Featured How Good Was Antoninus Pius?

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by kevin McGonigal, May 25, 2020.

  1. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    A well acquired addition to any collection.
    Looks like there is still enough silver in the tetradrachma to look like a silver coin. What do you think, about 20% silver?
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Does anyone have a link to a study where the percentage of these was addressed. I suspect that much of the poor appearance of these tets comes from the way they were cleaned. The first below was harshly cleaned leaving a rough but bright surface while the second one retains a more natural tone and has smoother surfaces.
    pa0255bb3134.jpg pa0260bb1288.jpg
  4. octavius

    octavius Well-Known Member

    The Historia Augusta is notoriously unreliable. We actually know next to nothing about Antoninus. One might actually infer from that that he probably was a good , competent emperor.

    8Zfwy7PxGm6skeB43LgoyHX52Adp6s.jpg 601701.jpg 943207.jpg
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    One of the first things Pius had to do during his reign was to confront a Senate faction that was eager to condemn Hadrian. Pius wouldn't have any of it, but instead of just putting the opposition to death, he instead pointed out that if they wanted to revoke Hadrian's acts, then they would have to rescind his own appointment as emperor as well. It was a signal that while he wasn't going to be a tyrant, he wasn't going to be a pushover either. Maybe he even was one of those rarest of rulers, who did the job because he felt it was his duty, and not because he wanted the power.

    In a private letter to his friend Fronto around 142/3, A-Pi revealed another side of his character - one of an affectionate, doting, and probably at least slightly indulgent father. This would have been about two years after the death of his wife, and he declared candidly to Fronto that he would sooner live in exile, banished to the island of Gyara with his twelve year old daughter Faustina, than live in the royal palace without her.

    Writing about 200 years later, Julian II dedicated a short paragraph on Pius in The Caesars, a satire in which he runs down and throws shade at his long list of predecessors. Even while snarkily calling Pius fussy to the point of wanting to split cumin seeds, he grudgingly admitted his wisdom and moderation when it came to governing the empire.

    Pius wasn’t perfect, but it’s probably safe to say he was a reasonably smart, rational, and decent guy. Which, as far as Roman emperors go, is saying something!

    Antoninus Pius - As Pigs 103.jpg
    Antoninus Pius - As Mars Rhea Silvia 2018.jpg
    Antoninus Pius - Den Felicitas early ex Peck 3930.jpg
    Antoninus Pius - Divo Trajan Decius.jpg
    Antoninus Pius - Sestertius Pietas 1st new 020.jpg
    Antoninus Pius - x6 Drachm Tyche 2592.jpg
    Antoninus Pius - Den Hands Caduceus ex Peck 3929.jpg
    Antoninus Pius Wolf Twins.jpg
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
  6. cmezner

    cmezner Supporter! Supporter

    In any case, the annals of Rome about the reign of Antoninus Pius are free from records of war, major revolts and deal almost with accounts of domestic improvements, being named Pius in recognition for his familial piety. It certainly must have been a good reign.

    Maybe I have shown this one before :rolleyes:, not sure

    Æ Sestertius, Rome, 153 – 154 AD
    30 x 33.5 mm, 21.20 g
    RIC III 914; Cohen II 454;

    Ob.: ANTONINVS AVG PIVS PP TR P XVII, laureate head of Antoninus Pius, to r.; draped on left shoulder
    Rev.: INDVLGENTIA AVG COS IIII Indulgentia, draped, seated left, extending r. hand and holding transverse scepter in l.; in exergue SC
    upload_2020-5-26_1-3-14.png upload_2020-5-26_1-3-26.png
  7. Limes

    Limes Well-Known Member

    Well, Marcus Aurelius did spent a large part of his life on the frontline. Troubles erupted almost immediately after the death of AP. Did AP ignore these troubles, perhaps, or uinderestimate them?

    It's just too good to be true, isn't it? No dictator can be that good! ;-)

    @zumbly, some really nice coins, and desirable types! The wolf-twin type is high on my want list :)

    Here's some of mine:

  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure what that countermark means either - revaluation, or geographical extension of its validity?

    I do know that countermark head (thought to be an Antoninus head) is fairly common on these issues from Laodicea ad Mare. I believe this is Howgego 113.

    CM - Antoninus Pius - Syria cm Aug 18 (1).jpg

    Antoninus Pius Æ 25
    Yr. 190 (142-143 A.D.)
    Syria, Laodicea ad Mare

    ΑVΤΟ ΚΑ ΤΙ ΑΙ ΑΔΡ ΑΝΤΩΝЄΙΝΟΝ СЄ ЄV, laureate, draped, cuir. bust left / ΙΟVΛΙЄΩΝ ΤΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΛΑΟΔΙΚЄΩΝ ΚPA ϞΡ, turreted bust of Tyche left.
    RPC 8586 temp.; Mionnet 753.
    (8.11 g. / 25 mm)
    Countermark: Laureate head Antoninus Pius right, in oval punch, Howgego 113 (156 pcs).
    This one has two other countermarks in addition to the "head":

    CM - 3 on Antoninus Pius Laodicea ad Mare Apr 2020 (0).jpg

    Antoninus Pius Æ 24
    Yr. 188 (140-141 A.D.)
    Syria, Laodicea ad Mare

    [AVTO KAI TI AIΛI AΔΡI A]NTΩNE[INOC CEB](?), laureate bust right / IOYΛIEΩN
    TΩN KAI ΛAOΔIKEΩN, Tyche bust left, ΘE-HΠ P in fields.
    RPC 6265 temp.; BMC 61.
    (7.34 g. / 24 mm)


    CM 1:
    Laureate head Antoninus Pius right, in 4 x 6 mm oval punch, Howgego 113 (156 pcs).

