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Research Coins: Feature Auction


Commodus At War – Ex Price Collection

CNG 111, Lot: 735. Estimate $15000.
Sold for $21000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Commodus. AD 177-192. AV Aureus (20mm, 7.18 g, 12h). Rome mint. Struck under Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, AD 179. L • AVREL • COM MODVS AVG, laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / TR P IIII IMP III COS II P P, Mars, helmeted, naked except for cloak, advancing right, holding transverse spear in right hand and trophy, over left shoulder, in left. RIC III 659 (Aurelius); MIR 18, 450-12/37; Calicó 2339; BMCRE 795 (Auelius and Commodus); Biaggi 1015; Jameson –; Mazzini –; NAC 52, lot 484 (same obv. die). Choice EF, lustrous. High relief portrait of exquisite style.

From the Brexit Collection. Ex Michael F. Price Collection (Stack's, 3 December 1996), lot 206.

This aureus was struck in AD 179, during the closing stages of the Marcomannic War, in which Commodus accompanied his father Marcus Aurelius to the front to ingratiate himself with Rome’s soldiery. The obverse depicts the young, smooth-faced Commodus dressed for war, while the reverse image of a striding Mars alludes to the conflict, which had occupied much of his father’s reign. Marcus Aurelius wished to “tame” the Germanic tribes and create two new Roman provinces on the far side of the Rhine-Danube frontier, a task requiring enormous expenditures in blood, money and manpower. The exertion led to the death of Marcus in March of the following year. His generals tried to convince Commodus to continue the war until his father’s vision was achieved. But the young emperor had endured enough of a soldier’s rough life, patched up a quick peace with the tribes, and returned to Rome in Autumn AD 180.