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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Adoptive Emperors ▸ Marcus AureliusView Options:  |  |  |   

Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

Marcus Aurelius was recognized by Hadrian as a fine and capable youth and betrothed to the daughter of Aelius. Antoninus Pius adopted him and in 145 A.D. he married Antoninus' daughter, Faustina II. In 161 A.D., he succeeded Antoninus as Augustus, immediately proclaiming Lucius Verus his co-emperor. Although known for his adherence to the philosophy of Stoicism and as a naturally peaceful man, Marcus' reign was disturbed by war with Parthia, plague and then a long, hard war along the Danube frontier. He died on March 17th, 180 A.D. and was deified by the senate soon after.


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In late summer or fall of 161, Vologases IV of Parthia captured the Roman client Kingdom of Armenia, expelled its king and installed his own; Pacorus, an Arsacid like himself. In 162, Lucius Verus began the war to recover Armenia and exact vengeance for Parthia's invasions of Armenia and Syria. The Armenian capital Artaxata was recovered in 163. At the end of 163, Verus took the title Armeniacus, despite having never personally seen combat. Marcus Aurelius initially declined to accept the title, but accepted it in 164.
RS87291. Silver denarius, RIC III 122, BMCRE IV 366, RSC II 9, cf. SRCV II 4881 (TR P XVIII), Choice EF, perfect centering, bold strike, radiating flow lines, excellent portrait, attractive toning, a few light marks, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.453 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 164 - c. Aug 165 A.D.; obverse ANTONINVS AVG ARMENIACVS, laureate head right; reverse P M TR P XIX IMP II COS III, Armenia in mournful attitude seated left on the ground, wearing a cap and draped, resting chin on right hand, right elbow on raised right knee, vexillum and shield on her right (far) side, left hand resting on quiver on the ground behind, ARMEN in exergue; ex Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger, e-auction 420, lot 5306; ex Dr. Neussel Collection, nr. 772; $480.00 (€408.00)
 


Faustina Junior, Augusta 146 - Winter 175/176 A.D., Wife of Marcus Aurelius

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"Saeculi Felicitas" means happy times, referring to the empire's new heirs. The two infants are the twin sons of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina Junior, Commodus and Antoninus, born 31 August 161, at Lanuvium, near Rome. Antoninus died at age four. Commodus succeeded Marcus Aurelius as emperor.
RS85787. Silver denarius, RIC III MA712; RSC II 191; BMCRE IV MA139; Hunter II p. 352, 16; SRCV II 5260, Choice VF, well centered, light toning, light marks, edge cracks, weight 3.155 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, struck under Marcus Aurelius, Sep 161 - 162 A.D.; obverse FAVSTINA AVGVSTA, diademed and draped bust right; reverse SAECVLI FELICIT (era of good fortune), the twin infant boys Commodus and Antonius seated facing on a draped throne; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

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In 179, Marcus Aurelius drove the Marcomanni back over the Danube. The Castra Regina ("fortress by the Regen river") was built on the right bank of the Danube at Regensburg, reinforcing the border in Germany. Legionaries of Legio II Adiutrix engraved the name of the town Laugaritio on the rock of the Trencín Castle (Slovakia). This marked the northernmost point of Roman presence in that part of Europe. To repopulate and rebuild devastated Pannonia, Rome allowed the first German colonists to enter Roman territory.
RB82748. Orichalcum dupondius, RIC III 1242, BMCRE IV 1697, Cohen III 381, MIR 455, SRCV II 5036, aEF, nice portrait, highest points flat, toned, some legend weak, two small edge splits, weight 10.810 g, maximum diameter 25.6 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 178 - Dec 179 A.D.; obverse M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXXIII, radiate, draped, and cuirassed, bust right, from behind; reverse IMP X COS III P P, Victory walking left on exergual line, raising wreath in right hand, palm frond upward in left hand, S - C flanking low across field; $240.00 (€204.00)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

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In 166, the war with Parthia was successfully ended. The Parthians left Armenia and eastern Mesopotamia, which both become Roman protectorates.
RS86786. Silver denarius, RIC III 159, RSC II 435, BMCRE IV 401 403, Szaivert MIR 140, SRCV II 4915, gVF, excellent portrait, toned, radiating flow lines, flan flaw on obverse (neck), obverse slightly off center, reverse struck with worn die, weight 3.531 g, maximum diameter 18.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, summer - Dec 166 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX, laureate head right; reverse TR P XX IMP IIII COS III, Pax standing left, branch in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, PAX in exergue; $200.00 (€170.00)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

