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What’s wrong with Commodus - show me your coins please


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What I noticed (just imagination?) - there are not only few Commodus coins sold in auctions - I also see and read little about the coins of Commodus in the forum. What is the reason for this?

Are there any collectors (here) who (also) specialize in Commodus? For almost all emperors there are enthusiasts. Augustus, Nero, Flavier, Trajan, the Severans - even Gordianus has his specialists.

But Commodus surely belongs to the interesting emperors. An emperor son born in purple, a scheming sister, an emperor as Hercules, a dead tyrant - and even his own feature film (Gladiator). And yet it seems to me that the interest in Commodus in particular is rather weak. 

Are there any specialists here? Or do you only have single coins? 

I don't even have a real Commodus coin myself! Only a later Divus coin - issued under Trajanus Decius.

😞 

 

image.jpeg.7f328eb334aef7ca448a7d39b36c0c18.jpeg

 

Please show your Commodus coins! Do you have many? Or are you not so interested in Commodus?

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I don't see as many of him as the others you mention, although I have 2 - more than I do most other emperors. But they are not in great condition, which maybe is a problem with Commodus.

Commodus VICT BRIT Commemorative Sestertius, 184
image.png.aa04274db39d23f5cde8e340d1737e18.png
Rome. Bronze, 29.5mm, 22.61g. Laureate head right; M COMMODVS ANTON AVG PIVS BRIT. Victory, winged, draped, seated right on shields, cradling palm frond in right arm, inscribing shield set on knee and held in place by left hand, two shields on ground to left; P M TR P VIIII IMP VII COS IIII P P S C; VICT BRIT in exergue (RIC III, 440). A serious revolt erupted in Britain in 184, but was quickly put down and commemorated with coins.

Commodus Denarius, 186-187
image.png.ca7b2092d106153517ae6f30cfa53a61.png
Rome. Silver, 18mm, 2.75g. Laureate head right; M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT. Felicitas, draped, standing left, holding caduceus in right hand and sceptre in left hand; PM TR P XII IMP VIII COS V PP (RIC III, 143). Found in Yorkshire. From Henry Hardcastle, who ran a pawnbrokers in York from the 1870s to 1923.

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8 minutes ago, John Conduitt said:

 

I don't see as many of him as the others you mention, although I have 2 - more than I do most other emperors. But they are not in great condition, which maybe is a problem with Commodus.

 

I like your silver piece.

Yes, you are right. That could be one of the reasons - I often see in the trade and auctions only pieces that are rather mediocre preserved. It seems to be hard to find very good pieces - maybe this discourages potential collectors!

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I was just reading about Commodus in Cassius Dio's history of Rome. He was certainly one of the crazier emperors!

And no, I don't currently have a coin of Commodus - although it's one I'd like to get. Thankfully, they are generally not particularly expensive. But I need to slow down on my coin purchases, so I don't know when I'll be getting one.

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16 minutes ago, CPK said:

I was just reading about Commodus in Cassius Dio's history of Rome. He was certainly one of the crazier emperors!

And no, I don't currently have a coin of Commodus - although it's one I'd like to get. Thankfully, they are generally not particularly expensive. But I need to slow down on my coin purchases, so I don't know when I'll be getting one.

It is "funny" that apparently not so many are explicitly interested in Commodus. His reign is everything - but not boring. There collect more Gordianus (me too) than Commodus so seems to me. 

I am still hopeful - that we will be shown some more coins. Maybe even a Commodus specialist comes forward ... 

 
😳😂

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I have many Commodus coins but most are not in great condition. His denari are not expensive and readily available, but it seems like quality control at the mint was down at the time as many are on small and ugly flans. His bronze coins are very cool but usually either very worn or nice and expensive! For those reasons… I have fairly ugly Commodus coins. I do have some fun provincials… here’s one below that is very rare and was very inexpensive!

Commodus_Attaleia.JPG.c29312770d2827eae1c23d937793aa66.JPG

Commodus, AD 180-192.
Æ24, 5.1g, 12h; LYDIA, Attaleia.
Obv.: AV KO-MOΔOC; Laureate bust right.
Rev: ATTA-ΛEAT-ΩN; eagle standing facing on ground line, head left, wings spread.

RPC IV 1178 temp, BMC 19

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Nice coins all. Some of my favorite coins are from Commodus’s reign.

