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


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. Many of the objects are published here for the first time. The 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. The project received generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The catalogue was built using the OSCI Toolkit, an open-source digital authoring and publishing platform. Find the Art Institute's toolkit customizations and additions on github under the OSCI-Toolkit, OSCI-Toolkit-Frontend, and ChicagoCodeX repositories.


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. Many of the objects are published here for the first time. The 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. The project received generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The catalogue was built using the OSCI Toolkit, an open-source digital authoring and publishing platform. Find the Art Institute's toolkit customizations and additions on github under the OSCI-Toolkit, OSCI-Toolkit-Frontend, and ChicagoCodeX repositories.

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




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