Classical Numismatics Discussion Members' Gallery
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register.

Members' Gallery Home | Member Collections | Last Added | Last Comments | Most Viewed | Top Rated | My Favorities | Search Galleries
Search results - "Extraordinary"
NeroAsGenAug.jpg
1ar Nero52 views54-68

As

Bare head, right, IMP NERO CAESAR AVG P MAX TR P P P
Genius, GENIO AVGVSTI

RIC 86

Suetonius wrote: Nero was born nine months after the death of Tiberius, at Antium, at sunrise on the 15th of December (AD 37). . . . While he was still a young stripling he took part in a successful performance of the Troy Game in the Circus, in which he exhibited great self-possession. At the age of twelve or so (sometime in AD 50), he was adopted by Claudius, who appointed Annaeus Seneca, already a member of the Senate, as his tutor. The following night, it is said, Seneca dreamed that his young charge was really Caligula, and Nero soon proved the dream prophetic by seizing the first opportunity to reveal his cruel disposition. . . . After Claudius’s death (AD 54) had been announced publicly, Nero, who was not quite seventeen years old, decided to address the Guards in the late afternoon, since inauspicious omens that day had ruled out an earlier appearance. After being acclaimed Emperor on the Palace steps, he was carried in a litter to the Praetorian Camp where he spoke to the Guards, and then to the House where he stayed until evening. He refused only one of the many honours that were heaped upon him, that of ‘Father of the Country’, and declined that simply on account of his youth.

Eutropius summarized: To him succeeded NERO, who greatly resembled his uncle Caligula, and both disgraced and weakened the Roman empire; he indulged in such extraordinary luxury and extravagance, that, after the example of Caius Caligula, he even bathed in hot and cold perfumes, and fished with golden nets, which he drew up with cords of purple silk. He put to death a very great number of the senate. To all good men he was an enemy. At last he exposed himself in so disgraceful a manner, that he danced and sung upon the stage in the dress of a harp-player and tragedian. He was guilty of many murders, his brother, wife, and mother, being put to death by him. He set on fire the city of Rome, that he might enjoy the sight of a spectacle such as Troy formerly presented when taken and burned.

In military affairs he attempted nothing. Britain he almost lost; for two of its most noble towns4 were taken and levelled to the ground under his reign. The Parthians took from him Armenia, and compelled the Roman legions to pass under the yoke. Two provinces however were formed under him; Pontus Polemoniacus, by the concession of King Polemon; and the Cottian Alps, on the death of King Cottius.

15 When, having become detestable by such conduct to the city of Rome, and being deserted at the same time by every one, and declared an enemy by the senate, he was sought for to be led to punishment (the punishment being, that he should be dragged naked through the streets, with a fork placed under his head,5 be beaten to death with rods, and then hurled from the Tarpeian rock), he fled from the palace, and killed himself in a suburban villa of one of his freed-men, between the Salarian and Nomentane roads, at the fourth milestone from the city. He built those hot baths at Rome, which were formerly called the Neronian, but now the Alexandrian. He died in the thirty-second year of his age, and the fourteenth year of his reign; and in him all the family of Augustus became extinct.

Having successfully dispatched his scheming mother Agrippina in 59 and survived a decade on the throne, Nero must have felt like a genius when this was minted ca 64 AD!
1 commentsBlindado
TitusProv.jpg
1ax Titus96 views79-81

AE, Ankyra, Galatia
Laureate head, right AY KAICAP TITOC CEBASTO. . .
Man standing, left, SEBASTHNWN TEKTOSAGWN

RPC 1620

By Suetonius' account: Titus, surnamed Vespasianus like his father, possessed such an aptitude, by nature, nurture, or good fortune, for winning affection that he was loved and adored by all the world as Emperor. . . . He was born on the 30th of December AD41, the very year of Caligula’s assassination, in a little dingy room of a humble dwelling, near the Septizonium. . . .

He was handsome, graceful, and dignified, and of exceptional strength, though of no great height and rather full-bellied. He had an extraordinary memory, and an aptitude for virtually all the arts of war and peace, being a fine horseman, skilled in the use of weapons, yet penning impromptu verses in Greek and Latin with equal readiness and facility. He had a grasp of music too, singing well and playing the harp pleasantly and with ability. . . .

As military tribune in Germany (c57-59AD) and Britain (c60-62), he won an excellent reputation for energy and integrity, as is shown by the large number of inscribed statues and busts of him found in both countries. . . . When his quaestorship ended, he commanded one of his father’s legions in Judaea, capturing the strongholds of Tarichaeae and Gamala (67AD). His horse was killed under him in battle, but he mounted that of a comrade who fell fighting at his side. . . . [Upon] Vespasian’s accession, his father left him to complete the conquest of Judaea, and in the final assault on Jerusalem (70AD) Titus killed twelve of the defenders with as many arrows. . . .

From then on, he acted as his father’s colleague and even protector. He shared in his Judaean triumph (of AD 71), the censorship (AD 73), the exercise of tribunicial power, and in seven of his consulships (AD 70, 72, 74-77, 79). . . .

He died at the same villa as his father, Vespasian, on the 13th of September AD81, at the age of forty-one, after a reign of two years, two months, and twenty days. The people mourned his loss as if he were a member of their own family.
2 commentsBlindado
TrajanSestCeres~0.jpg
1bc Trajan48 views98-117

Sestertius
Laureate head, right, IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS V PP
Roma and kneeling Dacian, SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI SC

RIC 485

Eutropius enthused: To [Nerva] succeeded ULPIUS CRINITUS TRAJANUS, born at Italica in Spain, of a family rather ancient than eminent for his father was the first consul in it. He was chosen emperor at Agrippina, a city of Gaul. He exercised the government in such a manner, that he is deservedly preferred to all the other emperors. He was a man of extraordinary skill in managing affairs of state, and of remarkable courage. The limits of the Roman empire, which, since the reign of Augustus, had been rather defended than honourably enlarged, he extended far and wide. He rebuilt some cities in Germany; he subdued Dacia by the overthrow of Decebalus, and formed a province beyond the Danube, in that territory which the Thaiphali, Victoali, and Theruingi now occupy. This province was a thousand miles in circumference.

He recovered Armenia, which the Parthians had seized, putting to death Parthamasires who held the government of it. He gave a king to the Albani. He received into alliance the king of the Iberians, Sarmatians, Bosporani, Arabians, Osdroeni, and Colchians. He obtained the mastery over the Cordueni and Marcomedi, as well as over Anthemusia, an extensive region of Persia. He conquered and kept possession of Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Babylon, and the country of the Messenii. He advanced as far as the boundaries of India, and the Red Sea, where he formed three provinces, Armenia, Assyria, and Mesopotamia, including the tribes which border on Madena. He afterwards, too, reduced Arabia into the form of a province. He also fitted out a fleet for the Red Sea, that he might use it to lay waste the coasts of India.

Yet he went beyond his glory in war, in ability and judgment as a ruler, conducting himself as an equal towards all, going often to his friends as a visitor, either when they were ill, or when they were celebrating feast days, and entertaining them in his turn at banquets where there was no distinction of rank, and sitting frequently with them in their chariots; doing nothing unjust towards any of the senators, nor being guilty of any dishonesty to fill his treasury; exercising liberality to all, enriching with offices of trust, publicly and privately, every body whom he had known even with the least familiarity; building towns throughout the world, granting many immunities to states, and doing every thing with gentleness and kindness; so that during his whole reign, there was but one senator condemned, and he was sentenced by the senate without Trajan's knowledge. Hence, being regarded throughout the world as next to a god, he deservedly obtained the highest veneration both living and dead. . . .

After having gained the greatest glory both in the field and at home, he was cut off, as he was returning from Persia, by a diarrhoea, at Seleucia in Isauria. He died in the sixty-third year, ninth month, and fourth day of his age, and in the nineteenth year, sixth month, and fifteenth day of his reign. He was enrolled among the gods, and was the only one of all the emperors that was buried within the city. His bones, contained in a golden urn, lie in the forum which he himself built, under a pillar whose height is a hundred and forty-four feet. So much respect has been paid to his memory, that, even to our own times, they shout in acclamations to the emperors, "More fortunate than Augustus, better than Trajan!"
Blindado
AntonPiusAsWreath.jpg
1bh Antoninus Pius49 views138-161

As

Laureate head, right, ANTONINUS AVG PIVS PP TR P XI
Wreath, PRIMI DECENALIS COS IIII SC

RIC 171

According to the Historia Augusta: Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Antoninus Pius. . . was born at an estate at Lanuvium on the thirteenth day before the Kalends of October in the twelfth consulship of Domitiaiiand first of Cornelius Dolabella. . . . In personal appearance he was strikingly hand-
some, in natural talent brilliant, in temperament kindly; he was aristocratic in countenance and calm in nature, a singularly gifted speaker and an elegant scholar, conspicuously thrifty, a conscientious land-holder, gentle, generous, and mindful of others' rights. He possessed all these qualities, moreover, in the proper mean and without ostentation, and, in fine, was praiseworthy in every way and, in the minds of all good men. . . . He was given the name of Pius by the senate, either because, when his father-in-law was old and weak, he lent him a supporting hand in his attendance at the senate. . . or because he spared those men whom Hadrian in his ill-health had condemned to death, or because after Hadrian's death he
had unbounded and extraordinary honours decreed for him in spite of opposition from all, or because, when Hadrian wished to make away with himself, by great care and watchfulness he prevented him from so doing, or because he was in fact very kindly by nature and did no harsh deed in his own time. . . .

The manner of his adoption, they say, was some what thus : After the death of Aelius Verus, whom Hadrian had adopted and named Caesar, a day was set for the meeting of the senate, and to this Arrius Antoninus came, supporting the steps of his father-in-law. For this act, it is said, Hadrian adopted him. But this could not have been the only reason for the adoption, nor ought it to have been, especially since Antoninus had always done well in his administration of public office. . . .

After his accession to the throne he removed none of the men whom Hadrian had appointed to office, and, indeed, was so steadfast and loyal that he retained good men in the government of provinces for terms of seven and even nine years. He waged a number of wars, but all of them through his legates. . . . With such care did he govern all peoples under him that he looked after all things and all men as if they were his own. As a result, the provinces all prospered in his reign, informers were abolished, and the confiscation of goods was less frequent than ever before. . . .

He died in the seventieth year of his age, but his loss was felt as though he had been but a youth. . . . On the second day, as he saw that his condition was becoming worse, in the presence of his prefects he committed the state and his daughter to Marcus Antoninus. . . .
Blindado
DiocletianAntConcordMil.jpg
1ds Diocletian13 views284-305

AE antoninianus

Radiate, draped, cuirassed bust, right, IMP C C VAL DIOCLETIANVS P F AVG
Zeus and Diocletian, CONCORDIA MILITVM

RIC 284B

According to the Historia Augusta, after the death of Numerian: Then a huge assembly was held and a tribunal, too, was constructed. And when the question was asked who would be the most lawful avenger of Numerian and who could be given to the commonwealth as a good emperor, then all, with a heaven-sent unanimity, conferred the title of Augustus on Diocletian. . . . He was at this time in command of the household-troops, an outstanding man and wise, devoted to the commonwealth, devoted to his kindred, duly prepared to face whatever the occasion demanded, forming plans that were always deep though sometimes over-bold, and one who could by prudence and exceeding firmness hold in check the impulses of a restless spirit. This man, then, having ascended the tribunal was hailed as Augustus, and when someone asked how Numerian had been slain, he drew his sword and pointing to Aper, the prefect of the guard, he drove it through him, saying as he did so, "It is he who contrived Numerian's death.''

Eutropius summarized a long and important reign: DIOCLETIAN, a native of Dalmatia, [was] of such extremely obscure birth, that he is said by most writers to have been the son of a clerk, but by some to have been a freedman of a senator named Anulinus. . . . He soon after overthrew Carinus, who was living under the utmost hatred and detestation, in a great battle at Margum, Carinus being betrayed by his own troops, for though he had a greater number of men than the enemy, he was altogether abandoned by them between Viminacium and mount Aureus. He thus became master of the Roman empire; and when the peasants in Gaul made an insurrection, giving their faction the name of Bagaudae, and having for leaders Amandus and Aelianus, he despatched Maximian Herculius, with the authority of Caesar, to suppress them. Maximian, in a few battles of little importance, subdued the rustic multitude, and restored peace to Gaul. . . .

Diocletian promoted MAXIMIAN HERCULIUS from the dignity of Caesar to that of emperor, and created Constantius and Maximian Galerius Caesars, of whom Constantius is said to have been the grand-nephew of Claudius by a daughter, and Maximian Galerius to have been born in Dacia not far from Sardica. That he might also unite them by affinity, Constantius married Theodora the step-daughter of Herculius, by whom he had afterwards six children, brothers to Constantine; while Galerius married Valeria, the daughter of Diocletian; both being obliged to divorce the wives that they had before. . . .

