MYSIA. Pergamum. Gaius Caesar, 20 BC-AD 4. Hemiassarion (Bronze, 18 mm, 3.14 g, 12 h), A. Fourios, gymnasiarch, 2-3 AD. Γ•KAICAP ΠEPΓAMHNΩN Bare head of Gaius Caesar to right. Rev. A•ΦOYPIOΣ ΓYMNAΣIAPXΩN Armenian standing facing, wearing bashlyk and long garnments, holding spear downward in his right hand and bow in his left. Imhoof-Blumer, KM, p. 500, 1 and pl. XIX, 10 (same dies). RPC I 2361 corr. (same dies, but erroneous dating). SNG Paris 2031 (same dies). Very rare and among the finest of a very few known examples. An unobstrusive die break near the obverse edge, otherwise, good very fine.
From an important collection of Armenian coins.
The reverse of this very rare issue refers to the Parthian campaign of Gaius Caesar, who in 2 AD installed Ariobarzanes, the former King of Media Atropatene, as King of Armenia after Tigranes IV had died in battle the year before. However, Ariobarzanes died soon thereafter and Gaius faced an Armenian revolt incited by the Parthian King Phraates V. The Romans trapped the rebels in Artagira, but Gaius was severely wounded after Abbadon, the leader of the uprising, treacherously invited him into the fortress for pretended peace talks on 9 September 3 AD. In the end, Roman military might prevailed nonetheless and Gaius installed Ariobarzanes' son Artavasdes IV as the new King of Armenia. Augustus' victorious grandson, however, died a few months later in Limyra in Lycia from the after-effects of his wounds. The reverse of this very rare coin from Pergamum, which celebrates Gaius' success, was largely copied from Augustus' earlier denarius celebrating Tiberius' achievement in Armenia in 20 BC (RIC 519), when the future emperor had installed Tigranes III as king. The asiarch A. Fourios is dated in RPC to 1 BC (?), but this is an error as the Armenian campaign of Gaius did not take place in 2 BC, as noted on RPC I, p. 401, but in 2-3 AD, meaning that his coin emission was struck either in 2 AD to celebrate the appointment of Ariobarzanes as King of Armenia, or in the year thereafter, following the capture of Artagira and the installment of Artavasdes IV. While the obverse is sometimes described as showing Augustus, the legend leaves no doubt that it is in fact Gaius Caesar: it is the only known coin where he appears without his grandfather or his younger brother Lucius, no doubt in reference to the key role he played in the course of the Armenian victory celebrated on the reverse.