Featured Marcus Aurelius, the conqueror and destroyer of peoples... but not by choice

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Limes, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    Emperor Marcus Aurelius was part of the so called ‘five good emperors’ (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius), or ‘adoptive emperors’ (idem) or ‘the antonines’ (Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus). The era ended when Marcus Aurelius appointed his son, Commodus, as his heir.

    Marcus Aurelius was, together with Lucius Verus, the successor of Antoninus Pius. Under the reign of Antoninus Pius, the Roman Empire experienced its most peaceful and prosporus period in history. By the time Marcus Aurelius was to ascend the throne, he was 40 years old. Marcus Aurelius was to be known as a philosofical and gentle emperor. Despite his charactaristics, it would become his destiny to be consumed with frontier warfare and other devestating occurences such as the outbreak of the plague which was brought back to Roman territory by the army that fought the Parthians.

    The denarius shown below is one of the many, many coins struck under Marcus Aurelius commemorating the various frontier wars in the East against the Parthians and the North - the Marcomannic Wars. This specific type celebrates the victory over the Parthian empire. There are several interesting - and desirable ! - coins struck in these ‘warfare’ series, bronze, silver and gold issues of both Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. The coins with ‘vic par’ reverse, written on a shield held by Victory, is a well known type of course. Other types display bound captives, such as mine, or display the (re)-installation of Sohaemus as king of Armenia (struck under Antoninus Pius, and Lucius Verus (aureus, sestertius) for example).


    About the war itself, it started just after the death of Antoninus Pius with the invasion of Armenia by Vologases IV of Parthia, in 161 AD. In response to the invasion of Armenia and following raids into Syria by the Parthian army, Lucius Verus headed east while Marcus Aurelius stayed in Rome. Either a dandy and charmer, or hardened wartime soldier-emperor (or somewhere in between), Lucius Verus (well, his generals of course), defeated the Partians in Armenia, reinstalled the Roman puppet Armenian king Sohaemus, and furthermore sacked the capital of the Parthian empire in 165 AD. For their efforts, Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius were given the honorary title ‘ARMENIACVS’, conqueror of Armenia, and hailed imperator.

    The - somewhat scarce - dupondius below refers to the wars on the northern frontier. The coin has been in my possession for quite some time now, and it finally has a wartime buddy in the form of the denarius shown above. This coin mentions (well, almost unreadable, but they are there!) the honorary titles ‘GERM’ and ‘SARM’: Germanicus and Sarmaticus. Again, Marcus Aurelius, was confronted with various wars with different northern tribes such as the Germanic Marcomanni, Quadi and the Sarmatian lazyges. The different struggles lasted from 166 AD - 180 AD and resulted in different Roman defeats and victories, peace treaties and agreements (which are, of course, meant to be broken), and the settlement of different Germanic peoples on Roman, or near Roman territory. Marcus Aurelius did not live long enough to see the end of the last of the campaings (against the Quadi), in 180 AD. Commodus negiotated a peace treaty with the Quadi and celebrated a triumph in October 180 AD.


    Please post your Marcus Aurelius warfare coin(s)!
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Lovely coins, @Limes ! Excellent and concise summary of the significance of these warfare-themed issues. I only have peaceful issues of Marcus Aurelius and nothing to share here, which is something I need to rectify.
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  4. Marsyas Mike

    Marsyas Mike Well-Known Member

    Nice coins and nice write-up. This isn't Marcus Aurelius, but I thought it might fit in with this thread - a Lucius Verus as with three trophies on the reverse. I think these might be Armenian.

    Lucius Verus As - Trophies Mar 2018 (0).jpg

    Lucius Verus Æ As
    (167-168 A.D.)
    Rome Mint

    L VERVS AVG ARM PAR[TH MAX], laureate, draped bust right / [TR P VIII IMP IIII COS III S C], three trophies with a seated captive at base of each.
    RIC 1475?
    (10.60 grams / 26 mm)

    Attribution Note: RIC 1475 is the only 3-trophy As with a draped bust. This one also has a captive at base of each, which is hard to see on this example. I could find no examples online except OCRE, no illustrations.

    The other 3-trophy As for Verus is RIC 1464 with no captives, and a bare head (not draped).
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  5. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter I dig ancient coins...

    Nice write-up. Marcus is not often remembered for his wars but rather for the Meditations, a quote from which I have in my signature. In the film gladiator he says "How will I be remembered, the warrior, the tyrant? I brought the sword, nothing more."

