Commodus, sole reign 180 – 192. Aureus 187-188, AV 7.28 g. M COMM ANT P – FEL AVG BRIT Laureate, draped and cuirassed bust r. Rev. VIRTVT AVG P M TR P XII IMP VIII COS V P P Virtus standing l., holding Victory and resting l. hand on shield; spear against l. side. C –, cf. 966 (denarius). BMC –, cf. 227 (denarius). RIC –, cf. 160 (denarius). D.Sear ”Roman Coins and Their Values” Vol II, London 2002, 5620 (this coin illustrated). Calicó 2366 (these dies).
Estimate: 25'000 CHF
Starting price: 20'000 CHF
Price realized: 28'000 CHF
Extremely rare. A bold portrait struck in high relief, virtually as struck and almost Fdc
Sold by Numismatic Fine Arts, auction XXVI, 14 August 1991, lot 262.
Sold by LHS Numismatik AG, Zürich, auction 100, 23-24 April 2007, lot 520.
From the inventory of Freeman & Sear (Los Angeles).
When this aureus was struck, sometime after his fifth consulship in January 186, Commodus must have had a fresh and wary perspective on the hazards of being emperor. The previous year had begun well enough: on the heels of a swift victory in Britain, Commodus began to celebrate the vows for his decennalia, or tenth year of power; he even went so far as to describe the event as the dawn of a new golden age, which he inaugurated with the Primi Decenales games. However, the celebratory atmosphere was quickly tarnished with the revolt in that same year of his praetorian prefect Perennis, who intended to replace Commodus as emperor with his own son. It was a serious coup that shook his confidence, and that required him to pay a largess to the army (which he honoured with special coin types, including one depicting the emperor haranguing the troops). This fiasco was followed in 286 with a guerilla war in Spain and Gaul led by a deserter named Maternus, who in the following year came to Rome in disguise to murder Commodus, and who might have succeeded had he not been betrayed the day before he intended to strike.