Western Coinages of Nero

Mac Dowall, David W.
Numismatic Notes and Monographs
American Numismatic Society
New York
Worldcat Works




Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.


Table of Contents




Nero's Titulature

The basic chronological framework for the arrangement of Nero's coinages is provided by the elements of imperial titulature found on the coins. Nero held the consulship five times, in 55, 57, 58, 60 and 68, 1 and his first and fourth consulships are recorded on the gold and silver. 2 Considerably more important are the series of tribunician dates found on the pre-reform aurei and denarii and on a limited number of the later sestertii and dupondii, and the use of "imperator" as a praenomen during the later years of his principate. Unfortunately both the reckoning of Nero's tribunicia potestas, and the date when he assumed the praenomen imperator have been disputed.

Tribunicia Potestas

Nero celebrated the renewal of his tribunician power on 4 December, 3 fifty two days after his dies imperii of 13 October. 4 He counted it from 4 December 54, and added one to each TRP number on 4 December in each succeeding year. Apart from this unusual starting date, there is no need to assume any irregular reckoning.

The supposed difficulty in calculating Nero's TRP has been the apparently contradictory entries in two surviving fragments of the Arval Acta. For 3 January 59 Nero's titles are given as TRP V …, 5 but both the general heading for 60 and the specific entry for 3 January of that year have TRP VII IMP VII, 6 whereas on a normal reckoning one would expect to find TRP VI IMP VII. This gave rise to Mommsen's view that during 59 Nero changed his TRP renewal day to 10 December (the day of the consilia) and subsequently counted TRP I as 15 October to 9 December 54 with TRP II as 10 December 54 to 9 December 55. Nero would thus regard TRP VII as 10 December 59 to 9 December 60. 7 We now know that the Arval Acta commemorated Nero's dies imperii on 13 October in 58 4 and the bestowal of his tribunicia potestas on 4 December in both 57 and 58 3 —the sole years for which the relevant parts of the Acta survive. Any alterations, therefore, in numbering Nero's TRP cannot have been occasioned by a change in the starting date of the tribunician year. The 4 December was already in use by 57, whereas the discrepancy in the numbering of Nero's TRP does not appear until after the entry for 59.

The other epigraphic and numismatic evidence 8 supports a straightforward reckoning of Nero's TRP from 4 December 54. Most inscriptions merely establish a connection between a particular TRP date and the number of an imperial salutation. Three inscriptions, however, have an additional external date. The military diploma in Vienna granted to Iantumarus 9 is unfortunately indecisive. Although it gives a consular dating AD VI NON IVL CN PEDANIO SALINATORE L VELLEIO PATERCVLO COS besides TRIB POT VII IMP VII COS IIII in Nero's titles, the date of their suffect consulship is uncertain. 10 But the other two inscriptions are more helpful. Lucretianus' dedication from Luna 11 shows Nero as TRIB POTEST VIIII IMP VIIII and Poppaea as Poppaea Aug Neronis Caesaris Aug Germ. Poppaea gave birth to a daughter, Claudia, in 63 and both she and the child were given the title of Augusta immediately afterwards. 12 The Luna dedication thus supports the straight calculation which would make TRP VIIII December 62/63. On Mommsen's system TRP VIIII would have to be December 61/62 which is a year too early. The Boeotian inscription from Acraephia recording Nero's declaration of liberty to Greece 13 and Epameinondas' speech of thanks, has δημαρχικῆς ἐξουσίας τὸ τρισκαιδἐκατον. Hammond has shown that the assembly took place on 28 November 67, 14 and this again supports the straight calculation which would make TRP XIII December 66/67.

Nero's gold and silver coinage forms a regular series from TRP to TRP X without interruption, and gives no suggestion of any change in tribunician reckoning. The aurei and denarii of 60 have the normal COS IIII TRP VI. 15 This issue seems to be the production of a complete year, and its TRP date directly contradicts the entry in the Arval Acta of COS IIII TRP VII for 3 January of the same year.

In other circumstances one might have allowed the evidence of the Arval Acta, the record of a public college quite closely connected with the Imperial House, against the authority of a dedication from Luna and of an inscription from Boeotia; but the Luna dedication and Acraephia inscription are supported by the clear evidence of the COS IIII TRP VI aurei and denarii from the mint of Rome (see Table 1 below), an institution far more official and imperial than a public college. As these coins are struck from several distinct dies, this date can hardly be regarded as an error. The only evidence for the so called 'Arval reckoning' is the double entry in the Acta of COS IIII TRP VII for January 60, and a very good case can be made for regarding these as a mistake. There is in fact a surprisingly large number of minor errors in the Acta of this period, e.g.,

A.D. 57 16

l. 14. ob tribuniciae (sic) potestat. Neronis Claudi …

l. 23/4. immolavit/in sacram viam (sic) memoriae Cn ….

A.D. 58/9 17

l. 58. L. Piso L. f. magiter (sic)

l. 62/3. M. Apronius Saturnius (sic—for Saturninus)

A.D. 59/60 18

a. l. 15. C. Vipstanus (sic) Apronianus cos P Memmiu (sic)

l. 26. August Germanicii (sic) Iovi

d. l. 16. Caesari (sic) Aug Germanico (to agree with consule).

The imperial titles for 3 January 59, moreover, are given as TRIB POT V IMP VI COS III DESIG IIII; 19 a designation to COS IIII so far ahead as 3 January is most unlikely in view of the constitutional show which Nero's principate was anxious to maintain at this period 20 and it is likely that an entry proper to the closing months alone of the year has been put in full for 3 January. The entry COS IIII TRP VII for 3 January 60 appears to be a closely comparable error. When the Acta for 60 were formally written up at the end of the year, the engraver apparently inserted the current year's date COS IIII TRP VII (December 60/61), for January 60—an error which it would be extremely easy to make by assimilation to the neighboring IMP VII.

End Notes

A. Degrassi, I fasti consolari dell'impero romano (Rome, 1952), pp. 15ff.
Cat. 3, 9ff., 37, 42 ff.
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (hereafter CIL) VI, 2039, 2041.
CIL VI, 2041.
CIL VI, 2041.
CIL VI, 2042.
Theodor Mommsen, Hermes 2 (1856), p. 56 and Römisches Staatsrecht II (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1887), pp. 796ff. Mommsen has been followed by B. W. Henderson, Life and Principate of the Emperor Nero (London, 1903), Appendix C., p.449; L. Constans, "Les puissances tribuniciennes de Néron," Comptesrendus de l'Académie des inscriptions et belle-lettres (CRAI) 1912, p. 385; E. A. Sydenham, The Coinage of Nero (London, 1920), pp. 23–28; and R. Cagnat, Cours d'épigraphie latine (4th ed., Paris, 1914), pp. 183ff. Mommsen's view has been attacked by H. F. Stobbs, Philologus 32 (1873), pp. 1–91; H. Dessau, Geschichte der römischen Kaiserzeit II (Berlin, 1926). p. 196, note 1 and in notes to inscriptions in Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (ILS); H. Mattingly, "The Date of the 'Tribunicia Potestas' of Nero and the Coins," NC 1919, pp. 199–200 and "'TRIBVNICIA POTESTATE.'" JRS 1930, pp. 78–91 and M. Hammond, "The Tribunician Day During the Early Empire," Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 1938, pp. 23–32.
See Table 1, pp. 6–7 below.
CIL XVI, 4. (= ILS 1987).
Degrassi, I fasti, pp. 16–17.
CIL XI, 6955.
Tacitus, Annals xv.23. On the right hand edge of the stone of this dedication are the remains of the D and N, one above the other, which seem to stand for D(ivae Claudiae …) N(eronis …)—and provide an additional argument for dating the inscription to a.d. 63. It is interesting to note that Lucretianus was apparently very careful to record the imperial titulature correctly. His second dedication dated TRP XIII gave Nero the praenomen IMP, whereas his dedication of a.d. 63 did not. The numismatic evidence shows that Nero assumed the praenomen IMP during the course of TRP XII.
Inscriptiones Graecae (IG) VII, 2713.
Hammond, "Tribunician Day," p. 28, following M. Holleaux, BCH 1888, pp. 510–28 and more fully in his Discours prononcé par Néron à Covinthe en rendant aux Grecs la liberté, 1889; and Dittenberger, IG VII, 479.
Cat. 9, 42.

