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As Antoninus Pius - Genius


ANTONINUS PIUS. Æ As. Rome, 160-161 AD. Obv. ANTONINVS AVG PIVS P P Laureated head r. Rv. TR POT XXIIII COS IIII SC Genius standing right, holding patera and scepter, sacrificing over burning altar. RIC 1052; Cohen 1052 (2 F) References in Cohen and consequently RIC don't reflect the scarcity of this type (one worn in wildwinds, none in coinarchives but see Curtis' answer below), struck in the short final tribunician year of Antoninus' reign, between December 10 160 and his death on March 7 161. Type possibly featuring the genius of the emperor ([i]genio augusti[/i]) or the genius of the Roman people ([i]genio populi romani[/i]), though without the usual cornucopia as attribute. In Roman mythology, every man had a genius and every woman a juno (Juno was also the name of the queen of the gods). Originally, the genii and junones were ancestors ho guarded over their descendants. Over time, they turned into personal guardian spirits, granting intellectual prowess. Sacrifices were made to one's genius or juno on one's birthday. In addition to the genius or juno of each individual, regions, families, households and cities had a genius. [wikipedia] Brown surfaces with remains of a thin soft (wax-like) layer. Ex. Wallyn (MA-shops), 22 Dec. 2008

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Antoninus Pius

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My impression is that the coin is scarce, but not rare. Strack 1205, pl. XV (different dies), cites Berlin, Paris, Vienna, probably meaning that he considered the coin fairly common so not worth listing more than three specimens. BM 2117-8 has two spec. (George III Coll. 1823 and Lincoln 1913; pl. 51.10, a third die pair); one in Glasgow 367.


In any case yours is very nicely preserved!


Strack p. 161 makes an interesting suggestion about the type: Reminiscent of the Genius of the Roman People, but there is no exact labeled prototype; so maybe Aion was meant, who similarly appears as a youthful Genius with scepter on a medallion of 158.


I'd say there is a strong possibility this was a New Year's As, since the type appears on no other denomination and Pius' death in March proves that it was struck during the first ten weeks of the year.

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Your idea of a New Year's As is interesting!


As to the reverse's subject, I am not sure we are dealing here with a genio augusti or a genio populi romani, as they are always represented with a cornucopia, on all the other types. But I think we also have to exclude Aion-Annus, as this god of Time and Seasons is always represented with or inside a zodiac, or with seasons around, and never sacrificing above an altar. I don't think such a god would have been represented without his central attributes.


See for example,


Aureus for Hadrian (incorrectly identified in the NAC description):




Mosaic found in Arles:




Painting from Ostia:




See an interesting discussion about the Aion of the Arles mosaic (citing the Hadrian aureus): http://www.patrimoine.ville-arles.fr/images/document/mosaique_Aion.pdf

(in French)

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I agree, an interesting suggestion by Strack, but unlikely!


Other TR P XXIIII asses that use their own types and might well belong to the same New Year's issue:


CONCORD, three clasped hands, reflecting the elevation of L. Verus, who was consul with Marcus on 1 Jan. 161.


Two clasped hands holding poppy and wheat eats.


Aeternitas standing, holding caduceus and phoenix on globe.

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I had noticed the 3 clasped hands type as a drawing in Cohen, this one is identified as very rare. But then why this New Year issue features scarce to very rare types, and not in the previous years? Antonine deceased only on March of the next year.


These New Year's Asses are a fascinating topic, which would deserve a real book!


I will open a true thread on the identification of the deity.

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What do you mean by "not in previous years"?


My theory postulates that there was a New Year's issue of both bronze medallions and ordinary asses EVERY year during the second century and into the third, with a break in 197 when Septimius cancelled them!

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I mean, this last New Year issue seems peculiar in that the types of the previous New Year issues don't seem so scarce. In particular, I don't recall such rare type as the 3 hands. How to explain the different rarity of NY issues types?

Couldn't we finally explain the rarity of some of the types you mention (at least CONCORD, maybe my coin), by a date of strike close to the death of Antonine, thus not belonging to the NY issue?

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Quite possible, the New Year's dating of these types is just a hypothesis.


The rarity of the CONCORD type is not a valid criterion, in my opinion. There is no reason why a New Year's issue shouldn't include a rare type as well as several commoner ones. An example: the rare TR P IIII Virtus standing type in the issue of 196, shared with the large bronze medallions, whereas TR P IIII Jupiter, Mars, and Fortuna are substantially commoner.

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