COMMODUS as Roman Hercules NAKED 192AD Rare Ancient HUGE Roman Coin i22886
Item: i22886 Authentic Ancient Coin of. Commodus – Roman Emperor: 177-192 A. Brass Sestertius 31mm (23.1 grams) Rome mint: 192 A. L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL – Laureate head right. HERCVLI ROMANO AVG S C , Commodus as “Roman Hercules” standing facing, nude, head left, resting right hand on trophy before him and holding club and lion skin left. 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. Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles , who was the son of Zeus (Roman equivalent Jupiter) and the mortal Alcmene. In classical mythology , Hercules is famous for his strength and for his numerous far-ranging adventures. The Romans adapted the Greek hero’s iconography and myths for their literature and art under the name Hercules. In later Western art and literature and in popular culture , Hercules is more commonly used than Heracles as the name of the hero. Hercules was a multifaceted figure with contradictory characteristics, which enabled later artists and writers to pick and choose how to represent him. This article provides an introduction to representations of Hercules in the later tradition. Hercules is known for his many adventures, which took him to the far reaches of the Greco-Roman world. One cycle of these adventures became canonical as the “Twelve Labours, ” but the list has variations. One traditional order of the labours is found in the Bibliotheca as follows. Slay the Nemean Lion. Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis. Capture the Erymanthian Boar. Clean the Augean stables in a single day. Slay the Stymphalian Birds. Capture the Cretan Bull. Steal the Mares of Diomedes. Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta , Queen of the Amazons. Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon. Steal the apples of the Hesperides. Capture and bring back Cerberus. The Latin name Hercules was borrowed through Etruscan , where it is represented variously as Heracle , Hercle, and other forms. Hercules was a favorite subject for Etruscan art , and appears often on bronze mirrors. The Etruscan form Herceler derives from the Greek Heracles via syncope. A mild oath invoking Hercules Hercule! Was a common interjection in Classical Latin. Baby Hercules strangling a snake sent to kill him in his cradle (Roman marble, 2nd century CE). Hercules had a number of myths that were distinctly Roman. One of these is Hercules’ defeat of Cacus , who was terrorizing the countryside of Rome. The hero was associated with the Aventine Hill through his son Aventinus. Mark Antony considered him a personal patron god, as did the emperor Commodus. Hercules received various forms of religious veneration , including as a deity concerned with children and childbirth , in part because of myths about his precocious infancy, and in part because he fathered countless children. Roman brides wore a special belt tied with the ” knot of Hercules “, which was supposed to be hard to untie. The comic playwright Plautus presents the myth of Hercules’ conception as a sex comedy in his play Amphitryon ; Seneca wrote the tragedy Hercules Furens about his bout with madness. During the Roman Imperial era , Hercules was worshipped locally from Hispania through Gaul. After the Roman Empire became Christianized , mythological narratives were often reinterpreted as allegory , influenced by the philosophy of late antiquity. In the 4th century, Servius had described Hercules’ return from the underworld as representing his ability to overcome earthly desires and vices, or the earth itself as a consumer of bodies. In medieval mythography, Hercules was one of the heroes seen as a strong role model who demonstrated both valor and wisdom, with the monsters he battles as moral obstacles. One glossator noted that when Hercules became a constellation , he showed that strength was necessary to gain entrance to Heaven. Medieval mythography was written almost entirely in Latin, and original Greek texts were little used as sources for Hercules’ myths. The Renaissance and the invention of the printing press brought a renewed interest in and publication of Greek literature. Renaissance mythography drew more extensively on the Greek tradition of Heracles, typically under the Romanized name Hercules, or the alternate name Alcides. In a chapter of his book Mythologiae (1567), the influential mythographer Natale Conti collected and summarized an extensive range of myths concerning the birth, adventures, and death of the hero under his Roman name Hercules. Conti begins his lengthy chapter on Hercules with an overview description that continues the moralizing impulse of the Middle Ages. Hercules, who subdued and destroyed monsters, bandits, and criminals, was justly famous and renowned for his great courage. His great and glorious reputation was worldwide, and so firmly entrenched that he’ll always be remembered. In fact the ancients honored him with his own temples, altars, ceremonies, and priests. But it was his wisdom and great soul that earned those honors; noble blood, physical strength, and political power just aren’t good enough. Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus. 31 August, 161 AD 31 December, 192 AD, was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father’s death in 180. His accession as emperor was the first time a son had succeeded his father since Titus succeeded Vespasian in 79. He was also the first Emperor to have both a father and grandfather as the two preceding Emperors. Commodus was the first (and until 337 the only) emperor ” born in the purple “; i. During his father’s reign. Commodus was assassinated in 192. Early life and rise to power (161180). Commodus was born on 31 August 161, as Commodus, in Lanuvium , near Rome. He was the son of the reigning emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and Aurelius’s first cousin, Faustina the Younger; the youngest daughter of Roman Emperor Antonius Pius. Commodus had an elder twin brother, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, who died in 165. On 12 October 166, Commodus was made Caesar together with his younger brother, Marcus Annius Verus. The latter died in 169 having failed to recover from an operation, which left Commodus as Marcus Aurelius’ sole surviving son. He was looked after by his father’s physician, Galen , in order to keep Commodus healthy and alive. Galen treated many of Commodus’ common illnesses. Commodus received extensive tuition at the hands of what Marcus Aurelius called an abundance of good masters. The focus of Commodus’ education appears to have been intellectual, possibly at the expense of military training. Commodus is known to have been at Carnuntum , the headquarters of Marcus Aurelius during the Marcomannic Wars , in 172. It was presumably there that, on 15 October 172, he was given the victory title Germanicus , in the presence of the army. The title suggests that Commodus was present at his father’s victory over the Marcomanni. On 20 January 175, Commodus entered the College of Pontiffs , the starting point of a career in public life. In April 175, Avidius Cassius , Governor of Syria , declared himself Emperor following rumors that Marcus Aurelius had died. Having been accepted as Emperor by Syria, Palestine and Egypt , Cassius carried on his rebellion even after it had become obvious that Marcus was still alive. During the preparations for the campaign against Cassius, the Prince assumed his toga virilis on the Danubian front on 7 July 175, thus formally entering adulthood. Cassius, however, was killed by one of his centurions before the campaign against him could begin. Commodus subsequently accompanied his father on a lengthy trip to the Eastern provinces, during which he visited Antioch. The Emperor and his son then traveled to Athens , where they were initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries. Joint rule with father (177). Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor since Vespasian to have a biological son of his own and, though he himself was the fifth in the line of the so-called Five Good Emperors , each of whom had adopted his successor, it seems to have been his firm intention that Commodus should be his heir. On 27 November 176, Marcus Aurelius granted Commodus the rank of Imperator and, in the middle of 177, the title Augustus , giving his son the same status as his own and formally sharing power. On 23 December of the same year, the two Augusti celebrated a joint triumph , and Commodus was given tribunician power. On 1 January 177, Commodus became consul for the first time, which made him, aged 15, the youngest consul in Roman history up to that time. He subsequently married Bruttia Crispina before accompanying his father to the Danubian front once more in 178, where Marcus Aurelius died on 17 March 180, leaving the 18-year-old Commodus sole emperor. Upon his accession Commodus devalued the Roman currency. He reduced the weight of the denarius from 96 per Roman pound to 105 (3.85 grams to 3.35 grams). He also reduced the silver purity from 79 percent to 76 percent the silver weight dropping from 2.57 grams to 2.34 grams. In 186 he further reduced the purity and silver weight to 74 percent and 2.22 grams respectively, being 108 to the Roman pound. His reduction of the denarius during his rule was the largest since the empire’s first devaluation during Nero’s reign. Whereas the reign of Marcus Aurelius had been marked by almost continuous warfare, that of Commodus was comparatively peaceful in the military sense but was marked by political strife and the increasingly arbitrary and capricious behaviour of the emperor himself. In the view of Dio Cassius , a contemporary observer, his accession marked the descent “from a kingdom of gold to one of rust and iron” a famous comment which has led some historians, notably Edward Gibbon , to take Commodus’s reign as the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire. Despite his notoriety, and considering the importance of his reign, Commodus’s years in power are not well chronicled. The principal surviving literary sources are Dio Cassius (a contemporary and sometimes first-hand observer, but for this reign, only transmitted in fragments and abbreviations), Herodian and the Historia