Blame it on the Rain Miracle

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by zumbly, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Last year, I had my eye on one of these rare and interesting sestertii of Marcus Aurelius bearing the reverse legend RELIG(io) AVG, honouring Mercury as a divine benefactor of the emperor. Because of a limited coin budget, I ended up having to sit on my hands when the auction came up. Thankfully, in this hobby, one almost always gets second chances :).

    The reverse shows an unusual temple facade of Mercury's, with his statue standing on a pedestal below a semicircular pediment displaying an array of his symbols - a tortoise, cockerel, ram, winged helmet, caduceus, and purse. Though there has been no concensus formed on what this type actually commemorates, it is popularly associated with the Rain Miracle of the 12th Legion commanded by Marcus Aurelius during the Marcomannic Wars.

    The details of this event itself are disputed even in ancient sources, but Cassius Dio has it that during a battle with the Quadi army, the 12th Legion found themselves heavily outnumbered, encircled by the enemy, and stricken with fatigue, thirst, and the heat. With the Romans on the verge of capture, an Egyptian magician named Anurphis, whom Dio calls a companion of the emperor, invokes the aid of Mercury as god of the wind and air. A sudden storm then arises, reviving the Romans with rain and destroying their enemies with hail and lightning.

    The incident is historically attested to and is even depicted on the Column of Marcus Aurelius, but the connection between the event and the RELIG AVG coins have been widely debated. At any rate, I've now got one of these, and I can blame it on the Rain Miracle.

    AE Sestertius
    29.44g, 31mm
    RIC 1075; Cohen 535
    O: M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVII, laureate head right.
    R: IMP VI - COS III, within a tetrastyle temple with telamons as columns and a semicircular pediment containing, from left to right, tortoise, cockerel, ram, winged helmet, caduceus, and purse, a statue of Mercury standing left on pedestal, holding caduceus and purse; S - C in field, RELIG AVG in exergue.

    Here's the remarkable section from the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome that shows the Rain Miracle, with the deluge of rain personified as a bearded god with his shaggy hair cascading down upon the battlefield.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
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  3. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

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  4. Eng

    Eng Senior Eng

    Sweet coin Z, Man your on a roll.Wow!!
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    KIWITI Well-Known Member

    True or not, it is a nice story to tell about that coin.;)
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  6. stevex6

    stevex6 Random Mayhem

    very, very cool addition, Z-Bro .... oh, and super statue-shot as well (thanks for posting both of 'em)

    Man, the sestertius has amazing eye-appeal (I love coins with a bit of random-stuff on 'em)

    => no smoothing there, my friend!!

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
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  7. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Very cool! I hadn't seen the type before nor had I heard the story.
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  8. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Thanks, Steve. Yeah, one of the nice things about coins with random stuff on them is that you can always easily tell which one is yours in a line up. Get to know the random stuff on your coins, people!
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  9. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    Congrats on the newp Z!
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  10. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Nice find! I was aware of the legend, but was not aware there was a coin type that could possibly be connected.
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  11. Pishpash

    Pishpash Supporter! Supporter

  12. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Bitchin Addition!

    Never seen the type before.
  13. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Sweet addition!
  14. Aidan_()

    Aidan_() Numismatic Contributor

    What an addiction you have! :D
  15. Mikey Zee

    Mikey Zee Delenda Est Carthago

    Me either!!! That's a fantastic coin and story!!! And I absolutely LOVE the aged look of that terrifically struck sestertius !!!

    As Bing would say.."GIVE IT TO ME NOW"!!! LOL
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  16. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Thanks for the coinpliments, everyone. This is certainly one of my favourite additions to the collection this year. :)
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  17. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Enough to make me start collecting them. I own some but couldn't tell you what they are.
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  18. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    The silver from the event is a lot less spectacular since it just shows Mercury standing with legend RELIG AVG IMP VI COS III.
  19. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    now that's an awesome coin...big, right amount of grunge...killer reverse...great story behind it (even if it isn't true).

    plus it has a turtle! :turtle:

    great coin Z.
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  20. David Atherton

    David Atherton Flavian Fanatic Supporter

    Spectacular coin with a mysterious reverse Z! I love those types of coins with those kind of stories behind them. Awesome.
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  21. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Thanks! There's a fairly recent book that explores the Rain Miracle (Marcus Aurelius' Rain Miracle and the Marcomannic Wars, Peter Kovács, 2009), but it's a little too pricey for me. A review of it does briefly mentions that the book contains a chapter on the RELIG AVG coins and that the author apparently makes a strong case that none of the coins can be linked to the Rain Miracle. As far as I'm concerned, where there's doubt, there's room for my belief in the more colourful version :D.
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