Description

    Hadrian's Famous Beard

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). AV aureus (20mm, 7.05 gm, 6h). NGC Choice XF ★ 5/5 - 5/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 125-128. HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS, laureate bust of Hadrian right, drapery on far shoulder / COS III, Hadrian ridding horse at a trot to right, raising right hand. RIC 186. Strack 146. BMCRE 430-2. Cohen 406 variant (reverse legend break). Calicó 1215a. An uncommonly handsome aureus, with a marvelous large head of Hadrian in superb style, the relief accentuated by attractive light reddish toning in the fields and recesses.

    This bold portrait displays to good effect Hadrian's famous beard, which was a notable departure from the tradition of clean-shaven Roman rulers. Previous Roman emperors were sometimes depicted on their coins with a scruffy light growth along the jaw line; these instances likely represented a "mourning beard" worn after the death of someone in the Imperial family. Hadrian was the first emperor to sport a full, heavy beard, albeit carefully trimmed. Roman historians present two reasons for his facial hair: (1) to hide unsightly pockmarks on his cheeks resulting from a childhood illness, (2) to show his sympathy with Greek philosophers, traditionally shown as bearded. Whatever his reasons for growing it, Hadrian's beard kicked off a fashion trend for Roman emperors that lasted nearly two centuries, until Constantine the Great brought shaving back into favor.  


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    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
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