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Ancient Roman Coins – A Conspiracy to Assassinate Nero

Roman Coins - Nero - Colosseo Collection
Aureus 64-65, AV 7.27 g. NERO CAESAR – AVGVSTVS


By Russell A. Augustin, AU Capital Management, LLC ……

From the Colosseo Collection ……

The name Nero holds a particularly sinister connotation due to how history remembers his cruel and self-indulgent tendencies. His reputation was equally negative during his reign, and the discontent came to a climax in 64 CE. This roman coin commemorates Nero’s perceived divine protection against the Pisonian Conspiracy, a revolt that nearly killed him.

Nero is recorded to have at one point been singing about the destruction of Troy, an event which many incorrectly associate as him “fiddling” as Rome burned during the fires of 64 CE. However, with much of central Rome destroyed, Nero, in very poor taste, took this opportunity to construct the Domus Aurea, the “Golden House”, named after the gold-plated tiles on its exterior.

Nero at Baiae c.1900 by Jan Styka [1858-1925]

This demonstration of excess infuriated not only the public but also many of the high-ranking members of his court, who already feared for their positions and lives under a devolving and irrational Nero. A conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and replace him with Gaius Calpurnius Piso, a wealthy senator, was planned and nearly brought to fruition.

However, at the last moment, a freed former slave named Milichus discovered the conspiracy and his wife convinced him to report it to Nero’s secretary. When he learned of the conspiracy, Nero executed a number of prominent Romans and forced the philosopher Seneca the Younger, the poet Lucan, and the author Petronius to commit suicide, as they were suspected to be associated with the plot.

He believed that because so many people who were so close to him were involved in the conspiracy, he must have only been spared because the gods intervened. Jupiter the Guardian (represented by the inscription “Custos” – one who preserves and saves) was attributed with this intervention. Nero’s fate was only temporarily delayed, as he committed suicide on June 9, 68 CE after facing execution as a public enemy.

This type was used on both aurei and denarii. A second type, with the inscription “Salus” was issued alongside it, referring to the well-being of the emperor.

This aureus was part of the group found during the excavation of Pompeii, buried beneath the ash of Mt. Vesuvius for 1,800 years. It is beautifully toned with deep blue and red hues from its exposure to the sulfuric conditions under the ash from Pompeii.

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Aureus 64-65, AV 7.27 g. NERO CAESAR – AVGVSTVS Laureate head r. Rev. IVPPITER – CVSTOS Jupiter seated l. on throne, holding thunderbolt and long sceptre. C 118. BMC 67. RIC 52. CBN 218. Calicó 412. Attractive blue-red toning, from the Boscoreale hoard. Extremely Fine. Ex. Golden Horn Collection

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Russell A. Augustin
Russell A. Augustinhttps://www.aucm.com
Russell Augustin entered the numismatic profession in 1982. He specializes in U.S. gold, Pioneer and Fractional gold coinage, Early Type and Early Dollars and ancient Roman and Greek coinage. Russell attended both Ohio Wesleyan and Harvard Universities. Thereafter, he served as Vice President and Director of Numismatics at two national coin companies. He founded NumisTech Consulting, and has been an appraiser for the federal government, price consultant for a rare coin fund, and advisor to a major New England advertising agency. In 2005, Russ established AU Capital Management (AUCM), LLC, where he is currently owner and president. In 2016, AUCM became an affiliate of the numismatic powerhouse, RARCOA, and relocated its fulfillment center to Illinois.

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  1. Dear Sir or Madame:

    Where is the missing picture for the following info —

    Nero at Baiae c.1900 by Jan Styka [1858-1925]

    Best Regards,

    Eric Casagrande


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