martedì 17 maggio 2016

Lucius Verus, Joint Adoptive Emperor (coins)

Lucius Verus, sestertius

Lucius Verus was born Lucius Ceionius Commodus in 130 AD, to Lucius Aelius Caesar, Hadrian's adopted heir, who died too early to inherit the throne.  As a part of Hadrian's desire for the establishment of his own dynasty, he required his new heir, Antoninus Pius, to adopt two further heirs, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Ceionius Commodus.  Marcus Aurelius succeeded Antoninus, and soon named Lucius as his joint emperor, with all powers and titles, except that of Pontifex Maximus.  Lucius' imperial name was changed to Lucius Aurelius Verus.
Sestertius, Marcus Aurelius on left, Lucius Verus on right.

Lucius Verus married the second daughter of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger, Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla, known today as Lucilla. She was also the sister to the future emperor, Commodus, who years later would have her killed.  The marriage was made as a show of unity between the joint emperors.
Sestertius depicting Lucilla.

Lucius Verus was a respected and active leader, but not the equal of Aurelius.  Aurelius, however treated him with honor and respect.  He utilized Lucius' military acumen to repress revolts of the Parthians in Armenia and Syria.  Lucius and his generals succeeded in capturing the Armenian capital, Artaxata.  For this victory, Lucius was awarded the title 'Armeniacus'.  The armies under Lucius' command proceeded further into Mesopotamia, conquering several more cities, and earning Lucius the title of 'Parthicus Maximus'.  Since the throne was mutually shared, both Lucius and Marcus Aurelius received these honors jointly.  Aurelius showed Lucius honor and respect by not accepting his honors until after a year had passed, so as not to diminish Lucius' glory.  Both emperors celebrated a magnificent triumph in Rome in 166 and both were given the title 'Pater Patriae' at that point.
Denarius celebrating Verus' Armeian Conquest.

Denarius, celebrating Verus' Parthian Conquest.

A serious byproduct of Lucius' eastern conquests was that his troops contracted  a virulent plague, and brought it back to Europe with them.  It spread widely, and devastated populations wherever it went.  At this time, a revolt began near the Danube frontier, and both emperors took their troops north to supress it.  They crossed the Alps, and in very short time put down the revolt.  Both emperors stayed in the region for about a year and a half, as a show of force.  At one point during this time, the plague broke out among the troops, and the emperors left to return to Rome.  During the trip back to the capital, Lucius Verus was taken sick by the plague and died.  He was soon deified and buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian.
Sestertius, celebrating Verus' deification.

Sestertius, celebrating Verus' deification, picturing his funeral pyre.
The coinage of Lucius Verus is found in gold, silver and bronze.  The silver and bronze are abundant, and available in high grades, and the gold is rather scarce, especially in the higher grades.  Portraiture on the coins of Verus show a high degree of artistry and realism.  Reverses showing military conquests are very desirable, and the themes are reminiscent of the coinage of earlier emperors depicting the conquest of Judea.

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