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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Personifications ▸ CourageView Options:  |  |  |   

Courage (Virtus)

'Courage' is depicted as a helmeted soldier, often a female, in armor holding a spear, parazonium, victory or a shield. Virtus and Mars can be distinguished since Mars is usually shown nude and Virtus is always shown clothed.


Gallienus, August 253 - September 268 A.D.

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Virtus is the personification of valor and courage. Valor was, of course, essential for the success of a Roman emperor and Virtus was one of the embodiments of virtues that were part of the Imperial cult. During his joint reign with his father, Gallienus proved his courage in battle; but his failure to liberate his father from Persian captivity was perceived as cowardice and a disgrace to the Emperor and Empire. It was not, however, actually fear that prevented a rescue. While others mourned Valerian's fate, Gallienus rejoiced in his new sovereignty.
RB76153. Orichalcum sestertius, Gbl MIR 38dd, RIC V 248, Cohen V 1293, Hunter IV 33, SRCV III 10495, Nice gVF, excellent portrait, green patina, tight flan cutting off much legend, weight 10.962 g, maximum diameter 25.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 253 - 255 A.D.; obverse IMP C P LIC GALLIENVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS AVGG (valor of the two emperors), Virtus standing left, wearing crested helmet and military garb, right resting hand on grounded shield, inverted spear vertical behind in left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $500.00 (425.00)


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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Virtus was a specific virtue in ancient Rome. It carried connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). Virtus applied exclusively to a man's behavior in the public sphere, that is to the application of duty to the res publica in the cursus honorum. Private business was no place to earn virtus, even when it involved courage or feats of arms or other good qualities. There could be no virtue in exploiting one's manliness in the pursuit of personal wealth, for example. It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors and was personified as the deity Virtus.
RA85002. Billon antoninianus, RIC V 435 corr. (also cuirassed), Hunter IV 112 corr. (same), Cohen VI 819, Pink VI/1 p. 61, Choice VF, nice portrait, much silvering on reverse, some light corrosion, weight 3.724 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 180o, 4th officina, Ticinum (Pavia, Italy) mint, 278 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR PROBVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Virtus standing facing, helmeted head left, Victory in right hand, resting left hand on grounded spear and shield, QXXT in exergue; $140.00 (119.00)


Volusian, c. November 251 - July or August 253 A.D.

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Virtus to the ancient Romans included valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). Curiously, despite the masculine characteristics of virtus, the personification or deity Virtus was usually depicted as a female warrior, in armor holding a spear, parazonium, victory or a shield. Virtus and Mars can usually be distinguished since Mars is usually shown nude and Virtus is always shown clothed.
RS85613. Silver antoninianus, RIC IV 187 (S), RSC IV 135a, Hunter III 14, SRCV III 9778, aEF, choice obverse, excellent portrait, toned, reverse struck with a worn die, weight 3.406 g, maximum diameter 21.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 3rd emission, 252 A.D.; obverse IMP CAE C VIB VOLVSIANO AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS AVGG (valor of the two emperors), Virtus standing half left, right hand resting on grounded shield, reversed spear vertical in left hand, star right; ex CGB (spring 2011); scarce; $140.00 (119.00)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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For the Roman nobility virtus came not only in one's personal "acta" but also that of one's ancestors. However, Cicero, a novus homo, asserted that virtus was a virtue particularly suited to the new man just as nobilitas was suited to the noble. Cicero argued that just as young men from noble families won the favor of the people so too should the novus homo earn the favor of the people with his virtus. He even extended the argument that virtus and not one's family history should decide a man's worthiness. Virtus is something that a man earns himself, not something that is given to him by his family, thus it is a better measure of a man's ability. Cicero's goal was not to impugn the noble class but widen it to include men who had earned their positions by merit.
RS85797. Silver denarius, RIC IV 117(b); RSC III 478; Hunter III 69; BMCRE V p. 364, 37; cf. SRCV II 6873 (TR P XIIII), Choice EF, excellent portrait, well centered, light toning, centers a little weakly struck, tiny deposits, edge cracks, weight 3.369 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 210 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse PONTIF TR P XIII COS III (priest, holder of Tribunitian power 13 years, consul for the 3rd time), Virtus standing half right, helmeted and wearing military garb, left foot forward and resting on helmet, inverted spear vertical in right hand, parazonium in left hand; $140.00 (119.00)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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For the Roman nobility virtus came not only in one's personal "acta" but also that of one's ancestors. However, Cicero, a novus homo, asserted that virtus was a virtue particularly suited to the new man just as nobilitas was suited to the noble. Cicero argued that just as young men from noble families won the favor of the people so too should the novus homo earn the favor of the people with his virtus. He even extended the argument that virtus and not one's family history should decide a man's worthiness. Virtus is something that a man earns himself, not something that is given to him by his family, thus it is a better measure of a man's ability. Cicero's goal was not to impugn the noble class but widen it to include men who had earned their positions by merit.
RS85800. Silver denarius, RIC IV 117(b); RSC III 478; Hunter III 69; BMCRE V p. 364, 37; cf. SRCV II 6873 (TR P XIIII), Choice VF, superb portrait, full circle centering, light toning, die wear, edge cracks, weight 3.073 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 210 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT, laureate head right; reverse PONTIF TR P XIII COS III (priest, holder of Tribunitian power 13 years, consul for the 3rd time), Virtus standing half right, helmeted and wearing military garb, left foot forward and resting on helmet, inverted spear vertical in right hand, parazonium in left hand; $140.00 (119.00)


