ROMAN EMPIRE, Commodus, 177-192 AD, denarius


ROMAN EMPIRE, Commodus, 177-192 AD, denarius, no date (187 AD), Rome mint, Obverse: laureate bust R, M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT P P, Reverse: Hilaritas standing L holding branch & palm, HILAR AVG P M TR XII IMP VIII COS V P P, silver, 17mm, 2.57g, SR5647, aXF/VF

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Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius, turned out to have no aptitude for the job of Emperor. After 15 years of messing around he was assassinated. Incompetent, but lucky: no major wars during his reign.

In the Imperial Period Roman coinage became an engine for governmental propaganda. All of the themes of the coins are celebratory of some aspect of govermental authority or achievement.The Roman Republic was founded in response to tyrannical kings. It functioned for several centuries in a kind of balance of rich and poor people (slaves didn’t count). The general idea was that laws would constrain personal power. During the days of Julius Caesar, et al, powerful people became too powerful, and a new system of slightly constrained autocracy, the Empire, developed. The Empire was split for administrative purposes into eastern and western branches, the west devolving into local kingdoms in the 5th century AD, while the eastern branch continued as what we call the Byzantine Empire until 1453.

“Ancient Coins” includes Greek and Roman coins and those of neighbors and successors, geographically from Morocco and Spain all the way to Afghanistan. Date ranges for these begin with the world’s earliest coins of the 8th century BC to, in an extreme case, the end of Byzantine Empire, 1453 AD.