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    Description

    Splendid Commodus Aureus

    Commodus (AD 177-192). AV aureus (20mm, 7.06 gm, 6h). Rome, AD 191. M COMM ANT P - FELIX AVG BRIT P P, laureate and draped bust of Commodus right, seen from behind / MIN AVG P - M TR P XVI COS VI, Minerva advancing right, looking back, holding branch in right hand and shield and spear in left hand. RIC 222. BM 301, pl. 98.18 (same dies). Calico 2287. Cohen 357 corr. (citing BM, 150 Fr.). Exquisite late portrait of Commodus, sculptural in nature. Very sensitively and presumably accurately rendered. Fleur de Coin.

    This aureus presents us with a splendid image of one of Rome's most dissolute rulers, Commodus, who is credited by Edward Gibbon with nearly single-handedly instigating the Fall of the Roman Empire. He was not alone in this assessment: The Roman historian Dio Cassius said the accession of Commodus marked the Empire's descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust." Certainly other factors were at work, but Commodus' own personal qualities, a strange mixture of indolence and megalomania, played a crucial role in this decline. The polar opposite of his reserved, dutiful father, Commodus indulged his every whim while leaving the administration of Rome to a succession of corrupt favorites. After the execution of his last such vizier in AD 190, he lost all sense of control and launched a nonstop orgy of self-indulgence which all but bankrupted the Empire. His assassination on New Year's Day, 192 opened a Pandora's Box of Civil War from which the Empire never fully recovered. Nevertheless, Roman art reached an astounding peak during this era, as witnessed by the many baroque portraits of Commodus and his often beautiful coinage, as seen here.




    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2012
    6th-11th Thursday-Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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