Augusta (untrustworthy for its character as a work of literature rather than history, with elements of fiction embedded within its biographies; in the case of Commodus, it may well be embroidering upon what the author found in reasonably good contemporary sources). Commodus remained with the Danube armies for only a short time before negotiating a peace treaty with the Danubian tribes. Unlike the preceding Emperors Trajan , Hadrian , Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, he seems to have had little interest in the business of administration and tended throughout his reign to leave the practical running of the state to a succession of favourites, beginning with Saoterus , a freedman from Nicomedia who had become his chamberlain. Dissatisfaction with this state of affairs would lead to a series of conspiracies and attempted coups, which in turn eventually provoked Commodus to take charge of affairs, which he did in an increasingly dictatorial manner. Nevertheless, though the senatorial order came to hate and fear him, the evidence suggests that he remained popular with the army and the common people for much of his reign, not least because of his lavish shows of largesse (recorded on his coinage) and because he staged and took part in spectacular gladiatorial combats. The conspiracies of 182. A bust of Commodus as a youth (Roman-Germanic Museum , Cologne). At the outset of his reign, Commodus, age 18, inherited many of his father’s senior advisers, notably Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus (the second husband of Commodus’s sister Lucilla), his father-in-law Gaius Bruttius Praesens , Titus Fundanius Vitrasius Pollio, and Aufidius Victorinus , who was Prefect of the City of Rome. He also had five surviving sisters, all of them with husbands who were potential rivals. Four of his sisters were considerably older than he; the eldest, Lucilla, held the rank of Augusta as the widow of her first husband, Lucius Verus. The first crisis of the reign came in 182, when Lucilla engineered a conspiracy against her brother. Her motive is alleged to have been envy of the Empress Crispina. Her husband, Pompeianus, was not involved, but two men alleged to have been her lovers, Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus (the consul of 167, who was also her first cousin) and Appius Claudius Quintianus , attempted to murder Commodus as he entered the theatre. They bungled the job and were seized by the emperor’s bodyguard. Quadratus and Quintianus were executed. Lucilla was exiled to Capri and later killed. Pompeianus retired from public life. One of the two praetorian prefects , Tarrutenius Paternus , had actually been involved in the conspiracy but was not detected at this time, and in the aftermath, he and his colleague Sextus Tigidius Perennis were able to arrange for the murder of Saoterus, the hated chamberlain. Commodus took the loss of Saoterus badly, and Perennis now seized the chance to advance himself by implicating Paternus in a second conspiracy, one apparently led by Publius Salvius Julianus , who was the son of the jurist Salvius Julianus and was betrothed to Paternus’s daughter. Salvius and Paternus were executed along with a number of other prominent consulars and senators. Didius Julianus , the future emperor, a relative of Salvius Julianus, was dismissed from the governorship of Germania Inferior. Perennis took over the reins of government and Commodus found a new chamberlain and favourite in Cleander , a Phrygian freedman who had married one of the emperor’s mistresses, Demostratia. Cleander was in fact the person who had murdered Saoterus. After those attempts on his life, Commodus spent much of his time outside Rome, mostly on the family estates at Lanuvium. Being physically strong, his chief interest was in sport: taking part in horse racing , chariot racing , and combats with beasts and men, mostly in private but also on occasion in public. A bust of Commodus (Kunsthistorisches Museum , Vienna). According to Herodian he was well proportioned and attractive, with naturally blonde and curly hair. Commodus was inaugurated in 183 as consul with Aufidius Victorinus for a colleague and assumed the title Pius. War broke out in Dacia : few details are available, but it appears two future contenders for the throne, Clodius Albinus and Pescennius Niger , both distinguished themselves in the campaign. Also, in Britain in 184, the governor Ulpius Marcellus re-advanced the Roman frontier northward to the Antonine Wall , but the legionaries revolted against his harsh discipline and acclaimed another legate, Priscus, as emperor. Priscus refused to accept their acclamations, but Perennis had all the legionary legates in Britain cashiered. On 15 October 184 at the Capitoline Games , a Cynic philosopher publicly denounced Perennis before Commodus, who was watching, but was immediately put to death. According to Dio Cassius, Perennis, though ruthless and ambitious, was not personally corrupt and generally administered the state well. However, the following year, a detachment of soldiers from Britain (they had been drafted to Italy to suppress brigands) also denounced