Praenomen Imperator

The other important chronological indication is Nero's use of IMP as a praenomen 21 from 66. All the known inscriptions dated TRP XII (December 65/66) and later have the praenomen IMP, whereas those dated TRP—TRP XI never have it. The Acta for 66 repeatedly refer to IMP NERO 22 whereas in the proceedings up to and including 60 (the last year before 66 where Nero's titles are recorded) Nero is never given the praenomen. Titinius' dedication at Luna dated TRP XIII IMP XI COS IIII (December 66/67) 23 is to Diva Poppaea and Imp Nero, whereas his earlier dedication in TRP VIIII (62/63) 24 repeatedly gives Nero's titles without the praenomen. The Acraephia inscription 25 dated TRP XIII gives Nero the praenomen αὐτοκράτωρ; and the Sardinian milestone dated TRP XIII IMP XI 26 has the praenomen IMP. An apparent exception, the stone from Casino 27 (no longer extant), seems to have been incorrectly transcribed. It is reported without the praenomen and dated TR POT XIII IMP VIII (sic). But this is an impossible combination which cannot be accepted, and TR POT VIII IMP VIII, a conjunction known from another inscription, 28 is the obvious emendation.

Sestertii and dupondii with TRP XIII all have the praenominal IMP and so do the rare coins dated TRP XIV. But the praenomen was never used on the aurei and denarii dated TRP—TRP X, 29 nor on the cuirassed bust sestertii. 30 The date on these has been variously read as TR POT XI PPP, 31 TR POT XII PP, 32 TR POT XI PIP, 33 TR POT XI PPI, 34 and TR POT XIIII; 35 but all the specimens which the author has examined are struck from the same obverse die with TR POT XI PPP. 36

The dated and undated coinage, moreover, shows clearly that once adopted, the use of the praenomen remained the regular form. The most mature portraits of Nero, with a thick treatment of the neck and a heavily developed jowl, are always found on coins with the praenomen.

The terminus post quem for the assumption of the praenomen is given by the cuirassed bust sestertii dated TRPOTXIPPP and the three inscriptions dated TRPXI. The terminus ante quem is fixed by the entries in the Arval Acta for 66, with the caveat, perhaps, that the titulature may have been correct only for the end of the year when the record was completed. Within these limits it is difficult to be more precise. Either the Vinician conspiracy of 66, 37 or the ceremonial reception of Tiridates at Rome during the summer of the same year 38 are equally possible occasions. But although the precise context remains obscure, the praenomen is most important chronologically and enables us to distinguish the later groups in the undated coinages.

Table I. Evidence for TRP of Nero
TRP Aurei Cat. 2, 3.
Denarii Cat. 36, 37.
TRP II Aurei Cat. 4.
Denarii Cat. 38.
Inscr. AE 1897.30 (IMP II COS).
TRP III Aurei Cat. 5, 6.
Denarii Cat. 39.
TRP IIII Aurei Cat. 7.
Denarii Cat. 40.
Inscr. CIL IX, 4115 (IMP COS III); VII, 12 (IMP IIII COS IIII sic); XII, 5471 (IMP IIII COS III PP); XII 5473/5; III 346 (IMP V COS III).
TRP V Aurei Cat. 8.
Denarii Cat. 41.
Inscr. CIL II, 4657 (IMP II sic); II 4652 (IMP IIII sic); II 4683 (IMP IIII sic); VI 2042 (IMP VI).
TRP VI Aurei Cat. 9.
Denarii Cat. 42.
TRP VII Aurei Cat. 10, 11, 12, 13.
Denarii Cat. 43, 44, 45, 46.
TRP VIII Aurei Cat. 14, 15, 16.
Denarii Cat. 47, 48, 49.
TRP VIIII Aurei Cat. 17, 18, 19.
Denarii Cat. 50, 51.
Inscr. CIL XI, 6955 (IMP VIII COS IIII).
TRP X Aurei Cat. 20, 21.
Denarii Cat. 52, 53.
Inscr. AE 1947, 167 (IMP VIII COS IIII PP).
TRP XI Inscr. CIL III, 6741/42 (COS IIII IMP VIIII); AE 1919, 22 (IMP COS IIII PP).
Sestertii Cat. 135, 136.
TRP XIII Sestertii Cat. 167–74.
Dupondii Cat. 238–41.
Inscr. CIL X 5171 (IMP VIII sic); XI 1331 (IMP XI COS IIII); IG VII 2713.
TRP XIV Sestertii Cat. 175, 176.
Inscr. CIL X 8014.

End Notes

CIL VI, 2039.
CIL VI, 2041.
CIL VI, 2042.
CIL VI, 2041.
C. H. V. Sutherland, Coinage in Roman Imperial Policy (London, 1951), pp. 152ff.
Later emperors regularly included the praenomen in their titulature from their accession, but this practice did not go back further than Vespasian. Cf. D. McFayden, History of the Title Imperator under the Roman Empire (Chicago, 1920).
CIL VI, 2044.
CIL XI, 1331.
CIL XI, 6955.
IG VII, 2713.
CIL X, 8014.
CIL X, 5171.
CIL XI, 1331.
Cat. 2–21, 36–53.
Cat. 135–36.
L. Laffranchi, "Il predicato P(ROCOS) dei sesterzi di Nerone e la Profectio Augusti," AttiMemIIN 4 (1921), pp. 47–62.
BMC RE I, p. 215, note on no. 111.
BMCRE I, no. 112.
BMCRE I, no. 111.
Cohen, Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'empire romain (2nd ed., Paris, 1880–92) I. Nero 260 quoting the Wigan collection.
Ingemar König's recent study, "Der Titel «Proconsul» von Augustus bis Traian," SM 1971, pp. 42–53 republishes and illustrates six of these sestertii.
McFayden, Imperator, pp. 58–59.
Suetonius, Nero 13.2.


Mint Structure under Nero

Some varieties of obverse and reverse legend and type are characteristic of the mints at which the coinage was struck, and the chronological pattern of the issues cannot be determined until the basic mint structure is appreciated. The evidence of finds shows clearly that Rome was the sole mint for the issue of precious metals in the west, but that there were two principal mints, Rome and Lugdunum, for the aes coinages.

From these western issues we must be careful to distinguish the coinages struck by a wide range of mints in the eastern provinces. There is little difficulty over the product of city mints which employed Greek legends or of colonies which added to their Latin legends the initial letters of the name of the colony. 1 Rather less obvious are the coins with Latin legends struck by the imperial mints at Caesarea 2 and Antioch 3 and by the military mint in Moesia, 4 but each of these series is characterized by a distinctive range of reverse types.

The Gold and Silver Mint

Nero's coinage of aurei and denarii in both the dated and the undated series is remarkably uniform in style, type and content. Coins of the same uniform character seem to have circulated throughout the empire, in Italy, the east and the west. There appears to be no distinctive features of portraiture, legend, lettering or bust truncation that distinguish finds from one part of the empire from those in another. The different forms of obverse legend mark succes-

Table II. Types of Post-Reform Aurei Represented in Hoards
Romea Pompeii (1812) b Utrechtc Corbridge d Paris (1867) e Italica f Zirkowitz g Mardinh Liberchies i Total Approx. %
22 4 2 2 1 2 4 2 2 7 26 7.5
23 2 4 1 3 3 1 3 1 18 5.2
24 8 1 2 1 3 10 3 28 8.0
25 22 8 7 5 9 26 10 25 39 151 43.2
26 6 1 1 1 9 2.6
27 3 1 2 2 8 2.3
28 9 1 5 1 4 10 9 10 6 55 16.0
29 1 1 2 2 6 1.7
30 7 5 1 1 1 1 9 2 27 7.7
31 1 1 1 3 5 11 3.2
32 2 1 1 4 1.2
33 2 3 5 1.4
Total 66 18 24 10 20 45 31 67 67 348
Table III. Types of Post-Reform Dena00rii Represented in Hoards
Reka-Devnia a Falkirkb V alenic Frondenberg d Total Approx. %
54 3 1 1 5 2.5
55 3 2 5 2.5
56 1 1 0.5
57 23 7 18 3 51 25.5
59 2 2 2 3 9 4.5
60 39 4 12 4 59 29.5
61 6 3 5 1 15 7.5
62 15 4 1 20 10.0
64 2 2 4 2.0
65 1 4 5 2.5
66 3 2 5 2.5
68 4 2 7 13 6.5
69 5 1 2 8 4.0
Total 102 27 55 16 200
sive chronological stages and not the differing practices of individual mints. Minor differences in reverse types, such as the placing of the legends SALVS and ROMA across the field instead of in the exergue, are similarly chronological distinctions. There is, moreover, no clear indication of any difference in the relative proportion of aureus and denarius reverse types between finds in Italy and the western or eastern provinces.

