Nero (Augustus) Coin: Brass Sestertius (obverse}
IMP NERO CAESAR AVG P MAX TR POT PP - Head of Nero, laureate, right; small globe at point of neck
DECVRSIO S C - Nero, bare-headed, cuirassed, cloak flying behind, prancing right on horseback, holding spear; in front and behind, to left, mounted soldier riding holding vexillum over shoulder
Mint: Lugdunum (67 AD)
Wt./Size/Axis: 22.24g / 37mm / 180
RIC 1-Nero 581
Acquisition/Sale: Lucernae Ebay
The decursio, which occurs on the coins of Nero, probably refers to the military manúuvres or sham fights in the circus.
These words were used to signify the manúuvres of the Roman army, by which the soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They are frequently mentioned by Livy , and sometimes consisted of a sham fight between two divisions of the army (Liv. xl. 6, 5). With the standing armies under the Empire these manúuvres assumed a more regular form, and were constantly practised. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back, fully armed and equipped. This is called by Vegetius campicursio (Veget. i. 27, iii. 4), and by Suetonius campestris decursio ( Galb. 6).
The decursio was a military exercise of mock combat or a display of equestrian skill made by horse-riders and charioteers at public games. Despite Neroís provision of regular games, the presence of the vexillum on this type suggests a more military character to the scene. It has been suggested that the reverse refers to Neroís institution of cavalry manoeuvres for the Praetorian Guard. An alternative interpretation is that there is a link to Neroís fondness of racing horses, although Stevenson (DRC) disregards this. He explains that ďthe speed of the horses is not sufficiently rapidĒ.