Diocletian, meanwhile, besieging Achilleus in Alexandria, obliged him to surrender about eight months after, and put him to death. He used his victory, indeed, cruelly, and distressed all Egypt with severe proscriptions and massacres. Yet at the same time he made many judicious arrangements and regulations, which continue to our own days. . . .

Diocletian was of a crafty disposition, with much sagacity, and keen penetration. He was willing to gratify his own disposition to cruelty in such a way as to throw the odium upon others; he was however a very active and able prince. He was the first that introduced into the Roman empire a ceremony suited rather to royal usages than to Roman liberty, giving orders that he should be adored, whereas all emperors before him were only saluted. He put ornaments of precious stones on his dress and shoes, when the imperial distinction had previously been only in the purple robe, the rest of the habit being the same as that of other men. . . .

But when Diocletian, as age bore heavily upon him, felt himself unable to sustain the government of the empire, he suggested to Herculius that they should both retire into private life, and commit the duty of upholding the state to more vigorous and youthful hands. With this suggestion his colleague reluctantly complied. Both of them, in the same day, exchanged the robe of empire for an ordinary dress, Diocletian at Nicomedia, Herculius at Milan, soon after a magnificent triumph which they celebrated at Rome over several nations, with a noble succession of pictures, and in which the wives, sisters, and children of Narseus were led before their chariots. The one then retired to Salonae, and the other into Lucania.

Diocletian lived to an old age in a private station, at a villa which is not far from Salonae, in honourable retirement, exercising extraordinary philosophy, inasmuch as he alone of all men, since the foundation of the Roman empire, voluntarily returned from so high a dignity to the condition of private life, and to an equality with the other citizens. That happened to him, therefore, which had happened to no one since men were created, that, though he died in a private condition, he was enrolled among the gods.
Blindado
CaurausiusComesAnt.jpg
1ds2 Carausius19 views287-293

AE Antoninianus

Radiate, draped & cuirassed bust right, IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG
COMES AVG, Victory standing left holding wreath & palm. ML in ex

RIC 15

Eutropius recorded: During this period, Carausius, who, though of very mean birth, had gained extraordinary reputation by a course of active service in war, having received a commission in his post at Bononia, to clear the sea, which the Franks and Saxons infested, along the coast of Belgica and Armorica, and having captured numbers of the barbarians on several occasions, but having never given back the entire booty to the people of the province or sent it to the emperors, and there being a suspicion, in consequence, that the barbarians were intentionally allowed by him to congregate there, that he might seize them and their booty as they passed, and by that means enrich himself, assumed, on being sentenced by Maximian to be put to death, the imperial purple, and took on him the government of Britain. . . .

With Carausius, however, as hostilities were found vain against a man eminently skilled in war, a peace was at last arranged. At the end of seven years, Allectus, one of his supporters, put him to death, and held Britain himself for three years subsequently, but was cut off by the efforts of Asclepiodotus, praefect of the praetorian guard.
Blindado
GaleriusFollisGenio.jpg
1dv Galerius21 views305-311

Quarter Follis

Laureate head, right, MAXIMIANVS AVG
Genius standing left, modius on head, holding cornucopia & patera, SIS in ex., GENIO POPVLI ROMANI

RIC 169b

Eutropius tells us: Diocletian promoted MAXIMIAN HERCULIUS from the dignity of Caesar to that of emperor, and created Constantius and Maximian Galerius Caesars, of whom Constantius is said to have been the grand-nephew of Claudius by a daughter, and Maximian Galerius to have been born in Dacia not far from Sardica. . . . Galerius married Valeria, the daughter of Diocletian. . . .

Galerius Maximian, in acting against Narseus, fought, on the first occasion, a battle far from successful, meeting him between Callinicus and Carrae, and engaging in the combat rather with rashness than want of courage; for he contended with a small army against a very numerous enemy. Being in consequence defeated, and going to join Diocletian, he was received by him, when he met him on the road, with such extreme haughtiness, that he is said to have run by his chariot for several miles in his scarlet robes.

But having soon after collected forces in Illyricum and Moesia, he fought a second time with Narseus (the grandfather of Hormisdas and Sapor), in Greater Armenia, with extraordinary success, and with no less caution and spirit, for he undertook, with one or two of the cavalry, the office of a speculator. After putting Narseus to flight, he captured his wives, sisters, and children, with a vast number of the Persian nobility besides, and a great quantity of treasure; the king himself he forced to take refuge in the remotest deserts in his dominions. Returning therefore in triumph to Diocletian, who was then encamped with some troops in Mesopotamia, he was welcomed by him with great honour. Subsequently, they conducted several wars both in conjunction and separately, subduing the Carpi and Bastarnae, and defeating the Sarmatians, from which nations he settled a great number of captives in the Roman territories. . . .

Galerius, a man of excellent moral character, and skilful in military affairs, finding that Italy, by Constantius's permission, was put under his government, created two Caesars, MAXIMIN, whom he appointed over the east, and SEVERUS, to whom he committed Italy. He himself resided in Illyricum.
Blindado
ConstantinusFollisSol.jpg
1ec_2 Constantine the Great18 views307-337

Follis

Laureate, draped, cuirassed bust right, IMP CONSTANTINVS PF AVG
Sol standing left, chlamys across left shoulder, raising right hand and holding globe in left hand, captive to left. Mintmark RQ.

RIC VII 52

According to Zonaras: Constans, in the eleventh year of his reign since he had been proclaimed Caesar, having ruled gently and mildly, came to the end of his life while residing in Britain, having, because of his goodness, bequeathed grief for himself among those he ruled, first having appointed successor the elder of his own sons, namely Constantine the Great, whom he begat by his first wife. He also had by his second wife, Herculius’ daughter Theodora, other sons, Constantinus, Hannibalianus, and Constantius. Constantine the Great was preferred over them, since they were judged by their father to be unsuited for sovereignty. . . . Constantine, when he was still a lad, was actually given by his father as a hostage to Gallerius, in order that, serving as a hostage, at the same time he be trained in the exercise of the soldierly art.

Eutropius summarizes: CONSTANTINE, being a man of great energy, bent upon effecting whatever he had settled in his mind, and aspiring to the sovereignty of the whole world, proceeded to make war on Licinius, although he had formed a connexion with him by marriage,5 for his sister Constantia was married to Licinius. And first of all be overthrew him, by a sudden attack, at Cibalae in Pannonia, where he was making vast preparations for war; and after becoming master of Dardania, Maesia, and Macedonia, took possession also of several other provinces.

There were then various contests between them, and peace made and broken. At last Licinius, defeated in a battle at Nicomedia by sea and land, surrendered himself, and, in violation of an oath taken by Constantine, was put to death, after being divested of the purple, at Thessalonica.

At this time the Roman empire fell under the sway of one emperor and three Caesars, a state of things which had never existed before; the sons of Constantine ruling over Gaul, the east, and Italy. But the pride of prosperity caused Constantine greatly to depart from his former agreeable mildness of temper. Falling first upon his own relatives, he put to death his son, an excellent man; his sister's son, a youth of amiable disposition; soon afterwards his wife, and subsequently many of his friends.

He was a man, who, in the beginning of his reign, might have been compared to the best princes; in the latter part of it, only to those of a middling character. Innumerable good qualities of mind and body were apparent in him; he was exceedingly ambitious of military glory, and had great success in his wars; a success, however, not more than proportioned to his exertions. After he had terminated the Civil war, he also overthrew the Goths on various occasions, granting them at last peace, and leaving on the minds of the barbarians a strong remembrance of his kindness. He was attached to the arts of peace and to liberal studies, and was ambitious of honourable popularity, which he, indeed, sought by every kind of liberality and obligingness. Though he was slow, from suspicion, to serve some of his friends,6 yet he was exceedingly generous towards others, neglecting no opportunity to add to their riches and honours.

He enacted many laws, some good and equitable, but most of them superfluous, and some severe. He was the first that endeavoured to raise the city named after him to such a height as to make it a rival to Rome. As he was preparing for war against the Parthians, who were then disturbing Mesopotamia, he died in the Villa Publica, at Nicomedia, in the thirty-first year of his reign, and the sixty-sixth of his age.

Zosimus described Constantine's conversion to Christianity: For he put to death his son Crispus, stiled (as I mentioned) Caesar, on suspicion of debauching his mother-in-law Fausta, without any regard to the ties of nature. And when his own mother Helena expressed much sorrow for this atrocity, lamenting the young man's death with great bitterness, Constantine under pretence of comforting her, applied a remedy worse than the disease. For causing a bath to be heated to an extraordinary degree, he shut up Fausta in it, and a short time after took her out dead. Of which his conscience accusing him, as also of violating his oath, he went to the priests to be purified from his crimes. But they told him, that there was no kind of lustration that was sufficient to clear him of such enormities. A Spaniard, named Aegyptius, very familiar with the court-ladies, being at Rome, happened to fall into converse with Constantine, and assured him, that the Christian doctrine would teach him how to cleanse himself from all his offences, and that they who received it were immediately absolved from all their sins. Constantine had no sooner heard this than he easily believed what was told him, and forsaking the rites of his country, received those which Aegyptius offered him ; and for the first instance of his impiety, suspected the truth of divination.
Blindado
JulianIIAE3VotX.jpg
1en Julian II "Apostate"26 views360-363

AE3

Pearl-diademed, helmeted, cuirassed bust left, holding shield & spear, D N FL CL IVLIANVS P F AVG
VOT X MVLT XX in four lines within wreath, palm branch-BSIS-palm branch in ex [?].

RIC 415

According to Zosimus: Constantius, having so well succeeded in his design against Vetranio, marched against Magnentius, having first conferred the title of Caesar on Gallus, the son of his uncle, and brother to Julian who was afterwards emperor, and given him in marriage his sister Constantia. . . . CONSTANTIUS, after having acted towards Gallus Caesar in the manner I have related, left Pannonia to proceed into Italy. . . . He scarcely thought himself capable of managing affairs at this critical period. He was unwilling, however, to associate any one with himself in the government, because he so much desired to rule alone, and could esteem no man his friend. Under these circumstances he was at a loss how to act. It happened, however, that when the empire was in the greatest danger, Eusebia, the wife of Constantius, who was a woman of extraordinary learning, and of greater wisdom than her sex is usually endowed with, advised him to confer the government of the nations beyond the Alps on Julianus Caesar, who was brother to Gallus, and grandson to Constantius. As she knew that the emperor was suspicious of all his kindred, she thus circumvented him. She observed to him, that Julian was a young man unacquainted with the intrigues of state, having devoted himself totally to his studies; and that he was wholly inexperienced in worldly business. That on this account he would be more fit for his purpose than any other person. That either he would be fortunate, and his success would be attributed to the emperor's conduct, or that he would fail and perish; and that thus Constantius would have none of the imperial family to succeed to him.

Constantius, having approved her advice, sent for Julian from Athens, where he lived among the philosophers, and excelled all his masters in every kind of learning. Accordingly, Julian returning from Greece into Italy, Constantius declared him Caesar, gave him in marriage his sister Helena, and sent him beyond the Alps. . . .

Constantius, having thus disposed of Julian, marched himself into Pannonia and Moesia, and having there suppressed the Quadi and the Sarmatians, proceeded to the east, and was provoked to war by the inroads of the Persians. Julian by this time had arrived beyond the Alps into the Gallic nations which he was to rule. Perceiving that the Barbarians continued committing the same violence, Eusebia, for the same reasons as before, persuaded Constantius to place the entire management of those countries into the hands of Julian. . . . Julian finding the military affairs of Gallia Celtica in a very ruinous state, and that the Barbarians pased the Rhine without any resistance, even almost as far as the sea-port towns, he took a survey of the remaining parts of the enemy. And understanding that the people of those parts were terrified at the very name of the Barbarians, while those whom Constantius had sent along with him, who were not more than three hundred and sixty, knew nothing more, as he used to say, than how to say their prayers, he enlisted as many more as he could and took in a great number of volunteers. He also provided arms, and finding a quantity of old weapons in some town he fitted them up, and distributed them among the soldiers. The scouts bringing him intelligence, that an immense number of Barbarians had crossed the river near the city of Argentoratum (Strasburg) which stands on the Rhine, he no sooner heard of it, than he led forth his army with the greatest speed, and engaging with the enemy gained such a victory as exceeds all description.

After these events he raised a great army to make war on the whole German nation; He was opposed however by the Barbarians in vast numbers. Caesar therefore would not wait while they came up to him, but crossed the Rhine, preferring that their country should be the seat of war, and not that of the Romans, as by that means the cities would escape being again pillaged by the Barbarians. A most furious battle therefore took place; a great number of the Barbarians being slain on the field of battle, while the rest fled, and were pursued by Caesar into the Hercynian forest, and many of them killed. . . .

