Antoninus Pius, My First Denarius

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Noah Worke, Nov 29, 2022.

  1. Noah Worke

    Noah Worke Well-Known Member

    Somewhat of a big purchase for me, I sunk some money into a Denarius of Antoninus Pius, who has become my favorite emperor. I did what I should have done when I bought my first ancient, which was this Antoninianus of Gordian III: GordianIIIMartemPropvgnatorem.jpeg
    It's a nice coin and I did a little wikipedia skimming, but ultimately it lacks any real meaning as I couldn't really "get in" to the history behind it. That changed with the Antonines. Reading about the later empire lacked anything else I could tie it to, but with the Antonines I had a year to go off of and have more of an idea of what, where, and when. I knew 117, the empire at its greatest, was 144 years after the end of the republic and was early in the Antonine Dynasty. These earlier, established dynasties and adoptive heirs made it much easier to draw connections between people as opposed to the depositions and infighting during the latter years of the empire. The Five Good Emperors were a good place to start. I knew their names, and always favored the leaders who were ultimately good for the empire. I had heard a little bit about Antoninus Pius prior to my more extensive research, and downloaded a book to get a more in-depth history of his reign. I read "The Reign of Antoninus Pius" by E.E Bryant and by then, I knew I should start with the Antonines. I supplemented my knowledge by listening to the podcast "Emperors of Rome" on spotify, listening in particular to the episodes about Hadrian on my way to and from the gym. With this knowledge of Antoninus and his predecessor, I wanted to get a coin of one of them. I went into the search not looking for anything in particular, which allowed me to spend a lot of time looking for something just right for me. I considered a coin of Hadrian with Athena on the reverse because of his nickname "Graeculus", the little greek. I decided against it, however, and found a couple of denarii of Antoninus Pius that had great eye appeal, and ended up choosing between the two in this thread:
    Now that I have the coin in hand, here is the picture and description (translated from german) from the dealer's website: AntoninusPiusRoma.jpeg
    COS III (145-161), Rome. bust right Rs.Liberalitas l. with vexillum and cornucopia.
    One of the reasons I bought this coin in particular is due to the depiction of Liberalitas on the reverse. Antoninus' reign is known to be a period of quiet prosperity, in the book Bryant says that:
    "The first period of ten years in Antoninus's reign had been marked by the quiet prosperity and peaceful progress which are the chief blessings of good government."
    the reverse here exemplifies that. The cornucopia, being a symbol of prosperity, is symbolic of his reign as well as Liberalitas, the virtue of giving freely. Liberalitas is also holding a vexillum, which was used in the same way as a standard. I interpret this to mean that although this was a prosperous time, the military did have to take action in some parts of the Empire. For example, around the year 151 in Mauretania, a group of bandits had been harassing the area for so long that military action needed to be taken. Bryant says that because of the vigorous resistance to Roman rule, the military needed to take "active and decisive measures" to combat the bandits in the area.
    Then, there's the obverse. It's pretty simple, but it's a significant draw for me. A well-struck portrait with significant detail is important to me when buying a coin, and this one has all that. I like the laureate portrait, because it's just classic, and quite a good look.
    That's about all I have to say about this coin! This is my first really long post, so I apologize if it's boring, or a wall of text or anything. I'm excited to share this and see what you guys think!
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  3. expat

    expat Remember you are unique, just like everyone else Supporter

    Nice pick up.
    Carl Wilmont and Noah Worke like this.
  4. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

  5. Mr.MonkeySwag96

    Mr.MonkeySwag96 Well-Known Member


    Antoninus Pius (138-161). Denarius. Rome. 3.52gr, 17mm. Obv: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P XII. Laureate head right. Rev: COS IIII. Fortuna standing left with rudder set on globe, feeding serpent out of patera, serpent coiled around altar before her. RIC 181.
  6. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Well-Known Member

    Great coin and a worthy first denarius! Well done.

    As your collection grows through the years you will gather many more I am sure... but never sell the first one. They're pretty special.

    Here is my first ... was $46 - which was the most (by far) I had spent on a coin at that point.

    Trajan, AD 98-117
    Roman AR denarius; 2.92 gm, 20.1 mm, 7 h
    Rome, AD 114-117
    Obv: IMP CAES NER TRAIANO OPTIMO AVG GER DAC, laureate and draped bust, right
    Rev: P M TR P COS VI P P S P Q R, Mars walking right with spear and trophy
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