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    Handsome, Modest Emperor

    Antoninus Pius (AD 138-161). AV aureus (20mm, 7.45 gm, 5h).  Rome, August-December AD 138. IMP T AEL CAES HAD-RI ANTONINVS, bare head of Antoninus right / AVG · PIVS · P · M TR · P COS · DES II, Pietas standing right before altar, raising right hand and holding pyxis of incense in left. RIC 13.  BMCRE 27. Cohen 70. Calicó 1469a. Scarce! A coin of great elegance and refinement, with a noble portrait and a lovely, cameo-like surface. NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. 

    This aureus was struck between the death of Hadrian (July 10, AD 138) and Antoninus's assumption of the titles Augustus and Pius, and the beginning of his second consulship on January 1, AD 139. It is commonly asserted, based on the biography of Antoninus in the Historia Augusta, that Antoninus engaged in a lengthy negotiation over the deification of his predecessor Hadrian with a recalcitrant Senate, which was upset by Hadrian's executions toward the end of Hadrian's reign and more inclined to issue a Damnatio against his name. Antoninus is said to have refused the title of Augustus and threatened to abdicate his position as Caesar unless the deification was carried out; the Senate, concerned over a possible civil war, finally relented. Mindful of Antoninus's efforts on behalf of his adoptive father, the Senate granted him the honorific Pius ("dutiful"). This aureus, which immediately followed coins struck by Antoninus as Caesar lacking the title Augustus, seems to confirm that he accepted the titles Augustus and Pius simultaneously, as they are both noted in the reverse legend. However, he is still listed as COS DES II ("designated Consul for the second time"): Although now emperor, he refused to "jump the gun" by assuming the consulship before January 1 of the new year, pointing to his punctiliousness in observing the Republican traditions. 

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2016
    11th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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