But while Julian was at Parisium, a small town in Germany, the soldiers, being ready to march, continued at supper till midnight in a place near the palace, which they so called there. They were as yet ignorant of any design against Caesar [by Constantius], when some tribunes, who began to suspect the contrivance against him, privately distributed a number of anonymous billets among the soldiers, in which they represented to them, that Caesar, by his judicious conduct had so managed affairs, that almost all of them had erected trophies over the Barbarians ; that he had always fought like a private soldier, and was now in extreme danger from the emperor, who would shortly deprive him of his whole army, unless they prevented it. Some of the soldiers having read these billets, and published the intrigue to the whole army, all were highly enraged. They suddenly rose from their seats in great commotion, and with the cups yet in their hands went to the palace. Breaking open the doors without ceremony, they brought out Caesar, and lifting him on a shield declared him emperor and Augustus. They then, without attending to his reluctance, placed a diadem upon his head. . . .

Arriving at Naisus, he consulted the soothsayers what measures to pursue. As the entrails signified that he must stay there for some time, he obeyed, observing likewise the time that was mentioned in his dream. When this, according to the motion of the planets, was arrived, a party of horsemen arrived from Constantinople at Naisus, with intelligence that Constantius was dead, and that the armies desired Julian to be emperor. Upon this he accepted what the gods had bestowed upon him, and proceeded on his journey. On his arrival at. Byzantium, he was received with joyful acclamations. . . .

[After slashing through Persia and crossing the Tigris,] they perceived the Persian army, with which they engaged, and having considerably the advantage, they killed a great number of Persians. Upon the following day, about noon, the Persians drew up in a large body, and once more attacked the rear of the Roman army. The Romans, being at that time out of their ranks, were surprised and alarmed at the suddenness of the attack, yet made a stout and spirited defence. The emperor, according to his custom, went round the army, encouraging them to fight with ardour. When by this means all were engaged, the emperor, who sometimes rode to the commanders and tribunes, and was at other times among the private soldiers, received a wound in the heat of the engagement, and was borne on a shield to his tent. He survived only till midnight. He then expired, after having nearly subverted the Persian empire.

Note: Julian favored the pagan faith over Christianity and was tarred by the church as "the apostate."
Blindado
ValentinianIIAE3UrbsRom.jpg
1et Valentinian II19 views373-392

AE3, Nicomedia

Pearl-diademed, draped & cuirassed bust rightt, D N VALENTINIANVS IVN P F AVG
Roma seated on cuirass, holding spear and Victory on globe, VRBS ROMA

The SMN mintmark indicates that the coin was minted in Nicomedia, but RIC does not list this reverse type for that mint.

Sim to RIC 51

Zosimus reports: Valentinian being dead, the tribunes Merobaudes and Equitius, reflecting on the distance at which Valens and Gratian resided, the former being in the east, and the latter left by his father in the western part of Gaul, were apprehensive lest the Barbarians beyond the Ister should make an effort while the country was without a ruler. They therefore sent for the younger son of Valentinian, who was born of his wife the widow of Magnentius, who was not far from thence with the child. Having clothed him in purple, they brought him into the court, though scarcely five years old. The empire was afterwards divided between Gratian and the younger Valentinian, at the discretion of their guardians, they not being of age to manage their own affairs. The Celtic nations, Spain, and Britain were given to Gratian; and Italy, Illyricum, and Africa to Valentinian. . . .

Affairs being thus situated in the east, in Thrace, and in Illyricum, Maximus, who deemed his appointments inferior to his merits, being only governor of the countries formerly under Gratian, projected how to depose the young Valentinian from the empire, if possible totally, but should he fail in the whole, to secure at least some part. . . . he immediately entered Italy without; resistance, and marched to Aquileia. . . . This so much surprised Valentinian, and rendered his situation so desperate, that his courtiers were alarmed lest he should be taken by Maximus and put to death. He, therefore, immediately embarked,and sailed to Thessalonica with his mother Justina, who, as I before mentioned, had been the wife of Magnentius, but after his decease was taken in marriage by the emperor Valentinian on account of her extraordinary beauty. She carried along with her her daughter Galla. After having passed many seas, and arriving at Thessalonica, they sent messengers to the emperor Theodosius, intreating him now at least to revenge the injuries committed against the family of Valentinian. He was astonished at hearing of this, and began to forget his extravagance, and to lay some restraint on his wild inclination for pleasure. . . . Theodosius then delivered to Valentinian as much of the empire as his father had possessed; in which he only acted as he was enjoined by his duty to those who so merited his kindness. . . .

intelligence was brought that the emperor Valentianian was no more, and that his death happened in this manner: Arbogastes, a Frank, who was appointed by the emperor Gratian lieutenant to Baudo, at the death of Baudo, confiding in his own ability, assumed the command without the emperor's permission. Being thought proper for the station by all the soldiers under him, both for his valour and experience in military affairs, and for his disregard of riches, he attained great influence. He thus became so elevated, that he would speak without reserve to the emperor, and would blame any measure which he thought improper. This gave such umbrage to Valentinian. . . .

Eugenius became the sincere friend of Arbogastes, who had no secret which he did not confide to him. Recollecting Eugenius, therefore, at this juncture, who by his extraordinary learning and the gravity of his conversation seemed well-adapted for the management of an empire, he communicated to him his designs. But finding him not pleased with the proposals, he attempted to prevail on him by all the arts he could use, and entreated him not to reject what fortune so favourably offered. Having at length persuaded him, he deemed it advisable in the first place to remove Valentinian, and thus to deliver the sole authority to Eugenius. With this view he proceeded to Vienna, a town in Gaul, where the emperor resided; and as he was amusing himself near the town in some sports with the soldiers, apprehending no danger, Arbogastes gave him a mortal wound.
Blindado
EugeniusSiliquaRoma.jpg
1ex Eugenius26 views392-394

AR siliqua

Bearded, pearl diademed, draped, cuirassed bust rightt, DN EVGENIVS PF AVG
Roma seated left on cuirass, MDPS below, VIRTVS ROMANORVM

RIC 32c

Zosimus reports: Eugenius became the sincere friend of Arbogastes, who had no secret which he did not confide to him. Recollecting Eugenius, therefore, at this juncture, who by his extraordinary learning and the gravity of his conversation seemed well-adapted for the management of an empire, he communicated to him his designs. But finding him not pleased with the proposals, he attempted to prevail on him by all the arts he could use, and entreated him not to reject what fortune so favourably offered. Having at length persuaded him, he deemed it advisable in the first place to remove Valentinian, and thus to deliver the sole authority to Eugenius. With this view he proceeded to Vienna, a town in Gaul, where the emperor resided; and as he was amusing himself near the town in some sports with the soldiers, apprehending no danger, Arbogastes gave him a mortal wound. To this audacious action the soldiers quietly submitted, not only because he was so brave and warlike a person, but because they were attached to him through his contempt of riches. As soon as he had performed this action, he declared Eugenius emperor, and infused into them the most favourable hopes that he would prove an excellent ruler, since he possessed such extraordinary qualifications. . . .

[Theodosius marched against Eugenius.] The emperor (having mourned for [his just deceased wife] a whole day, according to the rule of Homer), proceeded with his army to the war, leaving behind him his son Arcadius, who had some time previously been made emperor. This prince being young, his father, in order to amend the defects of his nonage, left with him Rufinus, who was prefect of the court, and acted as he pleased, even as much as the power of sovereignty enabled the emperor himself to do. Having done this, he took with him his younger son Honorius, quickly passed through the intermediate countries, and having exceded his expectations in crossing the Alps, arrived where the enemy was stationed : Eugenius being astonished at seeing him there whom he so little expected. But as he was arrived there, and consequently was under the necessity of engaging, he judged it most prudent to place the Barbarian troops in front, and to expose them first. He ordered Gaines with the troops under his command to make the first attack, and the other commanders of Barbarian soldiers to follow him, either cavalry, horse archers, or infantry. Eugenius then drew out his forces. When the two armies were engaged, so great an eclipse of the sun happened, that for more than half the time of the action it appeared rather to be night than day. As they fought therefore a kind of nocturnal battle, so great a slaughtor was made, that in the same day the greater part of the allies of Theodosius were slain, with their commander Bacurius, who fought very courageously at their head, while the other commanders escaped very narrowly with the remainder. When night came on and the armies had rallied, Eugenius was so elated with his victory, that he distributed money among those who had behaved with the greatest gallantry in the battle, and gave them time to refresh themselves, as if after such a defeat there was no probability of another engagement As they were thus solacing themselves, the emperor Theodosius about break of day fell suddenly on them with his whole forces, while they were still reclined |129 on the ground, and killed them before they knew of the approach of an enemy. He then proceeded to the tent of Eugenius, where he attacked those who were around him, killing many of them, and taking some of them in their flight, among whom was Eugenius. When they had got him in their power, they cut off his head, and carried it on a long spear around the camp, in order to shew those who still adhered to him, that it was now their interest to be reconciled to the emperor, inasmuch as the usurper was removed.
Blindado
Caesar_DICT_ITER.jpg
46 BC Gaius Julius Caesar 50 viewsDICT ITER COS TERT
Head of Ceres right wreathed with corn

AVGVR PONT MAX
Simpulum, sprinkler, jug and lituus D or M on right

Utica? 46 BC
Sear 1403

SOLD

This extensive issue of denarii would seem to represent another measure on the part of Caesar to ease the burden on the Capitoline mint in the period prior to the distribution of vast sums of money at the quadruple triumph. The inscription on these coins omit the actual name of the dictator. However, the titles clearly refer to Caesar- his dictatorships, consulships and possession of various priestly offices.

Attention is drawn to the extraordinary nature of the issue by the appearance of either a "D" (Donativum) or "M" (munus, gift) in the reverse field. This tells of the intended use of the coins for the payment of Caesar's loyal veterans, both prior to the quadruple triumph and during the celebration itself.
Titus Pullo
1428~0.JPG
ALFOLDI 034 VAR. FIDEM MILITVM - REVERSE TYPE UNLISTED IN ALFOLDI16 viewsOBVERSE: IMP PROBVS INV AVG
REVERSE: FIDES MILITVM (The standards; shields and bucina)
BUST TYPE: B = radiate, cuirassed bust right
FIELD / EXERGUE MARKS: -/-//KA
WEIGHT 3.99g / AXIS: 7h / WIDTH 22mm
RIC: Unlisted
ALFOLDI: Unlisted
This coin in illustrated and was first published by Ph. Gysen, Antoniniani avec revers exceptionnel pour Probus, BCEN 35/2 (1998), 43-47, Fig. 4; see also article by Johan van Heesch "Deux aureliani exceptionnels de Probus", Revue Belge de Numismatique, Vol. CXXVI (1980), p. 97-101, where the same reverse is illustrated but with MILITVM FIDES legend and no mintmarks.

COLLECTION NO. 1428

Ex Ph. Gysen collection = ex Heidelberger Münzhandlung H. Grün, Auktion 20 (1997) Lot 1130.

One of only 3 known specimens in the world with this extraordinary reverse and the FIDES MILITVM LEGEND (the other being in M. Vosper collection = ex Gysen collection = ex Jacquier auction 45 lot 1537 = ex NAC auction 8 (1995) lot 921 and CNG auction 85 lot 1137). There are 3 additional similar specimens known with the same reverse type but with MILITVM FIDES legend and no mintmarks (one in British Museum, one in Vienna - both examples illustrated in the above article by Johan van Heesch and one in M. Vosper collection = ex Helios Numismatic Auction 7 lot 897).

A coin of the highest rarity and numismatic interest. A true gem and highlight of my Probus collection!
Barnaba6
auli~0.jpg
Augustus and Livia , Colonial Romula (Seville), Minted by Tiberus13 viewsAugustus and Livia, minted by Tiberius, 14 Aug 19 - 16 Mar 37 A.D.
This coin associates Livia with globe and crescent symbols and refers to her as Augusta Genetrix Orbis, Sacred Mother of the World. This extraordinary title was never official and is not used on any other coin type for any empress.
5474. Orichalcum dupondius, RPC I 73, Alverez Burgos 1587, aF, Colonia Romula mint, 25.1g, 33.4mm, 180°, obverse PERM DIVI AVG COL ROM, Augustus radiate head right, star above, thunderbolt right; reverse IVLIA AVGVSTA GENETRIX ORBIS, Livia head left on globe, crescent above;
sold 4-2018
NORMAN K
Nabataean_pottery_1.jpg
BCC cg825 viewsNabataean Pottery Fragments
1st - 2nd century CE?
Four small fragments found near
each other, with old breaks. Probably
part of a decorated plate or bowl of
very fine clay. The Nabataeans were
well-known for their extraordinary
“eggshell thin” decorated ceramic work.
A fairly unusual surface find from the
beach south of Caesarea Maritima, 1973.
Overall length and width: 3.3cm.x3.0cm.
Thickness: less than 2.0mm.
v-drome
0160-310np_noir.jpg
Commodus, Sestertius - *139 viewsMinted in Rome, AD 192
L AEL AVREL CO---MM AVG P FEL, Laureate head of Commodus right
HERCVLI ROMANO AVG, Hercules facing, head left, holding club and lion's skin, resting on trophy. SC in field
21,01 gr
Ref : RCV #5752, Cohen #203, BMC # 314. RIC # 640.