    Type: AE Drachm, 33mm, 22.95 grams

    Obverse: Bare headed and draped bust of Aurelius right

    Reverse: Elpis Standing left holding flower and hitching skirt

    Reference: BMC 1238 listed as "rare" by R.A. Numismatics

    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
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  6. thejewk

    thejewk Well-Known Member

    MA Sestertius.png
    SEAR 5017
    Virtus seated right resting on spear and holding parazonium.

    Not strictly a commemoration of one of the many wars he had to fight, but a sestertius from the final year of his life celebrating his military prowess and virtus.
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  7. Alegandron

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

    Nice write up and coins, @Limes !

    I have a Lucius Verus:

    RI LUCIUS VERUS 161-169 AE24 As Rome L VERVS AVG ARMENIACVS Bare head r Mars trophy TR P IIII IMP II COS II S-C RIC 1377

    And, Marcus Aurelius:

    RI MARCUS AURELIUS AR Den as Caesar TR POT VI COS II - Genius stg at altar hldg standard.jpg
    RI MARCUS AURELIUS AR Den as Caesar TR POT VI COS II - Genius stg at altar hldg standard
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  8. Terence Cheesman

    Terence Cheesman Supporter! Supporter

    Marcus Aurelius Denarius 164 A.D. Rv Armenia seated left RIC 81 345 grms 18 mm maureliusd15.JPG
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  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Did the Victory of my year 8 lead to the Hope of year 11?
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  10. ancient times

    ancient times Legatus Legionis

    great coins, great write up!
    Limes likes this.
  11. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    Excellent writeup and very nice coin! My favorite of these warfare issues are the ones with the pile of arms. I'm still looking out for a DE SARM.

    marcus aurelius de germb400.jpg
    AR Denarius. 3.29g, 19mm. Rome mint, AD 177 AD. RIC 363; MIR 18, 368-4/30; RSC 156. O: M ANTONINVS AVG GERM SARM, laureate head right. R: TR P XXXI IMP XIII COS III P P, Pile of arms: scale cuirass, round and hexagonal shields, spears, standard and carnyx; DE GERM in exergue.

    Another type I like, the RELIG AVG issues on sestertii and denarii, may allude to a specific event that occurred on a military campaign, the so-called "Rain Miracle".

    Marcus Aurelius - RELIG AVG c.jpg
    AE Sestertius. 29.44g, 31mm. Rome mint, AD 173. RIC 1075; Cohen 535. O: M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVII, laureate head right. R: IMP VI - COS III, Mercury standing left on pedestal, holding caduceus and purse, within a tetrastyle temple with telamons as columns; semicircular pediment containing, from left to right, tortoise, cockerel, ram, winged helmet, caduceus, and purse; S-C in field, RELIG AVG in exergue.
    Notes: This type is popularly associated with the Rain Miracle of the Legio XII Fulminata (Thundering 12th Legion). According to Cassius Dio, the 12th Legion under the command of Marcus Aurelius had found themselves encircled and heavily outnumbered by a Quadi Army. Stricken with fatigue, thirst, and the heat, they were on the verge of capture when an Egyptian magician named Anurphis, a companion of the emperor, invoked the aid of Mercury as god of the wind and air. A sudden storm rose in the midst of the battle, reviving the Romans with rain while destroying their enemies with hail and lightning.
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  12. Clavdivs

    Clavdivs Supporter! Supporter

    Nice write up and coins...

    Here is a sestertius struck in 164 .. right when he added Armeniacus to his name.
    The Armenian capital Artaxata was captured in 163 and Marcus Aurelius took the title the following year.. the Mars reverse also makes the coin an appropriate for the thread.

  13. Spaniard

    Spaniard Well-Known Member

    Great coins shown by all!......
    Just tried the remove .bg for the first time...
    ma together.jpg
    Marcus Aurelius denarius.Rome AD 161-162 18MM....2.55gr
    Obverse....IMP M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG, bare head right
    Reverse... PROV DEOR TR P XVI COS III, Providentia standing facing, head left, holding globe and cornucopiae.
    RIC#50 RSC 519.
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  14. Valens

    Valens Well-Known Member

    And these are a few coins from my war set
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  15. Limes

    Limes Supporter! Supporter

    That is a very nice set Valens!
  16. Valens

    Valens Well-Known Member

    This Sestertius RIC 1046 is very rare (R4!)
    This is the most interesting coin in this set.
    Two more are known.
    The BM coin is a fake.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
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