Perennis to the emperor as plotting to make his own son emperor (they had been enabled to do so by Cleander, who was seeking to dispose of his rival), and Commodus gave them permission to execute him as well as his wife and sons. The fall of Perennis brought a new spate of executions: Aufidius Victorinus committed suicide. Ulpius Marcellus was replaced as governor of Britain by Pertinax ; brought to Rome and tried for treason, Marcellus narrowly escaped death. Cleander’s zenith and fall (185190). Unrest around the empire increased, with large numbers of army deserters causing trouble in Gaul and Germany. Pescennius Niger mopped up the deserters in Gaul in a military campaign, and a revolt in Brittany was put down by two legions brought over from Britain. In 187, one of the leaders of the deserters, Maternus, came from Gaul intending to assassinate Commodus at the Festival of the Great Goddess in March, but he was betrayed and executed. In the same year, Pertinax unmasked a conspiracy by two enemies of Cleander Antistius Burrus (one of Commodus’s brothers-in-law) and Arrius Antoninus. As a result, Commodus appeared even more rarely in public, preferring to live on his estates. Early in 188, Cleander disposed of the current praetorian prefect, Atilius Aebutianus , and himself took over supreme command of the Praetorians at the new rank of a pugione (“dagger-bearer”) with two praetorian prefects subordinate to him. Now at the zenith of his power, Cleander continued to sell public offices as his private business. The climax came in the year 190, which had 25 suffect consuls a record in the 1000-year history of the Roman consulshipall appointed by Cleander (they included the future Emperor Septimius Severus). In the spring of 190, Rome was afflicted by a food shortage, for which the praefectus annonae Papirius Dionysius , the official actually in charge of the grain supply , contrived to lay the blame on Cleander. At the end of June, a mob demonstrated against Cleander during a horse race in the Circus Maximus : he sent the praetorian guard to put down the disturbances, but Pertinax, who was now City Prefect of Rome, dispatched the Vigiles Urbani to oppose them. Cleander fled to Commodus, who was at Laurentum in the house of the Quinctilii , for protection, but the mob followed him calling for his head. At the urging of his mistress Marcia , Commodus had Cleander beheaded and his son killed. Other victims at this time were the praetorian prefect Julius Julianus, Commodus’s cousin Annia Fundania Faustina , and his brother-in-law Mamertinus. Papirius Dionysius was executed too. The emperor now changed his name to Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus. At 29, he took over more of the reins of power, though he continued to rule through a cabal consisting of Marcia, his new chamberlain Eclectus, and the new praetorian prefect Quintus Aemilius Laetus , who about this time also had many Christians freed from working in the mines in Sardinia. Marcia, the widow of Quadratus, who had been executed in 182, is alleged to have been a Christian. In opposition to the Senate, in his pronouncements and iconography , Commodus had always laid stress on his unique status as a source of god-like power, liberality and physical prowess. Innumerable statues around the empire were set up portraying him in the guise of Hercules , reinforcing the image of him as a demigod, a physical giant, a protector and a battler against beasts and men (see “Commodus and Hercules” and “Commodus the Gladiator” below). Moreover, as Hercules, he could claim to be the son of Jupiter , the representative of the supreme god of the Roman pantheon. These tendencies now increased to megalomaniac proportions. Far from celebrating his descent from Marcus Aurelius, the actual source of his power, he stressed his own personal uniqueness as the bringer of a new order, seeking to re-cast the empire in his own image. During 191, the city of Rome was extensively damaged by a fire that raged for several days, during which many public buildings including the Temple of Pax , the Temple of Vesta and parts of the imperial palace were destroyed. Perhaps seeing this as an opportunity, early in 192 Commodus, declaring himself the new Romulus , ritually re-founded Rome, renaming the city Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana. All the months of the year were renamed to correspond exactly with his (now twelve) names: Lucius , Aelius , Aurelius , Commodus , Augustus , Herculeus , Romanus , Exsuperatorius , Amazonius , Invictus , Felix , Pius. The legions were renamed Commodianae , the fleet which imported grain from Africa was termed Alexandria Commodiana Togata , the Senate was entitled the Commodian Fortunate Senate, his palace and the Roman people themselves were all given the name Commodianus , and the day on which these reforms were decreed was to be called Dies Commodianus. Thus he presented himself as the fountainhead of the Empire and Roman life and religion. He also had the head of the Colossus of Nero adjacent to the Colosseum replaced with his own portrait, gave it a club and placed a bronze lion at its feet to make it look like