This is the very first roman coin I have ever possessed, gift from my grand father who found it digging a trench at Verdun battle during WWI

The following comment is taken from the description of a similar example (in far much better condition) in NAC auction 54, # 477 :
Few Roman coins excite as much commentary as those of Commodus, which show him possessed of Hercules. Not only do they present an extraordinary image, but they offer incontrovertible support to the literary record. The reports of Commodus’ megalomania and infatuation with Hercules are so alarming and fanciful that if the numismatic record was not there to confirm, modern historians would almost certainly regard the literary record as an absurd version of affairs, much in the way reports of Tiberius’ depraved behaviour on Capri are considered to be callous exaggerations. Faced with such rich and diverse evidence, there can be no question that late in his life Commodus believed that Hercules was his divine patron. Indeed, he worshipped the demigod so intensely that he renamed the month of September after him, and he eventually came to believe himself to be an incarnation of the mythological hero. By tradition, Hercules had fashioned his knotted club from a wild olive tree that he tore from the soil of Mount Helicon and subsequently used to kill the lion of Cithaeron when he was only 18 years old. Probably the most familiar account of his bow and arrows was his shooting of the Stymphalian birds while fulfilling his sixth labour. The reverse inscription HERCVLI ROMANO AVG (‘to the August Roman Hercules’) makes the coin all the more interesting, especially when put into context with those of contemporary coins inscribed HERCVLI COMMODO AVG, which amounts to a dedication ‘to Hercules Commodus Augustus’.
1 commentsPotator II
H15a.jpg
Constans AR Heavy Miliarense148 viewsConstans AR Heavy Miliarense. Siscia. 342 - 343 AD. FL IVL CONSTANS P F AVG, diademed, draped and cuirassed bust right / GAVDIVM POPVLI ROMANI, within laurel wreath inscribed SIC XX SIC XXX flanked by palms, SIS and small wreath in ex. RIC 151

VERY RARE - R2
GOOD EXTREMELY FINE - CERTAINLY ONE OF IF NOT THE FINEST KNOWN
EXTRAORDINARY PEDIGREE

Ex. J. Horsky Collection
Ex. Vautier Collection
Ex. M. Collignon Collection
Ex. H. C. Levis Collection
Ex. E. A. Sydenham Collection
Ex. W. Niggeler Collection
Ex. A. Hess Nachf., Francfort 155 (1917), 4457
Ex. Naville & Cie., Genève 2 (Lucerne 1922), 1759
Ex. Naville & Cie, Genève - Ars Classica 11 (Lucerne 1925), 1004
Ex. Glendining & Co., Ltd., London 24 nov. 1948, 579
Ex. Münzen & Medaillen AG Basel - Bank Leu & Co AG Zurich / SlgNiggeler 3 (1967) 1523
Ex. Bank Leu AG Zurich 48 (1989) 429
Ex. Hess-Divo 2007
2 commentsTrajan
constantiusII_alexandria72.jpg
Constantius II, RIC VIII, Alexandria 72 var.64 viewsConstantius II, 324 - 361, son of Constantine I
AE - AE 2 (Centenionalis), 6.04g
Alexandria, 4th officina, 15 March 351 - 6 Nov. 355
obv. DN CONSTAN - TIVS PF AVG
bust, draped and cuirassed, pearl-diademed, r.
rev. FEL TEMP RE - PARATIO
Helmeted soldier to l., shield on l. arm, spearing falling horseman; shield on
ground at r.; horseman, bearded and wearing turban(!), turns to face soldier and extends l. arm (type FH3?)
in l. field Gamma
in ex. ALE Delta
RIC VIII, Alexandria 72 var. LRBC 2863
about VF, even brown patina

The position of the horseman is extraordinary and doesn't fit any of the RIC types of FH. And he doesn't wear a pointed cap - as described in RIC - but obviously a turban! So I think he is not an ordinary horseman but a dignitary.
The P in the rev. legend looks like a D. A proof that the legends on the obv. and the rev. are cut by different die cutters.

Not in Helvetica's FH lists.
1 commentsJochen
D251.jpg
Domitian RIC-25183 viewsÆ Quadrans, 3.32g
Rome Mint, 84-85 AD
Obv: (No legend) Rhinoceros stg. l.
Rev: IMP DOMIT AVG GERM; S C in centre
RIC 251 (R). BMC -. BNC 542.
Acquired from Marc Breitsprecher, February 2019.

A few years into Domitian's reign an extraordinary issue of quadrantes were struck featuring a rhinoceros. Although the coins are undated, their production can be narrowed down between late 83 when he assumed the title Germanicus and 85 when the consular date XI appeared on the quadrantes. The type is highly unusual and breaks with the standard obverses that were normally featured on the quadrans. One may ask, why a rhinoceros? Certainly the animal was rare in Rome and most difficult to obtain. The rhinoceros depicted on the coin is the African species, identified by the two horns. Martial in his book 'On Spectacles' tells of such a rhinoceros in the Colosseum. Presumably, these coins were struck with that very 'star performer' in mind. Ted Buttrey wrote about this coin type in his article Domitian, the Rhinoceros, and the Date of Martial's "Liber De Spectaculis": "it is wrong to write off the rhinoceros of Domitian's coin casually, as if the coin were a picture postcard from the zoo: 'This is a rhinoceros'. No, coin types are pointed. Everything has to do with imperial advertisement and with its importance at the moment of issue: 'This is my rhinoceros'. Domitian's rhinoceros, in its supremacy in the arena might well stand as a metaphor for the invincible success of the emperor conquering general who had recently assumed the historically-weighted title of Germanicus." Coming back to Martial, he also speaks of tokens being showered upon the cheering crowds - could these quadrantes struck cheaply and in massive quantities have been gifts to the cheering mob at the arena? In essence, can this coin double as currency and a souvenir from a long ago day at the games in the Colosseum?

This variant of the famous rhinoceros quadrans is somewhat rare (no examples in the BM) because of the obverse legend beginning in the upper right, more commonly it begins in the lower left. Artistically, most of the rhinos depicted on these coins have a lot to be desired. Some look like wild boars with horns added for effect. Happily, the animal depicted on this coin's obverse indeed looks every part the powerful and fearsome beast which awestruck Roman audiences - as a matter of fact, it appears to be charging with its head down. Perhaps the engraver was a witness to the very games martial describes?

As mentioned above, the rhino depicted on the coin is the two-horned African species. In contrast, the Indian rhino has one horn. Pliny in his Natural Histories describes the rhinoceros as a one horned creature (although confusingly he confirms its Ethiopian origins), Martial said it had two. The rhino was so rare in Rome, Pliny had to go all the way back to the games of Pompey the Great in 55 BC to find a reference for the animal on display in the city, apparently it was a one-horned Indian rhino. At any rate, both the numismatic evidence and Martial's description coincide rather nicely to confirm that Domitian, at great expense no doubt, brought to Rome an African rhinoceros for his shows in the new Colosseum. The surviving coins featuring this fantastic beast prove how important a feat this was to the emperor.

Well centred with a lovely green patina and fine style.
3 commentsDavid Atherton
D511.jpg
Domitian RIC-511187 viewsAR Denarius, 3.35g
Rome mint, 87 AD
Obv: IMP•CAES•DOMIT•AVG GERM•P M•TR P VI; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: IMP XIIII COS XIII CENS P P P; Minerva stg. l., with spear (M4)
RIC 511 (C). BMC 107. RSC 213. BNC 107.

The first denarius issue of 87 continued in the same style and format as those of 86 (an unadorned, idealised portrait with the four basic Minervas on the reverse), setting a tone the rest of the reign for the denarii. These issues were quite small compared with what was to come over the next nine years. This coin from the first issue has a very idealised portrait in the Flavian baroque style. Icy cool with an expression of "critical disdain" as C. H. V. Sutherland put it in his book "Roman Coins".

Struck on a large flan with a stunning portrait in extraordinary condition - part of Domitian's mutton-chops beard is visible, a very rare thing indeed. One of the finest portraits of him in my collection.
9 commentsDavid Atherton
D733a.jpg
Domitian RIC-73399 viewsAR Denarius, 3.58g
Rome mint, 92 AD
Obv: IMP CAES DOMIT AVG GERM P M TR P XI; Head of Domitian, laureate, bearded, r.
Rev: IMP XXI COS XVI CENS P P P; Minerva stg. l., with spear (M4)
RIC 733 (C3). BMC 194. RSC 271. BNC 179.
Acquired from Forvm Ancient Coins, October 2014.

Here is a very common denarius struck between 1 January - 13 September 92 at a time of extremely high mint activity. The issue is the largest of the reign according to hoard finds (See Carradice, Coinage and Finances in the Reign of Domitian 1983). Domitian was campaigning against the Suebi and Sarmatians during 92, perhaps accounting for such an extraordinary output of coins.

The coin is in very fine style and struck on a tight flan. A most beautiful piece in hand.
3 commentsDavid Atherton
00sulla3~1.jpg
Faustus Cornelius Sulla169 viewsAR denarius. 56 BC. 4.05 g, 9h. Head of young Hercules right, wearing lion's skin headdress, paws knotted below his chin; SC above FAVSTVS monogram behind. / Globe surrounded by four wreaths, the larger jewelled and tied with fillet; aplustre and stalk of grain below. Crawford 426/4a. RSC Cornelia 61 .
This coin is one of ten million denarii that the Senate of Rome commissioned for the purchase of wheat in the year 56 BC. All those extra denarii, struck alongside the normal coin issues, bear the letters S.C for "Senatus Consulto" (by decree of the Senate) on their obverse, behind the head of Hercules. The ligated letters FAVS refer to the moneyer, Faustus Cornelius Sulla.

The ear of grain on the reverse illustrates that this denarius was indeed minted in connection with the purchase of wheat. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, who transacted the business, was the father in law of the moneyer Sulla, and effectually used his son in law's position to advertise himself. Three of the wreaths on the reverse commemorate the three triumphs of Pompey: He was the first Roman to celebrate a triumph on each of the three then-known continents. With this Pompey had made Rome a world power, which is symbolized by the globe in the middle. The fourth wreath, larger than the others, stands for the extraordinary honor that Pompey was bestowed with in 63 BC, when he was allowed to wear a golden headdress when going to the circus or the theater.
1 commentsbenito
48867q00.jpg
GREEK, Kingdom of Thrace, Lysimachos, 305 - 281 B.C., Portrait of Alexander the Great, Gold stater24 viewsSH48867. Gold stater, Müller 162; SNG Cop 1086 ff. var. (monogram), EF, weight 8.544 g, maximum diameter 17.6 mm, die axis 180o, Byzantion (Istanbul, Turkey) mint, posthumous, c. 250 - 150 B.C.; obverse diademed head of Alexander the Great right wearing the horn of Ammon; reverse BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΛYΣIMAXOY, Athena seated left, Victory in extended right, resting left elbow on shield, monogram inner left, BY on throne, trident in exergue ornamented with two small dolphins; extraordinary mint luster, high relief, nice style, fantastic coin!Joe Sermarini
Hadrse16-4.jpg
Hadrian, RIC 560, Sestertius of AD 118 (Annona)25 viewsÆ Sestertius (26.9g, Ø 32mm, 6h). Rome mint. Struck AD 118.
Obv.: IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG, laureate bust of Hadrian facing right, drapery on far shoulder.
Rev.: PONT MAX TR POT COS DES III (around) ANNONA AVG (in ex.) S C (field), Annona standing left between modius and ship's prow, holding corn ears right, cornucopiae left.
RIC 560; BMCRE 1143; Cohen 180; Strack 520; Banti (I Grandi Bronzi Imperiali II-2) 106 (15 spec.).
ex D. Ruskin(1995).