This gold and silver coinage forms a remarkably compact group, and the portrait imagines used by its die engravers are basically the same as those used for the aes of the mint of Rome. The bust truncation of aurei and denarii dated TRP IX and TRP X (Plate I, 19-20) is very close to that of the Roman aes without SC (Plates V–VI, 177ff.); the truncation of the early undated gold and silver (Plate I, 22, 23) is close to that on the Roman aes with SC struck in 64–66 (Plate VII, 200, 205); and the truncation of the gold and silver with the praenomen IMP (Plate II, 31, 65, 66) is very similar to that of Roman aes with the praenomen IMP (Plate IX, 238, 240). None of these has anything in common with the characteristic Lugdunum truncation at any stage (Plate XIII, 419ff.). The common form of bust truncation seems to have been an external factor derived from common imagines used by all the engravers at a mint. The use of common imagines shared with the Roman aes clearly points to Rome rather than Lugdunum as the place of the gold and silver die engraving establishment. 5

There is good evidence for the existence of the mint at Rome in the senatorial office of the tresviri monetales aere argento auro fiando feriundo, which is found on inscriptions down to third century a.d., 6 and in the series of mint inscriptions from Rome. 7

Rome would certainly have been the most convenient minting place for gold and silver under Nero. The chief sources for freshly mined gold and silver were the mines in the Iberian peninsula, 8 especially those in northwest Spain which were imperial property 9 at this period. The large revenue from these imperial mines would no doubt usually be turned into precious coin to meet imperial expenditure. The principal items of expenditure would be central state administration, public works and buildings, doles, donatives, the army and provincial government. The financial arrangements, however, did not repeatedly involve the transportation of large sums of money. Each province seems to have had its own provincial treasury and only the surpluses or deficits would be transferred at the end of each accounting period. 10 Apart from the maintenance of the frontier armies, the heaviest recurrent expenses, not counterbalanced by comparable local sources of revenue, must have been those for imperial activities at Rome. These were often costly 11 and Italy alone of the provinces was exempt from direct taxation. 12 Most of the precious metal coins struck from bullion stocks must have been put into circulation at Rome as payments of this kind, even though the coins may have passed through commercial channels almost immediately to various parts of the empire to settle trade accounts for imports to the capital. 13

It is of course theoretically possible that, even though the gold and silver dies were engraved centrally, and the major part of the precious coinage was struck in Rome, some aurei and denarii may have been struck at branch mints. 14 But there is no clear evidence to support such a hypothesis. The Vichy inscription 15 mentioning a soldier of cohors XVII Lugdunensis ad monetam, attributed to the time of Claudius or Nero, can quite well refer to the aes mint which continued to function at Lugdunum under the Flavians. 16 There is no need to refer it to the continued presence of the gold and silver mint, known to be at Lugdunum in a.d. 18. 17 Nor do finds of ancient dies support the hypothesis of subordinate mints. Only three such finds of dies are known for Nero. 18 One in the Museum at Arlon, found locally, is certainly the product of an ancient forger, as it is a metal mould for casting 44 denarii at a time. The other two, both in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, are obverse dies for aurei or denarii. One was "probably found in France" and the other is "said to have been found in France c. 1816," but both may very well have been used by ancient forgers. Many plated denarii are known for Nero as for all the other early emperors. 19 Most of them are in good style and some have argued that they may have been produced by official mint(s) as a measure of illicit profit for the government. 20 But whatever one's verdict on plated denarii of Claudius and earlier emperors, it is now clear that Nero's plated silver was the product of unofficial forgers. The analysis of Nero's coinages has closely defined the issues of denarii and the obverse and reverse types used in each issue. Had the plated denarii been produced under official auspices they would undoubtedly have been made in the same mint organization with the same combinations of types as the regular denarii in good silver. But whereas hybrids between issues do not occur on good denarii, they are comparatively common within the plated group, combining not only the obverse and reverse types of different issues, but sometimes even obverse and reverse types of different emperors. Whether the dies for these plated denarii were illegally appropriated from an official mint, or whether they were the work of competent private engravers, 21 there can be little doubt that the manufacture of plated denarii was the work of forgers. The places at which finds of early imperial dies have been discovered are singularly out of the way. 22 None has been found in Rome or Lyons, the two known mint cities of the early empire. Nor have any been found in other places where one would expect there to be branch mints (if such were the organization)—towns such as Trier, Arles, Amiens, London—the central location of which commended them as mint cities in the widely changed conditions of the late empire. There is nothing to show that the coins struck from these dies were made under official auspices in the localities where the dies were discovered. In only one case has it been shown that an impeccable coin was struck from one of these dies, 23 but even this die may well have fallen into the hands of forgers by appropriation from the mint after it had been used to strike official coins. And it seems most likely that the dies recovered from these scattered find spots were the property of ancient forgers.

End Notes

Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Communale di Roma 56 (1930), pp. 1ff.
Fiorelli, Pompeianarum Antiquitalum Historia. I.3, pp. 250–51.
Opgravingen op het dompe in te Utrecht, Haarlem 1934, pp. 49ff.
NC 1912, pp. 265–312.
Fonds Vacquer à la Bibliothèque de la ville de Paris. The late Mlle. Fabre kindly sent me details of this find.
NZ vol. 34, pp. 29ff.
Mitteilungen C. C. Steiermark 2, 173; 3, 157; 5, 109.
K. Regling, "Der Schatz römischer Goldmünzen von Diarbekir (Mardin)," BlM 1930–33, pp. 353–381.
M. Thirion, Le lrésor de Liherchies. Aurei des Ier et IIe sièdes (Brussels 1972).
N. A. Mouchmov, "Le trésor numismatique de Reka-Devnia", Annuaire du Musée National Bulgare 1934 Supplément.
NC 1934, pp. 1–30.
MSS. list in British Museum.
ZfN 1912, pp. 189–253.
Sydenham, Nero, pp. 132–169.
Sydenham, The Coinage of Caesarea in Cappadocia (London, 1933), pp. 36ff.
W. Wruck, Die syrische Provinzialprägung von Augustus bis Traian, (Stuttgart, 1931), pp. 63ff.
D. W. Mac Dowall, "Two Roman Countermarks of a.d. 68" NC 1960, pp. 103–112.
My argument is not open to the sort of objection that M. Grant makes ("The Mints of Roman Gold and Silver in the Early Principate," NC 1955, p. 44) to C. H. V. Sutherland's attribution of Claudius' gold and silver to Rome— "surely we cannot argue that certain gold and silver is of Rome because of a stylistic resemblance to aes which we believe to be Roman''—for it merely points to the existence of imagines of two distinct types and identifies the type used on the aurei and denarii.
F. Lenormant, La monnaie dans l'antiquité III (Paris, 1878), pp. 185ff.
CIL VI, 42, 43, 44, 239, 791, 1145, 1607, etc.
Tenney Frank, An Economic Survey of Ancient Rome III (Baltimore, 1937), pp. 150ff.
Frank, Survey III, pp. 166ff.
Cf. A. H. M. Jones, "The Aerarium and the Fiscus," J RS 1950, pp. 22–29. In this discussion I use the generic term "treasury" to cover the activities of both aerarium and fiscus.
Nero's building operations were extensive (see Platner and Ashby, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (London, 1929), p. 595; Nero spent heavily on games, donatives, gifts, etc. Suetonius, Nero, 10.1; 11; 30; Tacitus, Annals 12.58.
Tenny Frank, An Economic History of Rome (2nd ed. Baltimore, 1927), p. 491.
The capital had a permanently adverse balance of trade. Cf. Frank, Survey V (1940), pp. 281–82.
A suggestion made by Sutherland in a review of H. R. W. Smith, Problems Historical and Numismatic in the Reign of Augustus (Berkeley, 1951) in NC 1952, p. 145. Cf. M. Grant NC 1955, pp. 53–54.
CIL XIII, 1499, and Mommsen, Hermes 16 (1881), p. 645.
BMC RE II, p. lviiif. for Vespasian's aes mint at Lugdunum.
Strabo 4.3.2. C 192.
C. C. Vermeule, Some Notes on Ancient Dies and Coining Methods (London, 1954), pp. 29–30.
For plated denarii of Nero see pp. 35 and 243 below.
L. A. Lawrence, "On Roman Plated Coins," NC 1940, p. 194, believed that we should regard plated coins as part of the governmental issues, and so apparently does Sutherland, Coinage in Roman Imperial Policy, p. 201; but Mattingly BMCRE I, p. xlivf., is doubtful about their official origin. Sydenham, "On Roman Plated Coins," NC 1940, pp. 2ooff., thought the St. Swithin's Lane hoard was the product of a forger but that plated denarii were also produced by the mint. But M. H. Crawford's article "Plated Coins— False Coins," NC 1968, pp. 55–59, argues convincingly against this, and shows that except in irregular coinages produced in periods of civil war, plated coins must have been forgeries.

