Spes: Hope Personified

    Hadrian (AD 117-138). AV aureus (20mm, 7.10 gm, 6h). NGC AU 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style. Rome, AD 134-138. HADRIANVS AVG COS III P P, bareheaded bust of Hadrian right, with slight drapery on left shoulder and at back of head /  SPES P R, Spes advancing left, holding flower in right hand and raising hem of stola with left. RIC 274 variant (no drapery). Cohen 1410 variant (same). BMCRE 732 note. Calicó 1380 (S3). A lovely aureus with a realistic portrait of exemplary style and satiny fields.

    The portrait on this attractive aureus is noteworthy in that it seems less idealized, showing him with a fleshier face and flatter profile, than seen on many portrayals of Hadrian. Perhaps this reflects his appearance later in life, when the ravages of time had taken their toll. The reverse depicts Spes, the goddess of Hope, revered by the Romans in an official state cult from the middle Republic. She is usually depicted as a young woman holding a flower in her right hand, wearing a long gown which she raises the hem slightly with her left. A temple to Spes was located  in the Forum Holitorium, Rome's commercial marketplace; its columns have been incorporated into the church of San Nicola In Carcere. Coins depicting Spes were customarily issued by new emperors and/or their intended heirs, expressing the hope for a happy reign or a smooth succession. Its employment by Hadrian late in his reign, on this and the following aureus, may relate to his adoption of Aelius Caesar (in AD 136) or possibly T. Aurelius Antoninus (in AD 138) as his intended successors. 

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