LUCIUS VERUS 161AD Antioch Seleukis Pieria Authentic Ancient Roman Coin i56358
Additional Product InformationLucius Verus - Roman Emperor: 161-169 A.D.
Bronze 22mm (10.47 grams) of Antioch in Seleukis and Pieria.
AVT. K.Λ. AYPHΛ. OYHPOC CЄ., Laureate head .
Large SC, letter below; all within laurel-wreath.
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Lucius Aurelius Verus (15 December 130 – 169), born as Lucius .
Verus was the son of Avidia Plautia and.
, the adopted son, and intended successor, of Emperor.
When Aelius Caesar died in 138, Hadrian chose.
(138–161) as his successor, on the condition that Antoninus.
both Verus (then seven years old) and.
, Hadrian's nephew. As an imperial prince, Verus received .
careful education from the most famous grammaticus.
. Verus is reported to have been an excellent .
student, fond of writing poetry and delivering speeches.
Verus had two sisters. One sister Ceionia Fabia was engaged to Marcus .
Aurelius in 136. However Marcus Aurelius in 138, broke off the engagement to .
whom he later married. Lucius had another sister .
Ceionia Plautia, but little is known about the sisters.
in 154. In 161, he was once again consul, with Marcus Aurelius as .
Antoninus died on 7 March 161, and was succeeded by Marcus Aurelius. Although .
Marcus had no personal affection for Hadrian (significantly, he does not thank .
him in the first book of his Meditations), he presumably believed it his .
duty to enact the man's succession plans. .
Thus, although the senate planned to confirm Marcus alone, he refused to take .
office unless Lucius received equal powers. .
The senate accepted, granting Lucius the imperium, the tribunician power, .
Marcus became, in official titulature, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius .
Antoninus Augustus; Lucius, forgoing his name Commodus and taking Marcus' family .
name, Verus, became Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus. It was the first time that Rome was ruled by two emperors.
In spite of their nominal equality, Marcus held more.
or "authority", than Verus. He had been consul once more than Lucius, he had .
shared in Pius' administration, and he alone was Pontifex Maximus. It .
would have been clear to the public which emperor was the more senior. .
As the biographer wrote, "Verus obeyed Marcus...as a lieutenant obeys a .
proconsul or a governor obeys the emperor.".
Immediately after their senate confirmation, the emperors proceeded to the.
. Lucius addressed the assembled troops, which then .
acclaimed the pair as imperatores. Then, like every new emperor since .
Claudius, Lucius promised the troops a special donative. .
This donative, however, was twice the size of those past: 20,000.
per capita, more to officers. In return for this bounty, equivalent to several .
years' pay, the troops swore an oath to protect the emperors. .
The ceremony was perhaps not entirely necessary, given that Marcus' accession .
had been peaceful and unopposed, but it was good insurance against later .
Pius' funeral ceremonies were, in the words of the biographer, "elaborate". .
If his funeral followed the pattern of past funerals, his body would have been .
, while his spirit would rise to the gods' home in the .
heavens. Marcus and Lucius nominated their father for deification. In contrast .
to their behavior during Pius' campaign to deify Hadrian, the senate did not .
cultic priest, was appointed to minister the cult of the deified Pius, now.
Divus Antoninus. Pius' remains were laid to rest in the Hadrian's mausoleum, .
beside the remains of Marcus' children and of Hadrian himself. .
The temple he had dedicated to his wife, Diva Faustina, became the.
. It survives as the church of San Lorenzo .
Soon after the emperors' accession, Marcus' eleven-year-old daughter, Annia .
Lucilla, was betrothed to Lucius (in spite of the fact that he was, formally, .
At the ceremonies commemorating the event, new provisions were made for the .
support of poor children, along the lines of earlier imperial foundations. .
Marcus and Lucius proved popular with the people of Rome, who strongly approved .
of their civiliter ("lacking pomp") behavior. The emperors permitted free .
speech, evinced by the fact that the comedy writer Marullus was able to .
criticize them without suffering retribution. At any other time, under any other .
emperor, he would have been executed. But it was a peaceful time, a forgiving .
time. And thus, as the biographer wrote, "No one missed the lenient ways of .
Fronto returned to his Roman townhouse at dawn on 28 March, having left his .
soon as news of his pupils' accession reached him. He sent a note to the .
imperial freedman Charilas, asking if he could call on the emperors. Fronto .
would later explain that he had not dared to write the emperors directly. .
The tutor was immensely proud of his students. Reflecting on the speech he had .
written on taking his consulship in 143, when he had praised the young Marcus, .
