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554908

Hadrian Visits Egypt

554908.

EGYPT, Alexandria. Hadrian. AD 117-138. Æ Drachm (34mm, 23.77 g, 11h). Dated RY 15 (AD 130/131). Laureate, draped, and cuirassed bust right / Hadrian standing left, holding scepter, greeted by Alexandria, clad in elephant skin headdress, chiton, and peplos, holding two grain ears and kissing emperor’s extended right hand; L IE (date) across lower field. Köln 1034; Dattari (Savio) 1610 & 7544-5; K&G 32.509; RPC III 5777; Emmett 964.15. Reddish-brown patina with touches of green. VF.


Ex Rocky Mountain Collection of Alexandrian.

Hadrian seems never to have felt fully comfortable in Rome and spent most of his 21-year reign traveling, eventually visiting nearly every Roman province. The local mints often struck special issues of coins to mark the occasion of his arrival. This bronze drachm of Alexandria depicts the Emperor being greeted by the city’s goddess, who wears a distinctive elephant-skin headdress first depicted on coins of Ptolemy I centuries before. Arriving in August of AD 130, the ever-curious Hadrian reveled in the sights and mysterious rites of Egypt and the whole imperial entourage undertook a barge trip up the Nile. Alas, this trip ended in tragedy when his beloved companion, the Bithynian youth Antinous, drowned in the Nile’s dark waters. Hadrian “wept like a woman,” according to the Historia Augusta, and ordered the city of Antinoöpolis founded along the Nile near the spot of the drowning.