Soon after his arrival in Rome, Hadrian ordered an extraordinary distribution of grain to the people, an act which the senate, like the other donations, advertised on coin issues in the years 118 and 119.
Charles S
LEO-XIII-(1878-1903)_AE-30_LEO_XIII_PONT_MAX_AN_XXV_PASTOR-BONVS-ANIMAM-SVAM_DAT-PRO-OVIBVS-SVIS_JOHNSON_Q-001_0h_30mm_11,85g-s.jpg
LEO XIII (1878-1903), AE-30, The Good Shepherd. Extraordinary Medal, 1900. Patrignani 53.101 viewsLEO XIII (1878-1903), AE-30, The Good Shepherd. Extraordinary Medal, 1900. Patrignani 53.
avers: - LEO•XIII•PONT•MAX•AN•XXV, Leo XIII bust left, JOHNSON under the bust
revers: - PASTOR-BONVS-ANIMAM-SVAM-DAT-PRO-OVIBVS-SVIS, "The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep".
exe:-/-//--, diameter: 30mm, weight:11,85g, axes: h,
material: AE, mint: , artist: JOHNSON, date: 1900 A.D.,
ref: Patrignani 53.
Q-001
1 commentsquadrans
auli.jpg
Livia and Augustus, Colonial Romula (Seville), Minted by Tiberus12 viewsAugustus and Livia, minted by Tiberius, 14 Aug 19 - 16 Mar 37 A.D.
This coin associates Livia with globe and crescent symbols and refers to her as Augusta Genetrix Orbis, Sacred Mother of the World. This extraordinary title was never official and is not used on any other coin type for any empress.
5474. Orichalcum dupondius, RPC I 73, Alverez Burgos 1587, aF, Colonia Romula mint, 25.1g, 33.4mm, 180°, obverse PERM DIVI AVG COL ROM, Augustus radiate head right, star above, thunderbolt right; reverse IVLIA AVGVSTA GENETRIX ORBIS, Livia head left on globe, crescent above;
NORMAN K
AUG-1.jpg
Livia, wife of Augustus. Augusta 14-29 CE.185 viewsSpain, Hispalis. Æ (31mm, 21.48 g).
Minted in Colonia Romula (modern Seville) under Tiberius.
Obv: PERM DIVI AVG COL ROM, Radiate head of Augustus right; thunderbolt before, star above.
Rev: IVLIA AVGVSTA GENETRIX ORBIS, Head of Livia left; globe beneath, crescent above.
RPC 73; SGI 189; Heiss 393,2; Cohen 169,3; Alvarez Burgos 1587.

This coin associates Livia with globe and crescent symbols and refers to her as Augusta Genetrix Orbis, Sacred Mother of the World. This extraordinary title was never official and is not used on any other coin type for any empress.
EmpressCollector
172.jpg
M. Plaetorius Cestianus - Curule Chair with Scorpion (Crawf. 409/2)45 viewsAR Denarius
Rome, 67 BC
3.86g

Obv: Turreted and draped bust of Cybele to right; behind, forepart of a lion; to right, globe.
CESTIANVS

Rev: Curule chair; control mark to left, scorpion.
M PLAETORIVS AED CVR EX S C

Crawford 409/2 Sydenham 808

ex. Haeberlin Collection, Ernst Justus Haeberlin (1847-1925), Cahn & Hess, Frankfurt, 17th July 1933, Lot 2144.2

Cicero records that Plaetorius had been curule aedile (responsible for maintenance of temples "aedes" and regulation of public festivals) in his speech "Pro Cluentio", in which he describes arguing the case of Decimus Matrinius before the curule aediles Cestianus and Flaminius. This particular coin type refers to the Ludi Megalesiaci, games which honoured the goddess Cybele, and were presented by the curule aediles.

After serving as curule audile with senatorial authority to strike coins, Cestianus was recruited by Pompey to help him mint the 6,000 talents (24,000,000 denarii) of coins needed to pay troops for his extraordinary campaign against the Mediterranean pirates in 67 BC.
3 commentsKained but Able
philippi_RPC1651.jpg
Macedonia, Philippi, anonymous, RPC 165164 viewsAE 19 (Semis?), 6.72g
struck about AD 41-68
obv. VIC - AVG
Victoria advancing r. on prow, holding palmbranch in l. arm and wreath in
raised r. hand
rev. COHOR - PRAE / PHIL
around three standards
RPC 1651; SNG ANS 674-681; SNG Copenhagen 305-306
EF, brown patina, extraordinary good condition for this type

In 42 BC at the city of Philippi Octavian, the later emperor Augustus, defeated Brutus and Cassius, the assassins of Caesar. Following the battle, Philippi became a Roman colony and discharged veterans receiving land allotments settled permanently in the area. Special privileges were allowed to these Roman colonists, such as exemption from taxes and the right to own and market property, and to struck their own coins.

The Victory on the obv. resembles the famous Nike of Samothrace.
Jochen
Roma_.jpg
Roma Seal34 viewsAncient Roman Seal, Head of Roma.

Extraordinary piece of art.
The Sam Mansourati Collection /Ex Donald Jackson Collection.
Sam
Philip_I__AR_Antoninianus.png
Roman Empire , Emperor Philip I (AD 244 - 249) , the Syrian AR Antoninianus. 30 viewsRome mint, struck between 244 - 245 A.D.
Obverse : IMP M IVL PHILIPPVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right.
Reverse : VICTORIA AVG (the victory of the Emperor), Victory advancing right, wreath in right hand, palm frond in left.
Weight 4.15 Grams, maximum diameter 23 MM
Superb EF , well centered, mint luster , RIC IV 49b, RSC IV 227.

An extraordinary reverse.

From the Sam Mansourati Collection.
Sam
04816q00.jpg
ROMAN EMPIRE, Agrippa, Copper as, RIC I Caligula 58452 viewsAgrippa, Military commander, friend of Augustus, grandfather of Caligula, great-grandfather of Nero

Copper as, RIC I Caligula 58, SRCV I 556, superb EF, weight 10.34 g, maximum diameter 27.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 38 A.D.; obverse M AGRIPPA L F COS III, head left wearing a rostral crown; reverse Neptune standing half left, dolphin in right, trident in left, S - C across fields; bold high relief strike on a large flan with no wear, beautiful green patina, extraordinary portrait, spectacular!

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was a boyhood friend of Augustus and a renowned military commander on land and sea, winning the famous battle of Actium against the forces of Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra. Declared Augustus' successor, Agrippa's brilliant career ended when he predeceased Augustus in 12 B.C. He was married to Augustus' daughter Julia; father of Gaius and Lucius Caesars, Agrippa Postumus, Julia and Agrippina Senior; grandfather of Caligula, and great-grandfather of Nero.

7 commentsJoe Sermarini
16768q00.jpg
ROMAN, Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.66 viewsSH16768. Silver denarius, SRCV I 1592, RIC I 541, BMCRE I 664, superb EF, weight 3.850 g, maximum diameter 20.1 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Asia Minor mint, 27 - 20 B.C.; obverse laureate head right, dot border; reverse AVGVSTVS, capricorn left, holding globe, cornucopia above, rudder below; extraordinary high relief impossible to capture in a photograph, lustrous and nearly as struck; rare1 commentsJoe Sermarini
Nerone Sesterzio.jpg
Roman, Nero776 viewsOrichalcum sestertius, RIC 517, C 268, BMC 328, S 1961, EF, 20.2g, 34.3mm, 180o, Lugdunum mint, 66 A.D.; obverse IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PONT MAX TR POT P P, laureate head left, globe at point of bust; reverse ROMA in ex, S - C in fields, Roma seated left on cuirass, holding Victory, left arm resting on parazonium, shields behind; extraordinary portrait, dark green patina. Ex Forum5 commentsForza e Onore
RPC1801b.jpg
RPC-1801-Vespasian167 viewsAR Tetradrachm, 11.50g
Antioch mint (for Cyprus), 75-76 AD
Obv: AYTOKPATΩP OYЄCΠACIANOC KAICAP; Head of Vespasian, laureate, l.
Rev: ЄTOYC NЄOY IЄPOY H; Zeus Salaminios standing facing, holding patera in r. hand, l. hand resting on a short sceptre; eagle on l. arm
RPC 1801 (16 spec.).
Acquired from Herakles Numismatics, February 2015.

Style and legend format link this Cypriot series to Antioch's tetradrachm and bronze issues. RPC II proposes these coins were actually struck in Antioch and then sent to Cyprus for circulation. Very likely this is the case since the minting of silver was highly centralised and controlled by the imperial government. The date off flan should read year 8 (H). Obverse die match with Gorny & Mosch Auction 134, 11 October 2004, lot 2079.

This coin has one of the most extraordinary portraits of Vespasian I've ever seen. The engraver has depicted the emperor as an elderly, overweight glutton - it's utterly fantastic!
10 commentsDavid Atherton
Trajan_Deultum_Semis.jpg
Trajan Deultum AE1990 viewsObv.
IMP CAE NER TRA AVG GER PM TR P COS III PP
Laureate head right

Rev.
C F P D
Ox head facing right


Curtis Clay says.................

"The one small issue of low-denomination coins under Trajan, all of 100 AD (COS III), followed by a gap until Caracalla, i.e. until 212-217 AD, is noteworthy but not really explicable.

Jurukova, in her monograph on Deultum, thinks the Trajanic issue might have commemorated "some extraordinary event in the city's political development", perhaps a grant of some priviledge by Trajan. She points out that the Trajanic coinage of Stobi, a Roman municipium in neighboring Macedonia, was also apparently confined to 100 AD, Trajan's third consulship, so maybe Stobi received a similar priviledge at the same time and commemorated it in the same way, though with a larger issue of coins in at least two denominations.

I think it quite possible that Deultum's coins of Trajan were produced by the mint of Rome or from dies cut by Roman engravers, since their style is indeed very close to that of the mint of Rome. Jurukova notes that similarity too but does not attempt to explain it. Stobi's issue of 100 AD, in contrast, is not in Rome-mint style. A study of all provincial bronze coins that seem to have been produced by the mint of Rome might throw more light on this Deultum issue."
1 commentsancientdave
Theatre,_Ankara_(1).jpg
Turkey, Ankara, Theatre (1)30 viewsNot to far from the Anatolian Museum in Ankara, a theatre is currently being excavated. It certainly looks promising, although excavation is expected to continue for a long while. To excavate something like this in the middle of a metropolitan city is quite extraordinary!
Photograph by Will Hooton
*Alex
Pergamum_Theatre.jpg
Turkey, Pergamum - Theatre147 viewsThe Hellenistic theatre at Pergamum is extraordinary. It’s built into a steep hill-side, in close proximity to the city’s famous altar of Zeus, as well as to temples dedicated to Athena and Dionysus. But the constraints of the chosen site meant that the theatre could not take the ‘normal’ Greek shape (rather more than a semi-circle). Instead, to fit in the required number of seats, the cavea was extended vertically: there are 78 rows. The result is vertiginous. Abu Galyon
V238aa.jpg
Vespasian RIC-23879 viewsÆ Sestertius, 25.68g
Rome mint, 71 AD
Obv: IMP CAES VESPAS AVG P M TR P P P COS III; Head of Vespasian, laureate, r.
Rev: MARS VICTOR; S C in field; Mars, armoured, adv. l., with Victory and trophy
RIC 238 (C). BMC 552. BNC 509.
Ex CNG E443, 1 May 2019, lot 530.

A sestertius struck in Vespasian's great bronze issue of 71. The reverse features the first Mars type coined for the new emperor, copied from one previously struck for Vitellius. Mars is seen here in full military dress instead of the heroic nude he is normally depicted as on the contemporary denarii. This MARS VICTOR type pays proper respect to the god of war for granting Flavian success in the recently concluded Jewish War (an open display of celebration for defeating Vitellius would be taboo on the coinage). The portraits from this aes issue can be quite extraordinary. C.H.V. Sutherland in his book Roman Coins writes: 'Vespasian's aes, however, and not merely the sestertii, developed a full magnificence of portraiture ... The beauty of this work lay in it's realism, strong in authority and yet delicate in execution ...' (p. 189). Perhaps, a portrait such as this is what Sutherland had in mind when he wrote that passage.

The minor porosity does not detract from the superb veristic portrait and beautiful dark brown patina.
5 commentsDavid Atherton
V759a.jpg
Vespasian RIC-759127 viewsÆ Dupondius, 14.46g
Rome mint, 74 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG; Head of Vespasian, laureate, l.
Rev: PON•MAX•TR•POT•P•P•COS•V CENS; Winged caduceus between crossed cornuacopiae
RIC 759 (C). BMC p. 219 note. RPC 1983 (6 spec.). BNC 905.
Ex eBay, 16 October 2018. Ex Klassische Münzen.

Traditionally, the issue this rather strange dupondius is from has been attributed to various different mints over the years. Ted Buttrey writing in the RIC II.1 Addenda commented extensively on it. Because both the Addenda has yet to see the light of day and T. Buttrey's thoughts on the subject are important (and indeed likely correct), I have largely quoted it in full here with some minor editing.

'RIC 756-767 are irregular Dupondii, which should be taken together with Asses, semisses and quadrantes (RIC 1564-1581), forming together a single extraordinary issue in four denominations, distinct in typology and metal, as well as overall character from the regular coinage of the year. Although Eastern in aspect and reverse type, the circulation area of the dupondii is almost exclusively Gaul, Germany, Italy – i.e. the West, with scarcely any penetration of the East. Finds of the smaller denominations are rarely attested anywhere, East or West. The Eastern finds appear to be simply the débris of Mediterranean circulation.

Previously the series had been attributed to Commagene (BMCRE II, pp.217-222), then as a likelihood to Antioch (e.g. RPC II 1982-2005). The correct attribution to Rome is proved by mules of the dupondii with regular issues (Buttrey, “Vespasian’s Roman Orichalcum: An Unrecognized Celebratory Coinage” in David M. Jacobson and Nikos Kokkinos, Judaea and Rome in Coins, 65 CBE – 135 CE (2012). The series had nothing to do with Syria or with the East at all, yet it was purposefully designed to appear non-Roman: the suppression of the traditional reverse sub-inscription S C throughout; the suppression of the radiate crown of the Dupondius; the shifting of the consular dating from the obv. to the rev.; the striking of all four denominations in orichalcum; and most obviously the selection of rev. dies which reek of the East.