Hercules, and added an inscription boasting of being “the only left-handed fighter to conquer twelve times one thousand men”. Character and physical prowess. Dio Cassius, a first-hand witness, describes him as not naturally wicked but, on the contrary, as guileless as any man that ever lived. His great simplicity, however, together with his cowardice, made him the slave of his companions, and it was through them that he at first, out of ignorance, missed the better life and then was led on into lustful and cruel habits, which soon became second nature. His recorded actions do tend to show a rejection of his fathers policies, his fathers advisers, and especially his fathers austere lifestyle, and an alienation from the surviving members of his family. It seems likely that he was brought up in an atmosphere of Stoic asceticism , which he rejected entirely upon his accession to sole rule. After repeated attempts on Commodus’ life, Roman citizens were often killed for raising his ire. One such notable event was the attempted extermination of the house of the Quinctilii. Condianus and Maximus were executed on the pretext that, while they were not implicated in any plots, their wealth and talent would make them unhappy with the current state of affairs. On his accession as sole ruler, Commodus added the name Antoninus to his official nomenclature. In October 180 he changed his praenomen from Lucius to Marcus, presumably in honour of his father. He later took the title of Felix in 185. In 191 he restored his praenomen to Lucius and added the family name Aelius, apparently linking himself to Hadrian and Hadrian’s adopted son Lucius Aelius Caesar , whose original name was also Commodus. Later that year he dropped Antoninus and adopted as his full style Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus Herculeus Romanus Exsuperatorius Amazonius Invictus Felix Pius (the order of some of these titles varies in the sources). “Exsuperatorius” (the supreme) was a title given to Jupiter, and “Amazonius” identified him again with Hercules. An inscribed altar from Dura-Europos on the Euphrates shows that Commodus’s titles and the renaming of the months were disseminated to the furthest reaches of the Empire; moreover, that even auxiliary military units received the title Commodiana, and that Commodus claimed two additional titles: Pacator Orbis (pacifier of the world) and Dominus Noster (Our Lord). The latter eventually would be used as a conventional title by Roman emperors, starting about a century later, but Commodus seems to have been the first to assume it. Disdaining the more philosophic inclinations of his father, Commodus was extremely proud of his physical prowess. He was generally acknowledged to be extremely handsome. As mentioned above, he ordered many statues to be made showing him dressed as Hercules with a lion’s hide and a club. He thought of himself as the reincarnation of Hercules, frequently emulating the legendary hero’s feats by appearing in the arena to fight a variety of wild animals. He was left-handed, and very proud of the fact. Cassius Dio and the writers of the Augustan History say that Commodus was a skilled archer, who could shoot the heads off ostriches in full gallop, and kill a panther as it attacked a victim in the arena. Commodus also had a passion for gladiatorial combat, which he took so far as to take to the arena himself, dressed as a gladiator. The Romans found Commodus’s naked gladiatorial combats to be scandalous and disgraceful. It was rumoured that he was actually the son, not of Marcus Aurelius, but of a gladiator whom his mother Faustina had taken as a lover at the coastal resort of Caieta. In the arena, Commodus always won since his opponents always submitted to the emperor. Thus, these public fights would not end in death. Privately, it was his custom to slay his practice opponents. For each appearance in the arena, he charged the city of Rome a million sesterces , straining the Roman economy. Commodus raised the ire of many military officials in Rome for his Hercules persona in the arena. Often, wounded soldiers and amputees would be placed in the arena for Commodus to slay with a sword. Commodus’s eccentric behaviour would not stop there. Citizens of Rome missing their feet through accident or illness were taken to the arena, where they were tethered together for Commodus to club to death while pretending they were giants. These acts may have contributed to his assassination. Commodus was also known for fighting exotic animals in the arena, often to the horror of the Roman people. According to Gibbon, Commodus once killed 100 lions in a single day. Later, he decapitated a running ostrich with a specially designed dart and afterwards carried the bleeding head of the dead bird and his sword over to the section where the Senators sat and gesticulated as though they were next. On another occasion, Commodus killed three elephants on the floor of the arena by himself. Finally, Commodus killed a giraffe , which was considered to be a strange and helpless beast. In November 192 Commodus held Plebian Games, in which he shot hundreds of animals with arrows and javelins every