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Object Description
Title/Object Name
Ob: A(ulus) VITELLIVS GERMANICVS IMP(erator) AVG(ustus) | Re: CLEMENTIA IMP(eratoris) GERMANICI [Clemency of the Emperor, conqueror of the Germans]
1st century
69 CE
Portfolio / Series Title
Gold Coins of Twelve Caesars
Diameter, 0.7480 In, 1.9 Cm
Weight, 0.0155 Pounds, 7.04 Grams
Ob: Vitellius left, laureate, globe below at point of bust. Re: Personified Clementia seated left, holding branch and long sceptre.
Credit Line
Gift of Wilton Jaffee to the University of Colorado Classics Department (2003), Transfer, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder
Aulus Vitellius was appointed emperor by legions stationed in Germany. Vitellius and his legions then marched on Rome only to find Otho installed as the new emperor. Undeterred, Vitellius seized power after victory at the Battle of Bedriacum in Northern Italy and the suicide of Otho three days later. Confronted with the task of restoring peace after civil war, Vitellius may have turned to the imagery on this gold aureus as one method to promote the return of stability. The reverse depicts a seated personification of clemency with the legend CLEMENTIA IMP(eratoris) GERMANICI [The clemency of the emperor (the conqueror) of Germany]. It may have promoted the spirit of leniency and fairness with which the new emperor intended to act or wished to be associated. However, peace would not return to Rome. The eastern legions elected their own commander Titus Flavius Vespasianus. After only eight months in office, Vitellius was murdered in Rome by soldiers loyal to Vespasian. It was ultimately up to the Flavians to restore order and end the cycle of civil wars in Rome. John Thilgten 2011
Object ID
RIC I, 268, no. 2



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