The Roman Empire
Estimate: 30'000 CHF
Starting price: 24'000 CHF
Price realized: 44'000 CHF
Hadrian, 117 – 134
Aureus 117, AV 7.34 g. IMP CAES TRAIAN HADRIANO AVG DIVI TRA PARTH F Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. DIVI NER NEP P M TR P COS Radiate bust of Sol r.; below, ORIENS. C 1003. BMC 35. RIC 16. Calicó 1293.
Two spectacular portraits, work of a very talented master-engraver, perfectly
struck in high relief on a full flan. Good extremely fine
Ex Naville III, 16 June 1922, Sir. A. Evans, 53; Glendining & Co., 16 November 1950, H. Platt Hall, 1349; Leu 2, 1972, 391 and Leu 93, 2005, Perfectionist, 23 sales.
This simple yet stunningly beautiful aureus of Hadrian depicting the radiate bust of Sol on the reverse was struck at the very beginning of Hadrian’s reign, in A.D. 117, and served to legitimize his claim as Trajan’s heir. Although Hadrian was the logical choice to succeed Trajan – one might even say that he had been groomed for the succession – Trajan never formally adopted him until he was on his deathbed, a fact which led to whispered rumours that the adoption papers had actually been forged by Plotina with whom Hadrian had always been close. The inscription which begins on the obverse and continues through onto the reverse honors both Hadrian’s deified father, Trajan, and his grandfather, Nerva (both by adoption). Although the bust of Sol can be found on earlier issues of Trajan, those of Hadrian notably include the addition of the legend ORIENS below. Oriens in Latin refers to the rising sun, and here seems to symbolise both Hadrian’s elevation, which presented a new beginning, and also the fact that he became emperor while in the East (at the time of Trajan’s death in A.D. 117, Hadrian was serving as the de facto commander of the eastern army in Trajan’s war with the Parthian Empire). Of numismatic interest is the fact that, while its use became common much later during the reign of the third century military emperor Aurelian, this aureus is the first instance where the legend ORIENS appears.