(103) Marcus Aurelius - AE sestertius, A.D. 163-164, 24.98 g. (inv. 91.180).
Obverse: Laureate head of Marcus Aurelius r.; M(ARCVS) AVREL(IVS) ANTONINVS AVG(VSTVS) ARMENIACVS P(ONTIFEX) M(AXIMVS): Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, restorer of Armenia, pontifex maximus.
Reverse: Mars standing r., with spear in r. and shield in l.; S(ENATVS)-C(ONSVLTO): by decree of the Senate; TR(IBVNICIA) P(OTESTATE) XVIII IMP(ERATOR) II CO(N)S(VL) III: with tribunician power for the eighteenth time, imperator for the second time, consul for the third time.
Provenance: Edward Gans, 1959.
Bibliography: H. Mattingly and E.A. Sydenham, The Roman Imperial Coinage III: Antoninus Pius to Commodus (London 1930) 861.

Aurelius' first serious problem after his accession was the invasion of Armenia by the Parthians. In A.D. 162 Aurelius' co-regent, Lucius Verus, went to the East to deal with the problem, and his victory there in A.D. 164 re-established Roman control of the area. This coin (see also no. 102) refers to his initial victory, which was the occasion for Aurelius' second donative (a donativum or donative was the gift of money to soldiers, typically in celebration of a military victory; the civilian equivalent was called a congiarium-see no. 96).

The reverse appropriately depicts Mars, the god of war. He is depicted with his usual attributes, wearing a cuirass and helmet and holding his spear and shield.


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