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In 164, Marcus Aurelius gave his daughter Lucilla in marriage to his co-emperor Lucius Verus.
RS85768. Silver denarius, RIC III 112, RSC II 852c, BMCRE IV 257, Hunter II 16, SRCV II -, Choice VF, attractive portrait, toned, radiating flow lines, broad flan, small edge cracks, weight 3.517 g, maximum diameter 18.1 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, Dec 163 - Dec 164 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG IMP II, laureate head right; reverse TR P XVIII COS III, Felicitas seated right on curule chair, long grounded caduceus vertical behind in right hand, cornucopia with tip turned outward in right hand; $160.00 (€136.00)
 


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In 174, Marcus Aurelius officially conferred the title Fulminata (Thundering) to the Legio XII Fulminata.
RS87060. Silver denarius, RIC III 289, RSC II 298, BMCRE IV 596, Hunter II 62 var. (draped and cuirassed), SRCV II 4911 var. (captive seated left), VF, excellent portrait, some mint luster, radiating flow lines, a few light scratches and marks, obverse slightly off center, small edge cracks, weight 3.123 g, maximum diameter 19.3 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 173 - Jun 174 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVIII, laureate head right; reverse IMP VI COS III, captive seated right at foot of trophy of captured arms, arms (spear and curved sword?) on the ground to right; ex Numismatik Naumann, auction 62, lot 1134 (part of); $160.00 (€136.00)
 


Antoninus Pius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D.

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Two days before his death, Antoninus was at his ancestral estate at Lorium, in Etruria, about twelve miles (19 km) from Rome. He ate Alpine cheese at dinner quite greedily. In the night he vomited; he had a fever the next day. The day after that, 7 March 161, he summoned the imperial council, and passed the state and his daughter to Marcus. The emperor gave the keynote to his life in the last word that he uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password - "aequanimitas" (equanimity). He then turned over, as if going to sleep, and died. His death closed out the longest reign since Augustus (surpassing Tiberius by a couple of months).
RS85783. Silver denarius, RIC III MA433; MIR 18 25-4/10; RSC II 158; BMCRE IV p. 393, 45; Hunter II 8 var. (slight drapery); SRCV II 5191, Choice VF, well centered, nice portrait, toned, tiny edge cracks, weight 3.263 g, maximum diameter 18.4 mm, die axis 0o, Rome mint, posthumous, 161 A.D.; obverse DIVVS ANTONINVS, bare head right; reverse CONSECRATIO, eagle standing half-right on globe, wings spread, looking left; $135.00 (€114.75)
 


Marcus Aurelius, 7 March 161 - 17 March 180 A.D.

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On June 11, 173, during the Marcomannic Wars, the Roman army in Moravia was outnumbered and surrounded by the Quadi, suffering from the extreme heat, out of water, and on the verge of defeat. Dio writes, "many clouds gathered and a mighty rain, not without divine interposition, burst upon them...when the rain poured down, at first all turned their faces upwards and received the water in their mouths; then some held out their shields and some their helmets to catch it, and they not only took deep draughts themselves but also gave their horses to drink...while those on the one side were being drenched and drinking, the others [the Quadi] were being consumed by fire [lightning] and dying." The Romans were soon victorious. Marcus was saluted imperator for the seventh time and the "miracle of the rain" was memorialized on Marcus Aurelius' column. Miracle_in_the_Rain
RS87050. Silver denarius, RIC III 278, RSC II 297, BMCRE IV 578, Hunter II -, SRCV II -, VF, well centered, radiating flow lines, die wear, edge cracks, weight 3.307 g, maximum diameter 19.4 mm, die axis 180o, Rome mint, Dec 172 - Dec 173 A.D.; obverse M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVIII, laureate head right; reverse IMP VI COS III, captive seated right at foot of trophy of captured arms, arms (spear and bow?) on the ground to right; ex Numismatik Naumann, auction 62, lot 1134 (part of); $130.00 (€110.50)
 


Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, August 138 - 7 March 161 A.D., Koinon of Cyprus

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More than a few types were struck on Cyprus for Antoninus Pius with a portrait of Marcus Aurelius on the reverse, but we did not find another example from these dies. We have submitted this coin to RPC online but it has not yet been added (August, 2018).
RP85470. Brass AE 30, apparently unpublished; RPC Online IV -, SNG Cop -, BMC Cyprus -, Tziambazis -, Bank of Cyprus -, Fair/Fine, bumps, scratches, corrosion, some pitting, weight 15.313 g, maximum diameter 29.5 mm, die axis 180o, Cypriot mint, 141 - 161 A.D.; obverse AVT K TA A∆PI ANTΩNINOC E, laureate head of Antoninus Pius right; reverse AVT KAI M AVP ANTΩNINOC CEB, bare-headed, draped and cuirassed bust of young Marcus Aurelius right; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, 161 - 169 A.D., Laodicea ad Mare, Seleucia & Pieria, Syria

