Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 111   |   24 September 2018 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 173

Estimate: 25'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 20'000 CHF Price realized: 47'500 CHF
Hadrian augustus, 117 – 138. Aureus after 138, AV 7.29 g. HADRIANVS – AVG COS III P P Bare bust r., with drapery on l. shoulder. Rev. DIVIS PAREN – TI – BVS Confronted busts of Trajan, l., draped, and Plotina, r., diademed and draped; a star above each head. C 2. BMC 603. RIC 232B. Calicó 1417 (these dies).
Extremely rare and in unusually fine condition for this very difficult and interesting
issue. Three magnificent portraits of fine style struck on a very
broad flan. About extremely fine
Ex Rollin & Feuardent 25-30 April 1887, Ponton D'Amécourt, 251; Hirsch 24, 1909, Weber, 1453; Ars Classica 18, 1938, De Sartiges, 220; Hess-Leu 26 March 1961, 158; Stack's 174, 2013, Ebert, 5034 sales. From the Collection of a Retired Banker.
This coin portrays Hadrian in a youthful and idealised fashion, and has a reverse type that honours the emperor's adoptive parents Trajan and Plotina. Hill has shown convincingly that it belongs to a series which must have been struck early in the reign of Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius. The context for this unorthodox series was the new emperor's stubborn efforts to persuade the senate to vote for divine honours for Hadrian, by which Antoninus earned his epithet "Pius". This bust type is distinctive and belongs to a separate category of Hadrianic portraiture: the emperor is fictitiously youthful and wears only a partial beard that culminates in two tufts at his jaw line. Understandably, Mattingly and Sydenham describe this portrait style as being of "exceptional beauty and distinction." Comparison with sculptures marks this style of portrait as Hadrian in the guise of Diomedes, the Trojan War hero who stole the Palladium from Troy, assuring a Greek victory in the epic siege. The Palladium reportedly was taken to Italy, either by the Trojan prince Aeneas or by Diomedes, who by one tradition returned it to Aeneas in Italy. By Hadrian's time the episode had numerous versions and was a core element of the Roman foundation mythology, making it a perfect marriage of this emperor's infatuation with Greece and his dedication to Rome. The reverse, inscribed DIVIS PARENTIBVS ('to his parent deities'), show the jugate busts of Trajan and Plotina adorned with stars. A related aureus (Calico 1418) that must belong to this series portrays the divine parents, each accompanied by a star, on opposite sides of the coin. Two other reverse types paired with Hadrian as Diomedes recall the divine origins of Rome: ROMVLO CONDITORI ('Romulus the founder'), Romulus striding r.; and VENERI GENETRICI ('Venus who brings forth'), Venus standing. The remaining three reverse types in the series honour Jupiter, a god with imperial associations, and present Hadrian in a military context, presumably to showcase his military successes and to curry support with the army.

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