The Roman Empire
Pax Romana

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Coin Details

Origin/Country: ANCIENT - ROMAN EMPIRE (1st CENT BC - 5th CENT AD) ROMAN EMPIRE Augustus, 27 BC-AD 14
Design Description: Augustus AE Quadrans
Item Description: AE Quadrans ROMAN EMPIRE Silius and Annius. c.9 BC. Moneyers: Lamia,
Full Grade: NGC AU Strike: 5/5 Surface: 4/5
Owner: Kohaku

Set Details

Custom Sets: The Roman Empire
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

This ancient coin bears the simple yet powerful image of two clasped hands holding a caduceus. The motif invokes a sense of harmony and peace, even two millennia after its strike. Indeed, the clasping of hands, dating from at least the advent of coinage, developed as a way to demonstrate that neither party held a weapon, hence a greeting to demonstrate peaceful intent. The first coins featuring a handshake appeared in Rome during the time of Julius Caesar, who also employed the imagery of the caduceus, the staff of Mercury (the Roman analogue of the Greek god Hermes). Whereas clasped hands symbolized peace and harmony, the caduceus represented commerce and negotiation. Such imagery must have been particular impactful at a time when Rome was challenged by civil war and an uncertain future.

After Caesar’s murder, his followers Octavian and Marc Antony incorporated the meme of clasped hands holding a caduceus on denarii that also featured Concordia, ancient Rome’s divine personifications of concord. Despite the numismatic gesture, the battle for Rome’s supremacy was destined to continue. Octavian eventually proved the victor, and he became known as Augustus, the ruler who transformed Rome into an Empire. He proceeded to buffer Rome against competitor states by negotiation and establishment of client kingdoms. As a result, the people of Rome, accustomed to fighting their way to riches and glory, now faced the unusual prospect of relative peace.

In support of the new peace, Rome’s mints once again produced coins that depicted clasped hands holding a caduceus. This bronze quadrans circa 9 BC provides an example. Based on the obverse inscription (LAMIA SILIVS ANNIVS), it was issued by three men named Lamia, Silus and Annius, who, according to the reverse inscription (IIIVIR A A A F F) represented the triumviri auro argento aere flando feriundo, Rome’s moneyers for casting and striking gold, silver and bronze. Dominating the coin’s verso are the letters S C, denoting senatus consulto, confirming the senate’s ongoing authority to issuing coinage (albeit limited to bronze denominations).

Rome was inundated with such coins, part of a larger effort to promulgate peace towards a more prosperous Empire. Augustus’ successors maintained that effort for the next two centuries, until the Empire reverted back to constant civil and economic strife during the great Crisis of the Third Century. The intervening era, from Augustus’ ascension to late 2nd century AD, has become known as Pax Romana, or period of Roman peace. Actually, it included some notable, bloody conflicts, for example those involving Judaea and Parthia. Even so, the relative peace represented an abrupt change from previous centuries of nearly constant conflict.

Coin Details: ROMAN EMPIRE, Augustus (Emperor, 27 BC-14 AD), Struck in Rome circa 9 BC, AE Quadrans (3.19g), NGC Grade: AU, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 4/5, Obverse: Clasped hands holding caduceus, LAMIA SILIVS ANNIVS, Reverse: IIIVIR A A A F F surrounding S C, References: Cohen 338; BMCRE 200; RIC I 420.

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