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XXI

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Otho, 15 January 69 - 17 April 69 A.D.

Otho came to power after the murder of Galba in the Year of Four Emperors, 68-9 A.D. Otho supported Galba's revolt against Nero, in the expectation he would be named heir, but the old soldier instead named Calpurnius Piso. Otho, angered by this, conspired against them and put them both to death after being declared emperor. After a minor defeat by the forces of Vitellius, Otho committed suicide. This was perhaps the only noble act of his life - he preferred to die rather than see more blood shed in civil war.

COINS OF OTHO FOR SALE IN THE FORUM ANCIENT COINS CONSIGNMENT SHOP

Also see:
Muona Otho
Denarii of Otho
ERIC - OTHO


Otho (Marcus Salvius), born AD 32, was son of Lucius Salvius Otho, a man of consular rank, and of an illustrious Etrurian family.  His mother's name was Albia Terentia, also of an illustrious house.- Handsome, brave and possessed of talents, his youth gave promise of high distinction.  As one of the favorites of Nero, he soon, however, became voluptuous and prodigal, abandoning himself, like his infamous master to the most shameful excesses of debauchery.  He had scarcely served the Praetorship when that tyrant libertine, wishing to possess himself of Poppaea, his wife, sent him in the year 58 as Governor of Lusitania.  After ten years absence from Rome, he took part in the revolt which led to Nero's death.  He was at first faithful to Galba; but in 69, displeased and disappointed at Piso's adoption, Otho basely instigated the Praetorian soldiers to assassinate his veteran Emperor; an by their audacious aid, succeeded in mounting the throne.  But his reign was short.  Having to contest the crown with his competitor Vitellius, whom he three times defeated, Otho was vanquished in his turn at the battle of Bedriacum and rather than be the occasion of further bloodshed in civil war, he preferred making the sacrifice of his life, and with a firmness wholly unexpected from so effeminately luxurious a character, deliberately slew himself with his own hand.  He died on the 16th of April 69 AD, in the 37th year of his age, having reigned only ninety-five days.


Obverse legends:

IMPMOTHOCAESARAVGTRP
IMPOTHOCAESARAVGTRP


Dates


Rarity of Denominations, Average Weights of Well Preserved Coins, Mints, and Other Information

Average well preserved denarius weight for the non-PONT MAX reverse coins is 3.42 gr, for the PONT MAX reverse coins 3.32 grams.

Mints

Rome


Links

FORVM's Shop
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Aequitas.com

Jyrki Muona's Otho Gallery


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).
Butcher, K., M. Ponting & J. Muona. "The denarii of Otho: a stylistic and compositional study" in La Rivista Italiana di Numismatica 110 (2009), pp. 291 - 310.
Calicó, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
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).
Muona, J. "The Rome mint coins of Marcus Salvius Otho" in Tutkimusta ja keräilyä, Suomen numismaattinen yhdistys 1914 - 2014., pp. 16 - 27.
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).


Forgeries

In recent years there has been only one common Otho forgery, the Lipanoff RIC 16 Victory, which featured as genuine in ERIC 1 and pops up in all kinds of grades all the time in the net - even in catalogs of less experienced auctioneers.

Of the 15 different Rome mint Otho denarii, modern forgeries are known for several:

RIC 4, PAX, one Peter Rosa forgery.  The Fake Coin Reports possibly includes an example of this type, but it cannot be confirmed as the legend is missing. Also ancients.
RIC 8, SECVRITAS, many different forgeries. Also ancient counterfeits.
RIC 14, Victory, modern fakes exist but not common, very rare ancient counterfeits.
RIC 16, Victory, a very common Lipanoff forgery, rare otherwise, ancients counterfeits exist.
RIC 17, Victory, one modern type.

RIC 2, CERES AVG, -
RIC -, PAX, a few dies, but several specimens "Toronto"
RIC 10, SECVRITAS, many different forgeries. Also ancients.
RIC 6, PAX, Otho left, -
RIC 12, SECVRITAS, Otho left, -

RIC 19, Aeqvitas, several modern forgeries. Also ancients.
RIC 20, Ceres, several modern forgeries. Also ancients.
RIC 21, Jupiter, -
RIC 22, Otho on horseback, rare modern forgeries. Also ancients.
RIC 24, Vesta, Ancients exist.

The ancient ones are either fourrees or surface-enriched silver coins and usually they have incorrect obverse-reverse combinations.


DICTIONARY OF ROMAN COINS

OTHO







Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.


OTHO, surname of the Salvia family. M. SALVIVS OTHO III VIR A A A P P on a large brass struck by Salvius Otho, one of the moneyers of Augustus, and the maternal uncle of Emperor Otho.