Distribution of Nero's Aes

The western aes of Nero falls into two basic types. 24 The first is characterized by a small globe at the point of Nero's bust on the obverse, and a characteristic M form of bust truncation (see Plates XIII, 432; XIV, 452). The style of portraiture of this group is quite distinctive and the varieties of obverse legend and reverse types, established by an analysis of well preserved coins with the globe (see Cat. 401–633), constitute an objective basis for attribution to this group even when the globe and form of bust truncation are not visible on worn or corroded coins.

The second type has no globe and a straighter form of bust termination (see Plate II, 71, 74). The style of portraiture is again distinct, and the analysis of well preserved coins enables us to establish the distinctive forms of obverse legends and reverse types that characterize this group (see Cat. 70–335).

The distribution of these two types in the years immediately after their issue is the basic evidence for the localization of the mints at which the two types were struck. It is not however sufficient merely to list the localities at which examples of each type are said to have been found, as this can sometimes obscure the original pattern of distribution. Single coins may have been lost at any time during the period of their continued circulation; and unusual types are liable to attract attention because they are unusual, whereas the ordinary pass unnoticed. It is therefore important to distinguish the quality of different categories of evidence, and to determine the general character of circulation in an area from the recurrent statistical pattern observed at a number of localities.

The best evidence consists of finds which accurately reflect currency circulating at a known point of time, because they can be given a secure terminus ante quem . 25 But there are comparatively few commercial hoards and stratified or closed sites which meet these rigorous canons. The next best evidence consists of the accumulated finds from a thoroughly excavated site, or the accumulated deposits recovered from a well or river bed. Such coins may have been lost at any time during their continued circulation, but it is a reasonable inference that the commonest types will have been most commonly lost; and where the finds from a site are sufficiently numerous, they should provide a reasonably accurate statistical pattern of circulation.

For regions where this quality of evidence is not available, some idea of distribution may be found by noting casual finds recorded in archaeological publications or noted in local museums. The cumulative totals of such finds may be less reliable statistically, if there has been any preference in acquiring or noting specimens of new and rare varieties or in declining badly preserved specimens of common types. Finally, in the absence of other evidence, it is often possible to form an approximate estimate of circulation from the un- provenanced collections of local museums. The general character of some collections suggests quite strongly that it is largely composed of local finds even though the museum has not kept accurate records, but such evidence must be used with great care.

So that appropriate weight can be given to each category of evidence, finds in the following paragraphs have been classified as:

A—A hoard or excavation finds with terminus ante quem of a.d. 80 or before.

B—The aggregate of coins from other excavations or deposits.

C—Casual finds.

D—Unprovenanced coins probably found locally.

For localities where there is adequate evidence from finds classified A and B, finds of other categories which cannot contribute anything further to the picture of distribution have not been cited. Where it is necessary to cite casual finds, the evidence of groups of coins which have greater statistical validity has been preferred to that of single finds.

Finds of sestertii, dupondii and asses in Britain, Upper and Lower Germany, Belgica, Lugdunensis and Raetia are almost all of the "globe" type; finds from Narbonensis are predominantly of the "globe" type; finds from Spain, Noricum, Pannonia and the area east of the Rhine and north of the Danube are divided between the "globe" and the "non-globe" type; and finds from Italy are almost all of the "non-globe" type. In the following list, coins are attributed to the "globe" and "non-globe" mint on the basis of the criteria set out in this monograph. By analyzing the varieties of coins in good condition it is possible to establish those forms of obverse legend and reverse type found exclusively at the "globe" mint, those found exclusively at the "non-globe" mint and those which occur at both mints. These criteria enable us to attribute many find coins to the appropriate mint, even when globe, aegis or bust truncation may not be visible.

This section is intended merely to indicate the pattern of circulation for each locality—not to constitute an exhaustive list of finds. It would be possible to add further entries for many localities, but they could hardly affect very significantly the overall picture.

Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
A Southwark hoard 26 2 9
B Richborough exc. 27 5 71 2
B Silchester exc. 28 2 9
B Wroxeter exc. 29 2 8 1 1
B Leicester exc. 30 2 9
B St. Albans exc. 31 1 2 12
B R. Thames deposit. 32 2 5 9
B R. Churn deposit 33 2 4
B R. Walbrook, London 34 1 3 8
Germania Inferior
B Nijmegen 35 9 11 13 1 1
B Neuß exc. 36 15 17 37 2 1
B Ziegeleien bei Neuß 37 1 2 1 1
Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
B Bonn exc. 38 2 3 3
B Vetera exc. 39 9 8 10
Germania Superior
B Mainz exc. 40 2 7
B Vindonissa exc. 41 9 22 103 1 4 10
C Marburg bei Pommern 42 2 8
B R. Sambre deposit 43 3
B Condé-sur-Aisne 44 77 656 9 199
C Compiègne 45 13 2
C Besançon 46 15 4
C Franche Comté 47 7 2
C Héraple 48 4 2
C Sarrebourg 49 4
C Langres 50 4
A Sens hoard 51 3 1 1
A Augers en Brie 52 1 6
Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
B R. Mayenne 53 3 97 707 10 111
C Rouen 54 3
C Forêt de la Lande 55 6 2
D Lyons 56 2
A Puy de Dôme hoard 57 45 6
C Bard (Auvergne) 58 1
D Saintes 59 7 4
D Poitiers 60 17 3
B Orange 61 2 1
C Vaison 62 3 2
C St. Remy 63 5
C Basses Alpes 64 4
D Vienne 65 2 3 9 4 3
D Nîmes 66 10 3 27 7 4 11
Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
D Toulon 67 3 3
D Valence 68 4 1
C Augsburg 69 15 5
C Augsburg 70 1 2 5 3
C Kempten 71 2 3 6 1 4
C Mertingen 72 5
C Aislingen 73 2 1 1
C Burghöfe 74 1 4
C Bregenz 75 2
C Virunum 76 1
C Maria Saal 77 1
C Frauenberg bei Leibnitz 78 1
C Wagna 79 1 1 4
D Enns 80 1 1 1 3 1
B Carnuntum 81 1 3 2 1 4
B Carnuntum 82 2 1 1
Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
C Celje 83 1 1
C Zagreb 84 4 1 2 4 2 4
C Ptuj 85 2 1 1 1
C Tarragona 86 1
C Lezuza 87 1
C Zaragoza 88 3 2 2 1
C Menorca 89 1
C Segorbe 90 1
C San Sebastian Prov. 91 1 1 1 1
C Valencia 92 2 2
C Pollensa 93 1
D Tarragona 94 3 3 6 1 3
D Madrid 95 96 47 55 89 40 91
B Merida 96 1 2
C Merida 97 1
D Lisbon 98 8 4 4 5 1 9
Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
D Porto 99 2 1 7
D Porto 100 1 2 1 11
Germania (East of Rhine and North of Danube)
B Hofheim 101 1 2 1
B Saalburg 102 1 2
C Rheinbrohl 103 1 1
C Wiesbaden 104 2 5 6 1
C Heddernheim 105 1 4 3
C Huffingen 106 2 8
C Waldkirch 107 1 1
B Ems 108 2
C Kasteli Zugmantel 109 1 1
B Kasteli Obernburg 110 1 2
C Riegel 111 4 1
A N. Italian hoard 112 5
A Pozzarello hoard 113 3 17 9 74
Sest. Dup. As Sest. Dup. As
A Pompeii 114 3 14 6 46
A Pompeii 115 3 178
A Pompeii 116 68 2
B Tiber 117 2 11 21 3 218
B Ostia 118 6
B Minturnae 119 1 1 1
C Rome 120 1 23
B Aquileia 121 7 7 10 5 4 20
B Liri 122 1 43 3 20

