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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Twelve Caesars| ▸ |Nero||View Options:  |  |  |   

Nero, 13 October 54 - 9 June 68 A.D.

Nero became emperor after his stepfather, the emperor Claudius, died (Claudius was probably poisoned by Nero's mother Agrippina II). At first, Nero ruled well, guided by his mentors Seneca and Burrus, but soon his reign degenerated into the debauchery and murder for which he is infamous. He had his mother, Burrus, Britannicus, and numerous senators and members of the nobility murdered or executed. Legend says he kicked Poppaea, his pregnant wife, to death. He was the first emperor to persecute Christians, blaming them for the Great Fire in 64 A.D. Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D. after generals in Africa, Gaul, and Spain all rebelled, and the Praetorian Guard in Rome deserted him.


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"At the mouth of the Tiber River, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Ostia means mouth in Latin. This coin was issued to commemorate the completion of an artificial harbor at Ostia, begun under Claudius in 42 A.D. and completed under Nero in 64 A.D.

The earliest known post-diaspora house-synagogue was at Ostia. In 387, St. Augustine stayed in Ostia with his mother, who died there.

Ostia began to decline in the Severan period. By the Constantine Dynasty, Portus was the main port for Rome. Earthquake damage at Ostia was left uncleared. At the end of the fifth century the aqueduct stopped functioning. In 537 with the area under attack from the Goths, the remaining inhabitants retreated to the theater, which they turned into a little fortress. Early in the ninth century Ostia was captured by the Saracens and abandoned.

Ostian marble was reused in the cathedrals of Pisa, Florence, Amalfi and Orvieto. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was entirely built of material from Ostia. Despite all this, Ostia today is known for its well preserved ruins and magnificent frescos.
SH32118. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 440, Choice VF, pourous surfaces, weight 24.599 g, maximum diameter 35.4 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon) mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head right, globe at point of bust; reverse PORT AVG S C, bird's eye view of the Port of Ostia, eight ships in the harbor, statue of neptune on lighthouse at top, river-god Tiber reclining holding rudder and dolphin below, all flanked by colonnade ending in temple on left and boat slips on right; nice portrait, ex Stack's Coin Galleries; rare and historic; SOLD


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The name Ostia was derived from the Latin "ostium" - river mouth. At the mouth of the River Tiber, Ostia was Rome's seaport. Construction of the port facilities began under Claudius and was likely completed just before this sestertius was struck in 64 A.D. Trajan and Hadrian expanded the facilities. The port was abandoned due to silting and now lies 3 km from the sea. The site is noted for the excellent preservation of its ancient buildings, magnificent frescoes and impressive mosaics.
SH86120. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 178, BMCRE I 131, Cohen I 37, Mac Dowall WCN 120, BnF I -, VF, well centered, nice portrait, near black patina, scratches on obverse lower right field, some porosity and tiny pitting, weight 26.031 g, maximum diameter 34.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, wearing aegis; reverse AVGVSTI above, S - C divided by POR OST below, bird's-eye view Ostia harbor: pharos lighthouse with Neptune statue on top at far side center; crescent-shaped pier with building and figure sacrificing at far end, crescent-shaped row of breakwaters or slips on right with figure seated on rock at far end, 7 ships within port; river god Tiber reclining left holding rudder and dolphin below; ex Gorny & Mosch auction 195 (7 Mar 2011), lot 405; an attractive example of a highly desired type!; SOLD


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Saint Paul (also called Paul the Apostle, born Saul of Tarsus) arrived in Rome around 60. The narrative of Acts ends with Paul preaching in Rome for two years from his rented home under house arrest while awaiting trial. The New Testament does not say when or how Paul died. It is believed Nero had him killed after the Great Fire of Rome in July 64, but before the last year of his reign in 68.

In 2002, an 8 foot long marble sarcophagus, inscribed with the words "PAULO APOSTOLO MART" ("Paul apostle martyr") was discovered during excavations around the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls on the Via Ostiensis. Vatican archaeologists declared this to be the tomb of Paul the Apostle in 2005. In June 2009, Pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results concerning the tomb. The sarcophagus was not opened but was examined by means of a probe, which revealed pieces of incense, purple and blue linen, and small bone fragments. The bone was radiocarbon-dated to the 1st or 2nd century. According to the Vatican, these findings support the conclusion that the tomb is Paul's.
SH54548. Gold aureus, Calico 405, RIC I 48, Cohen I 66, VF, hairline scratches, weight 7.420 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 64 - 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse CONCORDIA AVGVSTVS (harmony of the Emperor), Concordia seated left, patera in right hand, cornucopia in left hand; SOLD


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References disagree on who is the empress beside Nero. Most simply say empress. Sear (SRCV I) and Giard (BnF II) say the empress is Livia. RSC II says Messalina, but this type is now dated to the time of Nero's marriage to Poppaea Sabina. Nobody says it is his mother Agrippina, because he had her murdered in 59 A.D. We think it is Poppaea.

