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The first Sestertius of Hadrian

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IMP CAES DIVI TRAIAN AVG F TRAIAN HADRIAN OPT AVG GER - Laureate bust right (three-quarter-view), slight drapery over left shoulder/

DAC PARTHICO P M TR P COS P P, Trajan and Hadrian, both laureate and togate, standing facing one another, Trajan (on right) holding roll and handing heavenly globe with equatorial band to Hadrian (on left), SC in exergue

Sestertius, Rome 117 A.D.

38,0 mm / 29,07 g

RIC 30 R; BMCRE 1101 (note); Banti 232 (3 Specimens); Cayon 206; Sear 3589


This Sestertius, struck on an almost medallic flan, is part of Hadrian's historically important accession issue, the first Sestertius type struck for him at the Rome mint.

Showing an unusual early portrait, he still bears the titles of Trajan, Optimus, Germanicus, Dacicus, Parthicus, and Pater Patriae, which the Senate had decreed to him but which he did not want and would omit from his second issue. 

Hadrian's assumption of the throne upon Trajan's death was not without controversy. Many believed he was not adopted by Trajan, nor named heir before the latter's death. As a result, the first issues of Hadrian contain a variety of types dedicated to espousing his legitimacy, as on the present specimen.

On this Sestertius and its related issues, Trajan passes a globe, representing the Roman world, to Hadrian. Both are depicted as togatus with a laurel wreath and hold a scroll in their left hand.  

One research approach is that the handover of the globe shows not Trajan himself, but a senator and Hadrian and thus establishes the legitimacy of his rule not only through adoption, but also through the Senate, which, however, had little influence in his appointment as the new emperor.

Similar to this representation are the Aurei and Denarii which also depict Hadrian and Trajan, but with a handshake instead of the globe. The person on the left is holding a scroll again. In the case of the person on the right, however, it is not clear whether he is holding something in his hand. In some cases this holds a fold of the toga in the left hand. The biggest difference is the addition of the legend ADOPTIO, which makes the identification of the second person as Trajan clear.


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