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

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In 240, the year this coin was struck, a rebellion lead by Sabinianus, the governor of Africa, was defeated in a battle near Carthage.
RB68909. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 293a, Cohen V 390, SRCV III 8745 var. (obv leg), VF, nice portrait, well centered, weight 14.938 g, maximum diameter 30.5 mm, die axis 45o, Rome mint, c. 240 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Virtus standing left, helmeted, in military garb, branch in right hand, inverted spear in left, grounded shield on left against right leg, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $130.00 (110.50)


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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This type is not listed in the many references examined by Forum. The referenced CNG specimen is listed online on Coin Archives and Wildwinds.
RA73244. Billon antoninianus, Unlisted in references; CNG Mail Bid Sale 60 (22 May 2002), lot 1881; RIC V -; Webb Carausius -; SRCV IV -; Hunter IV -; et al., aF, rough, weight 4.186 g, maximum diameter 23.1 mm, die axis 225o, Camulodunum (Colchester, England) mint, 292 - early 293 A.D.; obverse IMP C CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Virtus standing right, wearing helmet and military garb, spear in left hand, shield on right arm, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field, C in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; extremely rare; $125.00 (106.25)


Septimius Severus, 9 April 193 - 4 February 211 A.D.

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Virtus was a specific virtue in ancient Rome. It carried connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors and was personified as the deity Virtus.
RB77368. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC IV 693 (R); BMCRE V p. 139, 562; Cohen IV 773; SRCV II 6445; Hunter III -, F, green patina, weight 20.523 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 195 A.D.; obverse L SEPT SEV PERT AVG IMP V, laureate head right; reverse VIRTVTI AVG (to the valor of the emperor), Septimius Severus on the left, standing left, in military attire, Victory on globe in his right hand, spear in his left hand; Virtus or Roma standing left behind him, helmeted, in military attire, crowning him with a wreath in her right hand, parazonium in her left, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; ex Forum 2014; rare; $125.00 (106.25)


Domitian, 13 September 81 - 18 September 96 A.D.

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Virtus to the ancient Romans included valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). Curiously, despite the masculine characteristics of virtus, the personification or deity Virtus was usually depicted as a female warrior, in armor holding a spear, parazonium, victory or a shield. Virtus and Mars can usually be distinguished since Mars is usually shown nude and Virtus is always shown clothed.
RB73633. Copper as, RIC II, part 1, 650; BMCRE II 417; BnF III 545; Cohen 655; Hunter I 174; cf. SBCV I 2817 (COS XV), VF, well centered on a heavy flan, green patina with some flaking and bare toned copper high points, minor corrosion and encrustation, weight 12.962 g, maximum diameter 29.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 88 - 89 A.D.; obverse IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM COS XIIII CENS PER P P, laureate bust right with aegis; reverse VIRTVTI AVGVSTI (to the valor of the Emperor), Virtus standing right, helmeted and draped, left foot on a helmet, inverted spear vertical behind in right hand, parazonium in left hand, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; ex Harlan J. Berk; $120.00 (102.00)


Probus, Summer 276 - September 282 A.D.

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Virtus was a specific virtue in ancient Rome. It carried connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). Virtus applied exclusively to a man's behavior in the public sphere, that is to the application of duty to the res publica in the cursus honorum. Private business was no place to earn virtus, even when it involved courage or feats of arms or other good qualities. There could be no virtue in exploiting one's manliness in the pursuit of personal wealth, for example. It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors and was personified as the deity Virtus.
RL84026. Silvered antoninianus, RIC V, part 2, 816; SRCV III 12071 var. (...P F AVG); Cohen VI 894; Hunter IV -, EF, full silvering, full circles centering, some flatly struck areas, weight 3.888 g, maximum diameter 22.4 mm, die axis 180o, 5th officina, Siscia (Sisak, Croatia) mint, emmision 5, 278 A.D.; obverse IMP C M AVR PROBVS P AVG, radiate bust left in consular robe, eagle-tipped scepter in right hand; reverse VIRTVS PROBI AVG (the valor of Emperor Probus), Mars walking right, helmeted, nude but for cloak tied in belt at waist and flying behind, transverse spear upward right in right hand, trophy of captured arms over left shoulder in left hand, XXIV in exergue; $120.00 (102.00)




  



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Courage