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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Adoptive Emperors ▸ Marcus AureliusView Options:  |  |  | 

Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

Marcus Aurelius was recognized by Hadrian as a fine and capable youth and betrothed to the daughter of Aelius. Antoninus Pius adopted him and in 145 A.D. he married Antoninus' daughter, Faustina II. In 161 A.D., he succeeded Antoninus as Augustus, immediately proclaiming Lucius Verus his co-emperor. Although known for his adherence to the philosophy of Stoicism and as a naturally peaceful man, Marcus' reign was disturbed by war with Parthia, plague and then a long, hard war along the Danube frontier. He died on March 17th, 180 A.D. and was deified by the senate soon after.


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In late summer or fall of 161, Vologases IV of Parthia captured the Roman client Kingdom of Armenia, expelled its king and installed his own; Pacorus, an Arsacid like himself. In 162, Lucius Verus began the war to recover Armenia and exact vengence. Rome recovered the Armenian capital Artaxata in 163. At the end of 163, Verus took the title Armeniacus, despite having never personally seen combat. Marcus Aurelius initially declined to accept the title, but accepted it in 164. Unfortunately the victorious army returned bringing a pandemic known as the Antonine Plague, which significantly depopulated and greatly weakened the Roman Empire.
RB83578. Orichalcum sestertius, BMCRE IV 1092; RIC III 890 corr. (standard & shield rev. r.), Cohen III 984 corr. (same), MIR 18 95, Cayon III 464, SRCV II 5013, Hunter II -, VF, well centered on a tight flan, green patina, light scrape on obverse high point, some corrosion, weight 23.68 g, maximum diameter 31.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 164 - Aug 165 A.D.; obverse M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG ARMENIACVS P M, laureate head right; reverse VICT AVG TR P XVIII IMP II COS III, Victory standing half right, trophy transverse upward to right in both hands, mourning Armenian captive at feet on right, captive seated right with head propped on right hand and left hand on ground, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking low across field; $520.00 (€462.80)
 


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Posthumous commemorative struck by Marcus Aurelius' son, Commodus.

BMCRE p. 62 notes that the "spear head" variety listed by Cohen is probably from an altered die. We have, however, found coins from more than one reverse die with this object. It is not clear to us why Cohen identified this indistinct object as a spear head.
RS77835. Silver denarius, RSC II 82; RIC III C271; MIR 18 478-4/10, Hunter II 4; BMCRE IV 24 var., note. p. 692, VF, small edge cracks, weight 3.130 g, maximum diameter 17.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, posthumous, 180 A.D.; obverse DIVVS M ANTONINVS PIVS, bare head right; reverse CONSECRATIO, eagle standing left on thunderbolt, head right, wings open, spear head(?) in beak; $250.00 (€222.50)
 


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 17, 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 (€178.00)
 


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Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state. The earliest certain cult to dea Roma was established at Smyrna in 195 B.C., probably to mark the successful alliance against Antiochus III. In 30/29 B.C., the Koinon of Asia and Bithynia requested permission to honor Augustus as a living god. "Republican" Rome despised the worship of a living man, but an outright refusal might offend their loyal allies. A cautious formula was drawn up, non-Romans could only establish a cult for divus Augustus jointly with dea Roma. In the city of Rome itself, the earliest known state cult to dea Roma was combined with Venus at the Hadrianic Temple of Venus and Roma. This was the largest temple in the city, probably dedicated to inaugurate the reformed festival of Parilia, which was known thereafter as the Romaea after the Eastern festival in Roma's honor. The temple contained the seated, Hellenised image of dea Roma with a Palladium in her right hand to symbolize Rome's eternity.
SL84528. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 1037, BMCRE IV 1420, Hunter II 169, Cohen III 284, MIR 18 233, SRCV II 4977, ANACS VF30 (4625585), Rome mint, Dec 171 - Dec 172 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS - AVG TR P XXVI, laureate head right; reverse IMP VI COS III (imperator 6 times, consul 3 times), Roma seated left on cuirass, helmeted and draped, transverse spear on far side in right hand, resting her left forearm on round shield stacked upon an oval shield and a hexagonal shield, S C (senatus consulto) flanking across fields; from the Dr. Sam Mansourati Collection, certified (slabbed) by ANACS; $195.00 (€173.55)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Koinon of Macedonia

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The Macedonian Koinon (community) was the political organization governing the autonomous Roman province of Macedonia and responsible for issuing coinage. Member cities sent representatives to participate in the popular assembly. The Koinon held celebrations and games annually at Beroea (modern Verria) in honor of Alexander the Great and the Roman emperor.
RB83510. Bronze AE 25, SNG Cop 1345; SNG Hunterian 730; AMNG III /2 277; Varbanov 3050 (R4) var. (Ω vice W); BMC Macedonia p. 28, 156 var. (laureate), VF, nice green patina, tight flan, cut on lower obverse, weight 11.478 g, maximum diameter 25.2 mm, die axis 270o, 7 Mar 161 - 17 Mar 180 A.D.; obverse KAICAP ANTWNINOC, radiate head right; reverse KOINON MAKE∆ONWN, thunderbolt with four wings; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