There is nothing like this series in the whole of Roman imperial coinage. It is a deliberate act of Orientalism, imposing the flavour of the East on a Western coinage. The key to its understanding is the reverse type of the dupondius, two crossed cornuacopiae with a winged caduceus between. It replicates the type of an obscure issue of the Galilean city of Sepphoris, an issue which had been, astonishingly, signed by Vespasian himself (ΕΠΙ ΟΥΕCΠΑCΙΑΝΟΥ, “on the authority of…”) when on duty there in the last days of Nero. The dupondius-sized bronze was accompanied by a half-unit with the type of a large, central S C – again signed by Vespasian, and now imitated on the As of the orichalcum series with the wreath of the As of Antioch (RPC I 4849-50).
The whole of this series memorializes not Vespasian the conquering general (IVDAEA CAPTA, VICTORIA AVGVSTI), but the man. His re-use of earlier coin types is well-known; here he re-uses his own, harking back to his career just prior to his final success in seizing the empire. And the series was struck in 74 A.D., co-terminous with the celebration of Vespasian’s first quinquennium.'

The coin itself is a superb example in very fine style. Beautiful dark golden patina with highlights of emerald green.
8 commentsDavid Atherton
V1565.jpg
Vespasian-RIC-156568 viewsÆ As, 6.57g
Rome mint, 74 AD
Obv: IMP CAESAR VESP AVG; Head of Vespasian, laureate, l.
Rev: S • C in laurel wreath
RIC 1565 (C2). BMC 894. RPC 1984 (20 spec.). BNC 913.
Acquired from Ephesus Numismatics, January 2019.

In 74 AD the Rome mint produced an extraordinary issue of bronze coinage of dupondii, asses, semisses, and quadrantes with a somewhat Eastern theme. Previously, these coins had been attributed to either Commagene (BMCRE) or Syria (RPC, and doubtfully so in RIC), but more recent scholarship has shown they actually were struck in Rome. The circulation pattern confirms this - out of a total of 112 of the smaller denominations cited by RPC, all but 4 were found in Western Europe. Ted Buttrey confirms 'The Eastern finds appear to be simply the débris of Mediterranean circulation.' But why was this series produced in such a fashion? Buttrey proffers a plausible theory - 'There is nothing like this series in the whole of Roman imperial coinage. It is a deliberate act of Orientalism, imposing the flavour of the East on a Western coinage. The key to its understanding is the reverse type of the dupondius, two crossed cornuacopiae with a winged caduceus between. It replicates the type of an obscure issue of the Galilean city of Sepphoris, an issue which had been, astonishingly, signed by Vespasian himself (ΕΠΙ ΟΥΕCΠΑCΙΑΝΟΥ, “on the authority of…”) when on duty there in the last days of Nero. The dupondius-sized bronze was accompanied by a half-unit with the type of a large, central S C – again signed by Vespasian, and now imitated on the As of the orichalcum series with the wreath of the As of Antioch (RPC I 4849-50). The whole of this series memorializes not Vespasian the conquering general (IVDAEA CAPTA, VICTORIA AVGVSTI), but the man. His re-use of earlier coin types is well-known; here he re-uses his own, harking back to his career just prior to his final success in seizing the empire. And the series was struck in 74 A.D., co-terminous with the celebration of Vespasian’s first quinquennium.' So, in essence, a very personally important issue for Vespasian.

Curtis Clay has a few objections for Buttrey's theory why the issue was struck. 'As far as I am aware, there is nothing "astonishing" about Vespasian's "signing" of the two coins of Sepphoris. EΠI followed by the governor's name appeared frequently on Roman provincial coins, meaning simply, "Struck while the man named was governor". So there was no evident reason for Vespasian to consider it extraordinary that he had been named as governor of Syria on coins of Sepphoris struck for Nero near the end of his reign (Year 14), and no evident reason why he should have referred to the Sepphoris coins in his orichalcum issue struck at Rome five years later. It seems quite probable that Vespasian never even noticed his name on the coins of Sepphoris, and certainly very few Romans in the West will ever have seen such a coin, though Buttrey thinks the orichalcum coins were struck for circulation in the West in 74 in order to recall precisely those Sepphoris coins with their reference to Vespasian some months before his accession. Why waste coin types on references that were inconsequential, and that nobody was likely to comprehend?

If the orichalcum issue was meant to recall those two coins of Sepphoris, shouldn't it have been struck for Vespasian only, and using only those two rev. types, caduceus between crossed cornucopias and large SC? But that was not the case. Both the caduceus between crossed cornucopias type and the large SC type were struck not only for Vespasian, but also for Titus and Domitian as Caesars. Moreover those were not the only two rev. types of the issue: other coins showed a bust of Antioch with legend ANTIOCHIA , and (on small coins only) the same winged caduceus as on the crossed cornucopias dupondii, but without the cornucopias (see images below). It seems to me highly unlikely that the three main types of this issue, all struck for Titus and Domitian as well as Vespasian, were inspired by and meant to recall the far simpler issue of Sepphoris, using just two changing types (obv. types in this case) and of course naming Vespasian only.'

If Buttrey's argument is wrong it brings us back to the original question - why was an Eastern flavoured coinage struck for circulation in the West? Perhaps the issue may be nothing more than Vespasian paying homage to the part of the world that elevated him.

This As is a fine example of the smaller denomination, nicely centred with a beautiful emerald green patina.
2 commentsDavid Atherton
Philip1.jpg
[1107a] Philip I, 244-249 A.D.46 viewsPhilip I. 244-249 AD. AE Sestertius (33mm, 17.09 gm). Struck 248 AD. RIC IV 164.
Commemorative issue.

Philip I. 244-249 AD. AE Sestertius (33mm, 17.09 gm). Struck 248 AD. Obv.: Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right. Rev.: Octastyle temple with statue of Roma. RIC IV 164; Banti 52; Cohen 201. aVF. This issue commemorates the millenial anniversary of Rome.


De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

Philip the Arab (244-249 A.D.)

Michael L. Meckler
Ohio State University

Marcus Julius Philippus rose from obscure origins to rule for five and one-half years as Rome's emperor. Only sketchy details of his life and reign have survived in the historical record. One of those details -- his ethnicity -- was latched onto by later historians, who called the emperor by the name Philip the Arab.

Background and Early Career
Philip the Arab seems to have been born sometime during the reign of Septimius Severus. He was born in the Roman province of Arabia, in what today is the village of Shahba, roughly 55 miles south-southeast of Damascus. The village was obscure at the time of Philip's birth, though once he became emperor, Philip renamed the community Philippopolis and embarked on a major building campaign. Little is known of Philip's father, save the name Julius Marinus. This name, however, indicates that the family held Roman citizenship and must have been locally prominent. Nothing is known of Philip's mother. At some point, probably in the 230s, Philip married Marcia Otacilia Severa. A son was born by 238 and named Marcus Julius Severus Philippus. Philip's early career is also obscure, though it was undoubtedly helped by that of his brother, Julius Priscus. Priscus was appointed praetorian prefect by Gordian III and had previously served as prefect of the Roman province of Mesopotamia. If a fragmentary inscription from Rome can be connected to Priscus, Philip's brother rose quickly during Gordian III's reign through a variety of equestrian offices, including procurator of Macedonia, vice prefect of Egypt, and judge at Alexandria.

Priscus' appointment as praetorian prefect probably came at the beginning of the Roman campaign to reconquer upper Mesopotamia in the spring of 242. The success of the campaign must have reflected well on Priscus, and when his colleague Timesitheus (who was also Gordian III's father-in-law) died the following year, Priscus' brother Philip joined him as praetorian prefect. The brothers remained the young emperor's most powerful deputies during the disastrous campaign against the Persians in the winter of 243-44. On the retreat back up the Euphrates after the Roman defeat at Misikhe, Gordian was killed sometime during the winter months of 244. Most sources state that Philip was involved in Gordian's death; some claim that Philip engineered a mutiny by diverting the grain that was supposed to feed Gordian's troops.

The Emperor and the Military
Philip was acclaimed the new emperor and was firmly in control by late winter 244. Like his predecessor Macrinus, Philip faced, as his first important task, the problem of ending a war in the East. Philip was more fortunate in his negotiations than Macrinus had been. Philip made a peace treaty with the Persian king Shapur in which Philip agreed to pay the equivalent of 50 million sesterces, and possibly an annual tribute. The treaty enabled the new emperor to travel westward to Rome. It remains unknown why Philip was displayed before the soldiers as their new emperor instead of his more accomplished brother Priscus, but Priscus went on to have extraordinary power in the East during the new regime. Priscus is described in one inscription as rector Orientis, and he exercised supreme authority over armies and provinces from his headquarters in Antioch.

The following year the Carpi, a people native to the northern bank of the lower Danube, crossed the river and attacked settlements in the Roman province of Moesia (today, northern Bulgaria), where Philip's brother-in-law Severianus had been put in command. Fighting lasted several years and may have spread westward into Pannonia because of incursions by German tribes. Victory was proclaimed in 248, but the legions in Moesia and Pannonia were dissatisfied with the war's results. The armies there revolted, proclaiming Tiberius Claudius Marinus Pacatianus as emperor. While Philip could point to some success on the Danube frontier, he could not claim victory in his battles with the Moors. The emperor preferred to pay for an ignominious peace rather than lose an ignominious war. The heavy-handedness of his brother Priscus in collecting taxes in the East caused another revolt, this one led by a man named Iotapianus, who claimed to be a kinsman of Severus Alexander. Coins that may also be from this period show two other men who tried to become emperors, Silbannacus and Sponsianus. Neither is otherwise attested, and each revolt must have been short-lived.

The Millennium and Christianity
Despite growing instability in the provinces, Romans in the year 248 were fascinated by the celebrations of the 1,000th anniversary of their city's foundation. The festivities may have been patterned after the Secular Games (last held under Septimius Severus 44 years earlier) and included magnificent spectacles for the arena. Millennarianism extended into the literary world, with the author Asinius Quadratus honoring the event by writing his Thousand-Year History.

Philip's religious beliefs have garnered the most attention from modern historians. Writing but 75 years after Philip's reign, the Church father Eusebius relayed a report that Philip was a Christian who was once compelled by a church official to confess his sins before being allowed to attend an Easter service. Later sources locate the story in Antioch and connect the tale to Babylas, a bishop later martyred in the persecution mounted by Philip's successor, Decius. The Decian persecution is itself blamed by Eusebius on Decius' personal hatred for Philip. Eusebius also reported that the Christian teacher and apologist Origen wrote one letter to Philip and another to Otacilia Severa. While it is quite likely that Philip was well acquainted with Christianity and may even have been respectful of its teachings and leaders, he could not have been a Christian in any meaningful way. Philip appears indistinguishable from other third-century emperors in his use of pagan symbols and titles. Philip made no improvements in the legal status of Christians or their religion. Moreover, Philip's alleged Christianity was never corroborated by non-Christian authors.

Within six months of the beginning of his reign, Philip had appointed his son as Caesar and heir. Three years later, in the summer of 247, the boy was named Augustus and co-ruler, even though he was probably not yet 10 years old. His mother, Otacilia Severa, is last named on coins in the year 248, leading to speculation that she may have died in that year. Nothing is known of the emperor's brother Priscus after the outbreak of Iotapianus' revolt: and it seems likely that he died either naturally or as a result of the uprising.

Defeat and Death
Iotapianus was eventually defeated and killed in the East, as was Pacatianus along the Danube. To restore discipline among the Danubian troops, Philip sent as the new commander Decius, a native of the region. The appointment proved a dangerous blunder. The disgruntled soldiers, still eager for decisive leadership and decisive victories, revolted yet again in the late spring of 249 and proclaimed Decius emperor. Philip marched out from Rome to face the approaching troops of Decius. In late summer, the two armies met outside Verona. Philip's troops were bested, and the emperor either died in the battle or was assassinated by his troops. When news of Philip's defeat and death reached Rome, the praetorian guard murdered Philip's son and colleague.

Philip the Arabian remains an enigmatic figure because different authors evaluated his reign with wildly divergent interpretations. Christian authors of late antiquity praised the man they regarded as the first Christian emperor. Pagan historians saw Philip as indecisive, treacherous and weak. Our lack of detailed knowledge about the reign makes any analysis highly speculative. Nonetheless, Philip's provincial and administrative background represents continuity with features of Severan government. His career has its closest parallel with that of Macrinus, an equestrian from the provinces who, a quarter of a century earlier, capped an administrative career by moving from the office of praetorian prefect to that of emperor. In the struggle to maintain legitimacy, Philip faced revolts and upheavals in several corners of the empire. He was able to overcome these challenges for half a decade. The empire remained fundamentally sound and stable during his reign. The great disruptions of the third century were yet to come.