See Salvia

Otho (Marcus Salvius), born AD 32, was son of Lucius Salvius Otho, a man of consular rank, and of an illustrious Etrurian family.  His mother's name was Albia Terentia, also of an illustrious house.- Handsome, brave and possessed of talents, his youth gave promise of high distinction.  As one of the favorites of Nero, he soon, however, became voluptuous and prodigal, abandoning himself, like his infamous master to the most shameful excesses of debauchery.  He had scarcely served the Praetorship when that tyrant libertine, wishing to possess himself of Poppaea, his wife, sent him in the year 58 as Governor of Lusitania.  After ten years absence from Rome, he took part in the revolt which led to Nero's death.  He was at first faithful to Galba; but in 69, displeased and disappointed at Piso's adoption, Otho basely instigated the Praetorian soldiers to assassinate his veteran Emperor; an by their audacious aid, succeeded in mounting the throne.  But his reign was short.  Having to contest the crown with his competitor Vitellius, whom he three times defeated, Otho was vanquished in his turn at the battle of Bedriacum and rather than be the occasion of further bloodshed in civil war, he preferred making the sacrifice of his life, and with a firmness wholly unexpected from so effeminately luxurious a character, deliberately slew himself with his own hand.  He died on the 16th of April 69 AD, in the 37th year of his age, having reigned only ninety-five days.

The inscriptions on the medals of this Prince style him- IMP. OTHO CAESAR AVG, or M. OTHO CAES AVGust IMP. P.P.- All Otho's medals of Roman die are in gold or in silver.  No Latin brass coin, properly so called is known or acknowledged as truly authentic.  The medallion which Otho is styled P.P. (Father of the country) is of brass, "but (says Mionnet) elle est suspecte. C'est une medaille de restitution."  All the brass medals of Otho were struck at Antioch, in Syria, or at Alexandria in Egypt.  His genuine gold and silver medals present nothing very remarkable, except that which bears the legend of VICTORIA OTHONIS.

It has been alleged, as a reason for the total absence of authentic coins of Otho in brass of Roman fabric, that the senate did not declare itself in that prince's favor, being desirous, before it recognized his Imperial title and caused brass money to be struck in his name, to see a termination put to the civil war which had arisen between his party and that of VitelliusStill (as Mr Akerman observes) it is singular that "no medal by order of the conscript fathers would appear to have been struck in honor of the new prince; for Tacitus informs us that, when Otho was elected, the senate assembled and voted him the title of Augustus and the Tribunicia Potestas.  Some antiquaries indulge the fond hope that, at some future time, a deposit of the Roman brass coins of the Emperor may be discovered."

M. Heunin, a scientific and highly intelligent numismatist of the present day, in his "Manuel," referring to those ancient writings and historical facts which support the opinion that the brass coinage alone was under the jurisdiction of the senate says "Gold and silver money of Otho is found in large quantities, but of this prince not a brass coin exists of Roman die.  If the senate had been invested with the right of striking money in all three metals, why should it have exercised that right with respect to the two precious metals, and not have done the same with the brass, since the latter was the most common money?  The division of the right of coinage between the Emperor and the senate explains this circumstance.  Otho caused money with his effigy to be struck in gold and in silver, therein exercising his privilege; and yet the senate did not order any brass money to be struck for that Emperor, although it had yielded to him, and he was master of Italy.  The reason of this is unknown.  It might be because he was the first Emperor proclaimed by the Praetorians, and as such not likely to conciliate the good will of the senators.  The short duration of his reign might also be alleged as a cause.  But these reasons are not entirely satisfactory.  There must have been for this conduct of the senate motives of which we are ignorant."

See on this subject Eckhel, Doctrina Num. Vet. Vol vi p 302 et seq.

Otho's coin of the Colony of Antioch-

The obverse of this middle brass coin bears on its obverse IMP M OTHO CAES AVG round the head of this Emperor.  The reverse exhibits simply S.C. in a crown of laurel.

This medal is described to be of coarser workmanship than that of the Roman mint, but by no means of a barbarous fabric.  Although marked with the two letters S.C. (Senatus Consulto), it could not have been struck at Rome, where the senate never, by any formal act, acknowledged the authority of Otho.  Many circumstances, such as its workmanship, its resemblance to other coins bearing Greek legends round the heads and peculiar to Antioch in Syria, seem to show that it must have been struck in the last mentioned city, to which the right of coinage had been continued from the time of Pompey, by senatorial decree, which is what is meant by the letters S.C.

The desire to fill up the void left in the Roman brass series of Imperial medals, causes the Antiochian piece to be sought after with an eagerness that renders it extremely dear.  But, as before observed, all other brass medals with the head of Otho, and with Latin legends, are known to be false.

Otho (M. Salvius).  This name appears on brass of Augustus, struck S.C.  Obverse: CAESAR AVGVST PONT MAX TRIBVNIC POT with laureated head of the Emperor, behind which is a winged VictoryReverse: M SALVIVS OTHO III VIR.  This coin and two others by monetal triumvirs, are the only ones which in large brass of the real Roman mint, were coined during the lifetime of Augustus, and present to us the head of that prince.  They are rare; whilst the large brass of the same reign, without the head of Augustus, are common; and those in middle brass, with the head, are extremely common.  With reference to the moneyer OTHO, above-named, it may be observed that certain persons, curious, but not well-informed in these matters, have sometimes confounded him, from close similarity of appellation, with Emperor Otho.  Hence so many popular tales respecting Otho in brass found in such and such a place.  (See Lecons de Num. Rom. p. 71.)


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