COMMODUS 190AD Sestertius Big Ancient Roman Coin Genius Cult Prosperity i18165
Item: i18165 Authentic Ancient Coin of. Commodus – Roman Emperor: 177-192 A. Bronze Sestertius 29mm (21.25 grams) Rome mint: 190 A. Reference: RIC 561; sear5 #5749 M COMMOD ANT P FELIX AVG BRIT P P, laureate head right. GEN AVG FELIC TR P XV IMP VIII COS VI S C, Genius standing left, holding a patera & a cornucopiae, altar at left. The cornucopia (from Latin cornu copiae) or horn of plenty is a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers, nuts, other edibles, or wealth in some form. Originating in classical antiquity , it has continued as a symbol in Western art , and it is particularly associated with the Thanksgiving holiday in North America. Allegorical depiction of the Roman goddess Abundantia with a cornucopia, by Rubens ca. Mythology offers multiple explanations of the origin of the cornucopia. One of the best-known involves the birth and nurturance of the infant Zeus , who had to be hidden from his devouring father Cronus. In a cave on Mount Ida on the island of Crete , baby Zeus was cared for and protected by a number of divine attendants, including the goat Amalthea (“Nourishing Goddess”), who fed him with her milk. The suckling future king of the gods had unusual abilities and strength, and in playing with his nursemaid accidentally broke off one of her horns , which then had the divine power to provide unending nourishment, as the foster mother had to the god. In another myth, the cornucopia was created when Heracles (Roman Hercules) wrestled with the river god Achelous and wrenched off one of his horns; river gods were sometimes depicted as horned. This version is represented in the Achelous and Hercules mural painting by the American Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton. The cornucopia became the attribute of several Greek and Roman deities , particularly those associated with the harvest, prosperity, or spiritual abundance, such as personifications of Earth (Gaia or Terra); the child Plutus , god of riches and son of the grain goddess Demeter ; the nymph Maia ; and Fortuna , the goddess of luck, who had the power to grant prosperity. In Roman Imperial cult , abstract Roman deities who fostered peace (pax Romana) and prosperity were also depicted with a cornucopia, including Abundantia , “Abundance” personified, and Annona , goddess of the grain supply to the city of Rome. Pluto , the classical ruler of the underworld in the mystery religions , was a giver of agricultural, mineral and spiritual wealth, and in art often holds a cornucopia to distinguish him from the gloomier Hades , who holds a drinking horn instead. In modern depictions, the cornucopia is typically a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket filled with various kinds of festive fruit and vegetables. In North America, the cornucopia has come to be associated with Thanksgiving and the harvest. Cornucopia is also the name of the annual November Wine and Food celebration in Whistler , British Columbia, Canada. Two cornucopias are seen in the flag and state seal of Idaho. The Great Seal of North Carolina depicts Liberty standing and Plenty holding a cornucopia. The coat of arms of Colombia , Panama , Peru and Venezuela , and the Coat of Arms of the State of Victoria, Australia , also feature the cornucopia, symbolising prosperity. The horn of plenty is used on body art and at Halloween, as it is a symbol of fertility, fortune and abundance. Base of a statue of Louis XV of France. Head of a genius worshipped by Roman soldiers (found at Vindobona , 2nd century CE). In ancient Roman religion , the genius was the individual instance of a general divine nature that is present in every individual person, place, or thing. Winged genius facing a woman with a tambourine and mirror, from southern Italy, about 320 BC. Nature of the genius. The rational powers and abilities of every human being were attributed to their soul, which was a genius. Each individual place had a genius (genius loci) and so did powerful objects, such as volcanoes. The concept extended to some specifics: the genius of the theatre, of vineyards, and of festivals, which made performances successful, grapes grow, and celebrations succeed, respectively. It was extremely important in the Roman mind to propitiate the appropriate genii for the major undertakings and events of their lives. Bronze genius depicted as pater familias (1st century CE). Although the term genius might apply to any divinity whatsoever, most of the higher-level and state genii had their own well-established names. Genius applied most often to individual places or people not generally known; that is, to the smallest units of society and settlements, families and their homes. Houses, doors, gates, streets, districts, tribes, each one had its own genius. The supreme hierarchy of the Roman gods, like that of the Greeks, was modelled after a human family. It featured a father, Jupiter (“father god”), who, in a patriarchal society was also the supreme divine unity, and a mother, Juno , queen of the gods. These supreme unities were subdivided into genii for each individual family; hence, the genius of each female, representing the female domestic reproductive power, was a Juno. The male function was a Jupiter. The juno was worshipped under many titles. Matronalis , “of married women”. Genii were often viewed as protective spirits, as one would propitiate them for protection. For example, to protect infants one propitiated a number of deities concerned with birth and childrearing : Cuba (“lying down to sleep”), Cunina (“of the cradle”) and Rumina (“of breast-feeding”). Certainly, if those genii did not perform their proper function well, the infant would be in danger. Hundreds of lararia , or family shrines, have been discovered at Pompeii , typically off the atrium , kitchen or garden, where the smoke of burnt offerings could vent through the opening in the roof. A lararium was distinct from the penus (“within”), another shrine where the penates , gods associated with the storerooms, was located. Each lararium features a panel fresco containing the same theme: two peripheral figures (Lares) attend on a central figure (family genius) or two figures (genius and Juno) who may or may not be at an altar. In the foreground is one or two serpents crawling toward the genius through a meadow motif. Campania and Calabria preserved an ancient practice of keeping a propitious house snake, here