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In 168 A.D., Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus established their headquarters at Aquileia. They then crossed the Alps into Pannonia and, with paid help from German tribes and the Scythians, subdued the Marcomanni who had invaded Italy in 167.
RS84957. Silver denarius, RIC III 191, RSC II 899, BMCRE IV 467, MIR 18 165-4/30, Hunter II -, SRCV II -, gVF, nice portrait, well centered, edge cracks, weight 3.075 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 167 - Dec 168 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX, laureate head right; reverse TR P XXII IMP V COS III, Aequitas seated left, scales in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; $160.00 (€142.40)
 


Roman Empire, Anonymous, Domitian to Antoninus Pius, c. 81 - 161 A.D.

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RIC identifies this type as common but it appears to be rare with the dove facing left.

Quadrantes, like quinarii, were issued only occasionally, perhaps exclusively for imperial distributions. Suetonius reported that, from the roof of the Basilica Julia "Caligula threw coins among the people." Perhaps this small coin was thrown to the crowd by the emperor himself at a similar event.
RB63623. Bronze quadrans, RIC II p. 218, 25, VF, weight 1.847 g, maximum diameter 14.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 81 - 161 A.D.; obverse diademed and draped bust of Venus right; reverse dove standing left, S C (senatus consulto) in exergue; rare; $85.00 (€75.65)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D., Magnesia ad Maeandrum, Ionia

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"..the temple of Artemis Leukophryene, which in the size of its shrine and in the number of its votive offerings is inferior to the temple at Ephesos, but in the harmony and skill shown in the structure of the sacred enclosure is far superior to it. And in size it surpasses all the sacred enclosures in Asia except two, that at Ephesos (to Artemis) and that at Didymoi (to Apollo)" (Strabo, Geography 14. 1. 40).
RP58784. Bronze AE 31, Schultz Magnesia 113 (R4), Imhoof MG 311, RPC Online -, SNG Cop -, SNGvA -, SNG Munchen -, BMC Ionia -, et al. -, aF, weight 13.406 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 0o, Magnesia ad Maeandrum mint, magistrate Diophantus; as caesar, 139 - 161 A.D.; obverse M AIΛIOC AYPHΛIOC BHPOC KAICAP, bareheaded, draped, and cuirassed young bust right; reverse ΓPAM ∆IOΦAN TOY MAΓNHTΩN, facing cult statue of Artemis Leukophryene, wearing polos and veil, flanked by two Nikes over shoulders crowning her, eagles with open wings at feet; very rare; $60.00 (€53.40)
 







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OBVERSE LEGENDS

ANTONINVSAVG
ANTONINVSAVGARMENIACVS
AVRELIVSCAESANTONAVGPIIF
AVRELIVSCAESARANTONINIAVGPIIFIL
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIF
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIFCOS
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIFIL
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIFCOS
AVRELIVSCAESAVGPIIF
AVRELIVSCAESAVGPIIFCOS
AVRELIVSCAESAVGPIIFCOSDES
DIVOMARCO
DIVOMARCOANTONINO
DIVVSMANTONINVSPIVS
IMPCAESMAVRELANTONINVSAVG
IMPCAESMAVRELANTONINVSAVGPM
IMPMANTONINVSAVG
IMPMANTONINVSAVGTRPXXV
IMPMAVRELANTONINVSAVG
MANTONINVSAVG
MANTONINVSAVGARMENIACVS
MANTONINVSAVGARMENPM
MANTONINVSAVGARMPARTHMAX
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARM
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMATICVS
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMMAX
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMTRPXXXI
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMTRPXXXPP
MANTONINVSAVGGERMTRPXXIX
MANTONINVSAVGIMPII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXX
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXIII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXIIII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXV
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXVI
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXVII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXVIII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXIX
MAVRELANTONINVSAVG
MAVRELANTONINVSAVGARMENIACVSPM
MAVRELANTONINVSAVGARMPARTHMAX
MAVRELANTONINVSAVGTRPXXXIII
MAVRELIVSCAESARANTONINIAVGPIIF
MAVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIF


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayón, 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 frappées 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. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 4: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1940).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. II. Trajan to Commodus (London, 1971).
Szaivert, W. Die Münzprägung der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus un Commodus (161-192). (Wien, 1984).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Strack, P. Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Teil III: Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit Antoninus Pius. (Stuttgart, 1937).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, June 27, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Marcus Aurelius