Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ocatarinetabellatchitchix, Mar 6, 2021.

  1. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    The Pontifex Maximus (which literally means "Greatest Pontiff") was the high priest of the Ancient Roman College of Pontiffs. Many believe that PONTIFEX derives from pontem facere referring to the Pons Sublictus, the earliest bridge over the Tiber, built entirely of wood and carefully maintained by the Pontiffs. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post. He did not serve for a fixed period but for life, and he remained, officially, a citizen. The main task of the pontifices was to maintain the pax deorum, the 'peace with the gods'. To obtain this goal, they gave advise to the magistrates, interpreted the omens, controlled the calendar and oversaw funerals. Julius Caesar was elected Pontifex Maximus in 63 BC and kept the office until he die. After his death, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus became Pontifex Maximus (44-12 BC); when he died, the emperor Augustus became responsible for the state cult; this event happened March 6th 12 BC.

    Augustus as PONTIFEX MAXIMUS

    The emperors of Rome held the title of Pontifex Maximus until December 17 384 AD, when Gratian ceded the title to Pope Siricius. Because the pontifex maximus was not a real magistrate, he was not allowed to wear the toga with the purple border. However, he could be recognized by the iron knife (secespita). On coinage, almost all Emperors used the complete title or its abbreviations except Geta, Pertinax and maybe others I forgot ?
    P MAX
    PON M

    Now here's the challenge: how many different Emperors can we found in our collections with the title or one of its diminutive? Please show me your PONTIFEX MAXIMUS!

    I'll start with:
    Augustus PONT MAX

    Nerva PM

    Elagabalus PM

    Severus Alexander PM
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

  4. Alegandron

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

    Excellent writeup and coins, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix ...nice op!

    The real First Emperor of Rome as Pontifex Maximus - he killed the Republic..


    Roman Imperiatorial
    Julius Caesar Lifetime
    P Sepullius Macer
    AR Denarius,
    1st 2 weeks-Mar 44 BCE, 19 mm, 4.03g.
    Last two weeks of his life.
    Pontifex Maximus 63-44 BCE
    Obv: CAESAR – DICT PERPETVO Veiled and wreathed head of Caesar R.
    Rev: P·SEPVLLIVS – MACER Venus standing l., holding Victory and sceptre resting on star.
    Ref: Syd 1074a Sear Imperators 107e Crawford 480-14 Rare
    - minted in last two weeks of his reign, or two weeks before he was assassinated.
    - veiled, as he held the offce of Pontifex Maximus for several years, and that office was very important to him personally.
    - wreathed... just short of being king... big no-no
    - DICT PERPETVO - yeah, he was a king... so Roman Republic inherently and culturally hated kings.
    - fairly difficult to capture with the star on reverse
    - reasonably centered with most/all devices and legends (this is not as important to me cuz its numismatic vs the intrinsic Historical impact.)
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
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  5. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Emperors who served as co-emperors would have to designate one to be PM. The other is just Pontif. Balbinus and Pupienus violated this rule. Did anyone else?
  6. Alegandron

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

    MARCUS AEMILIUS LEPIDUS - Pontifex Maximus 44-12 BCE

    Triumvir - Marcus Aemilius Lepidus & Mark Antony.
    43 B.C. AR quinarius (13.93 mm, 1.82 g, 5 h).
    Military mint traveling with Antony and Lepidus in Transalpine Gaul, 43 B.C. M ANT IMP, emblems of the augurate;
    lituus, capis, and raven standing left / LEP IMP, emblems of the pontificate: simpulum, aspergillum, securis, and apex.
    Crawford 489/3; CRI 120; Sydenham 1158a; RSC 3. aVF. Scarce
    Ex: RBW Collection
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2021
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  7. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Titus sestertius
    24 g 33 mm
    RIC 143
    Type: Head of Titus, laureate, right; Portrait: Titus
    Reverse Legend: FELICIT PVBLIC S C
    Type: Felicitas standing left, holding sceptre and cornucopiae

    I don't know the answer to the question asked by @dougsmit .
  8. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Interesting post.

