Marcus Aurelius, 161 - 180 AD AE Sestertius, Rome Mint, Struck circa 173 AD, 33mm, 26.49 grams Obverse: M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVII, Laureate and cuirassed bust of Marcus right. Reverse: GERMANIA SVBACTA IMP VI COS III S C, Captive seated left at foot of trophy composed of arms and armor. RIC1054 An interesting and historic coin to be sure. Marcus’ reign was beleagured by incursions and migrations of Germanic tribes beginning in 162 and the resulting wars would continue throughout his reign despite many victories and two rather desperate policy changes. Marcus decided to allow widespread and unchecked tribal settlement so long as the settlers were legally bound to Roman landowners or lands owned by the empire. He also tried to push the borders and created two new provinces (Sarmatia and Marcomannia). None of these solutions (wars included) were to prove a lasting solution to the problem. The reverse inscription is interesting and somewhat rare on Roman coinage. In its most true sense subacta means 'ploughed, tilled, cultivated'. But in this propagandizing use it would be best translated as ‘subdued’, or perhaps fancifully, ‘destroyed'. Along with Parthian invasion and a severe plague the Germanic migrations would have been on the mind of the average citizen and positive propaganda such as this coin would have been paramount to keeping the populace feeling as if all was well (which it was not). Marcus Aurelius remains one of the most fascinating of all the Roman emperors. His personal and imperial life were constantly at odds (his stoic personality vs. his feelings of strict adherence to duty and loyalty, which in a way are also partly stoic). If one has not previously done so, pick up a copy of his so-called ‘Meditations’. It is worthy of life-long reading. Feel free to show any of your related Germanic or Parthian war issues of the period.