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    Superb Hadrian Sestertius

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). Orichalcum sestertius (36mm, 29.96 gm, 6h).  Rome, AD 121. IMP CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG, laureate "heroic" bust of Hadrian right, seen from front, aegis on left shoulder / PONT MAX TR POT COS III, Felicitas standing left, holding caduceus and cornucopia. RIC 563b. BMCRE 1163 note. Struck from dies of extraordinary style. With a magnificent portrait and natural glossy green patina. Edge knock and minor flan crack, otherwise Choice Extremely Fine.

    The reign of Publius Aelius Hadrianus did much to transform the Roman Empire from a supreme city imposing its will on subject peoples into a true commonwealth of nations. Hadrian's family was of Spanish origin, although he was probably born in Rome in AD 76. He was the son of a distinguished senator and related through his mother to the future Emperor Trajan, who took him into his household when Hadrian was nine years old. He received an excellent education, developing a strong attachment for Greek culture and literature, and served a military apprenticeship on the Danubian frontier. After Trajan's accession, Hadrian held a series of civilian posts, including a consulship in AD 108, and commanded legions during the Dacian and Parthian wars. In AD 100 he married Trajan's niece Sabina, a match probably arranged by the Empress Plotina. As the protogé of the emperor, Hadrian seemed marked out for the succession, but he was not formally adopted until Trajan lay on his deathbed in August, AD 117. The transition proved rough, and four distinguished ex-consuls were summarily executed for plotting a coup. Relations with the Senate remained strained throughout the reign. Hadrian abandoned many of Trajan's over-ambitious conquests and engaged in a policy of peace abroad and reform at home. Drama filled his personal life; he and Sabina were frequently at odds and his strong attachment to a beautiful Bithynian boy, Antinous, provoked no end of gossip. The boy's drowning death on a barge trip down the Nile in AD 130 plunged Hadrian into extravagant grief. A serious revolt in Judaea two years later further darkened Hadrian's waning years. His first choice for the succession, Aelius Caesar, died of consumption shortly after being named, but Hadrian rebounded by appointing the respected senator Antoninus Pius as Caesar and, in turn, arranging for him to adopt the young Marcus Aurelius, thus ensuring the Empire would be in good hands for two generations. Further executions were needed to ensure these arrangements and Hadrian died in January, AD 138 "hated by all," according to one biographer. The judgment of history has been far different, ranking him among Rome's greatest rulers.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2013
    6th-7th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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