A Pair of Roman Denarii

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Bradley Trotter, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. Bradley Trotter

    Bradley Trotter World Numismatist

    Yesterday I finally made my first serious purchase to start a collection of ancient coins. I ended up buying a pair of Roman Denarii from the reign of Marcus Aurelius and his reprehensible son Commodus who essentially brought about the end of Pax Romana. Overall, though, I thank this forum for sparking an interest in an area of numismatics, I ignored until recently.


    Left: Commodus Denarius 181 - 182 AD
    RIC 32

    Right: Marcus Aurelius Denarius 163 AD

    Edit: RIC 70

    Roman Denari Obverse.PNG
    Roman Denari Reverse.PNG
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    A couple of Providentia reverses! Nice! Welcome to the dark side. :pompous:
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  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I like 'em both - great start to a collection! Welcome to Ancients - they can be a lot of fun.

    This gives me an excuse to post a new Commodus denarius - it features Liberalitas on the reverse with a coin-counter thing and cornucopiae. These were issued when the emperor had one of his periodic cash give-aways - the Congiarium: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congiarium

    Known as a Donativum when given to the soldiers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donativum

    And that's it for the history lecture today!

    Commodus - Den. Liberalitas Jan 2020 (0).jpg
    Commodus Denarius
    (181 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG, laureate head right. / LIB AVG IIII TR P VI IMP IIII COS III [PP], Liberalitas standing left holding counting board and cornucopiae.
    RIC 22; RSC 307; BMC IV 53
    (2.28 grams / 17 mm)


    "Struck 181 A.D., and distributed to the people, when Commodus returned to Rome." Wildwinds

    "Reverse depicts the 4th distribution of money to the people of Rome." FORVM post.
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  5. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I think I have the same Marcus Aurelius as the OP. My attribution came out to be RIC 70, which is for a bare head right. RIC 72 is for a "Bust of Marcus Aurelius, bare-headed, cuirassed, right" - the OP is probably RIC 70 because I don't see a cuirass. At least according to OCRE:


    This is for a search for all Marcus Aurelius denarii with Providentia reverses - all 26 of them! I hope this doesn't discourage a new collector!

    Marcus Aurelius - Den PROVIDENTIA Dec 2018 (0).jpg

    Marcus Aurelius Denarius
    (162-163 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    Providentia standing left, holding globe & cornucopiae.
    RIC 70; RSC 526.
    (2.63 grams / 17 mm)
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  6. Bradley Trotter

    Bradley Trotter World Numismatist

    Thank you,@Marsyas Mike it would appear that you are correct.
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  7. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Welcome to the Dark Side... Ancients Threads

    RI MARCUS AURELIUS AR Den as Caesar TR POT VI COS II - Genius stg at altar hldg standard

    RI Commodus 177-192 CE AR Denarius 17.7mm 2.42g Apollo Plectrum Lyre RIC 218 RSC 25 BMCRE 292 R
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  8. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Congrats, @Bradley Trotter, on your first denarii.
    Here's a worn but interesting denarius of Commodus. This type, proclaiming the loyalty of the troops, came after 185 in which Perennis, praetorian prefect under Commodus, was executed for a plot against the emperor. Various accounts differ in detail but agree on the overall story. Here's one version:

    Perennis, who commanded the Pretorians after Paternus, met his death as the result of a mutiny of the soldiers. For, inasmuch as Commodus had given himself up to chariot-racing and licentiousness and performed scarcely any of the duties pertaining to his office, Perennis was compelled to manage not only the military affairs, but everything else as well, and to stand at the head of the State. The soldiers, accordingly, whenever any matter did not turn out to their satisfaction, laid the blame upon Perennis and were angry with him.
    - Cassio Dio, Roman History 9.6

    Commodus 3 soldiers.jpg
    Roman Imperial, Commodus, AD 177-192, AR Denarius, Rome mint
    Struck: AD 186
    Obv: COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT, Laureate head right
    Rev: P M TR P XI IMP VII COS V P P, Commodus, standing left on platform, holding scepter and raising hand, addressing three soldiers, each holding standard, the two in front also each holding shield; FID EXERC in exergue
    Ref: RIC III 130 D (obv legend)
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  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    There is no reason for this to discourage a new collector or even a collector of many years. With ancients there should be no expectation to have them all. There are a million different ancients. Even the big museums lack some. I hate to see beginners advised to pick a specialty right at the beginning. If, after a while, the beginner discovers a deep interest in some single type coin, period, ruler, city, or any specialty defined in any way it is fine to follow that interest. The problem comes when folks are pushed to select a specialty without knowing what they are doing or what they might be missing. I do know one collector who specializes in coins of Marcus Aurelius but he does not have them all. It is fine to understand the minor differences that led to different catalog numbers but don't think that you must have every coin of Marcus and son and never look at anything else. There is a freedom from such pressures of set completion or any particular form of collection because it is impossible to have them all. Many people decide they want one coin of each ruler, one coin from each city, one coin showing each deity, animal, place, denomination and many other collection parameters. You will have time to let the interest find you without being too quick to make a commitment.

    I have over 500 coins of Septimius Severus but he is not my only specialty and I know that I will never even see, let alone own his every coin. Decide what appeals to you and do it your way. Don't be discouraged by the choices; enjoy them.
  10. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Congratulations and welcome to the complex and mysterious world of ancient coins! Read Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, one of the pillars of Roman stoicism, full of life lessons that still resonate. Here's is a memorial sestertius, issued by Commodus. In Roman mythology, the eagle carried the souls of departed emperors to heaven.

    divvs aurelius 6.jpg
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  11. Bradley Trotter

    Bradley Trotter World Numismatist

    At this point, I'm not exactly sure as to what realm of ancients I’d like to collect. I was initially thinking of maybe building a set of coins representing each Emperor from 27 BC to 476 AD. However, such a goal might not be feasible in the short term due to my budget and the sheer number of usurpers during the 3rd century. Nonetheless, I'd love to find some decent attributable Roman bronze coins or perhaps a nice large Sestertius.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  12. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    That's a real pretty posthumous sestertius, John. Lovely colors. I just got one with the eagle standing on the globe:

    Marcus Aurelius - Sest. Posthumous Eagle Feb 2020 (0).jpg

    Marcus Aurelius Æ Sestertius
    Posthumous for Commodus
    (180 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    DIVVS M ANTONINVS PIVS, bare head right / [CONSECRATIO] S-C, eagle standing right on globe, head left.
    RIC 654; Cohen 89; BMC 385.
    (22.59 grams / 28 mm)

    Doug makes some good points. But as for the 26 varieties of MA and Providentia denarius types, I suggested "discouragement" only because of the attribution complexity. I remember a few years back being a bit overwhelmed by all the details. Nowadays I enjoy the challenge, but it can be daunting for some of us when starting out.

    As for getting all of them - that never even occurred to me. My collecting "goals" are far too flakey to even consider such a task.
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