morning, and fought as a gladiator every afternoon, winning all the bouts. In December he announced his intention to inaugurate the year 193 as both consul and gladiator on 1 January. At this point, the prefect Laetus formed a conspiracy with Eclectus to supplant Commodus with Pertinax, taking Marcia into their confidence. On 31 December Marcia poisoned his food but he vomited up the poison; so the conspirators sent his wrestling partner Narcissus to strangle him in his bath. Upon his death, the Senate declared him a public enemy (a de facto damnatio memoriae) and restored the original name to the city of Rome and its institutions. Commodus’s statues were thrown down. His body was buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian. In 195 the emperor Septimius Severus , trying to gain favour with the family of Marcus Aurelius, rehabilitated Commodus’s memory and had the Senate deify him. Commodus was succeeded by Pertinax , whose reign was short lived, being the first to fall victim to the Year of the Five Emperors. Commodus’s death marked the end of the Nervan-Antonian dynasty. The sestertius , or sesterce , pl. Sestertii was an ancient Roman coin. During the Roman Republic it was a small, silver coin issued only on rare occasions. During the Roman Empire it was a large brass coin. Helmed Roma head right, IIS behind Dioscuri riding right, ROMA in linear frame below. The name sestertius (originally semis-tertius) means “2 ½”, the coin’s original value in asses , and is a combination of semis “half” and tertius “third”, that is, “the third half” (0 ½ being the first half and 1 ½ the second half) or “half the third” (two units plus half the third unit, or half way between the second unit and the third). Parallel constructions exist in Danish with halvanden (1 ½), halvtredje (2 ½) and halvfjerde (3 ½). The form sesterce , derived from French , was once used in preference to the Latin form, but is now considered old-fashioned. It is abbreviated as (originally IIS). Example of a detailed portrait of Hadrian 117 to 138. The sestertius was introduced c. 211 BC as a small silver coin valued at one-quarter of a denarius (and thus one hundredth of an aureus). A silver denarius was supposed to weigh about 4.5 grams, valued at ten grams, with the silver sestertius valued at two and one-half grams. In practice, the coins were usually underweight. When the denarius was retariffed to sixteen asses (due to the gradual reduction in the size of bronze denominations), the sestertius was accordingly revalued to four asses, still equal to one quarter of a denarius. It was produced sporadically, far less often than the denarius, through 44 BC. Hostilian under Trajan Decius 250 AD. In or about 23 BC, with the coinage reform of Augustus , the denomination of sestertius was introduced as the large brass denomination. Augustus tariffed the value of the sestertius as 1/100 Aureus. The sestertius was produced as the largest brass denomination until the late 3rd century AD. Most were struck in the mint of Rome but from AD 64 during the reign of Nero (AD 5468) and Vespasian (AD 6979), the mint of Lyon (Lugdunum), supplemented production. Lyon sestertii can be recognised by a small globe, or legend stop, beneath the bust. The brass sestertius typically weighs in the region of 25 to 28 grammes, is around 3234 mm in diameter and about 4 mm thick. The distinction between bronze and brass was important to the Romans. Their name for brass was orichalcum , a word sometimes also spelled aurichalcum (echoing the word for a gold coin, aureus), meaning’gold-copper’, because of its shiny, gold-like appearance when the coins were newly struck (see, for example Pliny the Elder in his Natural History Book 34.4). Orichalcum was considered, by weight, to be worth about double that of bronze. This is why the half-sestertius, the dupondius , was around the same size and weight as the bronze as, but was worth two asses. Sestertii continued to be struck until the late 3rd century, although there was a marked deterioration in the quality of the metal used and the striking even though portraiture remained strong. Later emperors increasingly relied on melting down older sestertii, a process which led to the zinc component being gradually lost as it burned off in the high temperatures needed to melt copper (Zinc melts at 419 °C, Copper at 1085 °C). The shortfall was made up with bronze and even lead. Later sestertii tend to be darker in appearance as a result and are made from more crudely prepared blanks (see the Hostilian coin on this page). The gradual impact of inflation caused by debasement of the silver currency meant that the purchasing power of the sestertius and smaller denominations like the dupondius and as was steadily reduced. In the 1st century AD, everyday small change was dominated by the dupondius and as, but in the 2nd century, as inflation bit, the sestertius became the dominant small change. In the 3rd century silver coinage contained less and less silver, and more and more copper or bronze. By the 260s and 270s the main unit was the double-denarius, the antoninianus , but by then these small coins were almost all bronze. Although