End Notes

Crawford, "Plated Coins," pp. 56–57, shows that a plated Republican denarius in Hannover was struck from dies, mechanically copied from a pure silver coin.
Vermeule, Ancient Dies, pp. 29–30.
RN 1946, "Procès Verbaux," pp. ii–viii, though of course others too may have been "official" dies.
BMCRE I, p. clxiiif.
Cf. J. G. Milne, "The Interpretation of Coin-finds" Finds of Greek Coins in the British Isles (London, 1948), pp. 15–16; cf. also Greek and Roman Coins and the Study of History (London, 1939), pp. 95–96.
NC 1903, pp. 99–102.
Totals from Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of A ntiquaries of London , Nos. 6, 7, 10 and 16.
Now in Reading Museum.
Now in Rowley's House Museum, Shrewsbury.
Rep ResCommSocAntLond, no. 15.
Rep ResCommSocAntLond, no. 11.
NC 1841–42, pp. 147–168. The figures are for those coins now in the British Museum.
NC 1864, pp. 216–23.
Ant J 1962, pp. 40–41.
Local finds in Rijksmuseum G. M. Kam, Nijmegen.
BonnerJb 1904, pp. 263–67, and now republished by H. Chantraine in Novaesium III Die antiken Fundmünzen der Ausgrabungen in Neuss (Berlin, 1968).
Bon ner Jb 1904, p. 450.
Information from Wilhelmina Hagen.
Information from Wilhelmina Hagen.
MainzerZ 1911, pp. 71–72; 1912, p. 84; 1913–14, p. 66; 1918, p. 25; 1929, pp. 66f.
C. M. Kraay, Die Münzfunde von Vindonissa (Basel, 1962).
Bonner Jb 1897, pp. 89–91.
RBN 1956, pp. 55–80.
RN 1969, pp. 76–130.
St. Germain-en-Laye Musée.
Musée de Besançon. I am indebted to Lucien Lerat and Yves Jeannin for giving me detailed information about the coins in the Besançon Museum and their provenances.
Musée de Besançon.
J ahrbuch der Gesellschaft für lothringische Geschichte 1894, p. 322.
J bGeslothGesch 1899, p. 326.
Musée de Besançon.
Bulletin de la Société Archéologique de Sens 21 (1905), pp. 235–49.
NC 1967, pp. 43–46.
Bulletin de la Société d'Archéologie, Sciences, Arts et Belles-lettres de la Mayenne, 1865, pp. 9ff, 32–36. Through the kindness of M. Bisson I have been allowed to study the unpublished part of this large deposit.
Musée Départmental, Rouen.
Musée Départmental, Rouen.
Seen by M. Grant in trade, cf. NC 1955, pp. 21–37.
Cf. P. F. Fournier "Les travaux de 1956 au sommet du Puy de Dôme," Bulletin Historique et Scientifique de l'Auvergne 1956, pp. 196–201. Through the kindness of the late Mlle Fabre of the Bibliothèque Nationale, I have been permitted to examine this hoard, which has now been published by J. B. Giard, RN 1964, pp. 151–57.
P. F. Fournier, Bulletin Historique et Scientifique de l'Auvergne 1939, p. 3.
Hôtel de Ville, Saintes.
Le Musée, Poitiers.
Orange Musée from excavations in the theatre.
J. Sautel, Vaison dans l'antiquite II (Avignon, 1926), pp. 78–79.
St. Remy-en-Provence Musée from Glanum, and H. Rolland, Fouilles de Glanum.Gallia Suppl. 1 (Paris, 1946), p. 23.
Musée des Antiquités Nationale, St. Germain-en-Laye.
Vienne Musée.
Formerly in Maison Carrée, Nîmes.
Seen by M. Grant in trade, Toulon.
La Bibliothèque, Valence.
Münzkabinett, Munich.
Die Fundmünzen der Römischen Zeit in Deutschland 1962 (FMRD) I.7. Schwaben 7001.
FMRD I.7. Schwaben 7182.
H.-J. Kellner, Die römischen Fundmünzen auf dem nördlichen Teil von Rätien.
FMRD I.7. Schwaben 7044.
FMRD I.7. Schwaben 7069.
Vorarlberger Landesmuseum, Bregenz.
Landesmuseum für Kärnten, Klagenfurt.
Fundberichte aus Österreich II, p. 296.
F. Pichler, Repertorium der steierischen Münzkunde II (Graz, 1867), p. 12.
Pichler, Repertorium II, pp. 12, 14–15.
Museum Lauriacum, Enns.
Museum Carnuntinum, Bad Deutsch Altenberg.
Sammlung Ludwigsdorff.
Pichler, Repertorium II, pp. 13–14.
Šime Ljubić, Popis Arkeologičkoga Odjela Nar. Zem. Muzeja u Zagrebu, pp. 132ff.
Pichler, Repertorium II, pp. 12–15.
1925/30 excavations in Forum, now in Museo Arqueológico, Tarragona.
Bolletino Arqueológico del Sudeste Español 2 (1945), p. 204.
Museo Arqueológico, Zaragoza.
Felipe Mateu y Llopis, "Hallazgos Monetarios XII," No. 752, NumHisp 1955, pp. 130–31.
Mateu y Llopis, "Hallazgos Monetarios XII," No. 794, NumHisp 1955, p. 137.
Private coll., Santander.
Private coll., Santander.
Mateu y Llopis, "Hallazgos Monetarios VII," No. 600, NumHisp 1952, pp. 253–54.
Museo Arqueológico Provincial, Tarragona.
Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid.
Museo Arqueológico, Merida.
Now in Museo Arqueológico, Cordoba.
Casa da Moeda, Lisbon.
Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, Porto.
Private coll., Porto.
Annalen des Vereins für Nassauische A Itertumskunde 34 (1904), p. 27.
L. Jacoby, Das Römerkastell Saalburg bei Homburg, pp. 365ff.
Information from Wilhelmina Hagen.
AnnVerNassauAltertumskunde 26 (1896) and 37 (1907), pp. 4ff.
Mitteilungen über römische Funde in Heddernheim 3 (Frankfurt am Main, 1900), pp. 10–61 and 4 (1907), p. 54.
. Revellio, "Das Kasteli Hüfingen," Der Obergermanisch-Rätische Limes 55 (Berlin/Leipzig, 1937), pp. 33–34.
K. Bissinger, Funde römischer Münzen im Großherzogtum Baden 1 (Donaueschingen, 1887), p. 14, 35.
R. Bodewig, "Das Kasteli Ems," Der Obergermanisch-Rätische Limes 36 (1937), p. 22.
L. Jacoby, "Das Kasteli Zugmantel," Der Obergermanisch-Rätische Limes 32 (Heidelberg, 1909).
A. D. Conrady, "Das Kasteli Obernburg." Der Obergermanisch-Rätische Limes 18 (Heidelberg, 1903).
Bissinger, Baden, pp. 15–16 and (2nd ed. Karlsruhe, 1906), 98, p. 9.
Seen in trade by the author.
Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 1964, pp. 51–90.

