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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., Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior

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Nicopolis ad Istrum was founded by Trajan around 101-106, at the junction of the Iatrus (Yantra) and the Rositsa rivers, in memory of his victory over the Dacians. Its ruins are located at the village of Nikyup, 20 km north of Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria. The town peaked during the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, the Antonines and the Severan dynasty. In 447, the Nicopolis was destroyed by Attila's Huns. In the 6th century, it was rebuilt as a powerful fortress enclosing little more than military buildings and churches, following a very common trend for the cities of that century in the Danube area. It was finally destroyed by the Avar invasions at the end of the 6th century.
RP77447. Bronze AE 29, H-H-J Nikopolis 8.10.32.1 (R5), AMNG I/I 1235, Moushmov 897, Varbanov I 2146 (R4), VF, nice green patina, marks, uneven strike, centration dimples, weight 11.978 g, maximum diameter 28.9 mm, die axis 135o, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Moesia Inferior mint, consular legate Caecilius Servilianus, 189 - 190; obverse AV-T KAI MAP AVPH KOMO∆OC, laureate, bearded head right; reverse HΓ EMOKAIKI CEPBEIΛIA NEIKOΠO ΠPOC ICT, river god reclining left, reeds in right hand, resting left arm on urn from which water flows; $270.00 (240.30)


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 (240.30)


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 (178.00)


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This coin refers to Commodus' belief that he was Hercules reincarnated. According to the historian Herodian, "he issued orders that he was to be called not Commodus, son of Marcus, but Hercules, son of Jupiter. Abandoning the Roman and imperial mode of dress, he donned the lion-skin, and carried the club of Hercules."
RS79624. Silver denarius, RSC II 190, RIC III 251 (S), BMCRE 339, MIR 18 853-4/90, SRCV II 5644, VF/aVF, large flan cracks, weight 2.476 g, maximum diameter 17.5 mm, die axis 195o, Rome mint, late 191 - 31 Dec 192 A.D.; obverse L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, Commodus wearing lion skin in imitation of Hercules and Alexander the Great; reverse HER-CVL / RO-MAN / AV-GV, in three lines across field divided by club; scarce; $165.00 (146.85)


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 (133.50)


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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 flanking low across field; $145.00 (129.05)


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During 191, the city of Rome was extensively damaged by a fire that raged for several days, during which many public buildings including the Temple of Pax, the Temple of Vesta and parts of the imperial palace were destroyed. Perhaps seeing this as an opportunity, early in 192 Commodus, declaring himself the new Romulus, ritually re-founded Rome, renaming the city Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana. All the months of the year were renamed to correspond exactly with his (now twelve) names: Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus, Augustus, Herculeus, Romanus, Exsuperatorius, Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, Pius. The legions were renamed Commodianae, the fleet which imported grain from Africa was termed Alexandria Commodiana Togata, the Senate was entitled the Commodian Fortunate Senate, his palace and the Roman people themselves were all given the name Commodianus, and the day on which these reforms were decreed was to be called Dies Commodianus.
RS76532. Silver denarius, RSC II 574a, BMCRE IV 325, Hunter II 58, RIC III 236, SRCV II -, VF, centered on a tight flan, light toning, weight 2.360 g, maximum diameter 17.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 191 - Dec 192 A.D.; obverse L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P XVII IMP VIII COS VII P P, Pietas seated left on high backed throne, extending her right hand to child standing with legs crossed at her feet, transverse scepter in her left hand, star in left field; $125.00 (111.25)


Commodus, March or April 177 - 31 December 192 A.D., Pergamon and Ephesos

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Medallion celebrating the alliance between Ephesus and Pergamum.
SH90561. Brass medallion, Franke-Nolle 1546; BMC Mysia -; RPC online -; SNG Cop -; SNGvA -; SNG BnF -, aF, rough, pitted, varnished, weight 30.353 g, maximum diameter 41.5 mm, die axis 0o, Pergamon (Bergama, Turkey) mint, strategos P. Aelius Pius, 180 - 182 A.D.; obverse AV KAI M AVPH KOMMO∆OC, laureate and draped bust right, from behind, oval countermark (Severan head?); reverse EΠI CTP Π AI ΠIOY KOINON OMONOIA, Asklepios on left, standing slightly right, snake entwined staff in right hand; cult statue of Artemis of Ephesus on left, standing facing, wearing kalathos and veil, arms extended with supports; ΠEPΓAMHNΩN KAI EΦECIΩN in exergue; HUGE 41mm medallion!; very rare; $115.00 (102.35)


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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 (102.35)


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

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In 184 A.D., Roman forces in Britannia, led by Ulpius Marcellus, lost the Antonine Wall to raiding Caledonians and Picts.
RX64541. Billon tetradrachm, Geissen 2215 (same dies); Dattari 3874 var.; Kampmann 41.44 var.; BMC p. 177, 1423 var.; Milne 2651 var.; Emmett 2552; SNG Cop - (all var. obv leg), F, weight 10.797 g, maximum diameter 25.8 mm, die axis 0o, Alexandria mint, 29 Aug 183 - 28 Aug 184 A.D.; obverse M A KO ANTΩ CEB EYCEB, laureate head right; reverse bust of Nilus right, crowned with lotus, cornucopia on right shoulder, himation over left, K/L - ∆ (year 24 of Marcus Aurelius) across fields; $100.00 (89.00)




  



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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 Wednesday, February 22, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Commodus