Trajan 98 – 117. Aureus after 20 February – circa Autumn 116, AV 7.37 g. IMP CAES NER TRAIAN OPTIM AVG GER DAC PARTHICO Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R / PARTHIA CAPTA Trophy between two Parthians seated. C 184. BMC 603. RIC 324. CBN 863. Calicó 1035 var. (trophy slightly different). Woyek 560 f. (this coin cited).
Very rare. A superb portrait and an interesting reverse composition. A lovely
reddish tone, unobtrusive metal flaw at six o’clock on reverse edge,
otherwise good extremely fine
Ex Hess-Leu 24, 1964, 296 and Lanz 97, 2000, 563 sales. From Prof. Dr. H. Wintz collection.
Trajan departed Rome in October, 113, to launch his last great campaign in the east. After rejecting a proposal by a Parthian embassy in Athens, Trajan moved onto Antioch, where he wintered in preparation for the anticipated Armenian campaign of 114. After the successful conclusion of this initial campaign, Trajan once again wintered in Antioch, and in the spring of 115 led his army into northern Mesopotamia and Adiabene; he found success in both places and added the former to the Empire. Trajan’s greatest triumph, however, did not come until 116, when he once again left Antioch, initially to revisit Adiabene, and then to march down the Tigris and sack the Parthian capital Ctesiphon. The campaign was an enormous success: the capital was stripped of its legendary wealth and by mid-116 the defeat of Parthia seemed complete. Afterward, Trajan felt sufficiently secure to make a brief excursion to the Persian Gulf. However, he soon realized his gains were ephemeral, and in an effort to preserve some control over the Parthians he installed the pro-Roman king Parthamaspates on the throne, but his puppet-king did not fare well. At the end of Trajan’s long and productive life he witnessed the consequences of his decades of expansionism, as revolts erupted in Armenia, Mesopotamia, Cyprus, Egypt, Cyrene, western North Africa and the Empire’s northern borders in Europe. Before Trajan could march westward to address some of these uprisings, he died while encamped in Cilicia. His successor, Hadrian, scaled back Trajan’s expanded empire to a more manageable size and as a result enjoyed a relatively peaceful reign.
This aureus was struck at the height of Trajan’s success, and is dated by Woytek to 116. The reverse type is of an ancient and familiar composition, with two dejected captives seated at the base of a trophy composed of arms and armour. In this case the captives are in Parthian attire with bows-in-cases upright at their feet. Beneath is the explicit and unapologetic inscription PARTHIA CAPTA.