According to Tacitus, Poppaea was ambitious and ruthless. He reports that Poppaea married Otho to get close to Nero and then, in turn, became Nero's favorite mistress, and then wife. She bore Nero one daughter, Claudia Augusta, born on 21 January 63, who died at only four months of age. At the birth of Claudia, Nero honored mother and child with the title of Augusta. According to Suetonius, while she was awaiting the birth of her second child in the summer of 65, she quarreled fiercely with Nero over his spending too much time at the races. In a fit of rage, Nero kicked her in the abdomen, killing her.
RS72960. Silver denarius, post reform; RIC I 45 (R), BMCRE I 54, RSC II 43 (Messalina), BnF II 201 (Livia), Hunter I 24, SRCV I 1940 (Livia), EF, excellent portrait, fantastic reverse style, weight 3.402 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 - 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse AVGVSTVS AVGVSTA, Nero, on left, standing slightly left, radiate and togate, patera in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; empress on right, standing left, veiled and draped, patera in right hand, double cornucopia in left hand; from the Jyrki Muona Collection, ex Imperial Coins; rare; SOLD


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A decursio was a military exercise, by which Roman soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They sometimes consisted of a mock fight between two divisions. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back, fully armed and equipped. The decursio this coin probably refers Nero's participation in mock military maneuvers in the circus.
SH38174. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 436, Mac Dowall WCN 418, BMCRE I 312 ff., gVF, weight 27.255 g, maximum diameter 37.1 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, c. 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate bust right, globe at point of bust; reverse DECVRSIO (in exergue), Nero and a companion on horseback prancing right, Nero holds spear in right hand, companion holds vexillum in right over shoulder, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; superb portrait; SOLD


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A decursio was a military exercise, by which Roman soldiers were taught to make long marches in a given time, under arms and without quitting their ranks. They sometimes consisted of a mock fight between two divisions. Augustus and subsequently Hadrian ordered that the infantry and cavalry were to march out three times a month ten miles from the camp and ten miles back, fully armed and equipped. The decursio this coin probably refers Nero's participation in mock military maneuvers in the circus.
SH32816. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 437, VF, some tooling, weight 26.768 g, maximum diameter 36.0 mm, die axis 180o, Lugdunum (Lyon, France) mint, 65 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, laureate head left, globe at point of bust; reverse DECVRSIO S C, Nero and companion on horseback prancing right; rare; SOLD


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To celebrate his escape from the Pisonian conspiracy and assassination attempt in 65 A.D., Nero constructed a temple to Salus, the Roman goddess of health and safety, and honored her on the reverse of his coins.
SH38942. Gold aureus, RIC I 59, Cohen I 313, BnF II 225, SRCV I 1932, gF, weight 7.092 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 135o, Rome mint, 65 - 66 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse Salus seated left on high back throne, patera in right, SALVS (health) in exergue; SOLD


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The "Lost Arch of Nero" was decreed by the Senate in 58 A.D. to commemorate the eastern victory of Cn. Domitius Corduba. It was located on Capitoline Hill. It was demolished shortly after Nero's downfall. No trace remains today.
SH58656. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC I 147, BMCRE I 187, BnF II 287, Cohen I 308, SRCV I 1962, Choice gVF, very attractive coin, struck with fine style dies, weight 27.180 g, maximum diameter 35.7 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, c. 64 A.D.; obverse NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GER P M TR P IMP P P, Laureate bust right, aegis on neck; reverse S C, triumphal arch; surmounted by statue of Nero in a facing quadriga, led by Pax on left and Victory on right, and flanked below by two soldiers; front ornamented with statue of Mars in a niche and bas-reliefs of small figures; garland hanging in arch; ex Empire Coins 12/87, ex Arnold Saslow; SOLD