Copyright (C) 1999, Michael L. Meckler
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families http://www.roman-emperors.org/startup.htm. Used by permission.

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.
Cleisthenes
HadrianAequitasAR_denarius.jpg
[903a] Hadrian, 11 August 117 - 10 July 138 A.D.93 viewsSilver denarius, RIC II 228 var (bust type), gVF, Rome, 2.849g, 17.8mm, 180o, 134 A.D.; Obverse: HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, head right; Reverse: AEQVITAS AVG, Aequitas standing left, scales in right, scepter in left; excellent portrait; scarce. Ex FORVM. Photo courtesy of FORVM.

De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

Hadrian (A.D. 117-138)
Herbert W. Benario
Emory University

Introduction and Sources
"During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this and of the two succeeding chapters to describe the prosperous condition of their empire, and afterwards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall, a revolution which will ever be remembered and is still felt by the nations of the earth."

So Edward Gibbon concluded the first paragraph of his massive The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, referring to a period which he also styled the happiest of mankind's history. Hadrian was the central figure of these "five good emperors," the one most responsible for changing the character and nature of the empire. He was also one of the most remarkable and talented individuals Rome ever produced.

The sources for a study of Hadrian are varied. There is no major historian for his reign, such as Tacitus or Livy. The chief literary sources are the biography in the Historia Augusta, the first surviving life in a series intended to continue Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars. Debate about this collection of imperial biographies has been heated and contentious for more than a century. The most convincing view is that which sees the whole as the work of a single author writing in the last years of the fourth century. The information offered ranges from the precisely accurate to the most wildly imaginative.

Cassius Dio, who wrote in the decade of the 230s, produced a long history of the empire which has survived, for the Hadrianic period, only in an abbreviated version. Fourth century historians, such as Aurelius Victor and Eutropius, occasionally furnish bits of information. Contemporaries or near-contemporaries of Hadrian, such as Arrian, Fronto, Pausanias, and Plutarch, are also useful. Papyri, inscriptions, coins, and legal writings are extremely important. Archaeology in all its aspects contributes mightily to any attempt to probe the character of a man and emperor whose personality and thoughts defy close analysis and understanding.

Early Life and Career
Hadrian was born on January 24, 76. Where he saw the light of day was, even in antiquity, matter for debate. Italica, in Hispania Baetica, was the birthplace of Trajan and was also considered that of Hadrian. But the HA reports that he was born in Rome, and that seems the more likely choice, since it is the more unexpected. The actual place of one's birth was, however, unimportant, since it was one's patria which was crucial. Hadrian's ancestors had come to Spain generations before, from the town of Hadria in Picenum, at the end of the Second Punic War. Italica's tribus, to which Hadrian belonged, was the Sergia. His father, P. Aelius Afer, had reached the praetorship by the time of his death in 85/86, his mother, Domitia Paulina, came from a distinguished family of Gades, one of the wealthiest cities in the empire. His sister Paulina married Servianus, who played a significant role in Hadrian's career. Trajan was the father's cousin; when Afer died, Trajan and P. Acilius Attianus, likewise of Italica, became Hadrian's guardians.

At the age of about ten, Hadrian went to Italica for the first time (or returned, if he had been there earlier in his childhood), where he remained for only a brief time. He then returned to the capital and soon began a rapid rise through the cursus honorum; he was a military tribune of three different legions in consecutive years, a series of appointments which clearly marked him for a military career, and reached the consulate as a suffect at the age of 32, the earliest possible under the principate. At Trajan's death, he was legate of the province of Syria, with responsibility for the security of the east in the aftermath of Trajan's Parthian War.

(For a detailed and interesting discussion of Hadrian's reign please see: http://www.roman-emperors.org/hadrian.htm])

Literary and artistic achievements
Hadrian was a man of extraordinary talents, certainly one of the most gifted that Rome ever produced. He became a fine public speaker, he was a student of philosophy and other subjects, who could hold his own with the luminaries in their fields, he wrote both an autobiography and poetry, and he was a superb architect. It was in this last area that he left his greatest mark, with several of the empire's most extraordinary buildings and complexes stemming from his fertile mind. The anonymous author of the Historia Augusta described Hadrian as Fuit enim poematum et litterarum nimium studiosissimus. Arithmeticae, geometriae, picturae peritissimus.

He rebuilt Agrippa's Pantheon into the remarkable building that survives today, reconstructing the accustomed temple facade, with columns and pediment, but attaching it to a drum which was surmounted by a coffered dome. The latter was pierced by an oculus nine meters in diameter, which was the main source of illumination. Height and diameter were identical, 43.3 meters. The dome remained the largest in the world until the twentieth century. As was his custom, he replaced the original inscription of Agrippa on the architrave; seldom did he put his own name on a monument.

He also left his mark on almost every city and province to which he came. He paid particular attention to Athens, where he completed the great temple of Olympian Zeus, some six centuries after construction had begun, and made it the centerpiece of a new district of the city.

Hadrian's relationship with philosophers and other scholars was generally fractious. He often scorned their achievements while showing his own superiority. An anecdote about an argument which he had with the eminent philosopher and sophist Favorinus revealed the inequity of such disagreement. Although Favorinus was correct, he gave way to Hadrian, and when rebuked by friends, replied, "You advise me badly, friends, since you do not permit me to believe that he who commands thirty legions is the most learned of all."

Hadrian's literary taste inclined toward the archaic and the odd. He preferred Cato to Cicero, Ennius to Vergil, Coelius Antipater to Sallust, and disapproved of Homer and Plato as well. Indeed, the epic writer Antimachus of Colophon supplanted Homer in Hadrian's estimation. The biographer Suetonius held office under Hadrian but was discharged in 122 for disrespect to the empress. The historian Tacitus, who may have lived into Hadrian's reign, seems to have found no favor with the emperor.

His best known literary work is the short poem which he is said to have composed shortly before his death. These five lines have caused commentators much interpretative woe.

animula vagula blandula
hospes comesque corporis
quae nunc abibis in loca
pallidula rigida nudula
nec ut soles dabis iocos! (25.9)

"Little soul, wandering and pale, guest and companion of my body, you who will now go off to places pale, stiff, and barren, nor will you make jokes as has been your wont."
. . .

Reputation
Hadrian died invisus omnibus, according to the author of the Vita. But his deification placed him in the list of "good" emperors, a worthy successor to the optimus princes Trajan. Hadrian played a significant role both in developing the foreign policies of the empire and in its continuing centralization in administration. Few would disagree that he was one of the most remarkable men Rome ever produced, and that the empire was fortunate to have him as its head. When Aelius Aristides delivered his oration To Rome in 143, he had Hadrian's empire in mind when he said,

"But there is that which very decidedly deserves as much attention and admiration now as all the rest together. I mean your magnificent citizenship with its grand conception, because there is nothing like it in the records of all mankind. Dividing into two groups all those in your empire - and with this word I have indicated the entire civilized world - you have everywhere appointed to your citizenship, or even to kinship with you, the better part of the world's talent, courage, and leadership, while the rest you recognized as a league under your hegemony. Neither sea nor intervening continent are bars to citizenship, nor are Asia and Europe divided in their treatment here. In your empire all paths are open to all. No one worthy of rule or trust remains an alien, but a civil community of the World has been established as a Free Republic under one, the best, ruler and teacher of order; and all come together as into a common civic center, in order to receive each man his due.”

Scholarly work on the emperor, above all biographies, has been varied in quality. Much the best, as the most recent, is by A.R. Birley, who presents all that is known but underscores how much is conjecture, nay even guesswork. We still do not really know the man. An enigma he was to many while alive, and so he remains for us. Semper in omnibus varius; omnium curiositatum explorator; varius multiplex multiformis: these are descriptions of him from antiquity. They are still valid more than 1900 years after the emperor's death.

Copyright (C) 2000, Herbert W. Benario.
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families http://www.roman-emperors.org/startup.htm. Used by permission.

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.
2 commentsCleisthenes
MarcusAureliusLiberalitas_sestertius.jpg
[905a] Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.137 viewsMARCUS AURELIUS AE [b[Sestertius. RIC 1222. 30mm, 24.5g. Struck at Rome, 177 AD. Obverse: M ANTONINUS AVG GERM SARM TR P XXXI, laureate head right; Reverse: LIBERALITAS AVG VII IMP VIIII COS III P P, Liberalitas standing left holding coin counter & cornucopia, SC in fields. Nice portrait. Ex Incitatus. Photo courtesy of Incitatus.


De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families

Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 161-180)

Herbert W. Benario
Emory University


Introduction and Sources
The Vita of the emperor in the collection known as the Historia Augusta identifies him in its heading as Marcus Antoninus Philosophus, "Marcus Antoninus the Philosopher." Toward the end of the work, the following is reported about him, sententia Platonis semper in ore illius fuit, florere civitates si aut philosophi imperarent aut imperantes philosopharentur (27.7), "Plato's judgment was always on his lips, that states flourished if philosophers ruled or rulers were philosophers." It is this quality of Marcus' character which has made him a unique figure in Roman history, since he was the first emperor whose life was molded by, and devoted to, philosophy (Julian was the second and last). His reign was long and troubled, and in some ways showed the weaknesses of empire which ultimately led to the "Decline and Fall," yet his personal reputation, indeed his sanctity, have never failed of admirers. Contributing to his fame and reputation is a slender volume of Stoic philosophy which served as a kind of diary while he was involved in military campaigns, the Meditations, a book which can be described as an aureus libellus, a little golden book.

The sources for understanding Marcus and his reign are varied but generally disappointing. There is no major historian. The chief literary sources are the biography in the Historia Augusta, as well as those of Hadrian, Antoninus, Verus, and Avidius Cassius. Debate about this collection of imperial biographies has been heated and contentious for more than a century. In all likelihood, it is the work of a single author writing in the last years of the fourth-century. The information offered ranges from the precisely accurate to the wildly imaginative.

Cassius Dio, who wrote in the decade of the 230s, produced a long history of the empire which has survived, for our period, only in an abbreviated version. Fourth century historians, such as Aurelius Victor and Eutropius, occasionally furnish bits of information. Marcus' teacher, Fronto, a distinguished orator and rhetorician, is extremely useful. Papyri, inscriptions, coins, legal writings, and some of the church writers, such as Tertullian, Eusebius, and Orosius, are very important. Archaeology and art history, with their interpretation of monuments, make the history of Marcus' principate literally visible and offer important clues for understanding the context of his actions.

Early Life
He was born M. Annius Verus on April 26, 121, the scion of a distinguished family of Spanish origin (PIR2 A697). His father was Annius Verus (PIR2 A696), his mother Domitia Lucilla (PIR2 D183). His grandfather held his second consulate in that year and went on to reach a third in 126, a rare distinction in the entire history of the principate, and also served Hadrian as city prefect. The youth's education embraced both rhetoric and philosophy; his manner was serious, his intellectual pursuits deep and devoted, so that the emperor Hadrian took an interest in him and called him "Verissimus," "Most truthful," by punning on his name. He received public honors from an early age and seems to have long been in Hadrian's mind as a potential successor. When Hadrian's first choice as successor, L. Ceionius Commodus, died before his adoptive father, the second choice proved more fruitful. The distinguished senator T. Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus, from Cisalpine Gaul, did succeed Hadrian, whose arrangements for the succession planned for the next generation as well. He required Antoninus to adopt the young Verus, now to be known as M. Aelius Aurelius Verus, as well as Commodus' son, henceforth known as L. Aelius Aurelius Commodus (PIR2 C606). The former was a bit more than seventeen years old, the latter was eight.

Career under Antoninus Pius
The long tenure of Antoninus Pius proved one of the most peaceful and prosperous in Roman history. The emperor himself was disinclined to military undertakings and never left Italy during his reign. Disturbances to the pax Romana occurred on the fringes of empire. Responses were decisive and successful, with legates in charge in the provinces. As a consequence, neither Caesar gained military experience nor was shown to the armies, a failing which later could have proved decisive and disastrous. Marcus rose steadily through the cursus honorum, holding consulates in 140 and 145, combining magistracies with priesthoods. He received the tribunicia potestas in 147, and perhaps also imperium proconsulare. Yet he never neglected the artes liberals. His closest contacts were with Fronto (c.95-c.160), the distinguished rhetorician and orator. His acquaintance included many other distinguished thinkers, such as Herodes Atticus (c.95-177), the Athenian millionaire and sophist, and Aelius Aristides (117-c.181), two of whose great speeches have survived and which reveal much of the mood and beliefs of the age. Yet it was Epictetus (c.50-c.120) who had the greatest philosophical impact and made him a firm Stoic. In the year 161 Marcus celebrated his fortieth birthday, a figure of noble appearance and unblemished character. He was leading a life which gave him as much honor and glory as he could have desired, probably much more than his private nature enjoyed, yet his life, and that of the empire, was soon to change. The emperor died on March 7, but not before clearly indicating to magistrates and senate alike his desire that Marcus succeed him by having the statue of Fortuna, which had been in his bedroom, transferred to Marcus. There was no opposition, no contrary voice, to his succession. He immediately chose his brother as co-emperor, as Hadrian had planned. From the beginning of the year they were joint consuls and held office for the entire year. Their official titulature was now Imperator Caesar M. Aurelius Antoninus Augustus and Imperator Caesar L. Aurelius Verus Augustus. The military qualities adumbrated by the word Imperator were soon much in demand, for the empire was under pressure in the year 161 in Britain, in Raetia, and in the east, where Parthia once again posed a significant danger.

