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Trajan AV Aureus. Rome, AD 103-111. IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P, laureate, draped and cuirassed bust right / COS V P P SPQR OPTIMO PRINC in four lines within oak wreath. RIC 148; Calicó 1013; Biaggi 481; C. 101; BMCRE 371. 7.20g, 20mm, 6h.

Near Mint State. Extremely Rare, only four other examples on CoinArchives (all in very poor condition), and far superior to both the Calicó and Biaggi examples. Arguably one of if not in fact the finest known example of the type, not to be confused with the more common reverse with a shorter legend in three lines within wreath.

Barely five years into his reign around AD 103, Trajan was accorded the title of ‘Optimus’ by the Senate. This singular honour, which had never before been bestowed and never would be again, was a result of Trajan’s enormous popularity among his peers, and in recognition of his role as a benefactor to the people of Rome. Pliny the younger, in his Panegyricus, considered Trajan an “optimum principem” because he himself approved or disapproved of that which the Senate would, and because though in reality Trajan was an autocrat, his deferential and humble behaviour towards his peers qualified him to be seen as virtuous, wielding power through moderation rather than insolence, leading by example rather than ruling through fear.

The reverse of this coin proudly bears the title of ‘Optimus Princeps’, wreathed in a simple device, a corona civic (civic crown), which was a standard type often used by various emperors, but which deliberately links Trajan with the first emperor, Augustus, on whose coinage the corona civica was first displayed as the principle type. The obvious comparison between the two emperors long survived Trajan’s reign, as every new emperor after him was honoured by the Senate with the wish “felicior Augusto, melior Traiano” (may he be "luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan").

Trajan AV Aureus. (rxv544)

Price: £20,512.00

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  • (Rates for 24/04/2018)
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