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As Lucius Verus - war against Parthia


LUCIUS VERUS (under MARCUS AURELIUS). AE As. Rome, 10 December 163- 10 December 164 AD. Obv. L VERVS AVG ARMENIACVS Bare head right Rev. TR P IIII IMP II COS II SC Victory walking left, holding a palm and a crown. Cohen 242 Military type commemorating the victory over the Parthian army that had invaded the Roman East. With the death of Antoninus, Vologaesus III king of Parthia may have viewed the establishment of a Roman diarchy as a sign of weakness. Compounding this issue may have been the fact that neither of the two emperors had acquired any military experience whatsoever. Whatever the case may have been, Vologaesus seized a perceived moment of Roman weakness and installed his own candidate upon the Armenian throne. Rome’s response was swift but initially ineffective. A Roman legion under Severianus marched from Cappadocia into Armenia and was routed at Elegeia prompting the Parthians to invade Roman territory. The governor of Syria Attidius Cornelianus suffered defeats as well, pressuring the Romans for definitive personal involvement from the imperial family. Marcus Aurelius dispatched Lucius Verus to Parthia to oversee the war and to give it an air of heightened importance, but Verus was more inclined to enjoy himself on the trip than to prepare for war. As reported in the Historia Augusta, “Verus, after he had come to Syria, lingered amid the debaucheries of Antioch and Daphne and busied himself with gladiatorial bouts and hunting.” Aurelius was fully aware of his ‘brother’s’ inadequacies and Verus’ presence was more a statement indicating the importance of the campaign than an indication of military command. Fortunately, despite Verus’ indulgences, his legates were focused on the task at hand. Statius Priscus, Avidius Cassius and Martius Verus were entrusted with command of the legions while Marcus Aurelius conducted affairs of the state back in Rome. Though the details provided by the ancients are scant, the Historia Augusta credits Priscus with an invasion of Armenia that took the capital of Artaxata. Armenia was given a Roman citizen of Armenian heritage, Sohaemus, as a king. Lucius Verus adopted the military titles of Armeniacus (163) as shown on the obverse legend. Later, following the Parthian defeat where Seleucia and the Parthian palaces in Ctesiphon were razed, he'll adopt the titles Parthicus Maximus (165) and Medicus (166), and a joint triumph with Marcus Aurelius will be held on 12 October 166. T. Parsy auction, Paris 18 Nov 1999, lot 95; Emmanuel de Vaissiere collection (Paris Drouot 15 February 1995). Emmanuel de Vaissiere (1825-1911) was a sub-prefect of Mauriac at the time of Napoleon III, fond of litterature, history, archeology and numismatics, a typical 19th cent. scholar. He resided in his chateau of Vasse', where he died on 15 February 1911, aged 87.

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Lucius Verus

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