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In 65 A.D., Nero killed his pregnant wife, Poppea Sabina, with a kick to the stomach. He also appeared in a stage performance shocking the senatorial class.
SH62358. Gold aureus, RIC I 52 (R), BMCRE I 67, BnF I 213, Calico 412, Cohen I 118, McDowall Nero 25, SRCV I 1930, gF, ex jewelry, scratches, weight 7.025 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 65 - 66 A.D.; obverse NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse IVPPITER CVSTOS (Jupiter the Preserver), Jupiter seated left on throne without back, thunderbolt in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; SOLD


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In the year AD 65/6 two new types make their first appearance on the gold and silver coins of Nero, Jupiter Custos- “Guardian”, and Salus- “Well-Being” (of the emperor). Both confer divine protection on Nero, who had survived the most potent threat to his rule since he succeeded Claudius in AD 54. The Pisonian Conspiracy got its name from G. Calpurnius Piso, a wealthy and flamboyant senator who was being put forward as an alternative emperor by a cabal of senior military officers and government potentates who feared for their positions and lives under the increasingly erratic Nero. The plot was discovered, a number of prominent Romans were executed, and others, such as the political philosopher Seneca, the poet Lucan and the satirical writer Petronius were forced to commit suicide. The emperor gave thanks to the gods for his salvation, but his fate was only delayed for a few years.
SH65968. Gold aureus, RIC I 63 (R), Calico 413, BMCRE I 77, BnF I 231, Cohen I 120, McDowall Nero 30, SRCV I -, VF, some minor nicks and earthen encrustation, weight 7.224 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 315o, Rome mint, 67 - 68 A.D.; obverse IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS, laureate head right; reverse IVPPITER CVSTOS (Jupiter the Preserver), Jupiter seated on throne left, thunderbolt in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand; SOLD




  




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OBVERSE| LEGENDS|

IMPNEROCAESARAVGPMAXTRPOTPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPMAXTRPPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPMTRPOTPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPONTMAXTRPOTPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGPP
IMPNEROCAESARAVGVSTVS
NEROCAESAR
NEROCAESARAVGGERMIMP
NEROCAESARAVGIMP
NEROCAESARAVGVSTVS
NEROCAESAVGIMP
NEROCLAVCAEAVGGER
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERMANI
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERMPMTRPIMP
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERPMTRPIMPPP
NEROCLAVDCAESARAVGGERMPMTRPIMPPP
NEROCLAVDCAESDRVSVSGERMPRINCIVVENT
NEROCLAVDDIVICLAVDFCAESARAVG
NEROCLAVDDIVICLAVDFCAESARAVGGERMANI
NEROCLAVDIVSCAESARAVGGERMA
NEROCLAVDIVSCAESARAVGGERMANIC
NEROCLAVDIVSCAESARAVGGERMPMTRPIMPPP
NEROCLDIVIFCAESAVGPMTRPII
NERONERONICLAVDIODRVSOGERMCOSDESIGN
NERONICLAVDIODRVSOGERMCOSDESIGN


REFERENCES|

American Numismatic Society (ANS) Collections Database Online - http://numismatics.org/search/search
Burnett, A., M. Amandry, & P. Ripollès. Roman Provincial Coinage I: From the death of Caesar to the death of Vitellius (44 BC-AD 69). (London, 1992).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Clay, C. "Münzprägung des Kaisers Nero" in Numismatische Zeitschrift 96 (1982), pp. 7 - 17.
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 1: Pompey to Domitian. (Paris, 1880).
Giard, J-B. Le monnayage de l'atelier de Lyon, De Claude Ier à Vespasien (41-78 après J.-C.), et au temps de Clodius Albinus (196-197 après J.-C.). (Wetteren, 2000).
Giard, J-B. Bibliothèque National Catalogue Monnaies de L'Empire Romain II: De Tebère à Néron. (Paris, 1988).
King, C. Roman Quinarii from the Republic to Diocletian and the Tetrarchy. (Oxford, 2007).
Mac Dowall, D. The Western Coinages of Nero. ANSNNM 161. (New York, 1979).
Mac Dowall, D. "Two Roman Countermarks of A.D. 68" in NC 1960, pp. 103 - 112, pl. VII.
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 1: Augustus to Vitellius. (London, 1923).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet, University of Glasgow, Vol. I. Augustus to Nerva. (Oxford, 1962).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, The Millennium Edition, Volume One, The Republic and the Twelve Caesars 280 BC - AD 86. (London, 2000).
Sutherland, C. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. I, From 39 BC to AD 69. (London, 1984).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).
von Kaenel, H.-M. "Britannicus, Agrippina Minor und Nero in Thrakien" in SNR 63 (1984).

Catalog current as of Monday, October 14, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Nero