As Nerva - Concordia with the Army
NERVA. Æ As. Rome, 97 AD.
Obv. IMP NERVA CAES AVG P M TR P COS III P P Laureated head r.
Rev. CONCORDIA EXERCITVM S C Clasped hands (dextrarum iunctio).
RIC 80; C 31
Ex. Dumez Num. 14 Feb 1999
The reign of Nerva was quite different than that of his predecessor: not only was Domitian militant in character, but he spoiled his army by increasing their salaries from 225 denarii per year (which had been the standard since the time of Julius Caesar) to 300 per year, and paid them in coins of increased weight and purity. This was a difficult act for an elderly senator to follow, especially since for at least six decades now the army had been instrumental in making and maintaining emperors. Money was a key to Nerva’s success: he maintained Domitian’s standards of heavy, pure aurei and he devoted reverse types to the army. This is a example of Nerva’s appeal to the army for concord. Although a general symbol of concordia, the clasped hands may also represent Nerva’s hope that the army and the senate could work together. On this piece we have simple clasped hands, whereas on a different issue the hands support a legionary eagle set upon a prow, representing the army and the navy. But even with Nerva’s fiscal and numismatic overtures, his relationship with the army was strained at best. In the very year these coins were struck there were two failed plots against the new emperor: one by troops stationed on the Danube, and another by praetorian guardsmen in Rome, who principally were seeking revenge on those who had murdered Domitian. Aware of his peril, Nerva wisely adopted as his successor the commander Trajan, then governor of Upper Germany, in September or October of the year these aurei were struck. Within four months Nerva had died of what we presume were natural causes, and he was lawfully succeeded by Trajan.[NAC]