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Nomos AG, 82

806170. Sold For $75000

Commodus. AD 177-192. Æ Medallion (53.16 g, 12h). Rome mint. Struck AD 186-187. M COMMODVS ANTONINVS PIVS FELIX AVG BRIT, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / P M TR P XII IMP VIII CO-S V P P, TELLVS STABIL in exergue, Tellus reclining left, left arm resting on basket of fruit and cradling long vine branch from which hangs grapes above, her right hand placed on star-studded globe, around which are the figures of the Four Seasons. Gnecchi 127 = Cohen 715; MIR 18, 1123-1/37; Banti 389; cf. Grueber 110; cf. Froehner p. 130; Tocci -; cf. Dressel 79; cf. Toynbee p. 93. EF, green-brown patina.

Upon becoming sole Augustus in AD 180, Commodus consciously embarked upon a policy of imperial self promotion. Uppermost at the time was the theme of a restored Golden Age, a theme that had served some of his predecessors to great effect. Deriving, in part, from Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue, the image on this medallion can also find its inspiration in the so-called “Tellus Panel” of the Ara Pacis of Augustus, wherein the figure of Tellus is seated within an arbor of vines, holding two infants. She is thus the symbol of fecundity produced by a long period of peace. The inclusion of the two additional infants, as well as the star-studded globe, complete the allegory. The children represent each of the four seasons, and thus indicate a year or succession of years in which prosperity will continue to flourish. The globe, representing the heavens and, consequently, the extent of empire, alludes to Augustus, who brought about the first imperial Golden Age of peace throughout the world (Virgil, Aeneid VI.790-796). Commodus saw himself overseeing and administering a period of peace and prosperity, similar to that of Augustus. Unfortunately, the reality failed to live up to the expectation. The peace brought about by the end of the Marcomannic Wars failed to last. Harvests failed, causing periodic famine, and the AD 190 fire in Rome heralded the onset of the megalomania that resulted in his assassination two years later.