Otho, 69. Aureus (Gold, 19 mm, 7.26 g, 7 h), Rome, 15 January-9 March 69. IMP OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P Bare head of Otho to right. Rev. SECVRITAS P R Securitas standing front, head to left, holding wreath in her right hand and long scepter in her left. BMC p. 366, † note. Calicó 529. Cohen 21. Mazzini pl. LXIV, 14 (this coin). RIC 9. Sartiges 92 (this coin). Very rare. Lightly toned and very well centered, a beautiful piece struck on a broad flan with an unusually fine portrait. Good very fine.
From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, ex Hess-Leu 36, 17-18 April 1968, 449, from the collections of Ing. G. Mazzini (1883-1961) and Vicomte Louis de Sartiges, Ars Classica XVIII, 10 October 1938, 127, and from the Maddalena Collection, Sambon & Canessa, 7-9 May 1903, 1027 and pl. VIII, 13.
Born on 28 April 32 in Ferentium, Marcus Salvius Otho traced his ancestry back to Etruscan nobility. He had close relationships with Nero, rivalling with him for the favor of Othos' wife, Poppaea Sabina, whom the emperor married after sending Otho as governor to Lusitania in 59. When Galba revolted against Nero in April 68, Otho was amongst his earliest and most energetic supporters, supplying the usurper with enough funds to finance his troops. However, Galba did not reward this early assistance to Otho's satisfaction once he had secured his emperorship and captured Rome, for when he appointed a successor early in 69 to gather support against the usurpation of Vitellius, Galba chose Lucius Calpurnius Piso Frugi Licinianus. Unwilling to accept yet another disregard, Otho incited the Praetorian Guard to assassinate Galba and usurped the throne for himself.
Once in power, the new emperor faced the imminent threat of Vitellius' invasion of Italy. He marched north with an army of Praetorian Guards, gladiators, naval units, and detachments from the Danube Legions, facing Vitellius' expeditionary force in the First Battle of Bedriacum. Unfortunately for him, his hastily composed army was no match for the veteran Rhine legions and Otho committed suicide on 16 April after the loss of the battle to avoid further bloodshed, an act that earned him great admiration in posterity.