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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Adoptive Emperors ▸ CommodusView Options:  |  |  | 

Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 Dec 192 A.D.

L Aelius Aurelius Commodus was the son of emperor Marcus Aurelius and empress Faustina II. Caesar in 177 A.D., Commodus succeeded his father as Augustus in 180. His rule of twelve years quickly degenerated into debauchery, paranoia and insanity. He actually believed he was Hercules reincarnated and even participated in gladiatorial contests. The empire was directed by his unscrupulous favorites while the emperor amused himself in whatever decadent way he saw fit. His assassination in 192 A.D. was viewed as a blessing by most Romans of the day.


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Philippopolis, Thrace

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It seems the Philippopolis mint allowed for many slight variations in legends and types. This variation is apparently unpublished, except Varbanov III 1073, with an unknown obverse legend, and RPC Online 7567 lists an example from the Plovdiv National Museum with an uncertain obverse legend variation. Perhaps one or both of those coins match this type, but photos are not available.
RP69759. Bronze assarion, cf. Varbanov III 1073 (R3, no obv. leg. listed), RPC Online 7567 var. (same, 6 spec., Plovdiv National Museum spec. possible obv. legend var.), aF, well centered, light corrosion, small encrustation above head, weight 4.348 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 0o, Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria) mint, obverse AYT KAI Λ AYPHΛI OYHPOC (or similar), laureate head right; reverse ΦIΛIΠΠOΠOΛEITΩN, Homonoia standing left, phiale in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, altar at feet on left; from the Butte College Foundation, ex-Lindgren; rare; $28.00 SALE PRICE $25.20


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In 189 A.D., plague (possibly smallpox) killed as many as 2,000 people per day in Rome. Farmers were unable to harvest their crops and food shortages brought riots in the city. Part of Rome burned in 190. Commodus ordered the city to be rebuilt under the name Colonia Commodiana.
RX79588. Billon tetradrachm, Milne 2686 ff.; Curtis 852; Geissen 2252; Dattari 3889; SNG Cop 582; BMC Alexandria p. 175, 1404; Kampmann-Ganschow 41.124; Emmett 2558, F, dark patina, weight 10.856 g, maximum diameter 23.7 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 189 - 28 Aug 190; obverse M A KOM ANTW CEB EYCEB, laureate head right; reverse bust of Selene left, large crescent on left, L Λ (year 30) on right; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


Commodus and Annius Verus, Caesars, 166 - 170 A.D., Tarsus, Cilicia

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The brothers Annius Verus and Commodus, sons of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger, were made caesars in 166 A.D. Annius Verus died at age 7 of natural causes in Rome on 10 September 169. His younger brother Commodus became his father's heir and later successor to his father's throne. The portraits are obviously unrealistic - the caesars were small boys when the coin was struck.
RP84085. Bronze AE 18, RPC Online 5035 (17 spec.); BMC Lycaonia p. 191, 166; SNGvA 5993; SNG BnF 1456; SNG Levante 1018 var. (no star); SNG Cop -, F, turquoise patina, tight flan, porous, earthen deposits, weight 3.339 g, maximum diameter 17.2 mm, die axis 0o, Tarsos (Tarsus, Mersin, Turkey) mint, 166 - 170 A.D.; obverse KOPOI CEBACTOY, confronted draped youthful busts of Annius Verus (on left) and Commodus, star over crossed club and caduceus between them; reverse temple with ten columns, eagle left with head right and wings open in pediment, KOINOC KIΛIKIAC in architrave, TAP-COY across field at center, MHTPOΠ in exergue; rare; $200.00 SALE PRICE $180.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Amphipolis, Macedonia

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Amphipolis was on the Via Egnatia, the principal Roman road crossing the southern Balkans. In 50, the apostle Paul visited Amphipolis on his way to Thessaloniki. Many Christian churches were built indicating prosperity, but the region grew increasingly dangerous. In the 6th century, the population had declined considerably and the old perimeter was no longer defensible against Slavic invasions. The lower city was plundered for materials to fortify the Acropolis. In the 7th century, a new wall was built, right through the bath and basilica, dividing the Acropolis. The remaining artisans moved to houses and workshops built in the unused cisterns of the upper city. In the 8th century, the last inhabitants probably abandoned the city and moved to nearby Chrysopolis (formerly Eion, once the port of Amphipolis).
RP83483. Bronze AE 24, RPC IV online 7653 (5 spec.), SNG Cop 109, SNG Evelpidis 1186, Varbanov III 3244 (R4) var. (obv. leg.), BMC Macedonia p. 57, 116 var. (same), aVF, well centered, bumps, areas of light corrosion, flan flaw (pit) obverse center, weight 8.624 g, maximum diameter 24.2 mm, die axis 180o, Amphipolis mint, c. 188 - 190 A.D.; obverse AVTOK M AVP KOMM ANTΩNEINON, laureate head right; reverse AMΦIΠOΛEITWN, Tyche seated left on high-backed throne, wearing crown of city walls, right leg drawn back, patera in extended right hand, left elbow on back of throne; $150.00 SALE PRICE $135.00