Fronto was ebullient: "There was then an outstanding natural ability in you; .
there is now perfected excellence. There was then a crop of growing corn; there .
is now a ripe, gathered harvest. What I was hoping for then, I have now. The .
Fronto called on Marcus alone; neither thought to invite Lucius.
Lucius was less esteemed by his tutor than his brother, as his interests were .
on a lower level. Lucius asked Fronto to adjudicate in a dispute he and his .
friend Calpurnius were having on the relative merits of two actors. .
Marcus told Fronto of his reading—Coelius .
and a little Cicero—and his family. His daughters were in Rome, with their .
great-great-aunt Matilda; Marcus thought the evening air of the country was too .
The emperors' early reign proceeded smoothly. Marcus was able to give himself .
wholly to philosophy and the pursuit of popular affection. .
Some minor troubles cropped up in the spring; there would be more later. In the .
flooded over its banks, destroying much of Rome. It drowned many .
animals, leaving the city in famine. Marcus and Lucius gave the crisis their .
personal attention. In other times of famine, the emperors are said to have provided .
for the Italian communities out of the Roman granaries.
On his deathbed, Pius spoke of nothing but the state and the foreign kings .
, made his move in late summer or early autumn 161. .
(then a Roman client state), expelled its king and .
At the time of the invasion, the governor of Syria was L. Attidius Cornelianus. .
Attidius had been retained as governor even though his term ended in 161, .
presumably to avoid giving the Parthians the chance to wrong-foot his .
replacement. The governor of Cappadocia, the front-line in all Armenian .
conflicts, was Marcus Sedatius Severianus, a Gaul with much experience in .
military matters. But living in the east had a deleterious effect on his .
, a prophet who carried a snake named.
with him, had enraptured Severianus, as he had many others. .
Father-in-law to the respected senator P. Mummius Sisenna Rutilianus, .
then-proconsul of Asia, Abonutichus was friends with many members of the east .
Alexander convinced Severianus that he could defeat the Parthians easily, and .
into Armenia, but was trapped by the great Parthian general Chosrhoes at Elegia, .
a town just beyond the Cappadocian frontiers, high up past the headwaters of the .
Euphrates. Severianus made some attempt to fight Chosrhoes, but soon realized .
the futility of his campaign, and committed suicide. His legion was massacred. .
The campaign had only lasted three days.
There was threat of war on other frontiers as well—in Britain, and in.
mountains had recently crossed over the limes. .
Marcus was unprepared. Pius seems to have given him no military experience; the .
biographer writes that Marcus spent the whole of Pius' twenty-three-year reign .
at his emperor's side—and not in the provinces, where most previous emperors had .
spent their early careers. Marcus made the necessary appointments:.
, the governor of Britain, was sent to replace .
More bad news arrived: Attidius Cornelianus' army had been defeated in battle .
against the Parthians, and retreated in disarray. .
Reinforcements were dispatched for the Parthian frontier. P. Julius Geminius .
at Vindobona (Vienna), left for Cappadocia with detachments from the .
Three full legions were also sent east:.
The norther frontiers were strategically weakened; frontier governors were told .
Attidius Cornelianus himself was replaced by M. Annius Libo, Marcus' first .
cousin. He was young—his first consulship was in 161, so he was probably in his .
as a mere patrician, lacked military experience. Marcus had chosen a reliable .
Marcus took a four-day public holiday at.
coast. He was too anxious to relax. Writing to Fronto, he declared that he would .
Fronto replied ironically: "What? Do I not know that you went to Alsium with the .
intention of devoting yourself to games, joking and complete leisure for four .
He encouraged Marcus to rest, calling on the example of his predecessors (Pius .
going so far as to write up a fable about the gods' division of the day between .
morning and evening—Marcus had apparently been spending most of his evenings on .
judicial matters instead of at leisure. .
Marcus could not take Fronto's advice. "I have duties hanging over me that can .
hardly be begged off," he wrote back. .
Marcus put on Fronto's voice to chastise himself: "'Much good has my advice done .
you', you will say!" He had rested, and would rest often, but "—this devotion to .
duty! Who knows better than you how demanding it is!".
Fronto sent Marcus a selection of reading material, including Cicero's pro .
lege Manilia, in which the orator had argued in favor of.
. It was an apt reference (Pompey's war had taken him to .
Armenia), and may have had some impact on the decision to send Lucius to the .
