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    The Roman Hercules

    Commodus (AD 177-192). Orichalcum sestertius (34mm, 27.76 gm, 12h). NGC Choice AU 5/5 - 4/5. Rome, AD 192. L· AEL · AVREL · CO-MM · AVG · P · FEL, laureate head of Commodus right, heavily bearded / PROVID-ENTIAE AVG, Commodus as Hercules standing left, holding club on rock, placing foot on prow, and receiving grain ears from Africa, standing right, wearing an elephant-skin headdress with a lion at her feet. RIC 641. Cohen 644. Attractive green patina. Well-struck on a large flan. A simply magnificent and imposing coin.

    Ex Dr. Patrick Tan Collection (Heritage 3032, 10 April 2014), lot 23965; Lanz 120 (18 May 2004), lot 366 (cover coin). 

    Rejecting the intellectuality of his father, Commodus favored the physicality of the Arena and fancied himself as "the Roman Hercules," a great athlete, hunter and gladiator. On this remarkable sestertius he depicts himself as Hercules on the reverse, clasping hands with the personification of Egypt, on which Rome's grain supply depended. After the fall of his corrupt vizier Cleander in AD 190, Commodus took control of governmental affairs himself and made the Empire an expression of his megalomania, renaming Rome as "Colonia Commodiana" and revamping the very calendar months to match his 12 names (Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus Herculius Romanus Exsuperatorius Amazonius Invictus Felix Pius). Wealthy Romans in high positions were routinely executed so their estates could be confiscated to finance this orgy of self-indulgence. His close advisors began to fear for their own lives and ultimately arranged his death by strangulation at the hands of his wrestling instructor, Narcissus.

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2018
    7th-8th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 360

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