An impressive sestertius of Claudius with the Arch of Nero Claudius Drusus
Lot 1046
Claudius, 41-54. Sestertius (Orichalcum, 36 mm, 33.06 g, 12 h), Rome, circa 41-50. TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR•AVG P M TR P IMP Laureate head of Claudius to right. Rev. NERO CLAVDIVS DRVSVS GERMAN IMP The Arch of Nero Claudius Drusus: monumental triumphal arch consisting of a single arch and decorated piers set on raised base with four columns supporting ornate attic; attic containing central pediment decorated with simpulum and litui on either side; clipeus and ewer in flanking panels; attic surmounted by statue of Nero Claudius Drusus on horseback to right between two Germanic trophies, striking downwards with spear held in his right hand. BMC 122. CBN 162. Cohen 48. RIC 98. A bold and impressive piece with attractive orichalcum highlights. Minor smoothing, otherwise, about extremely fine.

From the collection of Dipl.-Ing. Adrian Lang, ex Numismatica Ars Classica 97, 12 December 2016, 328, UBS 78, 9-10 September 2008, 1418, and previously privately acquired from Münzhandlung Basel.

When Octavian fell in love with Livia in 39 BC, she was pregnant by her first husband Tiberius Claudius Nero, who agreed to divorce her to please his master. Drusus was born in early 38 BC, just months after Octavian had married his mother, and he and his older brother, Tiberius, subsequently grew up in their stepfather's household. As they came of age, Octavian - now Augustus - gradually started entrusting his stepsons with important duties, and when the Roman army launched a series of offensives against barbarian tribes in central and northern Germany in 12-9 BC, it was Drusus who led the charge.

The young general proved to be an able commander, for he defeated his enemies in several battles and pushed deep into their heartlands. In commemoration of these victories, Augustus commissioned the triumphal arch shown on the reverse of this beautiful sestertius of Claudius, Drusus' own son, who, as an often-belittled stutterer with congenital deformities, clearly attempted to confer some of his father's glory as a successful general upon himself.
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