Jump to content

Antoninus Pius, my First Denarius

Boomer Simpson

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone, I wanted to show off my newest purchase and first denarius, a denarius of Antoninus Pius, my favorite emperor. I'm not an expert on Roman imperial history (yet) but I've done my research and found this period in particular fascinating. I posted about this coin before on CT, so if you're a member on that site I'll mostly just be rewriting what I wrote there. The Antonine Dynasty is such a prosperous period in history, with some of the most memorable emperors.

     I've been listening to a podcast called "Emperors of Rome" starting from Hadrian and now I'm on the third episode about Marcus Aurelius, and these three have had a mostly seamless transition between them. Hadrian shrunk the borders of the Empire, making it more defensible, and then went on a tour throughout the Empire, and was always restlessly traveling. He in particular was a Greece fanatic, having in his younger days earned the moniker "Graeculus". He even grew a beard, similar to that of Greek philosophers, and started a trend that lasted for quite a while. Antoninus Pius, after Hadrian had died, petitioned to have him deified, which eventually happened, and also saved senators from executions that had been ordered by Hadrian. These are two of the most agreed-upon reasons for Antoninus' name Pius. His rule was marked primarily by a quiet prosperity, free of many wars or civil unrest. Of course, there are always small insurrections and whatnot that the army needed to deal with such as un uprising of bandits in Mauretania, but there were no full-scale wars. Antoninus was unusual in the way that he used his own funds whenever he needed to travel and such. In this way he was also different from Hadrian, in that Hadrian always traveled and Antoninus led more of a frugal lifestyle. Of course, he was still living a lavish lifestyle being the emperor and all. Prosperity is a common theme throughout his rule, one of the most concrete examples being that he left the Empire with more funds than it had when Hadrian died. Now, the coin:AntoninusPiusRoma.jpeg.1b11e8a85f244988dc89f2e8400a92f6.jpeg

This picture is taken from the dealer's listing, as is the caption: COS III (145-161), Rome. bust right Rs.Liberalitas l. with vexillum and cornucopia.

I think both Liberalitas and the cornucopia are symbolic of Antoninus' reign, as both are symbols of prosperity. Especially the virtue of giving freely, Antoninus' frugality with the government's money is a prime example of this. The vexillum, which was used much in the same way as a standard, I was confused by originally. I didn't know why a military banner would be on the reverse of a coin of one of the most peaceful periods of the empire. I did some thinking, and I'm pretty sure that, because the military did construction during peacetime, this is symbolic of that. There was an earthquake in Asia Minor around five to 15 years prior to the minting of this coin, as well as one in 151-152. There are inscriptions thanking Antoninus for his help in this time of need, so it can be reasonably assumed that he sent the military to aid in their rebuilding. If this is the case, then the symbolism on the reverse is in reference to his solid administration and liberality to the Empire. The obverse portrait is also quite nice, and i like the simplicity of it. It's well-struck and centered, and overall makes this a nice coin. Let me know what you think, and post your denarii from the Antonine period!

EDIT: The attribution has a typo, it is actually COS IIII instead of COS III

Edited by Boomer Simpson
Incorrect Attribution
  • Like 19
  • Heart Eyes 3
  • Smile 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice coin. RIC III Antoninus Pius 155 (denarius)? There aren't many collectors that don't like Antoninus Pius. He has some nice bronze coins too.

Antoninus Pius Denarius, 157-158
Rome. Silver, 16mm, 2.69g. Head of Antoninus Pius, laureate, right; ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P IMP II. Fortuna standing right holding rudder on globe and cornucopia, foot on prow; TR POT X(XI COS) IIII (RIC III, 277). Found Lavenham, Suffolk in 2018.

Edited by John Conduitt
  • Like 13
Link to comment
Share on other sites

that's a fine coin to start Boomer  now you have one of the 'Good Five(6) also.. congrrats and welcome to the dark side....i'll post my latest (i have 2) Divus Antonius Pius brought with a Trajan column denarius from our friends in Ukraine 🙂

dark side.jpg

dark side2.jpg



  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Benefactor

Great coin! And welcome. I have far more Antoninus Pius provincials (mostly from Roman Alexandria) than I do Imperial denarii. But here are a couple of the latter, including one with Marcus Aurelius Caesar on the reverse, and the other a COS IIII depicting Annona, that looks like COS III at first glance.



Edited by DonnaML
  • Like 13
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I love Antonine coins! Congratulations on your first AP denarius!!

This one is from the last few months of his reign and depicts his four granddaughters. It's my favorite denarius of Antoninus Pius.

Antoninus Pius, AD 138-161.
Roman AR denarius, 3.15 g, 18.1 mm, 11 h.
Rome, December, AD 160- March, AD 161.
Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XXIIII, laureate head, right.
Rev: PIETATI AVG COS IIII, Faustina II (as Pietas) standing left, holding a child on each arm; at each side of her, a child standing looking towards her and raising hand.
Refs: RIC 313c; BMCRE 1013-14; Cohen 631; Strack 384; RCV 4098.
Note: Demonstrates the "all-round" legends used on Antonine aurei and denarii issued AD 160-163.

  • Like 14
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Terrific coin, @Boomer Simpson - I am especially fond of Liberalitas types, as they can sometimes be assigned to specific congiaria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congiarium). 

I think @John Conduittgot the correct attribution, which will make some changes to your description - that is not a vexillium that the goddess is holding, but rather a coin-counter (used to scoop out the coins for distribution (often described as an "abacus").  The thing that makes this issue a bit confusing to attribute is that the LIB IIII is sometimes in the exergue (under the goddess's feet) and sometimes across the fields, like your example.  All seem to be attributed to the same RIC number.  

Here is an example of AP with Liberalitas holding a vexillum - which has a long handle - the coin counter has a short handle like yours (@Roman Collector  ought to like the occasion for which this was supposedly issued).  My guess is the vexillium was to show that money was being distributed to the troops as well as the citizenry:


Antoninus Pius  Denarius (c. 145-147 A.D.) See note. Rome Mint ANTONINVS AVG [PIVS PP] laureate head right / TR PO-T [COS II]II around, LIB IIII in exergue, Liberalitas standing facing, head left, holding vexillum and cornucopiae. RIC 156; BMC 574; RSC 490. (3.30 grams / 16 mm) eBay May 2019 

Note: "This coin commemorates Antoninus Pius’ 4th congiarium...It is believed that this particular distribution was in celebration of the marriage of Marcus Aurelius to Faustina Jr. in the spring of 145 AD...each  citizen was given 90 denarii (or 3 aurei, 15 denarii) and a special additional donative was given to the soldiers." Colosseo Collection aureus

Again, great coin.  

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...