    CM 2: Bust of Tyche right (?), in 4 x 5 mm oval punch, Howgego 203 (?) (4 pcs).

    CM 3: SA[E] in rectangular punch, 8 x 4 mm. Howgego 572

    See FORVM Automan Collection
  9. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

  10. eparch

    eparch Well-Known Member

    Its infuriating that the sources for Antoninus Pius are so scanty.
    I still think of his reign as being the height of the Roman Empire.

    Some lovely sestertii were produced in his reign. Here is one


    Antoninus Pius Æ Sestertius. Rome, AD 145-161. ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P TR P, laureate head right / COS [IIII], emperor seated left on platform; to right, soldier standing left, holding spear; to left, Liberalitas standing left, holding abacus and cornucopiae; at foot of platform, citizen standing right, holding out fold of toga; S-C across fields, LIBERALITA(S) AVG (IIII) in exergue. RIC 774; BMCRE 1688; C. 498; Banti 211. 26.37g, 30mm, 12h.
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  11. Alegandron

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

    Perhaps. I was pleased that this BI TET had a good silver look to it, albeit a rough coin.
  12. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I don't know if human saliva can damage coins but if I had seen that first sestertius you posted up there in person my drooling might have caused incalculable damage.
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  13. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Harl, page 142, lists the Alexandrine tetradrachma of Marcus Aurelius at just over 12 % silver. He does not have a figure for that of Antonius Pius. We can probably assume it was a bit higher.
  14. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    I have often thought that Pius had acquired, from somewhere, the old Roman Republic virtue of "disciplina", poorly translated as our discipline. To the earlier Romans the exercise of disciplina was a part of "virtus", the sum of all the qualities' that made a male Roman a man (vir). What disciplina meant to a Roman was the willingness to do what had to be done, simply because it had to be done. Not because you would be censured if you did not, not that you would be rewarded if you did, not because you were being watched but solely because something had to be done and you would do it, for that reason alone. I think that was one of the secrets of early Roman successes on the battlefield and at the rostrum of governing themselves as well as others. Virgil well noted that ability in the Aeneid when he reminded Romans that this was an essential part of their genius, their ability to govern others. When disciplina became more of an aspiration than a norm, Rome suffered from that loss. Whether Antoninus Pius would have recognized that he possessed that hallowed disciplina or not I don't know, but I think he and the likes of Cinncinatus or Cato, if they met in the Elysian Fields, would have discovered that they had much in common and this may have helped account for his success as a ruler.
  15. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    "No dictator can be that good". This reminds me of the story of Aristides the Just who one day discovered a fellow Athenian trying hard to write Aristides on an ostracon being made ready for a vote of ostracism from Athens. When Aristides asked his fellow citizen, who had no idea that he was talking to Aristides, why he wanted to ostracize a citizen who was widely know as "just", the citizen replied that nobody widely known and called "the just" could possibly be so. Aristides helped him with the spelling and scratching his own name on the ostracon.
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  16. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Fascinating. I wonder why they were put there.
  17. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Lovely, indeed. What masterful work did that celator accomplish.
  18. JulesUK

    JulesUK Well-Known Member

    From reading so far it would seem he comes down on the side of good.
    Here are my two provincial offerings:-
    1. Nicaea, Bythinia. AE 22mm 7.7g Waddington 410 91 var
    2. Philippopolis, Thrace. AE17, 4.9g Varbanov 771; Moushmov 5112

    4-RP Ant Pius Hygieia combo.jpg 6-RP Ant Pius combo.jpg
  19. Tony1982

    Tony1982 Well-Known Member

    I think Antoninus Pius has some of the most majestic portraits, especially on the sestertius
    Antoninus_Pius. 157-158 AD.

    Rome mint., AE Sestertius

    ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P IMP II , Laureate head right.

    T R POT XXI COS IIII S-C , Annona standing r., left
    foot on prow, holding rudder and modius on l. knee.
    (24.71g. 30mm )
    Ref: RIC 980.
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  20. Severus Alexander

    Severus Alexander Blame my mother. Supporter

    What a lovely thread... great writeup, a good emperor (glad you didn't disillusion me!), lots of great coins, interesting research, and a few good jokes. I think CoinTalk Ancients is the Antoninus Pius of bulletin boards. :happy: (It must be admitted that our Flavian collectors sometimes split cumin seeds, yes? :p)

    My two favourite A Pi denarii, the first for the portrait (as Caesar) and the second for the toning:

    Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 12.13.49 PM.jpg Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 12.18.56 PM.jpg
  21. kevin McGonigal

    kevin McGonigal Well-Known Member

    Right on both accounts.
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