(76) Nero - AE sestertius, A.D. 64-66, 25.79 g. (inv. 91.138).
Obverse: Laureate head of Nero r.; NERO CLAVD(IVS) CAESAR AVG(VSTVS) GER(MANICVS) P(ONTIFEX) M(AXIMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) P(OTESTATE) IMP(ERATOR) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifex maximus, with tribunician power, imperator, father of the country.
Reverse: Nero, bare-headed, cuirassed, and wearing cloak, prancing r. on horseback, holding spear in r.; behind, mounted soldier prancing r. with vexillum over r. shoulder;
S(ENATVS)-C(ONSVLTO): by decree of the Senate; in exergue, DECVRSIO: decursio.
Provenance: Ex Ives collection; Coin Galleries, 1960.
Bibliography: C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage I: from 31 BC to AD 69, rev. ed. (London 1984) 396, 436.

The reverse of this sestertius of Nero depicts the decursio, a type of military exercise on horseback that was perhaps performed in the training of the cavalry and in public shows and competitions. Nero was very fond of horses, particularly chariot racing, and it would not have been out of character for him to have had himself depicted as a participant in this event. The standard bearer who accompanies him suggests that the exercise in this case was meant to refer to manoeuvers of the praetorian guard, the troops who guarded the emperor.

The portrait on the obverse of this coin is Nero's late type, with its distinctive hairstyle and very fleshy face and neck.


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