"You will find in it many chapters aptly suited to your present counsels, .
concerning the choice of army commanders, the interests of allies, the .
protection of provinces, the discipline of the soldiers, the qualifications .
required for commanders in the field and elsewhere [...]" .
To settle his unease over the course of the Parthian war, Fronto wrote Marcus a .
long and considered letter, full of historical references. In modern editions of .
Fronto's works, it is labeled De bello Parthico (On the Parthian War). .
There had been reverses in Rome's past, Fronto writes, at.
but, in the end, Romans had always prevailed over their enemies: "always and .
everywhere [Mars] has changed our troubles into successes and our terrors into .
Over the winter of 161–62, as more bad news arrived—a rebellion was brewing .
in Syria—it was decided that Lucius should direct the Parthian war in person. He .
was stronger and healthier than Marcus, the argument went, more suited to .
Lucius' biographer suggests ulterior motives: to restrain Lucius' debaucheries, .
to make him thrifty, to reform his morals by the terror of war, to realize that .
he was an emperor. Whatever the case, the senate gave its assent, and Lucius left. .
Marcus would remain in Rome; the city "demanded the presence of an emperor".
Furius Victorinus, one of the two praetorian prefects, was sent with Lucius, .
as were a pair of senators, M. Pontius Laelianus Larcius Sabinus and M. Iallius .
Bassus, and part of the praetorian guard. .
Victorinus had previously served as procurator of Galatia, giving him some .
experience with eastern affairs. Moreover, he was far more qualified than his praetorian partner,.
, who was said to owe his office to the influence of .
Repentius had the rank of a senator, but no real access to senatorial .
circles—his was merely a decorative title. .
Since a prefect had to accompany the guard, Victorinus was the clear choice.
Laelianus had been governor of both Pannonias and governor of Syria in 153; .
he hence had first-hand knowledge of the eastern army and military strategy on .
("companion of the emperors") for his service. .
Laelianus was, in the words of Fronto, "a serious man and an old-fashioned .
Bassus had been governor of Lower Moesia, and was also made comes. .
Lucius selected his favorite freedmen, including Geminus, Agaclytus, Coedes, .
and Nicomedes, who gave up his duties as praefectus vehiculorum to run .
the commissariat of the expeditionary force. .
was charged with transporting the emperor and general .
Lucius left in the summer of 162 to take a ship from.
feasted himself in the country houses along his route, and hunted at.
, probably afflicted with a mild stroke, and took to bed. .
Marcus made prayers to the gods for his safety in front of the senate, and .
Fronto was upset at the news, but was reassured when Lucius sent him a letter .
describing his treatment and recovery. In his reply, Fronto urged his pupil to .
moderate his desires, and recommended a few days of quiet bedrest. Lucius was .
better after three days' fasting and a bloodletting. It was probably only a mild .
accompanied by musicians and singers as if in a.
At Athens he stayed with Herodes Atticus, and joined the.
During sacrifice, a falling star was observed in the sky, shooting west to east. .
, where he is attested at the estate of the local aristocrat Vedius .
The journey continued by ship through the Aegean and the southern coasts of Asia .
Minor, lingering in the famed pleasure resorts of.
It is not known how long Verus' journey east took; he might not have arrived in .
Statius Priscus, meanwhile, must have already arrived in Cappadocia; he would .
Luxury, dissolution, and logistics at Antioch, 162?–65.
after a drawing by H. Warren from a sketch by .
Lucius spent most of the campaign in Antioch, though he wintered at.
He took up a mistress named Panthea, from Smyrna.
The biographer calls her a "low-born girl-friend", .
of perfect beauty", more beautiful than any of.
Polite, caring, humble, she sang to the lyre perfectly and spoke clear.
Panthea read Lucian's first draft, and criticized him for flattery. He had .
compared her to a goddess, which frightened her—she did not want to become the .
She had power, too. She made Lucius shave his beard for her. The Syrians mocked .
him for this, as they did for much else.
He had taken to gambling, they said; he would "dice the whole night through". .
He enjoyed the company of actors. .
He made a special request for dispatches from Rome, to keep him updated on how .
He brought a golden statue of the Greens' horse Volucer around with him, as a .
Fronto defended his pupil against some of these claims: the Roman people needed .
This, at least, is how the biographer has it. The whole section of the.
vita dealing with Lucius' debaucheries (HA Verus 4.4–6.6) is an .
insertion into a narrative otherwise entirely cribbed from an earlier source. .
Some few passages seem genuine; others take and elaborate something from the original. The rest is by the biographer himself, relying on nothing better .
Lucius faced quite a task. Fronto described the scene in terms recalling.
