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.
Hadrian’s hand-picked successor, Antoninus Pius (r. A.D. 138–61), continued the wise and caring rule of Trajan and Hadrian which is reflected in his nickname, Pius, meaning “pious.” Able to maintain peace through the strength of the Army, Rome was strong and prosperous under Antoninus’s firm rule. Succeeding him was a young man also chosen by Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius (r. A.D. 161–80), who was only seventeen at the time of his appointment. While emperor, Marcus Aurelius recorded his thoughts about life, today known as Meditations. It was his unhappy fate, however, to face the growing aggression of the nomadic tribes from the East that looked west for more land and rich cities to plunder.
- Ancient Roman
- Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Marcus Aurelius
- 167 AD
- Obv: M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX Rev: TRP XXII IMP IIII COS III
- Diam. 2 cm; 7.26 g
- Gift of William F. Dunham