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Antonine-Era Dynastic Medallion

CNG 91, Lot: 916. Estimate $25000.
Sold for $32500. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Commodus and Annius Verus. As Caesars, AD 166-169. Æ Medallion (37mm, 42.71 g, 12h). Rome mint. Struck AD 166-168/9. COMMODVS CAES · VERVS CAES, draped busts of Commodus and Annius Verus, vis-à-vis / The four seasons represented by four infants; TEMPORVM/FELICITAS in two lines in exergue. Gnecchi p. 44, 1 and pl. 72, 1; MIR 18, 1048-101/14; Banti –. Near VF, dark brown patina. Extremely rare.

Ex Freeman & Sear FPL 10 (Spring 2005), no. 105; Numismatica Ars Classica O (13 May 2004), lot 2035.

A union producing many offspring, the marriage between Marcus Aurelius and his first cousin Faustina the Younger was fraught with numerous untimely deaths among their children. At the time of this medallion’s issue, the couple had already had twelve of their eventual thirteen children. Of these twelve, six had died before reaching adolescence, including the twin brother of Commodus, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, who had died in AD 165, thereby leaving the former, along with his younger brother Marcus Annius Verus, as the sole surviving male issues and heirs apparent. The reverse harkens to this hopeful longevity, with the four seasons depicted as young boys, playfully and steadily marking the passage of time, and the legend temporum felicitas (the happiness of the ages) furthering these expectations. Tragedy was in store, however, as Annius Verus died in 169 at the age of 7. Though Commodus did survive to adulthood and succeeded his father as emperor of Rome, his reign was marked with rising turmoil and conflict, ultimately leading to his assassination on the last day of 192, bringing to a close nearly a century of peaceful rule and ushering in the new year 193 – the year of five emperors.