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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Themes & Provenance ▸ Personifications ▸ PietyView Options:  |  |  |   

Piety (Pietas)

Pietas in traditional Latin usage expressed a complex, highly valued Roman virtue; a man or woman with pietas respected his or her responsibilities to other people, gods and entities (such as the state), and understood his or her place in society with respect to others.


Julius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator, October 49 - 15 March 44 B.C.

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This was the first coin issued in Caesar's name. It was minted after his invasion of Italy and crossing of the Rubicon on 10 January 49 B.C. until his defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus. The symbolism on the obverse appears to be the triumph of good over evil. The reverse refers to Caesar's office of Pontifex Maximus (high priest of Rome).
SH85591. Silver denarius, Crawford 443/1, Sydenham 1006, RSC I 49, Sear CRI 9, BMCRR Gaul 27, Russo RBW 1557, SRCV I 1399, VF, old collection rainbow toning, choice obverse, light marks, reverse 1/4 off center, weight 4.024 g, maximum diameter 9.6 mm, die axis 0o, military mint, traveling with Caesar, 49 B.C.; obverse elephant walking right trampling on a dragon or carnyx (Celtic war trumpet) ornamented to look like a dragon, CAESAR below; reverse implements of the pontificate: culullus (cup) or simpulum (ladle), aspergillum (sprinkler), securis (sacrificial ax), and apex (priest's hat); $900.00 (765.00)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D.

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This reverse refers to Elagabalus' role as priest of the Syrian god from whom he took his nickname. The star in the field, a symbol of the sun-god, stands for the mint of Rome.
RS85641. Silver denarius, RSC III 276, RIC IV 146, BMCRE V 231, Hunter III 74, SRCV II 7549, gVF, nice unusual portrait, toned, good detail, edge cracks, weight 3.026 g, maximum diameter 20.0 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 221 - 222 A.D.; obverse IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped, and horned bust right; reverse SVMMVS SACERDOS AVG (High Priest Emperor), Elagabalus, offering over altar from patera in right hand, branch in left hand, star in left field; $160.00 (136.00)


Geta, 209 - c. 26 December 211 A.D.

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References all identify the sacrificing figure as Geta. Indeed, it usually does appear to be a younger figure without a beard. We think the sacrificing figure on this coin looks like Septimius Severus. Perhaps it is just our imagination, or perhaps it was an engraver's error.
RS84972. Silver denarius, RIC IV 62b; RSC III 117; BMCRE V p. 275, 588; Hunter III 27 var. (also cuirassed); SRCV II 7189, Choice EF, excellent centering, attractive style, light encrustations, edge cracks, weight 3.261 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, as caesar, early 209 A.D.; obverse P SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES, youth's bare-headed and draped (not cuirassed) bust right, from behind; reverse PONTIF COS II (priest, consul for the 2nd time), Geta standing left, veiled and togate, patera over lighted altar in right hand, baton in left hand; $150.00 (127.50)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D.

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Curtis Clay notes, one of Elagabalus' four emperor sacrificing types is dated, and the horn disappears from its obverse soon after the beginning of TR P V on 10 December 221. This coin, without the horn thus dates c. mid-January to his death on 11 March 222. Elagabalus had shocked the public with bizarre behavior including cross-dressing and marrying a Vestal Virgin. Removing the unusual horn from his portrait was probably part of a last-ditch effort to show that he had changed, dropping his peculiar Syrian ways. The effort failed. On 11 March 222, Elagabalus and his mother were murdered, dragged through the streets of Rome and dumped into the Tiber.
RS85642. Silver denarius, RSC III 61b, Eauze 356 (10 spec.), BMCRE V 209, RIC IV 88 (notes usually horned), Hunter III 69 var. (horned), SRCV II 7518 var. (horned), Choice gVF, excellent portrait, nice reverse detail, light toning, light marks, slight die wear, edge cracks, weight 3.561 g, maximum diameter 19.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, c. mid-Jan - 11 Mar 222; obverse IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and bearded bust right, no horn; reverse INVICTVS SACERDOS AVG (invincible priest emperor), Elagabalus standing half left, branch in left, offering from patera over altar in right, slain bull recumbent on far side of altar, star left; $140.00 (119.00)


Caracalla, 28 January 198 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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A nice little boy portrait with no sign of the monster he would become.
RS79933. Silver denarius, RIC IV 68; RSC III 686; BMCRE V p. 234, 396; Hunter III p. 52, 23; SRCV II 6908, Choice VF, excellent boy portrait, well centered, weight 3.498 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 202 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate and draped boy's bust right; reverse VOT SVSC DEC PON TR P V COS, Caracalla standing left, togate and veiled, sacrificing over lit tripod altar from a patera in right hand, roll in left hand; scarce; $135.00 (114.75)


Gordian III, 29 July 238 - 25 February 244 A.D.

