About this artwork
Five Good Roman Emperors
The Roman Empire, which flourished from 27 B.C. to A.D. 410, was ruled by a variety of emperors, some who inherited the throne and some who seized it. As rulers came and went, it was important to announce the transition of power quickly. Since the Mint regularly struck coins to pay the armies stationed throughout the empire, it was easy to change the portrait, revise names in the inscription, and publish the news.
Trajan’s cousin Hadrian (r. A.D. 117–38) recognized that Rome could not defend the distant boundaries of the empire. He reduced the frontier to what could be guarded and built fortifications such as Hadrian’s Wall in Britain to repel the barbarian tribes that threatened the empire’s fragile periphery. Hadrian was a collector of carved gems that were made by the same technique as the dies used in coin production. It is thought that because of his interest in the artistic process, he was actively involved in the production of his coins.
- Ancient Roman
- Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Hadrian
- Roman Empire
- 120 AD–123 AD
- Obverse: IMP CAESAR TRAIAN HADRIANVS AVG Reverse: P M TR P COS III
- Diam. 1.9 cm; 7.34 g
- Katherine K. Adler Memorial, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Alexander, and Ancient Art Purchase Funds