M. Aemilius Scaurus, P. Plautius Hypsaeus
Curule Aediles, 58 BC
AR Denarius. 3.8g, 19mm
MINTED: Rome mint, 58 BC
REF: Crawford 422/1b; Sydenham 913
OBVERSE: Nabatean king Aretas III kneeling to right, holding reins and olive branch before camel standing right; M SCAVR / AED CVR above, EX - SC across field, REX ARETAS in exergue.
REVERSE: Jupiter driving quadriga left, holding reins and hurling thunderbolt; scorpion below horses, P HVPSAES / AED CVR above, CAPTV upward to right, C HVPSAE COS / PREIVE in exergue.
Very Fine. Dark toning. Well-struck, though from slightly worn dies. Excellent centering for this notoriously difficult issue, preserving the name of King Aretas almost completely.
Eschewing the conservative tradition of commemorating only the accomplishments of ancestors on coinage, M. Aemilius Scaurus, brother-in-law of Pompey the Great, celebrated one of his own on this coin struck in his name. On the obverse is depicted Aretas III, King of the Nabataeans, kneeling and offering an olive branch, a reference to Scaurus beseiging the Nabataean capital of Petra in 62 BC when he was Governor of Syria and forcing Aretas to submit to him. Unmentioned, of course, is the fact that Scaurus never managed to penetrate the defenses of Petra, and instead gave up the siege when he received an enormous bribe of 300 talents from Aretas.
His fellow aedile, Hypsaeus, who is named on the coin's reverse, chose instead to follow tradition and celebrate an ancestor, the consul Gaius Hypsaeus, who during Privernum's war with Rome (circa 330-329 BC), successfully captured the city, for which he was granted a Triumph in Rome.
ROMAN REPUBLIC . M Aemilius Scaurus, P Plautius Hypsaeus, 58 BC . Denarius
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