GALBA. Æ As. Tarraco, Sept.-Dec. 68 AD
Obv. SER GALBA IMP AVG Laureated head left
Rev. QVADRAGENS REMISSAE arch surmounted by two equestrian statues to l.; three captives, hands tied behind their backs, advance r. below and towards arch, with an officer behind them.
RIC 78, Cohen 158
Galba was the somewhat reluctant choice for replacement Emperor towards the end of Nero's reign in early 68. He was declared Imperator by his troops on 2 April 68 and was supported to some extent by Vindex in Gaul. Clodius Macer had already rebelled against Nero in Africa but did not support Galba's cause. Galba was declared Augustus by the Senate following Nero's suicide on 9 June and titles were conferred upon him. Vindex had since died in battle and Macer was ordered to be put to death. Galba did not arrive in Rome until sometime around September 68 but was soon elected pontifex maximus. He was killed on 15 January 69, leaving the way open for rivals Vitellius and Otho to fight for the throne, only to have it taken later by the able general Vespasian.
The quadrigensuma (1/40th) was a 2.5% excise tax levied on merchants in outlying provinces of the Empire. Galba rescinded the tax in Gaul to reward local support for his bid for the throne. The imagery contrasts with the legend and seems not to relate to such a bureaucratic matter. The identities or representations of the captives on this type are unknown but they may refer to his predecessor Nero, Clodius Macer, his rival for the purple, and the fallen rebel Vindex, though their depiction as captives (as all are dead by now) causes some problems. The relationship between captives and the remission of a tax is unclear. [CNG, W. C. Holt]
Paris Drouot auction (S. Bourgey), 24 June 2002, from lot 154