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The Emperors Antoninus I through Antoninus IV: has anyone seen those terms used?


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In tomorrow's Künker auction, the primary terms used to refer to Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Caracalla, and Elagabalus are Antoninus I Pius, Antoninus II, Antoninus III, and Antoninus IV. Of course I'm aware that Antoninus was part of all of their names, but I have never before seen them referred to with accompanying Roman numerals, as Antoninus I through IV. Have I been missing something, or is this just Künker's usage? I'm not used to seeing Roman numerals applied to emperors' names at all (not counting occasional references to Claudius I to distinguish him from Claudius II Gothicus) before Gordian I-III and Philip I-II. Of course that became very common by the 4th century.





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1 hour ago, shanxi said:

Uncommon (and confusing) but more historically accurate. There was no emperor called Caracalla or Elagabal officially. 

But there are more emperors called Antoninus: Commodus and Diadumenian

Good point! So we should actually refer to all of them from now on as Antoninus I through VI, with Commodus as III, Caracalla as IV, Diadumenian as V, and Elagabalus as VI. Perhaps I should write to Künker and point out this error.

Really, though, I don't think the book "The Meditations of Antoninus II" will ever be quite as popular as it is under its current name.


Edited by DonnaML
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39 minutes ago, DonnaML said:

Perhaps I should write to Künker and point out this error.


I think for the four numbered ANTONINVS was the main name, which is also often written out on the coins of. Even the AVRELIVS of Marcus Aurelius is no longer written out since he became Augustus.

56 minutes ago, JeandAcre said:

Caracalla and Elagabal were at least contemporary nicknames (...right?).

Yes for Caracalla, but as far as I remember the name Elagabal came later. 


Edited by shanxi
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I think this usage may have been introduced by Robert Göbl, Professor of Numismatics at the University of Vienna, who wanted to make numismatics more scientific, in particular by  reconstructing the "structure" (Aufbau in German) of the coin production at the various mints.

The first such numbering of the Antonines that I can quickly find: in Göbl's auction catalogue of the Apostolo Zeno collection, Vienna 1955, where the Antonines are labeled as follows:


MARC AUREL (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus [II.])

CARACALLA (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus [III.])

ELAGABAL (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus [IV.])

However, Göbl eventually dropped this numeration, probably because he saw that almost nobody was following him. In his list of projected Aufbau volumes in MIR 18 (1986), only two numerals were retained, ANTONINUS (I.) PIUS and ANTONINVS IV. (ELAGABALVS), and no numerals at all were used by his assistant Wolfgang Szaivert in the text portion of that same MIR volume, covering the coinage of Marcus, Verus, and Commodus.

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Yes, @curtislclay, I have to think that you nailed another (Big, Fat, Balloon-sized Air quotes:) "minor," Ahem, detail, regarding how anyone who cares in the first place has been naming these people for the past several centuries of modern historiography.

The alternative has to strike me as an example of a well known Freudian complex, ending in '...retentative.'  

Maybe I get this from hanging out in earlier post-Carolingian medieval for so long.  But after a certain point, the various historical contexts, in all their nuance, geographical and otherwise, effectively render this kind of 'precision' only more revisionist (and equally well-intentioned, and ill-advised) --and as such, ultimately arbitrary-- than the semantics that are already in place.  Regarding the latter, to paraphrase Churchill about representative democracy, Sure, it stinks to high Heaven, but it's the best we've got.

Edited by JeandAcre
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