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Laodicea ad Mar was founded by Seleukos Nikator. The determined after an eagle snatched a piece of flesh from an altar where Seleukos was sacrificing. The exact site was indicated when he slew a boar following the eagle's flight.
RP85966. Bronze AE 25, RPC online IV 9261 (10 spec.), SNG Hunterian II 3206, SNG Fitzwilliam 5956, SNG Righetti 2108, Lindgren 2084, SNG Cop -, BMC Galatia -, aF, brown patina, tight flan, marks and scratches, porous, weight 10.679 g, maximum diameter 24.5 mm, die axis 0o, Laodicea ad Mare (Latakia, Syria) mint, 161 - 169 A.D.; obverse AYTOKPATWP KAICAP ANTWNINOC, laureate head of Marcus Aurelius right, IOY low in right field; reverse AYOKPATΩP KAICAP OYHPOC, laureate of head of Lucius Verus right, ΛA low in right field; ex Alex G. Malloy; scarce; $100.00 (€85.00)
 




  



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OBVERSE LEGENDS

ANTONINVSAVG
ANTONINVSAVGARMENIACVS
AVRELIVSCAESANTONAVGPIIF
AVRELIVSCAESARANTONINIAVGPIIFIL
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIF
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIFCOS
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIFIL
AVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIFCOS
AVRELIVSCAESAVGPIIF
AVRELIVSCAESAVGPIIFCOS
AVRELIVSCAESAVGPIIFCOSDES
DIVOMARCO
DIVOMARCOANTONINO
DIVVSMANTONINVSPIVS
IMPCAESMAVRELANTONINVSAVG
IMPCAESMAVRELANTONINVSAVGPM
IMPMANTONINVSAVG
IMPMANTONINVSAVGTRPXXV
IMPMAVRELANTONINVSAVG
MANTONINVSAVG
MANTONINVSAVGARMENIACVS
MANTONINVSAVGARMENPM
MANTONINVSAVGARMPARTHMAX
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARM
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMATICVS
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMMAX
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMTRPXXXI
MANTONINVSAVGGERMSARMTRPXXXPP
MANTONINVSAVGGERMTRPXXIX
MANTONINVSAVGIMPII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXX
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXIII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXIIII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXV
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXVI
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXVII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXVIII
MANTONINVSAVGTRPXXIX
MAVRELANTONINVSAVG
MAVRELANTONINVSAVGARMENIACVSPM
MAVRELANTONINVSAVGARMPARTHMAX
MAVRELANTONINVSAVGTRPXXXIII
MAVRELIVSCAESARANTONINIAVGPIIF
MAVRELIVSCAESARAVGPIIF


REFERENCES

Banti, A. & L. Simonetti. Corpus Nummorum Romanorum. (Florence, 1972-1979).
Calicó, E. The Roman Avrei, Vol. I: From the Republic to Pertinax, 196 BC - 193 AD. (Barcelona, 2003).
Cayón, J. Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano, Vol. III: De Marco Aurelio a Caracalla (Del 161 d.C. al 217 d.C.). (Madrid, 1984).
Cohen, H. Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Vol. 3: Marcus Aurelius to Clodius Albinus. (Paris, 1883).
Mattingly, H. & E. Sydenham. The Roman Imperial Coinage, Vol. III: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1930).
Mattingly, H. & R. Carson. Coins of the Roman Empire in the British Museum, Vol. 4: Antoninus Pius to Commodus. (London, 1940).
Robinson, A. Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet. II. Trajan to Commodus (London, 1971).
Szaivert, W. Die Münzprägung der Kaiser Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus un Commodus (161-192). (Wien, 1984).
Seaby, H. & R. Loosley. Roman Silver Coins, Vol. II: Tiberius to Commodus. (London, 1979).
Sear, D. Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol. II: The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235. (London, 2002).
Strack, P. Untersuchungen zur römischen Reichsprägung des zweiten Jahrhunderts, Teil III: Die Reichsprägung zur Zeit Antoninus Pius. (Stuttgart, 1937).
Toynbee, J. Roman medallions. ANSNS 5. (New York, 1944).
Vagi, D. Coinage and History of the Roman Empire. (Sidney, 1999).

Catalog current as of Tuesday, September 25, 2018.
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Roman Coins of Marcus Aurelius