About This Artwork

Roman, minted in Rome

Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Commodus, A.D. 180, issued by Commodus

Gold
Diam. 2 cm; 7.14 g
Obverse: M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG
Reverse: LIB AVG TRP V IMP IIII COS II PP

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4879

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

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

"Ruling Families: Imperial Dynasties of the Early Roman Empire 31 B.C. - A.D. 235." Nov.
1997 - Nov 2001. Gallery 155 (Coin Case)

Publication History

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, p.29. (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012).




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