    I have a Geta denarius with PONTIF on it. Does this count?

    Geta - Den. Geta standing RIC62b July 2017 (0).jpg
    Geta (as Caesar) Denarius
    (209 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    P SEPTIMIVS GETA CAES, bare-headed, draped bust right / PONTIF COS II, Geta, veiled, standing left with short sceptre, sacrificing over tripod.
    RIC 62b; RSC 119; Sear 7189.
    (3.25 grams / 20 mm)
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  9. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Good question. Trebonianus Gallus and Volusian ?
  10. Zebucatt

    Zebucatt Well-Known Member

    Happy P M day, here's one of my favorite emperors. Vespasian, From mule herder to general to falling asleep during one of Nero's performances to exile on the mule farm then back to general and on to emperor. And thats the short short version. If thats not virtues I don't know what is.
    AE dupondius, 76AD, 22mm, 11.6g, Rome
    Radiate head right
    Felicity standing left, holding caduceus and cornucopia.
    Ref: RIC 578

    PicsArt_03-06-07.00.31.jpg PicsArt_03-06-06.59.35.jpg
  11. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    PONT MAX TR POT COS II trajan 5.png
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  12. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Tiberius as PONTIF MAXIM:

    Tiberius, AD 14-37.
    Roman AR Denarius, 3.87 g, 18.5 mm, 5 h.
    Lugdunum, AD 16-37.
    Obv: TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS, laureate head, right.
    Rev: PONTIF MAXIM, Female figure seated right, holding long olive branch and inverted spear; legs of chair ornate, triple line below.
    Refs: RIC 28; BMCRE 42-44; RSC 16b; RCV 1763 var.
    Notes: The identity of the female figure on the reverse is uncertain.
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  13. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    A few more:

    Trajan as "P M":


    Trajan, AD 98-117
    Roman AR denarius; 2.95 gm, 20 mm
    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
    Refs: RIC 337; BMCRE 536-40; Cohen 270; RCV --; Woytek 520v; Strack 230; BN 819.

    Septimius Severus as "P M":

    [​IMG] Septimius Severus, AD 193-211.
    Roman AR denarius, 3.38 g, 19.5 mm, 6 h.
    Rome, AD 208.
    Obv: SEVERVS PIVS AVG, head of Septimius Severus, laureate, right.
    Rev: P M TR P XVI COS III P P, Concordia seated left, sacrificing from patera in right hand over lighted and garlanded altar and holding vertical scepter in left hand.
    Refs: RIC 221; BMCRE 567; Cohen 517; RCV --; Hill 981.

    Caracalla as "P M":

    Caracalla, AD 198-217.
    Roman AR denarius, 2.9g, 19mm, 6h.
    Rome, issue 10, AD 217.
    Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG GERM, laureate head right.
    Rev: P M TRP XX COS IIII PP; Serapis, wearing polos on head, standing facing, head left, holding wreath and scepter.
    Refs: RIC 289c; BMCRE 188; Cohen/RSC 382; RCV 6846; Hill 1586.

    Severus Alexander as "P M":

    Severus Alexander PM TRP VIII COS III P P S C Libertas Sestertius.jpg
    Severus Alexander, AD 222-235
    Roman Æ sestertius; 21.72 gm, 28.4 mm
    Rome, AD 229
    Obv: IMP SEV ALEXANDER AVG, Laureate head right; slight drapery on left shoulder
    Rev: P M TR P VIII COS III P P S C, Libertas standing left, holding pileus and scepter
    Refs: RIC 492; BMCRE 570; Cohen 372; RCV 7996
    Notes: Die break affects S on reverse.
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  14. Zebucatt

    Zebucatt Well-Known Member

    I should have tied this into my last post. Nero who sent vespasian to exile.
    AE dupondius, 66AD, 30mm, 12.5g, Lugdunum
    Laureate head right
    Securitas seated right, resting head on hand and holding scepter; altar to right.
    Ref: RIC 518

    PicsArt_03-06-07.28.40.jpg PicsArt_03-06-07.29.19.jpg
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  15. singig

    singig Well-Known Member

    Interesting write-up, this is my contribution Hadrian PONT MAX,
    I just received the coin.

