(91) Hadrian - AV aureus, A.D. 117-118, 7.09 g. (inv. 91.161).
Obverse: Draped and diademed bust of Plotina r.; PLOTINAE AVG(VSTAE): To Plotina Augusta.
Reverse: Draped, cuirassed, and laureate head of Divine Trajan r.; DIVO TRAIANO PARTH(ICO) AVG(VSTO) PATRI: To Divine Trajan, conqueror of the Parthians, Augustus, Father.
Provenance: Abner Kreisberg, 1961.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage II: Vespasian to Hadrian (London 1926) 29.
Pompeia Plotina, the greatly respected wife of Trajan, was a woman of modesty and dignity. When first offered the title Augusta she refused it, accepting it only in A.D. 105. Plotina accompanied her husband on his last campaign in the East, and when he died on the return she was rumored to have been responsible for the adoption of her favorite, Hadrian, as Trajan's heir. She died in A.D. 121 and was deified by Hadrian.
Both Trajan and Hadrian put portraits of Plotina on their coins, Hadrian at the time of his accession and the deification of Trajan in A.D. 117-118. The prominence of his adopted parents in his earliest coinage suggests a concern with the new emperor's relationship to them and with the legitimacy of his succession.
The portrait of Plotina on the obverse of this coin depicts an austere-looking woman of middle age, with a lined forehead, sagging chin and one of the complex, baroque hairstyles popular among court women at this time. She wears a ribbon on her forehead, behind which a high wave of hair is held in place by her diadem. Behind that her hair is plaited in strands that fall down her back and are then doubled up and held in a knot at the nape of her neck.
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