Sources of Metals and Minerals

Nero's aes consisted of asses, semisses and quadrantes in copper, and of sestertii and dupondii in orichalcum, with a limited issue of asses, semisses and quadrantes also in orichalcum. Orichalcum was originally a natural alloy, but by the middle of the first century a.d. the Romans made the alloy artificially by heating copper in a bed of calamine. The raw materials needed for the aes coinages were thus ordinary copper, copper suitable for processing into orichalcum, and calamine needed for the processing.

The principal sources for copper in the middle of the first century a.d. were the imperial mines in Spain and Cyprus. 123 In Spain the mines of Sextus Marius had been confiscated by Tiberius;124 and the Hadrianic letter to Ulpius Aelianus 125 read in conjunction with the Lex Metalli Vipascensis 126 shows clearly that the copper, silver and iron mines in established mining districts of Spain were state owned at that period; and its reference to a forma revised by Hadrian shows that the original of this lex must have been of earlier date. In Cyprus the mines seem to have been nationalized when the tribune Clodius annexed the island in 58 b.c.; 127 Augustus gave Herod a concession but retained a half interest for the Roman government; 128 and the mines near Soli were still under state ownership when Galen visited them in the second century a.d. 129

Spanish copper, called "Marianum" or "Cordubense," was especially important for the coinage, as it readily absorbed calamine and reproduced the excellence of orichalcum in making sestertii and dupondii. 130 The extensive copper workings in Cyprus were apparently less highly valued once better copper (and orichalcum) had been found in other countries, but Pliny explicitly tells us that Cypriot copper was used for the production of asses. 131

There do not seem to have been any other important copper workings in the Roman Empire at this period. The copper from Livia's mine in Gaul had enjoyed a high reputation but the supply soon gave out; 132 Sallustius' copper from Haute-Savoie was highly esteemed "next to orichalcum," but supplies only lasted for a short time; 133 and although there were also Roman copper mines near Lyons the evidence for their working is of third century date. 134 Southeast Britain had used imported copper at the time of Caesar's invasion, 135 and although copper was worked further north during the Roman occupation at Plynlimmon, the Gt. Ormes Head, Anglesy, Caernarvon and in the Dee Valley, 136 these forward areas were not under secure Roman control during Nero's principate and can hardly have been sources for the copper required by the mint. Workings of copper in Upper and Lower Germany were neither profitable nor extensive during the first century. There was prospecting of early imperial date in the poor impregnations of azurite and malachite at Blauberg in the Saar and at Kerdel; 137 but the copper workings in the ancient mines at the mouth of the Ems 138 lay beyond Roman territory under Nero. Illyria provides hardly any evidence of Roman mining and Dacia was outside Roman control at this period. There were extensive ancient copper workings at Majdanpek in the mountains of Moesia, but Davies has shown that the mines were abandoned when the Romans consolidated the Danube bank. 139

The principal sources of calamine, the second mineral required in the production of orichalcum, 140 are also mentioned by Pliny. It came from overseas, was formerly also found in Campania and now in the territory of Bergamo. "It is also reported to have been recently discovered in the province of Germany," 141 a reference to the important mine at Stollberg which subsequently became the principal center of bronze production in the Empire. 142 These deposits were discovered some time between a.d. 57 and 77. 143

End Notes

Pompeii Antiquarium.
RIN 1897, p. 272.
From a group of coins in the Museo Nazionale, Naples.
Now in Muzeo Nazionale delle Terme, Rome.
Ostia Museum.
J. Johnson, Excavations at Minturnae 1 (Philadelphia, 1935), p. 99.
Museo Capitolino, Rome, believed to have been found in the city.
Museo Archeologico, Aquileia.
NC 1970, pp. 96–97 and NC 1974, pp. 42–52.
O. Davies, Roman Mines in Europe (Oxford, 1935), p. 60; and R. J. Forbes, Metallurgy in Antiquity (Leiden, 1950), pp. 272 ff. The ancients do not generally seem to have realized the metallic qualities of zinc, and apparently regarded the process as one which purified and strengthened the metal: cf. Davies Mines, Isidore, Etym. 16. 20.3. A detailed explanation of the manufacture of orichalcum in Roman times is given in Earle R. Caley, Orichalcum and Related Ancient Alloys, ANSNNM 151 (New York, 1964), pp. 92ff.
Davies, Mines, pp. 94 ff.
Tacitus, Annals vi, 19.
C. G. Bruns, Fontes iuris romani antiqui (7th rev. ed. Tübingen, 1909), pp. 289–93. See also discussion of these documents in Frank, Survey III, pp. 167–74.
Dio 38.30.5.
Josephus, Antiquities 16.5.5.
Galen 9.214.
Pliny, NH 34.1.2: "Summa gloria nunc in Marianum conversa, quod et Cordubense dicitur. Hoc a Liviano cadmeam maxime sorbet et aurichalci bonitatem imitatur in sestertiis dupondiariisque."
Pliny, NH 34.2: "Cyprio suo assibus contentis."
Pliny, NH 34.1.
Pliny, NH 34.1.
CIL XIII, 2901.
Caesar, BellGall v.12.4.
Davies, Mines, pp. 155ff.
Davies, Mines, pp. 177–78; the inscription CIL XIII, 4238 was found at Blauberg.
Davies, Mines, pp. 179f.
Davies, Mines, pp. 218ff.
Cf. note 131 above.
Pliny, NH 34.2.2.
Willers, "Neue Untersuchungen über die römische Bronze-Industrie von Capua und von Niedergermanien," Jahrbuch des provinzialen Museums zu Hannover 1906–7, p. 64.
Willers dates the discovery between a.d. 57, when Pliny seems to have been in Upper Germany, and a.d. 74.

The Non-Globe Aes Mint

Aes of the non-globe type circulated almost exclusively in Italy. There is no reason to doubt that the mint which produced this coinage was in fact the mint of Rome, for which we have repeated authorities in the senatorial office of the tresviri monetales, which continues to be found on inscriptions down to the third century a.d., 144 and in the series of mint inscriptions from Rome. 145 The city was the obvious center for supplying coinage to Italy, and the vast urban population (estimated at a million at this period 146 ) must have created a major demand for small change. In so far as the mint used freshly mined metal, there is no reason to doubt Pliny's statement that it used copper from Cyprus for its asses, and copper from Corduba as the basic constituent for the orichalcum of its sestertii and dupondii, 147 the alloy itself being made by heating the copper in a bed of calamine which presumably came from the Bergamo deposits. 148

The Globe Aes Mint

Aes of the globe type enjoyed an almost exclusive circulation in Gaul, Britain, the Rhine and Vindelicia south of the Danube, and must have been struck in one of these western provinces. The use of an important second mint in the west was fairly general imperial practice during the first century. Vespasian continued to use the same mint with the same globe and characteristic bust truncation for a fairly large group of aes which circulated primarily in the same western provinces. 149

Sydenham 150 and Laffranchi 151 have suggested that "westernstyle" groups can be distinguished among the Agrippa asses and Claudius' aes, although the detailed evidence of site finds has not yet been analyzed to settle finally whether or not their criteria are sound. 152 This mint seems to have been the successor to the mint at Lugdunum which issued the extensive Altar series up to the early years of Tiberius,153 a series which constituted the main currency of the Rhine frontier at the time, and again struck semisses of the Altar type under Claudius.154Lyons was in fact an eminently suitable place for a western aes mint, in a perfectly safe area yet conveniently situated to supply the small change needed by the frontier armies of the Rhine, Britain and Upper Danube, and equally accessible to the principal sources of copper.

