(93) Hadrian - AV aureus, A.D. 134-138, 7.11 g. (inv. 91.163).
Obverse: Draped and bare-headed bust of Hadrian r.; HADRIANVS AVG(VSTVS) CO(N)S(VL) III P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): Hadrianus Augustus, consul for the third time, father of the country.
Reverse: Virtus in armor standing r., l. foot on helmet, holding spear in r. and parazonium in l.; VIRTVTI AVG(VSTI): to the Virtus of the Augustus.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1959.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage II: Vespasian to Hadrian (London 1926) 287.
Although Hadrian does not age in his portraits, this head differs from earlier examples in its somewhat more realistic approach. This bare-headed portrait in particular shows his characteristic hairstyle, his curly hair brushed foreward from the back of his head.
The reverse depicts Virtus, the personification of military courage, who is a frequent figure on Roman coins. She is female because the Latin word is feminine. Her dress, a short tunic that bares her right breast, resembles that of an Amazon. She is fully armed, with a helmet, spear, and parazonium or short sword. The legend on this coin indicates that the Virtus in question is that of the emperor himself, the Augustus. Although Hadrian was more interested in peace than war, he was careful to emphasize his military strength by having himself depicted in military dress and by using the standard military types on his coins.
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