8C36F9BA-A261-45BC-847F-3ECD1ECCBF0C.jpeg.92b298dce00c6fdb260c7f532cebcdd2.jpeg

Roman Empire
Commodus (AD 177-192)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 192
Dia.: 17 mm
Wt.: 2.66 g
Obv.: L AEL AVREL COMMA VG P FEL; Commodus bust right wearing lion skin on head.
Rev.: HER-CVL RO-MAN AV-GV; Club in wreath
Ref.: RIC III 251, Scarce
Ex W.F. Stoeckin Collection (1888-1975). Acquired in the 1960s from Prof. L. De Nicola in Rome
 

A5A56A4D-2B6C-45C3-97B1-6E1B779BD4FB.jpeg.b53f82d5c14ff6c1d9462e8a8fbcc6e0.jpeg

Roman Empire
Commodus (AD 177-192)
AR Denarius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 187
Dia.: 18 mm
Wt.: 2.77 g
Obv.: M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT; Laureate bust right
Rev.: AVCT PIET P M TR P XII IMP VIII COS V P P; Pietas standing left, sacrificing over altar with incense and patera, holding box.
Ref.: RIC III 146, scarce
Ex James Pickering Collection of Britannic Coinage; Ex AMCC 1, lot 158 (Dec. 1, 2018)
 

18126251-3EC2-4348-865F-C53C207CFA62.jpeg.a7c8a01b7c6d19b40f7509d381c5c3ba.jpeg

Roman Empire
Commodus under Marcus Aurelius
AE Sestertius, Rome mint, struck ca. AD 179
Dia.: 33 mm
Wt.: 26.37 g
Obv.: L AVREL COMMODVS AVG TR P IIII; Laureate head of Commodus right
Rev.: IMP III COS II P P S C; Minerva standing left extending right hand, left hand resting on shield on ground to right, spear resting against shield
Ref.: RIC III 1607 p. 342 (under Marcus Aurelius)
Ex Kenneth W. Dorney Auction 9, Lot 105 (Nov. 29, 2019)

 

Edited by Curtisimo
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4 minutes ago, Orange Julius said:

I have many Commodus coins but most are not in great condition. His denari are not expensive and readily available, but it seems like quality control at the mint was down at the time as many are on small and ugly flans. His bronze coins are very cool but usually either very worn or nice and expensive! For those reasons… I have fairly ugly Commodus coins. I do have some fun provincials… here’s one below that is very rare and was very inexpensive!

Commodus_Attaleia.JPG.c29312770d2827eae1c23d937793aa66.JPG

Commodus, AD 180-192.
Æ24, 5.1g, 12h; LYDIA, Attaleia.
Obv.: AV KO-MOΔOC; Laureate bust right.
Rev: ATTA-ΛEAT-ΩN; eagle standing facing on ground line, head left, wings spread.

RPC IV 1178 temp, BMC 19

Yes the silver isn't well made and the bronze is worn. It might be that there weren't so many hoards buried at the time. So his coins would stay longer in circulation (and get worn), and would now be single finds rather than coins protected in a hoard.

Even so, the Westbury Sub Mendip Hoard was buried in 193 (right after Commodus) and yet most of that was Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, Vespasian and even Mark Anthony rather than Commodus.

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commodtet.jpg.d05947371bc2b216c1b3c98768ef5ab4.jpg

Commodus (177 - 192 A.D.)

Egypt, Alexandria
Billon Tetradrachm
O: M A KOM ANTW  CEBEVCEB,  laureate head right.
R: Head of Zeus right, LK Z at sides. L KZ=Year 27=(186/187).
11.25g
23mm
Köln 2227; Dattari 3892; Milne 2665 = Emmett 2563.27.com22.jpg.808388acb0a8028aeef51d203349e46d.jpg

Commodus (177 - 192 A.D.)

Egypt, Alexandria
Billon Tetradrachm
O: Μ Α ΚΟΜ ΑΝΤω СƐΒ ƐVСƐΒ, Laureate head right.
R:Commodus, togate, standing left, holding branch and sceptre, crowned by Alexandria, turreted, standing left behind him, holding corn ears. LK H to left. RY 28 (AD 187/8)
12.5g
25mm
Dattari (Savio) 3854; Emmett 2537.28

comoae.jpg.2bda170ff87e4309a13e876ddd3660b2.jpg

Commodus (177 - 192 A.D.)

