended right, long rod vertical in left; from the Lucas Harsh collection, ex CNG e-auction 266 (19 Oct 2011), lot 353; ex Deyo Collection; rare; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Vitellius, 2 January - 20 December 69 A.D.

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Vitellius' children, portrayed on this denarius, thought to have been named Vitellius Germanicus and Vitellia, were born to his second wife, Galeria Fundana. When Vitellius was made emperor by the senate, his son, who was about six years old, was sent to Lugdunum to meet him upon his arrival from Germany. The boy may have perished with his father, others say he was executed in 70, on orders of the praetorian prefect Licinius Mucianus. Vespasian arranged an excellent marriage for Vitellius' daughter and provided her with a wedding gown and dowry. Vitellius had another son, Petronianus, by his first wife. He died long before Vitellius became emperor. It was widely believed that Vitellius had poisoned him.
SH77008. Silver denarius, RIC I 103, RSC II 2, BMCRE I 29, BnF III 62, Hunter I -, SRCV I -, attractive gVF, fine style portraits, old cabinet toning, tight flan as usual for the type, light marks and scratches, closed flan crack, weight 3.208 g, maximum diameter 19.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, late Apr - 20 Dec 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVGVST TR P, laureate head right; reverse LIBERI IMP GERMAN, confronted draped busts of Vitellius' son (on left) and daughter (thought to have been named Vitellius Germanicus and Vitellia); from the Jyrki Muona Collection; very rare; SOLD


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Lucius Vitellius, depicted on the reverse of this coin, was father of the emperor Vitellius, a Roman senator, three times consul, and governor of Syria from 35 to 39 A.D. In 36 A.D. Lucius Vitellius fired Pontius Pilate, the infamous prefect of Judaea. A Samaritan, claiming to be Moses reincarnate, gathered an armed following. Pilate dispersed the crowd by killing some and taking many prisoners. After he executed the ringleaders, the Samaritans appealed to Vitellius, complaining that Pilate's response was excessive. Vitellius, agreed, sent Pilate back to Italy and appointed Marcellus. In support of Claudius and Agrippina, Vitellius invented arguments why the old rule that an uncle and his niece should not marry did not apply to the emperor. The new empress returned the favor. When Vitellius was accused of high treason by the senator Junius Lupus, she made sure that Claudius exiled the accuser. Vitellius died unexpectedly from a paralytic stroke and received a statue on the speaker's platform on the Roman Forum, with the inscription "Of unwavering loyalty to the emperor." His unwavering loyalty was later criticized by Tacitus:

"The man, I am aware, had a bad name at Rome, and many a foul story was told of him. But in the government of provinces he acted with the virtue of ancient times. He returned and then, through fear of Caligula and intimacy with Claudius, degenerated into a servility so base that he is regarded by an after-generation as the type of the most degrading adulation. The beginning of his career was forgotten in its end, and an old age of infamy effaced the virtues of youth." [Tacitus, Annals, 6.32; tr. A.J. Church and W.J. Brodribb]
SH65988. Gold aureus, RIC I 94, BMCRE I 23, BnF III 54, Calicó 565, Cohen I 54 var. (branch in right hand), F, weight 7.029 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Apr - 20 Dec 69 A.D.; obverse A VITELLIVS GERM IMP AVG TR P, laureate head right; reverse L VITELLIVS COS III CENSOR, Lucius Vitellius (emperor's father) togate, seated left on curule chair, extending right, in left eagle-tipped scepter, feet on stool; very rare (RIC R2); SOLD







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

AVITELLIVSGERMAIMPAVGPMTRP
AVITELLIVSGERMANICVSIMP
AVITELLIVSGERMANIMPAVGPMTRP
AVITELLIVSGERMANIMPTRP
AVITELLIVSGERMIMPAVGTRP
AVITELLIVSGERIMPAVGPMAXTRP
AVITELLIVSIMPGERMAN
AVITELLIVSIMPGERMANICVS


REFERENCES

American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online - http://numismatics.org/search/search
Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Burnett, A., M. Amandry & P.P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992 and supplement).
Calicó, X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. One: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Calicó, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayón, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. I: De Pompeyo Magno a Matidia (Del 81 a.C. al 117 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Monnaies de l'Empire romain, III Du soulèvement de 68 après J.-C. a Nerva. Catalogue Bibliothèque nationale de France. (Paris, 1998).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol 1: Augustus to Vitellius. (London, 1923).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H.A. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sutherland, C.H.V. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. I, From 39 BC to AD 69. (London, 1984).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Saturday, November 18, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Vitellius