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Roman Coins

The earliest coins of Roman Italy were cast, but contact with the Greeks of South Italy led to the introduction of struck silver and gold coinage. Several different silver coins were introduced in the 3rd century B.C., but one, the denarius, endured to become the predominant silver coin until it was withdrawn from circulation in the 3rd century after Christ. Like Greek coinage, Roman coinage was based on a weight standard. Over time, new denominations were introduced as reforms of the coinage system became necessary, particularly during the reign of the emperor Nero, in A.D. 64, and under the emperor Diocletian, in A.D. 294. In these reforms, the weights of precious-metal coins were reduced.

The Romans adopted the Hellenistic Greek practice of putting portraits on their coins. For the reverse types, representations of the major gods formed an important category. The reverses also recorded the personal qualities and achievements of the emperor. Thus, a common type was personification of a virtue like Liberalitas, generosity, or Virtus, virtue; personification of Victory or Peace constitutes an allusion to the emperor's achievements. Imperial events were recorded, such as the departure or arrival of the emperor in Rome, or his distribution of largesse. Illustrations or allusions to actual historical events were also depicted. Other reverse types show monuments in Rome, or refer to the important role of the army.

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Petilius Capitolinus (moneyer in 43 B.C.)Petilius Capitolinus (moneyer in 43 B.C.)
Silver Denarius from the mint at Rome

Obverse: Bare head of Jupiter, facing right.
Legend: CAPITOLINVS
Reverse: Hexastyle temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, decorated with sculpture and hanging ornaments.
Legend: PETILLIVS

43 B.C.
(69.474)
 


Hadrian (A.D. 117-138)Hadrian (A.D. 117-138)
Bronze Sestertius from the mint at Rome

Obverse: Bust of Hadrian, wearing a laurel wreath and drapery on his left shoulder, right.
Legend:
IMP CAES DIVI TRA PARTH F DIVI NER NEP TRAIANO HADRIANO AVG
Reverse: Fortuna, wearing a long chiton, seated left on a low seat, holding a rudder in her r. hand, cornucopiae in her l. hand, to her l. and r, s | c.
Legend: PONT MAX · TR POT COS ·
Exergue: FORT RED

A.D. 117
(69.565)
 


Trajan Decius (A.D. 249-251)Trajan Decius (A.D. 249-251)
Silver Antoninianus from the mint at Rome

Obverse: Bust of Trajan Decius, wearing a radiate crown, cuirass, and paludamentum, facing right.
Legend: IMP C M Q TRAIANVS DECIVS AVG
Reverse: Dacia, draped, standing l., holding a staff surmounted by an ass’s head in her r. hand.
Legend: D A C I A

A.D. 249-251
(69.687)
 

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