Philippopolis, Thrace
Æ18
O: AV KOMMODOC ANTONINOC laureate head right.
R: FILIPPOPOLEITWN  crescent and 4 stars.
18mm
4.5g
Varbanov 1006

 

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Hmm... I was thinking someone should do a Commodus topic. 

 

This one has a good in hand feel. 

PergamonEphesosCommodus.jpg.8674420e373af8ae4ca5671ec0f3a9b0.jpg

Mysia, Pergamon. Alliance with Ephesos. AE34 of Commodus

Obv: laureate-headed bust of Commodus (short beard) wearing cuirass and paludamentum, r.
Rev: to l., Asclepius standing, facing, (head, r.), holding serpent-staff; to r., cult statue of Artemis of Ephesus standing, facing, wearing kalathos, having supports.
34mm and 20.8g.
Howgego 70, Caracalla laureate, and reported on 114 coins from Pergamum.
Howgego 811 meaning revalued to 6 assarii, and reported on 32 coins from Ephesus.

 


 

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Commodus Ar Denarius 191-192 AD Obv Head right in lions skin headdress. Rv Club flanked by bow and bow case. RIC 253 3.50 grms 18 mm Photo by W. Hansencommodusd3.jpg.4e8ed2eb17df7fd7b738b8d7d7f13691.jpg

Another version of the denarius posted above by @Curtisimo The usual consensus regarding this coin is that it is a manifestation of the madness exhibited by Commodus. I am not so sure. Commodus despite being born to the purple was singularly unqualified to be emperor and over the course of his reign managed to alienate virtually every segment of Roman society. It is because of his that this coin series was struck Commodus was trying to cloak his rule the notion that he was chosen by the gods most notably Hercules. If this is true then we are seeing the final manifestation of a concept that had begun with Hadrian.

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I don't have that many of Commodus. I have a crush on his mom, though! 😉

[IMG]
Commodus, AD 177-192.
Roman AR denarius, 3.42 g, 18 mm, 12 h.
Rome, AD 180.
Obv: M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: LIB AVG TR P V IMP IIII COS II P P, Liberalitas standing left, holding tessera and cornucopiae.
Refs: RIC 10a; Cohen 301; BMC 4.

[IMG]
Commodus, AD 177-192.
Roman AR denarius, 2.29 g, 17.2 mm, 7 h.
Rome, AD 191.
Obv: M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT P P, laureate head, right.
Rev: CONC COM P M TR P XVI COS VI, Concordia standing left, holding patera and scepter.
Refs: RIC 219; BMCRE 296-97; RCV 5631; MIR 808; Cohen 45.

[IMG]
Commodus, AD 177-192.
Roman orichalcum sestertius, 22.51 g, 29.2 mm, 1 h.
Rome, AD 192.
Obv: L AEL AVREL COMM AVG P FEL, laureate bust of Commodus, right, with slight drapery on left shoulder.
Rev: LIB AVG P M TR P XVII COS VII P P, Libertas standing facing, head left, holding pileus in right hand and vindicta in left hand; S C l. and r., low in field; star, mid right, in field.
Refs: RIC 619b; BMCRE 692 var. (bust); Cohen 290; RCV 5764; ERIC II 573 var. (bust).

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I really need to add a Commodus Hercules denarius, I’ve been wanting one of those for years…some beauties in this thread!  Here are a couple of Commodus provincials.  

2FDBD1EC-E09D-4AD3-B6C6-93BB6D0642ED.jpeg.11d42b144ac05f500535943c0c48ea3b.jpeg

Commodus, Alexandria, BI Tetradrachm,(24.2mm., 10.19g), circa 183-185 (RY 24 of Marcus Aurelius), Laureate head of Commodus right/ Rev. Commodus, in priestly attire, standing left before bust of Serapis set on low cippus, sacrificing and dropping incense over lighted altar, L-K-Δ. RPC Online 16005 (this coin), Dattari-Savio Pl. 207, 9553 (this coin)
From the Dattari Collection

EB8A8008-F16C-472B-9E3C-C17526A6BED9.jpeg.010d8825f4c79d83dc08343ae4bd5e3a.jpegCommodus, Cappadocia, Caesaraea-Eusebia, 192 A.D (regnal year 13), (AE 26.5 mm, 13.94 g), Laureate head of Commodus r./ Rev. ΜΗΤΡΟΠ ΚΑΙCΑΡE / EΤ/ ΓΙ Altar surmounted by sacred image of Mount Argaios. RPC Online 6889 (this coin illustrated).