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During the reign of Commodus, in 179 A.D., Lucius Septimius Severus arrived at Antioch to take command of Legio IV Scythica. The citizens of Antioch ridiculed Septimius Severus. Later, when Septimius Severus was emperor, although he would forgive many who supported Niger, he did not forgive Antioch and deprived the city of many privileges.
RS79867. Silver denarius, RSC II 771, RIC III M662, BMCRE IV p. 506, M796; cf. SRCV II 505 (TR P V); Hunter II -, gF, toned, small edge cracks, weight 2.698 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 179 A.D.; obverse L AVREL COMMODVS AVG, laureate head right; reverse TR P IIII IMP III COS II P P, Fortuna seated left, holding rudder by tiller in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, wheel under seat; $70.00 SALE PRICE $63.00


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Libertas (Latin for Liberty) was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty. The pileus liberatis was a soft felt cap worn by liberated slaves of Troy and Asia Minor. In late Republican Rome, the pileus was symbolically given to slaves upon manumission, granting them not only their personal liberty, but also freedom as citizens with the right to vote (if male). Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Brutus and his co-conspirators used the pileus to signify the end of Caesar's dictatorship and a return to a Republican system of government. The pileus was adopted as a popular symbol of freedom during the French Revolution and was also depicted on some early U.S. coins.
RB79866. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III M. Aurelius 1590; Cayon III 186; Hunter II 36; Cohen III 330; MIR 18 427; SRCV II 5766; BMCRE IV p. 675, 1686 var. (laur. and cuir);, F, nice green patina, earthen encrustations, weight 24.345 g, maximum diameter 31.5 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 177 - Dec 178 A.D.; obverse L AVREL COMMODVS AVG TR P III, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse LIBERTAS AVG IMP II COS P P, Libertas standing half left, pileus (freedom cap) in right hand, vindicta (long rod) vertical in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $145.00 SALE PRICE $131.00


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Libertas (Latin for Liberty) was the Roman goddess and embodiment of liberty. The pileus liberatis was a soft felt cap worn by liberated slaves of Troy and Asia Minor. In late Republican Rome, the pileus was symbolically given to slaves upon manumission, granting them not only their personal liberty, but also freedom as citizens with the right to vote (if male). Following the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., Brutus and his co-conspirators used the pileus to signify the end of Caesar's dictatorship and a return to a Republican system of government. The pileus was adopted as a popular symbol of freedom during the French Revolution and was also depicted on some early U.S. coins.
RB83899. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III MA1588, Hunter II 34, BMCRE IV MA1684, Cayon III 187, Cohen III 331, aF, tight flan, corrosion, weight 17.544 g, maximum diameter 27.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 177 - Dec 178 A.D.; obverse L AVREL COMMODVS AVG TR P III, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse LIBERTAS AVG IMP II COS P P, Libertas standing half left, pileus (freedom cap) in right hand, vindicta (long rod) vertical in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $40.00 SALE PRICE $36.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Philippi, Macedonia

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This reverse copies a type issued for Augustus. The statue of Julius Caesar is often described as crowning Augustus, but it seems clear on most specimens that both Augustus and Caesar are just raising their right hands in a salute. RPC identifies the figure behind as Genius Populi Romani(?), undoubtedly because the figure wears only a himation around his hips and legs. On the coin issued by Augustus, Caesar wears a toga.
RP83547. Bronze AE 26, RPC Online IV 4259 (4 spec., same dies as L 1958-3-4-92); AMNG III.2 p. 103, 18, pl. XX, 17 (rev. only); SNG Cop -; SNG ANS -; BMC Macedonia -, VF, green patina, obverse a little off-center, marks and scratches, corrosion, weight 10.650 g, maximum diameter 26.0 mm, die axis 180o, Philippi mint, 177 - 192 A.D.; obverse M COMMO ANT P FELIX AV BR, laureate head of Commodus right; reverse COL IVLIA AVG PHILIP, a statue of Augustus, on left, standing left in military dress and statue of Divi Julius Caesar (or Genius Populi Romani?) standing left behind him a himation around hips and legs, both raising right hand in salute, both statues on base inscribed DIVS (sic) / AVG in two lines; ex Gitbud & Naumann auction 36, lot 338; very rare; $270.00 SALE PRICE $243.00