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Pietas in traditional Latin usage expressed a complex, highly valued Roman virtue; a man or woman with pietas respected his or her responsibilities to the gods, family, other people and entities (such as the state), and understood his or her place in society with respect to others.
RS77586. Silver RIC IV 129, RSC IV 186, SRCV III 8677, Hunter III -, Choice EF, very broad flan, some luster, tiny edge cracks, weight 2.904 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 241 A.D.; obverse IMP GORDIANVS PIVS FEL AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, from behind; reverse PIETAS AVGVSTI (the piety of the Emperor), Pietas standing slightly left, veiled head left, raising both hands in prayer; $130.00 (110.50)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D.

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The star in the field, a symbol of the sun-god, stands for the mint of Rome.
RS85648. Silver denarius, RIC IV 46, RSC III 196; BMCRE p. 569, 256; Hunter II 67; SRCV II 7536, aEF, attractive portrait, light toning, luster in recesses, reverse slightly off center on a tight flan, weight 3.589 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 221 A.D.; obverse IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and horned bust right, from the front; reverse P M TR P IIII COS III P P (High priest, holder of tribunitian power four years, consul three times, father of the country), Elagabalus standing slightly left, head left, wearing Syrian priest garb, sacrificing from patera in right hand over lit altar at feet on left, holding club or cypress branch in left hand, star in upper left field; $120.00 (102.00)


Julia Domna, Augusta, 194 - 8 April 217 A.D.

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Pietas in traditional Latin usage expressed a complex, highly valued Roman virtue; a man or woman with pietas respected his or her responsibilities to the gods, family, other people and entities (such as the state), and understood his or her place in society with respect to others.
RS79616. Silver denarius, RIC IV S572, BMCRE V S165, RSC III 150, Hunter III 16, SRCV II 6600, VF, nice portrait, full circles centering on obverse and reverse, some die wear, flan cracks, weight 3.543 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, 204 A.D.; obverse IVLIA AVGVSTA, draped bust right, hair in horizontal ridges, flat coil at back of head; reverse PIETAS AVGG (to the piety of the two emperors), Pietas standing half left, veiled, dropping incense on altar with right hand, box in left hand; $110.00 (93.50)


Lucilla, Augusta c. 164 - 182 A.D., Wife of Lucius Verus

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For Roman wives, piety often meant accepting neglect. It was not considered adultery for a Roman husband to have sex with slaves or unmarried women. The historian Spartianus wrote that after Lucilla complained, Lucius Verus reproached her: "Uxor enim dignitatis nomen est, non voluptatis" (Wife is the name of dignity, not bliss).
RB83576. Orichalcum sestertius, RIC III 1756, BMCRE IV 1161, Cohen III 54, Hunter II 27, SRCV II 5505, F, glossy dark sea-green patina, light corrosion on obverse, rough areas on reverse, squared tight flan, weight 19.43 g, maximum diameter 30.9 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, 164 - 166 A.D.; obverse LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust right; reverse PIETAS, Pietas standing left, veiled, raising her right hand, perfume-box in left hand, flaming altar at feet on left, S - C (senatus consulto) flanking across field; $95.00 (80.75)


Elagabalus, 16 May 218 - 11 March 222 A.D.

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This coin is from Elagabalus' final issue, struck during the last weeks of his reign after the horn was removed from his portrait. Elagabalus had shocked the public with bizarre behavior including cross-dressing and marrying a Vestal Virgin. Removing the unusual horn from his portrait was probably part of a last-ditch effort to show that he had changed, dropping his peculiar Syrian ways. The effort failed. On 11 March 222, Elagabalus and his mother were murdered, dragged through the streets of Rome and dumped into the Tiber.

RIC and RSC distinguish between types with Elagabalus holding a club and types with Elagabalus holding a branch. Most references list only a club. On most examples, we believe the object could be either a branch or a club.
RS85647. Silver denarius, RIC IV 52 (S, club) or 53 (S, branch); RSC III 213 (branch) or 213a (club); BMCRE V p. 571, 268; SRCV II 7538; Hunter III 68 var. (horned), VF, well centered, toned with darker high points and lighter contrasting fields, weight 2.845 g, maximum diameter 18.5 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, mid Jan - 11 Mar 222 A.D.; obverse IMP ANTONINVS PIVS AVG, laureate, draped and bearded bust right; reverse P M TR P V COS IIII P P (High priest, holder of tribunitian power five years, consul four times, father of the country), Elagabalus standing slightly left, wearing Syrian priestly dress, sacrificing from patera in right hand over flaming altar at feet on left, club (or branch) cradled in left hand and arm, star in upper left field; $95.00 (80.75)




  



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Piety