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 Here are several of his coins. It is true that he often gets overlooked; probably over-shadowed by his famous father. He is . however , a very interesting character in his own right with some interesting coins as well.

My favorite here if the sestertius with Cybele riding on the back of a lion.

9ZgtH4AsRp6Fc5CD8dFoqK3oY7MzxL.jpg.0156b128e2c4b616fbbe923a59127f3d.jpg2970414.jpg.48ca2487c3064a3bcd31edcf8c208403.jpg943216.jpg.70fd8d8e0333342fc699c3d66fe7391c.jpgY00487LG.jpg.5e8df30a91884337de8b02a510f2bf14.jpg

 

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19 minutes ago, Octavius said:

 Here are several of his coins. It is true that he often gets overlooked; probably over-shadowed by his famous father. He is . however , a very interesting character in his own right with some interesting coins as well.

My favorite here if the sestertius with Cybele riding on the back of a lion.

9ZgtH4AsRp6Fc5CD8dFoqK3oY7MzxL.jpg.0156b128e2c4b616fbbe923a59127f3d.jpg2970414.jpg.48ca2487c3064a3bcd31edcf8c208403.jpg943216.jpg.70fd8d8e0333342fc699c3d66fe7391c.jpgY00487LG.jpg.5e8df30a91884337de8b02a510f2bf14.jpg

 

Great looking coins.  Thanks for sharing

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normal_Commodus_09.jpg.ae7939a0130f40ab043ae12f1c0e6ec0.jpg

Lydia. Hierocaesaraea
Commodus
Bronze, Æ 31
Obv: AVT KAI Λ AVPH KOMMOΔOC, Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: ЄΠ AI APTЄMIΔOPOV APX IЄPOKAICAPЄΩN, Tetrastyle temple, with pellet in pediment and containing Artemis standing right, drawing bow; behind, stag standing right
RPC IV.2, 11398 (temporary) [this coin]; SNG von Aulock -; SNG Copenhagen -; BMC -
Ex Plankenhorn Collection

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normal_Commodus_09.jpg.ae7939a0130f40ab043ae12f1c0e6ec0.jpg

Lydia. Hierocaesaraea
Commodus
Bronze, Æ 31
Obv: AVT KAI Λ AVPH KOMMOΔOC, Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right.
Rev: ЄΠ AI APTЄMIΔOPOV APX IЄPOKAICAPЄΩN, Tetrastyle temple, with pellet in pediment and containing Artemis standing right, drawing bow; behind, stag standing right
RPC IV.2, 11398 (temporary) [this coin]; SNG von Aulock -; SNG Copenhagen -; BMC -
Ex Plankenhorn Collection

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As others have noted, Commodus is an interesting figure in Roman history. One would think he is quite popular due to the successful hollywood movie in which he was the 'star' (Ironically, if only he would know, how big of a theatre he would be acting in...!). But on the other hand, his coins are overall scarcer in comparison to the other emperors of his dynasty (I always add Commodus to the nerva antonine dynasty) and of lesser quality. And maybe, the again, he's not a favorite guy in the collection, because by some he is blamed for the rapid demise of the golden age of the Roman empire (currently reading in a book by Sydenham, Historical References to coins of the Roman Empire, who states that "The weak son of Marcus was the worst possible successor to the principate and no one has yet arisen who attempted to whitewash his caracter, fouled by all that is loathsome and despicable".... Ouch!).

Nevertheless, his coinage is interesting as they are references to various events during his rule. And some of these events must have been traumatic to him, maybe even causing his behaviour to further deteriorate: the plague ravished the empire (already starting during the rule of Marcus), there were several conspiracies even by his own sister and one of his ministers almost caused a civil war due to his colossal corruption. An absolute must have in my opinion, is a coin showing him dressed as Hercules. A very interesting reference to his crazy, and last years of his reign. 

23.2.png.c41e4a6bc25c684f68e9462bf4c91203.png

A sestertius, not in RIC, probably a hybdrid of some sort (BRIT in the legend and pax on the reverse refer to victory in Britain):

23.1.png.7826ba72403630636e74be3cc4dda2b8.png

There are some gems to be found. I personally love this denarius, which, although the strike is somewhat weak, shows a splendid portrait:

23.3.png.692a592e71a0167e42e4c4a742842a33.png

Edited by Limes
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Some lovely coins shown...

