A rare and impressive Hadrian Sertertius.
Obverse: Laureate bust of Hadrian facing
right, HADRIANVS AVG COS III PP.
Reverse: SPES, Goddess of Hope facing left,
holding a flower and raising her skirt, S-C in
Publius Aelius Hadrianus, better known as
Hadrian, was born in Spain in 76 AD and died in
138 AD. He ruled the Roman Empire from 117 to
138, during which time the Empire reached its
apotheosis. Being the third of the so called Five
Good Emperors, his rule was characterised by
comparatively humanitarianism and
conservatism. Following a political career of
some distinction – he served as prefect, legate,
consul, tribune and senator – it was his
expedition to Parthia with Trajan led to his
greatest success; Trajan became seriously ill and
died on the way back to Rome, naming Hadrian
as successor. Hadrian purged the senate of
opposition upon his return to Rome, and set
about a somewhat conservative reign that
involved strengthening the empire’s boundaries
and the surrender of indefensible areas (i.e.
Mesopotamia). He was known more for rule by
threat and strength than active military conquest.
Personally, he was well educated and fond of the
great Greek writers and philosophers, and was
even appointed Archon in Athens. He was a great
patron of the arts, including landscaping and
architecture: under his reign the Pantheon was
rebuilt, as well as many libraries, aqueducts,
libraries and theatres. He was also a keen poet,
an Epicurean philosopher and a huntsman,
commissioning various reliefs showing him
killing bears, lions etc. He is also notable for
introducing the socially-acceptable beard – all
other emperors before him had been clean
shaven. The great love of his life was a boy
named Antinous, which may explain the lack of
natural heirs to Hadrian’s lineage. Antinous
drowned in the Nile aged about 19; the
mourning Hadrian had him deified.
This is a striking and attractive ancient coin.