The Parthian War (161-166)
The incursion in northern Britain and the difficulties along the Danube were soon satisfactorily managed by legates. The danger in the East was of a different magnitude. Tensions between Rome and Parthia had intensified in the last years of Antoninus' reign over control of Armenia, the vast buffer state which had often aroused enmity between the two powers, since each wished to be able to impose a king favorable to its interests. With Antoninus' death and the uncertainty attendant upon a new emperor (in this case two, a dyarchy, for the first time in Rome's history), the Parthian monarch, Vologaeses III, struck rapidly, placed his own candidate upon the Armenian throne, and inflicted severe setbacks upon the Roman forces sent to oppose him. Marcus decided to send his colleague Lucius Verus, whose imperial prestige would underscore the seriousness of the empire's response. Verus lacked military experience and was sorely lacking in the attributes of leadership and command; further, he was notorious for being chiefly interested in amusements and luxury. But Marcus surrounded him with several of the best generals at the empire's disposal, chief among them Avidius Cassius (c.130-175) (PIR2 A1402). From 162 on, Rome's successes and conquests were extensive and decisive. Most of Parthia's significant cities and strongholds, such as Seleucia and Ctesiphon, were stormed and destroyed, and the army's movements eastward recalled the movements of Alexander the Great some five centuries earlier. By 166, Parthia had capitulated and a Roman nominee sat on the Armenian throne. The victory appeared to be the most decisive since Trajan's conquest of Dacia, but, when Verus returned to Italy with his triumphant army, there came also a devastating plague, which had enormous effect on all provinces.
As is the case with all ancient diseases, it is almost impossible to identify this one. In all likelihood, however, it was smallpox; how severe the toll was is debated. Clearly, it cast a pall over the triumph celebrated by the two emperors, who were honored with the titles Armeniacus and Parthicus. The last years of this decade were dominated by efforts to overcome the plague and provide succour to its victims. But already in 166, the German tribes smashed the Danubian limes, threatening the empire's stability and even existence, more than Parthia had ever done. The first campaigns were punctuated by the death of Verus in 169, leaving Marcus as sole emperor. And so began the most difficult period of his life.

The German Wars
Early in 169, the Marcomanni and Quadi crossed the Danube, penetrated the intervening provinces, and entered Italy. The culmination of their onslaught was a siege of Aquileia. The effect upon the inhabitants of the peninsula was frightful. This was the first invasion of Italy since the late second century B.C., when the Cimbri and Teutones had been separately crushed by Marius. Perhaps more vivid in the collective imagination was the sack of Rome by the Gauls in 387, when the city was saved only by the payment of ransom.
The two emperors hastened north, after a rapid mobilization of forces, which included the drafting of slaves, since the manpower potential of the empire had been so impaired by the consequences of the plague and the losses and troop commitments in the East. Verus died while in the north; Marcus returned to Rome with the body and gave his brother full honors. He then turned north again and began his counterattacks against the barbarians. He did not know it at the time, but he was destined to spend most of his remaining years on the northern frontier. The only interlude was caused by revolt in the east.

We have no record of Marcus' ultimate intentions in these campaigns, yet the various stages were clear. First and foremost, the enemy had to be driven out of Italy and then into their own territory beyond the Danube. He strove to isolate the tribes and then defeat them individually, so that the ultimate manpower superiority of the empire and its greater skill in warfare and logistics could more easily be brought to bear. It was a successful strategy, as one tribe after another suffered defeat and reestablished ties with Rome. But it was a time-consuming and expensive operation, requiring the recruitment of two new legions, II Italica and III Italica, the construction of many new camps, such as the legionary fortress at Regensburg, with success accruing year by year. He intended to create two new provinces, Marcomannia and Sarmatia, thereby eliminating the Hungarian Plain and the headwaters of the Elbe as staging areas for invasion.

This steady, slow progress was interrupted in 175 by the action of the distinguished general Avidius Cassius, governor of Syria, who claimed the empire for himself. Whether he responded to a rumor of Marcus' death or, as gossip had it, conspired with Marcus' wife, the emperor's response was quick and decisive. Leaving the northern wars, he traveled to the East, but Avidius was killed before Marcus arrived in the region. After spending time settling affairs and showing himself to some of the provinces, with particular attention shown to Athens, where he was initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries, as Hadrian and Verus had been. He returned to Italy and soon answered the call to duty once more on the northern frontier. He took with him as colleague his son Commodus, now merely sixteen years old but already long since marked out as his father's intended successor. The military campaigns proved successful, but in the spring of 180, when Marcus died, at least one more year of warfare was necessary for the attainment of the grand enterprise. Marcus recommended to Commodus continuation of the war, but the new emperor was eager to return to Rome and the ease and luxury of the imperial court and entered into a peace agreement. Never again was Rome to hold the upper hand in its dealings with the Germanic tribes beyond the now reestablished borders of the empire.

Administrative and Religious Policy
Marcus was a conscientious and careful administrator who devoted much attention to judicial matters. His appointments to major administrative positions were for the most part admirable. Difficult tasks were put in the charge of the most capable men; he was not afraid of comparison with his subordinates. Social mobility continued as it had been under his predecessors, with men from the provinces advancing into the upper echelons of the Roman aristocracy. Those of humble birth could make a good career; such a one was Pertinax (126-193), a gifted general, who in early 193 became emperor for a space of less than three months.

The judicial administration of Italy was put in the hands of iuridici, who represented the emperor and thus spoke with his authority. This was a practice which had been established by Hadrian but had been allowed to lapse by Antoninus. The centralization of government continued apace. The imperial finances were sorely stretched by the almost continuous wars. Trajan had brought great wealth, Decebalus' treasure, into the empire after his conquest of Dacia. No such profit awaited Marcus. When preparing for the northern wars, he auctioned off much of the imperial palace's valuables. In spite of the enormous expenses of war, Commodus found ample funds upon his accession as sole emperor for his expenditures and amusements.

Although Marcus was a devoted thinker and philosopher, he was deeply religious, at least outwardly. The state cult received full honor, and he recognized the validity of other people's beliefs, so that the variety of religions in the vast extent of the empire caused no difficulties for inhabitants or government, with one significant exception. The Christians were not hampered by any official policy; indeed the impact of the church spread enormously in the second century. Yet their availability as scapegoats for local crises made them subject to abuse or worse. There was violence against them in 167, and perhaps the worst stain on Marcus' principate stemmed from the pogrom of Christians in Lugdunum in southern France in 177. He did not cause it, nor, on the other hand, did he or his officials move to stop it. Indeed, Tertullian called him a friend of Christianity. Yet the events were a precursor of what would come in the century and a quarter which followed.

Building Programs and Monuments
Many of Marcus' predecessors transformed the face of the capital with their building programs, either by the vast range of their undertaking or by the extraordinary significance of individual monuments. Others did very little to leave a tangible mark. Marcus fell into the latter group. There is record of very few monuments for which he and his brother were responsible. Very early in their reign they honored the deceased Antoninus with a column in the Campus Martius, no longer in situ but largely surviving. The shaft, which seems not to have been sculpted, was used for the restoration of Augustus' obelisk, now in Piazza Montecitorio, in the eighteenth century. The base, which was sculpted on all four sides, is now on display in the Vatican Museum. The chief feature is the apotheosis of the emperor and his long deceased wife, the elder Faustina, as they are borne to heaven. Also presented on this relief are two eagles and personifications of the goddess Roma and of the Campus Martius, represented as a young male figure.

There were three arches which commemorated the military achievements of the two emperors. No trace has been found of an early monument to Verus. Two arches later honored Marcus, both of which have disappeared but have left significant sculptural remains. The eight rectangular reliefs preserved on the Arch of Constantine came from one arch. Similarly, the three reliefs displayed in the stairwell of the Conservatori Museum on the Capitoline Hill came from another. One relief has disappeared from the latter monument.

Certainly the best known monument of Marcus' principate is the column, which rises from Piazza Colonna. It is twin to Trajan's column in height and design, although the artistic craftsmanship of the reliefs which envelop the shaft is much inferior. The subject is Marcus' campaigns against the Marcomanni and Sarmati in the years 172-75. The most interesting panel represents the famous rainstorm, when the army, overwhelmed by drought, was suddenly saved by the divine intervention of rain. Although begun in the latter part of the decade, the column was not completed until 193, when Septimius Severus had become emperor.

The famous equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which survived the centuries near San Giovanni in Laterano because the rider was identified as Constantine, no longer greets the visitor to the Capitoline, where Michelangelo had placed it in the sixteenth century. It was removed in the 1980s because pollution was destroying it. After careful treatment and restoration, it is now displayed within the museum, with a replica placed in the center of the piazza.

Although outside Rome, mention should be made of the monumental frieze commemorating Lucius Verus' victory over the Parthians in 165. It was an ornament of the city of Ephesus; the extensive sculptural remains are now in the Ephesus Museum in Vienna.

Family
As part of Hadrian's plans for his succession, when Ceionius Commodus was his choice, Marcus was betrothed to the latter's daughter. But when Ceionius died and Antoninus became Hadrian's successor, that arrangement was nullified and Marcus was chosen for the Emperor's daughter, the younger Faustina (PIR2 A716). She had been born in 129, was hence eight years younger than he. They were married in 145; the marriage endured for thirty years. She bore him thirteen children, of whom several died young; the most important were a daughter, Lucilla, and a son Commodus. Lucilla was deployed for political purposes, married first to Lucius Verus in 164, when she was seventeen, and then, after his death, to Claudius Pompeianus Quintianus of Antioch, a much older man who was an important associate of her father /ii]PIR2 C973). Commodus became joint-emperor with his father in 177 and three years later ruled alone.

Faustina's reputation suffered much abuse. She was accused of employing poison and of murdering people, as well as being free with her favors with gladiators, sailors, and also men of rank, particularly Avidius Cassius. Yet Marcus trusted her implicitly and defended her vigorously. She accompanied him on several campaigns and was honored with the title mater castrorum. She was with him in camp at Halala in southern Cappadocia in the winter of 175 when she died in an accident. Marcus dedicated a temple to her honor and had the name of the city changed to Faustinopolis.

Death and Succession
In early 180, while Marcus and Commodus were fighting in the north, Marcus became ill. Which disease carried him off we do not know, but for some days Marcus took no food or drink, being now eager to die. He died on March 17, in the city of Vindobona, although one source reports that it was in Sirmium. His ashes were brought to Rome and placed in Hadrian's mausoleum. Commodus succeeded to all power without opposition, and soon withdrew from the war, thereby stymieing his father's designs and ambitions. It was a change of rulers that proved disastrous for people and empire. Dio called the succession a change from a golden kingdom to one of iron and rust.

Reputation
Gibbon called Marcus "that philosophic monarch," a combination of adjective and noun which sets Marcus apart from all other Roman emperors. His renown has, in subsequent centuries, suffered little, although he was by no means a "perfect" person. He was perhaps too tolerant of other people's failings, he himself used opium. The abundance of children whom his wife bore him included, alas, a male who was to prove one of Rome's worst rulers. How much better it would have been if Marcus had had no son and had chosen a successor by adoption, so that the line of the five good emperors, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus, Marcus, could have been extended. It was not to be, and for that Marcus must accept some responsibility.

Yet he was a man of ability and a sense of duty who sacrificed his own delights and interests to the well-being of the state. He was capax imperii, he did his best, and history has been kind to him. As Hamlet said to Horatio, when awaiting the appearance of the ghost of his father,

"He was a man! Take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again." (I 2, 187-88)

His memory remains vivid and tactile because of the famous column, the equestrian statue, and his slender volume of thoughts, written in Greek, the Meditations, from which I choose two quotations with which to conclude:

"If mind is common to us, then also the reason, whereby we are reasoning beings, is common. If this be so, then also the reason which enjoins what is to be done or left undone is common. If this be so, law also is common; if this be so, we are citizens; if this be so, we are partakers in one constitution; if this be so, the Universe is a kind of Commonwealth." (4.4)

"At dawn of day, when you dislike being called, have this thought ready: 'I am called to man's labour; why then do I make a difficulty if I am going out to do what I was born to do and what I was brought into the world for?'" (5.1; both in Farquharson's translation)

Copyright (C) 2001, Herbert W. Benario.
Published: De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and their Families http://www.roman-emperors.org/startup.htm. Used by permission.

Edited by J. P. Fitzgerald, Jr.
Cleisthenes
44 files on 1 page(s)