    Hadrian , AE Sestertius. RIC 563
    IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS - HADRIANVS AVG, laureate bust right / PONT MAX TR POT COS III, Felicitas standing, head left, holding corn-ears and cornucopiae.
    33 mm / 28 g
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  16. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  17. Claudius_Gothicus

    Claudius_Gothicus Well-Known Member

    Great idea for a thread, @Ocatarinetabellatchitchix!
    Here's one of the last emperors to strike dated antoniniani:
    Claudius II (268-270), Antoninianus, Siscia mint.
    Obverse: IMP CLAVDIVS AVG, radiate and cuirassed bust, seen from the front;
    Reverse: P M T-R P COS P P, Apollo sitting left, holding olive branch in right hand and with left elbow leaning on lyre. P in exergue;
    RIC - , RIC V Online 770, Minster 271, La Venera 9728
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  18. gogili1977

    gogili1977 Well-Known Member

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  19. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Nice write up! Here's my addition:
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  20. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    There were four principal colleges of priests: pontifices, augures, XV viri sacris faciundis, VII viri epulonum, and the flamines, the four chief priests. The priesthoods founded or reorganized by Augustus starting in 29 BC naturally played an important part in all festivals and sacrifices to the gods. Priests wore traditional garb, and each could be recognized by his special attribute: the leather cap with metal point (apex) and long-haired woolen cloak for the flamines, or the cloak with bared shoulder for the XV viri sacris faciundis who were principally responsible for the cult of Apollo.
    Membership in a given priesthood was allotted to a specific social class, in accordance with the ranking in each collegium. The highest priesthoods and fraternities were reserved for the upper class, particularly for patricians, the emperor could, however, elevate men of his choice to patrician status. In place of the members of the highest priesthoods, as on the Ara Pacis, their attributes and implements refer to them symbolically: the lituus of the augurs, the apex of the flamines, the acerra and libation jug with laurel branches of the XV viri sacris faciundis, the simpuvium of the pontifices, the patera of the VII viri epulonum.
    The rites of the Arval Brethren, a cult revived by Augustus and once restricted to patrician families, was originally concerned with the worship of the fertility goddess Dea Dia. On certain occasions the Avral Brethren apparently wore wreaths of grain, a reference to the fertility of the fields.
    The princeps was a member of the four most important colleges of priests and was de facto chief priest long before he was able to assume the office of Pontifex Maximus. This role is celebrated by the denarius of Antistius Vetus (16 BC), on which the sacred utensils designate the four major priesthoods to which Augustus belonged, and Augustus himself described it thus:"I was Pontifex Maximus, augur, belonged to the colleges of the XV viri sacris faciundis and the VII viri epulonum, was an Arval Brother, sodalis Titius, and fetialis" (Res Gestae 67).
    Certainly from the time of the Secular Games in 17 BC , and probably earlier, in the 20s, the princeps must have made it known that henceforth he preferred that statues put up in his honor show him togate at sacrifice or prayer, so his piety was put on display for every Roman to see, making it clear that he considered the performance of his religious duties his greatest responsibility and highest honor. Both on coins (Denarius of C. Marsius, Rome 13 BC) and as honorific statues show him veiled in a toga (first picture OP). [Paul Zanker, "The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus].

    Denarius, Rome 13 BC
    RIC I 410; RSC 347;
    17 x 18 mm, 3.590 g

    Ob.: CAESAR AVGVSTVS Head of Augustus, bare, right
    Rev.: C • ANTISTIVS • REGINVS III • VIR sacrificial implements: Simpulum and lituus above, tripod and patera below

    upload_2021-3-7_14-54-22.png upload_2021-3-7_14-54-31.png
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  21. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

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