Coins of Marcus Aurelius

Roman Emperor (AD 161-180)

Marcus Annius Catilius Severus, known as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus upon accession, was born in 121 AD, the son of Annius Verus, the brother of Faustina the Elder, wife of Antoninus Pius. Very early in his life he gained the favor of the emperor Hadrian, who made him a Salian priest when only 8 and supervised his education. He was later adopted by Antoninus Pius and was married to his daughter, Faustina the Younger, in 145. With the birth of their first child in 146, he was designated as Pius’ imperial partner with tribunician and proconsular powers. Aurelius succeeded as emperor in 161. Lucius Verus, who was also adopted by Pius, became emperor alongside Aurelius, who insisted on having him as his colleague.

War dominated the reign of Marcus Aurelius, causing problems throughout the empire and in Rome itself, draining the treasury and making administration difficult. With the death of Verus in 169, Marcus raised his son Commodus as his fellow emperor, giving him the title Augustus, the tribunician power and the proconsular imperium. He left his son to govern Rome while he continued to fight the German tribes in an attempt to secure Rome’s empire from this ever-imposing threat. He died swiftly and peacefully in 180 during his campaign against the Quadi and Iazyges. Marcus Aurelius is remembered best as a Stoic philosopher. He compiled a work called the Meditations which highlighted his high Stoic principles and survives to this day.

AE As,  Rome
AD 153-154 (under Antoninus Pius)

Obverse:
Bust of Marcus draped, facing r. [A]VRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F

Reverse:
Salus draped standing l. with r. hand feeding snake, l. elbow resting on a column. TR POT VIII [CO]S II SC in field.

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AE Sestertius, Rome
AD 161-176

Obverse:
Head of Faustina the younger (wife of Marcus Aurelius) facing r., hair pulled back in waves in chignon. FAVSTINA upwards l. AVG downwards r.

Reverse:
Throne (lectisternium) draped and ornamented with two infant boys seated, facing each other, encircled by <SAE>CVLI FELICIT; S C to l. and r. in field.

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AR Denarius, Rome
AD 161-180

Obverse:
Head of Antoninus Pius bare, r.; encircled by DIVVS ANTONINVS

Reverse:
Pyre of four tiers, decorated with hangings and garlands, surmounted by quadriga; encircled by CONSECRATIO

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AR Denarius, Rome
AD 165-166

Obverse:
Head of Marcus r., laureate. M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX

Reverse:
Pax (Peace) draped standing l. holding branch in r. hand and cornucopiae in l. TR P XX IMP IIII COS III PAX

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AR Denarius, Rome
AD 166

Obverse:
Head of Aurelius laureate r.; encircled by M ANTONINVS AVG ARM PARTH MAX

Reverse:
Victory standing front, head r., holding a palm and fixing to a palm tree a shield inscribed VIC PAR; encircled by TR P XX IMP IIII COS III