's arrival one hundred years before. .
The Syrian army had turned soft during the east's long peace. They spent more .
time at the city's open-air cafés than in their quarters. Under Lucius, training .
was stepped up. Pontius Laelianus ordered that their saddles be stripped of .
their padding. Gambling and drinking were sternly policed. .
Fronto wrote that Lucius was on foot at the head of his army as often as on .
horseback. He personally inspected soldiers in the field and at camp, including .
Lucius sent Fronto few messages at the beginning of the war. He sent Fronto a .
letter apologizing for his silence. He would not detail plans that could change .
within a day, he wrote. Moreover, there was little thus far to show for his .
work: "not even yet has anything been accomplished such as to make me wish to .
invite you to share in the joy". .
Lucius did not want Fronto to suffer the anxieties that had kept him up day and .
One reason for Lucius' reticence may have been the collapse of Parthian .
negotiations after the Roman conquest of Armenia. Lucius' presentation of terms .
The Parthians were not in the mood for peace.
Lucius needed to make extensive imports into Antioch, so he opened a sailing .
. Because the river breaks across a cliff before reaching the city, .
Lucius ordered that a new canal be dug. After the project was completed, the .
Orontes' old riverbed dried up, exposing massive bones—the bones of a.
says they were from a beast "more than eleven cubits" tall;.
says the it was "thirty cubits" tall. The oracle at.
that they were the bones of the river's spirit.
In the middle of the war, perhaps in autumn 163 or early 164, Lucius made a .
trip to Ephesus to be married to Marcus' daughter Lucilla. .
Lucilla's thirteenth birthday was in March 163; whatever the date of her .
marriage, she was not yet fifteen. .
Marcus had moved up the date: perhaps stories of Panthea had disturbed him. .
Lucilla was accompanied by her mother Faustina and M. Vettulenus Civica .
Barbarus, the half-brother of Lucius' father. .
Marcus may have planned to accompany them all the way to Smyrna (the biographer .
says he told the senate he would); this did not happen. .
Marcus only accompanied the group as far as Brundisium, where they boarded a .
Marcus returned to Rome immediately thereafter, and sent out special .
instructions to his proconsuls not to give the the group any official reception. .
Lucilla would bear three of Lucius' children in the coming years. Lucilla became .
I Minervia and V Macedonica, under the legates M. Claudius Fronto and P. .
Martius Verus, served under Statius Priscus in Armenia, earning success for .
Roman arms during the campaign season of 163, .
including the capture of the Armenian capital.
At the end of the year, Verus took the title Armeniacus, despite having .
never seen combat; Marcus declined to accept the title until the following year. .
When Lucius was hailed as imperator again, however, Marcus did not .
hesitate to take the Imperator II with him. .
The army of Syria was reinforced by II Adiutrix and Danubian legions under X .
Occupied Armenia was reconstructed on Roman terms. In 164, a new capital, .
Kaine Polis ('New City'), replaced Artaxata. .
On Birley's reckoning, it was thirty miles closer to the Roman border. .
Detachments from Cappadocian legions are attested at.
would have meant a march of twenty days or more, through mountainous terrain, .
from the Roman border; a "remarkable example of imperialism", in the words of.
A new king was installed: a Roman senator of consular rank and Arsacid descent, .
C. Iulius Sohaemus. He may not even have been crowned in Armenia; the ceremony .
may have taken place in Antioch, or even Ephesus. .
Sohaemus was hailed on the imperial coinage of 164 under the legend.
Verus sat on a throne with his staff while Sohamenus stood before him, saluting .
In 163, while Statius Priscus was occupied in Armenia, the Parthians .
, a Roman client in upper Mesopotamia, just east of Syria, with its .
They deposed the country's leader, Mannus, and replaced him with their own .
nominee, who would remain in office until 165. .
(The Edessene coinage record actually begins at this point, with issues showing .
Vologases IV on the obverse and "Wael the king" (Syriac: .
In response, Roman forces were moved downstream, to cross the Euphrates at a .
On the evidence of Lucian, the Parthians still held the southern, Roman bank of .
the Euphrates (in Syria) as late as 163 (he refers to a battle at Sura, which is .
on the southern side of the river). .
Before the end of the year, however, Roman forces had moved north to occupy .
Dausara and Nicephorium on the northern, Parthian bank. Soon after the conquest of the north bank of the Euphrates, other .
Roman forces moved on Osroene from Armenia, taking Anthemusia, a town south-west .
There was little movement in 164; most of the year was spent on preparations for .