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Roman Provincial Egypt

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In the 190 A.D., the year this coin was minted, Commodus renamed the city of Rome, Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana.
RX83562. Billon tetradrachm, Dattari 3905; Milne 2696; Curtis 799; Geissen 2245; SNG Cop 589; BMC Alexandria p. 179, 1437; SRCV II 5934, aVF, edge cracks, tight flan, corrosion, porosity, weight 11.49 g, maximum diameter 24.0 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 189 - 28 Aug 190 A.D.; obverse M A KOM ANTW CEB EYCEB, laureate head right; reverse eagle standing right on thunderbolt, wings open, head right, ΛL (year 30 of Marcus Aurelius) right; $80.00 SALE PRICE $72.00


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Salus was the Roman goddess of health. She was Hygieia to the Greeks, who believed her to be the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and healing, and Epione, the goddess of soothing of pain. This coin, dedicated to the health of the emperor, probably indicates the emperor was at the time suffering from some disease, and sacred rites had been performed for his recovery.
RB78072. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 512; BMCRE IV p. 816, 617; Szaivert MIR 18 746; Hunter II -; Cohen III -, F, well centered, light corrosion, closed flan crack, weight 22.745 g, maximum diameter 31.0 mm, Rome mint, 186 - 187 A.D.; obverse M COMMODVS ANT P FELIX AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P XIII IMP VIII COS V P P, Salus seated left on a throne, from patera in right hand, feeding a snake rising up from an altar at feet on left, left forearm on back of throne, S - C across field at center; from the Butte College Foundation, ex Lindgren; $115.00 SALE PRICE $104.00










OBVERSE LEGENDS

COMMANTAVGPBRIT
COMMANTFELAVGPBRIT
COMMODOCAESAVGFILGERM
COMMODOCAESAVGFILGERMSARM
COMMODVSCAESAVGFILGERM
DIVOCOMMODO
IMPCAESLAVRELCOMMODVSAVGGERMSARM
IMPCAESLAVRELCOMMODVSGERMSARM
IMPLAVRELCOMMAVGGERMSARM
IMPLAVRELCOMMODVSAVGGERMSARM
LAELAVRCOMAVGPF
LAELAVRELCOMMAVGPFEL
LAVRECOMMODVSAVG
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVG
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVGGERMSARM
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVGTRPIII
LAVRELCOMMODVSAVGTRPIIII
LCOMMODVSAVG
MANTONINVSCOMMODVSAVG
MAVRELANCOMMAVGPFEL
MCOMMANTAVGPBRIT
MCOMMANTAVGPBRITFEL
MCOMMANTPFELAVGBRIT
MCOMMANTPFELAVGBRITPP
MCOMMANTOAVGPIVSFEL
MCOMMANTAVGBRIT
MCOMMANTONAVGPIVSBRIT
MCOMMANTONVSPIVSBRIT
MCOMMODANTPFELIXAVGBRITPP
MCOMMODVSANTONAVGPIVS
MCOMMODVSANTONINVSAVG
MCOMMODVSANTONINVSAVGPIVS
MCOMMODVSANTPFELIXAVGBRIT


REFERENCES

Banti, A. and L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calic, E.X. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayn, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. III: De Marco Aurelio a Caracalla (Del 161 d.C. al 217 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappes sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. III: Vol. 3: Marcus Aurelius to Clodius Albinus. (Paris, 1883).
Mattingly, H. & E. Sydenham. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol III: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1930).
Mattingly, H. & R.A.G. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 4: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1940).
Robinson, A.S. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. II. Trajan to Commodus (London, 1971).
Szaivert, W. Die Mnzprgung der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus un Commodus (161-192). (Wien, 1984).
Seaby, H.A. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D.R. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Toynbee, J.M.C. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Sunday, February 26, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Commodus