these coins were theoretically worth eight sestertii, the average sestertius was worth far more in plain terms of the metal they contained. Some of the last sestertii were struck by Aurelian (270275 AD). During the end of its issue, when sestertii were reduced in size and quality, the double sestertius was issued first by Trajan Decius (249251 AD) and later in large quantity by the ruler of a breakaway regime in the West called Postumus (259268 AD), who often used worn old sestertii to overstrike his image and legends on. The double sestertius was distinguished from the sestertius by the radiate crown worn by the emperor, a device used to distinguish the dupondius from the as and the antoninianus from the denarius. Eventually, the inevitable happened. Many sestertii were withdrawn by the state and by forgers, to melt down to make the debased antoninianus, which made inflation worse. In the coinage reforms of the 4th century, the sestertius played no part and passed into history. Sestertius of Hadrian , dupondius of Antoninus Pius , and as of Marcus Aurelius. As a unit of account. The sestertius was also used as a standard unit of account, represented on inscriptions with the monogram HS. Large values were recorded in terms of sestertium milia , thousands of sestertii, with the milia often omitted and implied. The hyper-wealthy general and politician of the late Roman Republic, Crassus (who fought in the war to defeat Spartacus), was said by Pliny the Elder to have had’estates worth 200 million sesterces’. A loaf of bread cost roughly half a sestertius, and a sextarius (0.5 liter) of wine anywhere from less than half to more than 1 sestertius. One modius (6.67 kg) of wheat in 79 AD Pompeii cost 7 sestertii, of rye 3 sestertii, a bucket 2 sestertii, a tunic 15 sestertii, a donkey 500 sestertii. A writing tablet from Londinium (Roman London), dated to c. 75125 AD, records the sale of a Gallic slave girl called Fortunata for 600 denarii, equal to 2,400 sestertii, to a man called Vegetus. It is difficult to make any comparisons with modern coinage or prices, but for most of the 1st century AD the ordinary legionary was paid 900 sestertii per annum, rising to 1,200 under Domitian (81-96 AD), the equivalent of 3.3 sestertii per day. Half of this was deducted for living costs, leaving the soldier (if he was lucky enough actually to get paid) with about 1.65 sestertii per day. A sestertius of Nero , struck at Rome in 64 AD. The reverse depicts the emperor on horseback with a companion. The legend reads DECVRSIO,’a military exercise’. Sestertii are highly valued by numismatists , since their large size gave caelatores (engravers) a large area in which to produce detailed portraits and reverse types. The most celebrated are those produced for Nero (54-68 AD) between the years 64 and 68 AD, created by some of the most accomplished coin engravers in history. The brutally realistic portraits of this emperor, and the elegant reverse designs, greatly impressed and influenced the artists of the Renaissance. The series issued by Hadrian (117-138 AD), recording his travels around the Roman Empire, brilliantly depicts the Empire at its height, and included the first representation on a coin of the figure of Britannia ; it was revived by Charles II , and was a feature of United Kingdom coinage until the 2008 redesign. In his final year of life he shocked Romans of all classes by personally moonlighting as a gladiator. Of course, these fights were arranged so that he could invariably come out the victor. Because of this a record-breaking 700+ victories were scored in his name, each one ending in the deaths of one or more gladiators and/or wild beasts at the Colosseum. A successful conspiracy against him was finally hatched by one of his lovers who first tried poisoning him but he threw up and a wrestler was summoned who strangled him to death on the last day of the year 192. The recent Hollywood release “The Gladiator” is a fictionalized account of Commodus as emperor which has him at odds with a popular gladiator. What is a certificate of authenticity and what guarantees do you give that the item is authentic? You will be quite happy with what you get with the COA; a professional presentation of the coin, with all of the relevant information and a picture of the coin you saw in the listing. Is there a number I can call you with questions about my order? When should I leave feedback? Once you receive your order, please leave a positive. Please don’t leave any negative feedbacks, as it happens many times that people rush to leave feedback before letting sufficient time for the order to arrive. The matter of fact is that any issues can be resolved, as reputation is most important to me. My goal is to provide superior products and quality of service. The item “COMMODUS as Roman Hercules NAKED 192AD Rare Ancient HUGE Roman Coin i22886″ is in sale since Saturday, December 15, 2012. This item is in the category “Coins & Paper Money\Coins\ Ancient\Roman\ Imperial (27 BC-476 AD)”. The seller is “highrating_lowprice” and is located in Rego Park, New York. This item can be shipped worldwide.
- Ruler: Commodus son of Marcus Aurelius