Under Nero freshly mined copper for the globe type sestertii and dupondii in orichalcum would almost certainly come from Corduba; and from Spain again, or possibly from Cyprus, would come the freshly mined copper for the asses and semisses. The calamine needed to manufacture the copper into orichalcum may have come from Bergamo, but it is far more likely that it came from the newly discovered mines at Stollberg. Although Spain was an extremely important source for the freshly mined copper used for Nero's western aes, Nero's mint was certainly not situated there. We have seen above that finds of Nero's aes are not common in Spain and the Iberian peninsula was not exclusively or even predominantly provided with aes of Nero's globe type. For similar reasons the Danubian provinces also can be excluded, and neither Britain nor Africa had the central position required. Germany remains a possibility, but was not conveniently placed between the sources of freshly mined copper and some of the areas ultimately supplied, notably Raetia, West Gaul and the Rhone valley. Gaul on the other hand would have enjoyed the great advantage of centrality and Lyons, its capital, enjoyed that advantage par excellence. Lyons, as Strabo tells us, "commands Gaul like an acropolis." 155 It lies at the center of the river communications of the country and had been made the center of Agrippa's road system. It was conveniently near the Rhine-Danube reentrant and all the normal routes from South Spain to the Rhine, North and West Gaul, Britain and Raetia would part ways here. 156

Lyons, moreover, had a long tradition as a mint city. Antony had struck quinarii there as governor in 42/41 b.c., and signed them with the name of the town. 157 We have Strabo's explicit statement for the existence there of a mint for gold and silver under Tiberius.158 It was the mint which produced the extensive Altar series under Augustus and Tiberius and the commemorative Altar semisses struck under Claudius. 159 Its position as a mint city is further attested by several inscriptions from the immediate environs, 160 and by the presence of an urban cohort designated "ad monetam." 161 Under Tiberius, no doubt, the troops must have played an important part in the security arrangements for the minting of gold and silver at Lyons; but even after the striking of coinage in the precious metals was transferred to Rome, 162 Lyons remained the only city in the provinces, apart from Carthage, to be garrisoned by an urban cohort. Its presence was first mentioned by Tacitus in a.d. 21 when Acilius Aviola used it to check the revolt of the Andecavi. 163 Cohort XVIII formed the garrison in 69 164 and I Flavia Urbana took its place by 73. 165 This Lugdunum cohort was expressly called COH XVII LVGDVNENSIS AD MONETAM in the dedication to Lucius Fufius at Equestre, an inscription which cannot be dated before the time of Claudius because the cohort is XVII nor very much later because the man had no cognomen. 166 There is therefore good reason for attributing the globe type aes of the mid-first century to Lyons, and for regarding it as a successor to the important western aes coinage of the Altar series. 167

End Notes

F. Lenormant, La monnaie III, pp. 185 ff.
CIL VI, 42, 43, 44, 239, 791, 1145, 1607 etc.
Frank, Survey V, p. 140.
Pliny, NH 34.1.2.
In "The Quality of Nero's Orichalchum,'' SM 1966, pp. 101-105, I have commented on the lower percentage of zinc in several of Nero's orichalcum coins of the non-globe mint, and suggested that many of the coins at Rome were struck from secondary alloy derived from remelted old coins.
See BMC RE II, pp. lviii ff.
Sydenham, Nero, pp. 30–31 and "The Mint of Lugdunum," NC 1917, pp. 82–83.
L. Laffranchi, "La monetazione imperatoria e senatoria di Claudio 1º durante il Quadriennio 41–44 d.º Cr.º," RIN 1949, pp. 41–48, though Laffranchi there suggests that the western European mint may be in Spain.
S. Jameson, "The Date of the Asses of M. Agrippa," NC 1966, pp. 95–124, on the other hand, argues that all three groups of Agrippa asses that she distinguishes were struck in Rome, but she does not support her argument with find evidence. The absence of countermarks from her group (a), and the presence of countermarks localized in the western provinces on groups (b) and (c) suggests to me that these latter two groups may be the product of a western mint.
RIC, p. 91, nos. 359–371.
RIC, p. 130, nos. 70–71.
Strabo iv.6.11. Cf. Ammianus Marcellinus xv.11.17.
M. P. Charlesworth, Trade-routes and Commerce of the Roman Empire (2nd ed. Cambridge, 1926), pp. 183ff. and 192ff. H. R. W. Smith's objections in Problems Historical and Numismatic of the Reign of Augustus (Berkeley, 1951), pp. 161-174, it should be noted, were directed against the view that Lugdunum was the sole gold and silver mint in the early empire; he did not attempt to deny that Lugdunum was a mint, though he strove to weaken Strabo's apparently straightforward statement of contemporary fact. He emphasized the difficulties in navigating the Rhone, but the numerous inscriptions of the companies of navigators of the Rhone and Arar (in CIL XIII) greatly undermine the force of this point as do the extensive Roman quays along the river at Lyons (O. Brogan, Roman Gaul [London, 1953], p. 103) and the extensive quays of more modern date at places like Avignon. In any case Agrippa's road system followed the line of the main river routes, and there were good roads up the Rhone valley.
Sydenham, "Lugdunum," NC 1917, p. 55.
Strabo 4.3.2.
Sydenham, NC 1917, p. 86.
CIL XIII, 1499, 1810, 1820
CIL XIII, 1499.
See BMCRE I Intro., and Sutherland Coinage in Roman Imperial Policy. For my objections to M. F. Grant's point of view in NC 1955, pp. 39–54 see p. 12 above.
Tacitus, Annals iii.41.
Tacitus, Histories i.64.
CIL XII, 2601.
See Mommsen in Hermes 16 (1881), p. 645, n. 4.
I have compared the relative proportion of altar to moneyers' and imperial aes under Augustus/Tiberius and of globe to non-globe aes under Nero in finds from Gaul and Italy in the appendix to my article "A Group of Early Imperial Aes from Augers-en-Brie," NC 1967, pp. 43–47.


Dated Issues a.d. 54–64

For the first ten years of Nero's principate the gold and silver struck at Rome bore tribunician dates TRP to TRP X, which clearly differentiated successive issues. During the first tribunician year to December 55 three aureus and denarius types were issued—one commemorating the deification of Claudius, the second with heads of Nero and Agrippina facing (Plate I, 2) and the third with jugate busts of Nero and Agrippina (Plate I, 3).

In TRP II a new obverse type was introduced (Plate 1, 4) which remained basically unchanged throughout the rest of the dated gold and silver coinage. Its legend was NERO CAESAR AVG IMP, and Nero's head was shown facing right with the hair drawn down over his forehead. During the course of these dated issues slightly older portraits of Nero were gradually substituted, and in the issue of the ninth tribunician year Nero's hair was shown for the first time raised in tiers above his forehead, the "in gradus formata" style described by Suetonius. 1 The reverse type of both the aurei and the denarii dated TRP II was EX SC within an oak wreath, the corona civica, and an outside legend PONTIF MAX TRP II PP completed Nero's titles from the obverse. In this year there was a rare issue of gold quinarii with the usual quinarius reverse type of Victoria. The aurei and denarii dated TRP III, III and V retained the same obverse and reverse types and merely altered the tribunician year in the reverse legend. All coins dated TRP VI included in their reverse legend COS IIII Nero's fourth consulship which began January 1, 60. 2

In the issues dated TRP VII three new reverse types of Virtus, Ceres and Roma (Plate 1, 11, 12, 13) were introduced to replace that of the Corona Civica. Coins of the new Virtus and Ceres types seem to be far commoner than either the old Corona Civica or the new Roma type in the issues of this year. 3 Indeed it is only when examples of the Corona Civica type and Roma type are taken together that their numbers equal those of either the Virtus or of the Ceres type dated TRP VII. It is interesting to note that the reverse legend of the Corona Civica type reads counterclockwise and so did that of the new Roma type, whereas the reverse legends of the Virtus and Ceres types read clockwise. This might possibly suggest that the new Virtus and Ceres types were introduced at the beginning of the year and struck alongside the Corona Civica types, and that the Roma type was introduced to replace the Corona Civica type later in the year. In the TRP VIII issue the three types of Virtus, Roma and Ceres were struck in both gold and silver; in the TRP VIIII issue all three types were again struck in gold, but Virtus and Roma alone in silver; in the TRP X issue only two types, Virtus and Roma, were struck, in both gold and silver. 4

Cat. 1–21, 35–53. Plate I.

End Notes

Suetonius, Nero 51.
Degrassi, I fasti, p. 16.

