About this artwork
During the period of the five “Good Emperors,” succession was not hereditary. It was instead based on merit, with the current ruler formally adopting his successor. This pattern ended with Marcus Aurelius’s son, Commodus (reigned 177–92), who inherited the crown. He promptly abused his power and died a tyrant’s death. The Severan dynasty followed with the rise to power of Septimius Severus. His two sons, Caracalla and Geta, were proclaimed co-emperors upon his death. Within a year the conflict between the brothers resulted in Caracalla (reigned 211–17) killing Geta in order to rule alone.
The front (obverse) of this coin portrays Emperor Commodus facing right. He is laureate and wears a cuirass and paludamentum (breastplate and miiltary cloak). The back (reverse) of the coin depicts Liberalitas holding an abacus in right hand, a cornucopia in left.
- On View, Gallery 153
- Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium
- Ancient Roman
- Aureus (Coin) Portraying Emperor Commodus
- Rome (Minted in)
- Struck 180 CE
- Obverse: M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG Reverse: LIB AVG TR P V.IMP IIII COS II PP
- Diam.: 2 cm (13/16 in.)
- Gift of Martin A. Ryerson