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As Marcus Aurelius - Danube


MARCUS AURELIUS. AE As. Rome, 175 AD. Obv. M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXIX Laureated head right Rev. IMP VII COS III SC river-god reclining left on upturned urn pouring out water, holding stern of boat and reeds. Cohen 348 (6 F) Interesting reverse, featuring more probably the Danube than the Tiber. CNG plausibly states that "although this reverse has been described as the river-god Tiber, the presentation of our figure and the presence of a deep-draft ship may argue for a different interpretation. Near Rome, the Tiber becomes shallow, making river navigation nearly impossible for larger ships. The need for transporting vital commodities to the capital necessitated the construction of a deep water harbor at Ostia. From there, shallow barges carried products up the Tiber to the capital and off-loaded on the docks at the Campus Martius. The ship depicted here is much more suited to travelling by sea or deep water estuary. The attributes of an upturned urn from which water flows as well as the reed which the figure holds, clearly denotes a river-god. Unlike his more traditional reclining pose, however, our figure is seated on a rock outcropping and leans back upon the urn. As the Tiber region between Rome and Ostia is relatively flat, a possible alternative that would fit within the date is a personification of the Danube. In 169 AD, war had broken out with the Marcomanni, a tribe which had migrated to the lower Danube region from Germany. Their border raids across the Danube not only caused havoc to the towns they plundered, but disrupted the shipping which traversed this vital river. In the course of fighting with these tribesmen, Marcus pushed deep into their territory in order to force the Marcomanni back into the rugged hills and away from the Danube." [CNG] Paris coin fair, ex. LORIVAL, 11 March 2006

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