Ancient Rome (Imperial) 161 AD Antoninus Pius Silver Denarius Funeral Pyre RIC III 436 Extremely Fine
Emperor: Antoninus Pius
Obverse: Bust of Antoninus Pius to right, legend around. Legend: DIUS ANTONINUS
Reverse: Funeral pyre, legend around. Legend: CONSECRATIO
Reference Numbers: RIC III 436
Diameter: 17.00mm Weight: 3.31g Metal: Silver
Condition: Extremely Fine
Struck following the death of one of Rome's greatest emperors.
"He was a man of steady and sound morals, which was clearly shown in that his firm character was corrupted neither by unbroken peace nor prolonged idleness, so much that at length the cities were as fortunate as if they had been realms of wisdom." Aurelius Victor Book of the Caesars 15
Antoninus Pius ruled the Roman empire for almost a quarter of a century, yet is thought to have left less of a mark on it than any of his predecessors. Whether he was able to shelter under the prodigious achievements of his predecessors Trajan and Hadrian, or if he simply had the good fortune to rule when the empire faced no major external threats and was at relative peace, remains a subject of discussion to this day. Some believe that the real achievement of Antoninus Pius was to provide firm government without the ostentatious displays of power so often associated with imperial rule.
Antoninus Pius was apparently content to remain at the centre of the Roman Empire, and pull strings as required - dispatching governors and generals to solve frontier crises and settle provincial problems.
His rule was by no means 23 years of untroubled peace - while there may not have been a major war during his reign, there is evidence of near continuous fighting and unrest.
Early in the reign, perhaps in the quest for military glory, the decision was taken to conquer southern Scotland. Hadrian's Wall was abandoned, and a new frontier defence constructed 40 miles to the north: the so-called Antonine Wall. Soon afterwards there was trouble in Mauretania, then in Germany, and rebellions in Egypt, }udaea and Greece. Still later in the reign there was warfare against the Dacians and Alans who threatened the Danube provinces. Such was the prestige of Roman arms that Antoninus was sometimes able to achieve significant ends by diplomacy alone. A mere letter to Vologaeses king of Parthia was sufficient to dissuade him from attacking Armenia, and Antoninus was accepted as arbiter in disputes by client kings and neighbouring states.
Unlike so many of his predecessors and successors, Antoninus Pius' died peacefully. His passing was honored with a huge issue of several types of commemorative coins, such as this example.
Most of the types used the standard reverse legend of CONSECRATIO - a collection of coins of Antoninus Pius certainly should include at least one of the post mortem issues.
This particular example features a bold portrait of pleasing style, and retains plenty of the fine detail on the reverse.
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