In 165, Roman forces, perhaps led by Martius Verus and the V Macedonica, .
moved on Mesopotamia. Edessa was re-occupied, Mannus re-installed. .
His coinage resumed, too: 'Ma'nu the king' (Syriac: M'NW MLK') or Antonine .
dynasts on the obverse, and 'King Mannos, friend of Romans' (Greek: Basileus .
Mannos Philorōmaios) on the reverse. .
The Parthians retreated to Nisibis, but this too was besieged and captured. The .
Parthian army dispersed in the Tigris; their general Chosrhoes swam down the .
river and made his hideout in a cave. .
A second force, under Avidius Cassius and the III Gallica, moved down the .
Euphrates, and fought a major battle at Dura. .
By the end of the year, Cassius' army had reached the twin metropolises of .
on the right bank of the Tigris and.
on the left. Ctesiphon was taken and its royal palace set to flame. The citizens .
of Seleucia, still largely Greek (the city had been commissioned and settled as .
), opened its gates to the invaders. The city got sacked .
nonetheless, leaving a black mark on Lucius' reputation. Excuses were sought, or .
invented: the official version had it that the Seleucids broke faith first. .
Whatever the case, the sacking marks a particularly destructive chapter in .
Cassius' army, although suffering from a shortage of supplies and the effects .
of a plague contracted in Seleucia, made it back to Roman territory safely. .
Iunius Maximus, a young tribunus laticlavius serving in III Gallica under .
Cassius, took the news of the victory to Rome. Maximus received a generous cash .
bounty (dona) for bringing the good news, and immediate promotion to the .
Lucius took the title Parthicus Maximus, and he and Marcus were hailed as.
imperatores again, earning the title 'imp. III'. .
Cassius' army returned to the field in 166, crossing over the Tigris into Media. .
and the emperors were again hailed as imperatores, becoming 'imp. IV' in .
imperial titulature. Marcus took the Parthicus Maximus now, after another .
Most of the credit for the war's success must be ascribed to subordinate .
generals. The forces that advanced on Osroene were led by M. Claudius Fronto, an .
Asian provincial of Greek descent who had led I Minervia in Armenia under .
Priscus. He was probably the first senator in his family. .
Fronto was consul for 165, probably in honor of the capture of Edessa. .
P. Martius Verus had led V Macedonica to the front, and also served under .
Priscus. Martius Verus was a westerner, whose patria was perhaps.
, commander of III Gallica, one of the Syrian legions. .
Cassius was young senator of low birth from the north Syrian town of.
. His father, Heliodorus, had not been a senator, but was nonetheless .
a man of some standing: he had been Hadrian's ab epistulis, followed the .
emperor on his travels, and was prefect of Egypt at the end of Hadrian's reign. .
Cassius also, with no small sense of self-worth, claimed descent from the.
Cassius and Martius Verus, still probably in their mid-thirties, took the .
(147–191) made peace but was forced to cede western.
to the Romans. Lucius is reported to have been an excellent .
commander, without fear of delegating military tasks to more competent generals.
On his return to Rome, Lucius was awarded with a.
. The parade was unusual because it included Lucius, Marcus Aurelius, .
their sons and unmarried daughters as a big family celebration. Marcus Aurelius' .
five years old and Annius Verus of three, were elevated to the .
The next two years (166–168) were spent in Rome. Verus continued with his .
glamorous lifestyle and kept the troupe of actors and favourites with him. He .
had a tavern built in his house, where he celebrated parties with his friends .
until dawn. He also enjoyed roaming around the city among the population, .
without acknowledging his identity. The games of the circus were another passion .
. Marcus Aurelius disapproved of his conduct but, since Verus .
continued to perform his official tasks with efficiency, there was little he .
Portrait head of Lucius Verus, found in Athens (National .
Archaeological Museum of Athens) He used to sprinkle gold-dust .
on his blond hair to make it brighter.
In the spring of 168 war broke out in the.
invaded the Roman territory. This war would last until 180, but .
Verus did not see the end of it. In 168, as Verus and Marcus Aurelius returned .
to Rome from the field, Verus fell ill with symptoms attributed to.
, dying after a few days (169). However, scholars believe that .
Verus may have been a victim of.
as he died during a widespread epidemic known as the.
. Despite the minor differences between them, Marcus Aurelius .
grieved the loss of his adoptive brother. He accompanied the body to Rome, where .
he offered games to honour his memory. After the funeral, the senate declared .
Verus divine to be worshipped as Divus Verus.
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