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    Superb Aelius Aureus

    Aelius Caesar (AD 136-138). AV aureus (19mm, 6.98 gm, 6h). NGC AU ★ 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 137. L· AELIVS CAESAR, bare head of Aelius left / TRIB POT COS II, Concordia seated left on high-backed throne, holding patera in extended right hand and resting left elbow on cornucopia set on chair; CONCORD in exergue. RIC (Hadrian) 443c. BMCRE (Hadrian) 999. Cohen 12. Calicó 1445 (S4). A coin of breathtaking beauty, with a superbly engraved head in high relief and satiny surfaces showing the merest hint of wear.

    Aelius Caesar began life in around AD 104 as Lucius Ceionius Commodus, son of a distinguished senator who was consul in the year AD 106. Handsome and affable, Lucius entered public service in his 20s and rose steadily through the ladder of public offices until he attracted the attention of the Emperor Hadrian, who by the mid AD 130s was aging rapidly and searching for a suitable heir. Upon attaining the consulship in 136, Aelius was formally adopted by Hadrian and took the name Lucius Aelius Caesar, clearly marking him out as successor to the throne. Historians have long speculated as to why Hadrian chose the seemingly unimpressive Aelius, some even postulating that he was Hadrian's illegitimate son. In any case, his elevation was duly celebrated with elaborate games and Hadrian even coerced the deaths of two potential rivals, who were accused of plotting a coup. Aelius served another consulship in AD 137 and was granted the tribunican power, making him Hadrian's junior partner in government. He left for Pannonia that year to gain experience managing a province; however, the climate was hard on his already frail constitution, and he returned to Rome in the winter having contracted tuberculosis. He fell seriously ill on New Year's Eve and died early on January 1, AD 138, prompting Hadrian to remark that he had "leaned against a tottering wall." This beautiful gold aureus depicts the doomed heir Aelius with a luxuriant head of curls and a longer beard than Hadrian's, setting the style for the Antonine rulers that followed. The reverse depicts Concordia, goddess of harmony, perhaps a call for calm after the turbulent settlement of succession.




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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
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