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About This Artwork
Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Commodus, AD 180, issued by Commodus
Diam. 2 cm; 7.14 g
Obverse: M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG
Reverse: LIB AVG TR P V.IMP IIII COS II PP
Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4879
Ancient and Byzantine Art
Not on Display
End of the Good Emperors
The succession pattern set during the rule of the Good Emperors ended in the person of Marcus Aurelius’s son, Commodus (r. A.D. 177–192). The Good Emperors had been carefully picked based on their merits, whereas Commodus inherited the crown. He promptly abused his power, and died a tyrant’s death. The empire never fully recovered the strength and prosperity enjoyed under the Good Emperors. Nor did coin production ever exceed the beauty of the Good Emperors’ output. Finally succumbing to the barbarian Visigoths led by King Alaric (r. A.D. 395–410), Rome was sacked in A.D. 410, after which time the production of the empire’s coins moved to Constantinople.
—Permanent collection label
This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public.
"Ruling Families: Imperial Dynasties of the Early Roman Empire 31 B.C. - A.D. 235," November 1997 - November 2001, Gallery 155 (Coin Case).
Theresa Gross-Diaz, “Cat. 57 Aureus Portraying Commodus: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).
Karen B Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 29.