linked with the genius. In another, unrelated fresco (House of the Centenary) the snake-in-meadow appears below a depiction of Mount Vesuvius and is labelled Agathodaimon , “good daimon “, where daimon must be regarded as the Greek equivalent of genius. History of the concept. Etymologically genius (household guardian spirit) has the same derivation as nature from gns (tribe, people) from the Indo-European root gen-, produce. It is the indwelling nature of an object or class of objects or events that act with a perceived or hypothesized unity. Philosophically the Romans did not find the paradox of the one being many confusing; like all other prodigies they attributed it to the inexplicable mystery of divinity. Multiple events could therefore be attributed to the same and different divinities and a person could be the same as and different from his genius. They were not distinct, as the later guardian angels, and yet the Genius Augusti was not exactly the same as Augustus either. As a natural outcome of these beliefs, the pleasantness of a place, the strength of an oath, an ability of a person, were regarded as intrinsic to the object, and yet were all attributable to genius ; hence all of the modern meanings of the word. This point of view is not attributable to any one civilization; its roots are lost in prehistory. The Etruscans had such beliefs at the beginning of history, but then so did the Greeks, the native Italics and many other peoples in the near and middle east. Genii under the monarchy. No literature of the monarchy has survived, but later authors in recounting its legends mention the genius. For example, under Servius Tullius the triplets Horatii of Rome fought the triplets Curiatii of Alba Longa for the decision of the war that had arisen between the two communities. Horatius was left standing but his sister, who had been betrothed to one of the Curiatii, began to keen, breast-beat and berate Horatius. He executed her, was tried for murder, was acquitted by the Roman people but the king made him expiate the Juno of his sister and the Genius Curiatii , a family genius. Implied geniuses date to much earlier; for example, when Horatius Cocles defends the Pons Sublicius against an Etruscan crossing at the beginning of the Roman Republic , after the bridge is cut down he prays to the Tiber to bear him up as he swims across: Tiberine pater te, sancte, precor… Holy father Tiber, I pray to you…. The Tiber so addressed is a genius. Although the word is not used here, in later literature it is identified as one. Describes the genius as “the companion which controls the natal star; the god of human nature, in that he is mortal for each person, with a changing expression, white or black”. Octavius Caesar on return to Rome after the final victory of the Roman Civil War at the Battle of Actium appeared to the Senate to be a man of great power and success, clearly a mark of divinity. In recognition of the prodigy they voted that all banquets should include a libation to his genius. In concession to this sentiment he chose the name Augustus , capturing the numinous meaning of English august. This line of thought was probably behind the later vote in 30 BC that he was divine, as the household cult of the Genius Augusti dates from that time. It was propitiated at every meal along with the other household numina. The vote began the tradition of the divine emperors ; however, the divinity went with the office and not the man. The Roman emperors gave ample evidence that they personally were neither immortal nor divine. Inscription on votive altar to the genius of Legio VII Gemina by L. Attius Macro (CIL II 5083). If the genius of the imperator , or commander of all troops, was to be propitiated, so was that of all the units under his command. The provincial troops expanded the idea of the genii of state; for example, from Roman Britain have been found altars to the genii of Roma , Roman aeterna , Britannia , and to every legion , cohors , ala and centuria in Britain, as well as to the praetorium of every castra and even to the vexillae. Inscriptional dedications to genius were not confined to the military. From Gallia Cisalpina under the empire are numerous dedications to the genii of persons of authority and respect; in addition to the emperor’s genius principis , were the geniuses of patrons of freedmen, owners of slaves, patrons of guilds, philanthropists, officials, villages, other divinities, relatives and friends. Sometimes the dedication is combined with other words, such as “to the genius and honor” or in the case of couples, to the genius and Juno. Surviving from the time of the empire hundreds of dedicatory, votive and sepulchral inscriptions ranging over the entire territory testify to a floruit of genius worship as an official cult. Stock phrases were abbreviated: GPR, genio populi Romani (“to the genius of the Roman people”); GHL, genio huius loci (“to the genius of this place”); GDN, genio domini nostri (“to the genius of our master”), and so on. In 392 AD with the final victory of Christianity Theodosius I declared the worship of the Genii, Lares and Penates to be treason, ending their official terms. The concept, however, continued in representation and speech under different names or with accepted modifications. The genius of a corporate social body is often a cameo theme on ancient coins: a denarius from Spain, 7675 BC, featuring a bust of the GPR (Genius Populi Romani , “Genius of the Roman People”) on the obverse ; an aureus of Siscia in Croatia , 270275 AD, featuring a standing image of the GENIUS ILLVR (Genius Exercitus Illyriciani , “Genius of the Illyrian Army”) on the reverse; an aureus of Rome, 134138 AD, with an image of a youth holding a cornucopia and patera (sacrificial dish) and the inscription GENIOPR, genio populi Romani , “to the genius of the Roman people, ” on the reverse. Scene from Lararium, House of Iulius Polybius, Pompeii. Agathodaimon (“good divinity”), genius of the soil around Vesuvius. Unknown Roman genius near Pompeii, 1st century BC. Genius of Antoninus Pius. Genius of Palermo , Ignazio Marabitti, c. Genius of Alexander, Marie Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, 1814. 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. 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 190AD Sestertius Big Ancient Roman Coin Genius Cult Prosperity i18165″ is in sale since Tuesday, February 21, 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.