Here's my only Commodus..commodus_together-removebg-preview.png.b167050ad6ec8398256099860fa5d412.png

Commodus AR Denarius.Rome mint 186 AD 1.87gr 17mm

Obverse-M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT, laureate head right

Reverse- P M TR P XI IMP VII COS V PP, Concordia standing front, head left, holding standard in each hand.CONC MIL (below)

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Commodus is probably the scarcest emperor from the Nerva-Antonines but you can't consider him a scarce Roman emperor overall. I have also noticed he is not very popular - who knows, perhaps because it's difficult to like Commodus?

Here are my examples. The first Commodus coin I bought is a provincial from Pisidia, Antioch with the classic reverse type for this city. I bought it mainly for the toning.

 

image.png.6899402149992aca6e6154ef2c1b6817.png

Obv: ANTONINVS COMMODVS,     laureate-headed bust of Commodus wearing cuirass and paludamentum, l. / Rev COLON(E)IAE ANTIOCH(AE?), Mên standing with foot on bucranium, facing, head, r., wearing Phrygian cap, holding long sceptre and Victoria/Nike; behind his shoulders, crescent; to l., cock standing, l.
RPC IV.3, 7377 (temporary), Krzyżanowska 144, V.6–7 and VI.7–9 and VII.9, Cop 26 corr.

First imperial - this Salus denarius (RIC 269)

image.png.bd0d7db5081f4976997cba9810c993cd.png

 

Favorite one is this double cornucopia reverse  (RIC 209

image.png.caf75692a0699407d3155a6336d36e54.png

 

I also bought this example - unfortunately with a major flaw but I liked the platform reverse plus the portrait. (RIC 130)

image.png.256154f5ca4974d8fe4707708595a88f.png

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There are also Imperial coins of Commodus from Alexandria. These are stylistically placed at Alexandria.

Obv:- M COMM ANTO - N AVG PIVS BRIT, Laureate head right
Rev:- LIR AVG R M TR P - XVII COS VII P P, Libertas standing left folding pileus and sceptre
Minted in Alexandria. A.D. 192
Reference:- BMCRE -. RIC -. RSC -.

RI_055h_img.jpg

RI_055i_img.jpg

 

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I have a Billon tetradrachm of Alexandria...Zeus holding thunderbolt on the reverse. 23mm 12.1 grams. It does seem that with Commodus the fabric of the tetradrachm was further debased so that the coins were potin from this point forward.

Why are Commodus coins not particularly popular? Not sure. I do think perhaps it's because he was an unlikeable figure who ended up being strangled in his bath by the wrestler Narcissus.

 

 

commodus1.jpg

commodus2.jpg

Edited by Ancient Coin Hunter
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Although I don't specialize in collecting Commodus, I have three coins minted for him. The first I bought for the reference to the Marcomannic Wars, the second one for the Liberalitas reverse after reading this article on cash distributions in ancient Rome, and the third one for the portrait:

1760841902_RomCommodussesterzdegermanis(Foto2).png.fc11f35e9d599f3a461572af14d6578d.png

Commodus, Roman Empire, sestertius, 177 AD, Rome mint. Obv: IMP L AVREL COMMODVS AVG [GERM] SARM; laureate and draped bust of Commodus r. Rev: T[R P] II COS [P]P; pile of Germanic arms; in fields, S-C; in exergue, DE GERMANIS. 31mm, 21.84g. Ref: RIC III Marcus Aurelius 1570..

953677163_RomCommodusDenarius(Liberalitas).png.8e9e7f82d5e1b51b0edde7f2e0edac7a.png

Commodus, Roman Empire, denarius, 182 AD, Rome mint. Obv: M COMMOD[VS ANTON]INVS AVG, laureate head of Commodus right. Rev: LIB AVG V TR P VII IMP IIII COS III PP, Liberalitas standing left holding counting board and cornucopiae. 18mm, 2.24g. Ref: RIC III Commodus 36A.

1978772326_RomCommodusSesterzRoma.png.f6cdf18412ccd0d6ca40d1a9ffa42c30.png

Commodus, Roman Empire, sestertius, 183 AD, Rome mint. Obv: M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG PIVS; laureate head of Commodus r. Rev: [TR] P VIII [IMP VI] COS IIII P P; Roma, helmeted, draped, seated l. on shield, holding Victory in extended r. hand and vertical spear in l. hand; in fields, S-C. 30mm, 25.14g. Ref: RIC III Commodus 369.

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