Post-Reform Undated Issues

The undated gold and silver is a coinage struck on a reduced weight standard, on which the portraits are all later than on the dated series. The legends NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS and NERO CAESAR, both of which lack the praenomen IMP, must belong to the period before mid-a.d. 66. No significant chronological distinction can however be drawn between these two forms. Except on plated denarii, NERO CAESAR was merely used with the AVGVSTVS GERMAN ICVS type on which the reverse legend completed the titulature from the obverse. After Nero assumed the praenomen IMP in mid-66 there were two forms of obverse legend on the gold and silver: IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS and IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PP. The reverse types in the issue with IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS were taken directly from, and must therefore have directly followed, the preceding issue with NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS; but on denarii with IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PP in addition to the types that had been used with NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS and IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS there were three new reverse types peculiar to the issue: the anepigraphic type of an eagle between two standards; and fresh varieties of the Roma and Salus types with the legends in the reverse field. IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PP must thus have been the latest form of reverse legend on Nero's gold and silver.

Issue 1 of the undated gold and silver coinage on the reformed standard had the obverse legends NERO CAESAR, and NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS. In gold there were eight distinct reverse types: Augustus Germanicus; AugustusAugusta; Jupiter Custos; seated Roma; Salus; the Temple of Vesta; the Temple of Janus; and Concordia Augusta.

The first six of these types were regularly struck in silver too during this issue; but while the types of Janus temple and of Concordia Augusta are known in silver, they are extremely rare, are not represented in hoards, and were certainly not substantive denarius types. In this we seem to have evidence of an initial production of gold in two reverse types (accompanied by a token emission of silver) continuing the "two reverse type" pattern of the gold in TRP X, before the productive capacity was expanded. Among the other aurei and denarii with this obverse legend, the reverse types of Jupiter Custos and Salus are by far the commonest. These two subsequently became the sole substantive reverse types in issues 2 and 3 a, and it seems fairly certain that they continued to be struck in Issue 1, after the other reverse types were discontinued. We can therefore distinguish three phases within the issue:

1a. Janus and Concordia types, with substantive issues of aurei (but accompanied by a token issue of denarii).

1b. The six reverse types of Augustus Germanicus, AugustusAugusta, Jupiter Custos, Roma, Salus and Vesta with substantive issues in both gold and silver.

1c. The continuing issue of Jupiter Custos and Salus types in both gold and silver.

Cat. 22–29, 54–61, PLATES I–II.

Issue 2 had the obverse legend IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS. Its aurei were struck in two reverse types, Jupiter Custos and Salus, both of which were taken over directly from the preceding issue. Besides these two types of Jupiter Custos and Salus, the denarii also used the seated Roma type from the preceding issue, but it is extremely rare and cannot have been struck in any numbers.

Cat. 30, 31, 62–64. Plate II.

Issue 3 had the obverse legend IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PP. The aurei with this obverse legend continued to use the types of Jupiter Custos and Salus unchanged from the previous two issues. The denarii followed the aurei in using these two types, but they also had three further types which were struck solely in silver: a new anepigraphic type of an eagle between two standards and modified forms of both Salus and Roma types, now with their legends across the reverse field and not in the exergue. We can therefore distinguish two stages:

3a. Aurei and denarii with the reverse types of Jupiter Custos and Salus continued without change from Issues 1 and 2.

Cat. 32, 33, 65, 66. Plate II.

3b. Denarii alone in two substantive types of Salus with its legend across the field rather than in the exergue and of the new eagle and standards.

Cat. 67–69. Plate II.

Throughout Nero's reign the issues of gold and silver ran closely parallel to each other; but a number of minor discrepancies between them clearly suggests that the denarii were in fact struck immediately after the similar aurei of each issue. It has been noted that in the dated group the Ceres type, which was abandoned during the issue dated TRP VIIII, is found on the aurei of that year but not on the denarii. Similarly in the undated series both Janus temple and Concordia Augusta types are comparatively common on the gold of the first issue, but on the silver the Janus temple type is not found and the Concordia Augusta is extremely rare. In the later issues with IMP NERO CAESAR AVG PP, the fresh forms of reverse type were introduced during the issue of the denarii, and have left no trace on the aurei.

End Notes

The relative proportion of the aureus types in TRP VII can be seen in the numbers represented in the large hoard from Pudukota (NC 1898, pp. 304–20); in other hoards which contain aurei of Nero TRP VII from Pompeii 1812 (Pompeianarum Antiquitatum Historia I.3 [Naples, 1860], pp. 250–51); Utrecht (Opgravingen op het dompe in te Utrecht 1934, pp. 49ff.); Pontalbon (SNR 1900, p. 164); Zirkowitz (Mitteilungen CC Steiermark 2, 173; 3, 157; 5, 109); and Vienna (Jahrbuch für Altertumskunde 1909, pp. 90–95; in the collections of the BM, Oxford, Glasgow, Paris, Milan and Turin; and in the coins from Sale catalogues represented in the BM collection of photographs.
Pudukota Other Hds. Coll. Sale Photos
Cat. 10 (RIC 25) 9 4 6
11 (RIC 26) 13 2 6 16
12 (RIC 27) 12 4 5 17
13 (RIC 28) 2 1 4 6
For a list of these varieties under Nero see the catalogue below.

Plated Denarii

It is important to distinguish from the main series a group of unofficial plated denarii, 5 as the inclusion of some of these in older catalogues has tended to obscure the pattern of the silver issues. These plated forgeries are known in both the dated and the undated series. The obverse and reverse types were almost always those used for the regular denarii. Their dies were often in quite good style and may sometimes have been official dies illegally appropriated from the mint; but the forgers did not hesitate to use obverse and reverse dies in combinations that were quite unknown on the regular coinage. One plated denarius muled an obverse of Nero with the common PONTIF MAXIM reverse type of Tiberius. The obverse legend NERO CAESAR, confined on regular denarii to the reverse type of Augustus Germanicus which completed the legend from the obverse, was used on plated denarii with several other reverse types of the undated series. On regular coins IMP NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS was only found on Salus denarii with the reverse legend SALVS in the exergue, but on a plated specimen it was muled with a die that had SALVS across the reverse field. Regular denarii dated TRP VI included Nero's fourth consulship in their reverse PONTIF MAX TRP VI COS IIII PP, but plated denarii had PONTIF MAX VI PP alone, omitting all reference to Nero's consulship as the issue TRP II to TRP V had done. 6

End Notes

For a fuller discussion of Nero's plated denarii see Chapter 2 and its references.
The varieties of plated denarii bearing Nero's titulature are listed on p. 243.


The Absence of SC

The aes of Nero without SC has long been a puzzle. Recent research has thrown considerable doubt on the older view that down to the time of Gallienus the Roman Imperial coinage was controlled by a dyarchy of Senate and Emperor, and that SC and its absence denoted the product of a Senatorial and Imperial mint respectively. 1 It has become increasingly plain that the distinction was rather one of form than of final intent. 2 Nonetheless SC was given a prominent place on the aes coinage of the Julio-Claudian period and Nero was the first emperor to omit it from any considerable number of his bronze and copper coins, an omission which is the more remarkable in view of the way he introduced a special senatorial reference EXSC on the gold and silver at the beginning of his principate. 3

A careful examination and analysis of the coins which seem to lack SC enables us to define more closely the range and scope of the issues which genuinely omitted it. When worn and tooled examples are excluded, it is clear that the aes is invariably the product of the mint of Rome, and falls into two compact chronological groups. The first consists of copper asses, semisses and quadrantes. The second, slightly later than the first, consists of orichalcum sestertii, dupondii, asses and quadrantes. But each of these denominations, both in copper and orichalcum, is subsequently struck by Nero with the traditional SC on the reverse.

Copper Asses Without SC

The earliest group consists of asses in copper without SC of the Apollo and Genius reverse types. All the copper asses of these types at the mint of Rome were struck without SC:

Cat. 242


Rev.: Nero laureate in flowing robes of Apollo Citharoedus walking r., l. holding lyre, r. playing it. No legend or SC.

Paris 11.62 gm. A301 P301

Plate IX

Cat. 243


Rev.: As 242.

Walters 4 11.39 gm. A302 P302
Signorelli 1180 A303 P302
Imhoof Blumer 624 A304 P303

Cat. 244

Obv.: As 221 but head bare l.

Rev.: As 243.

Oxford 11.42 gm. A305 P304
BM 238 5 12.59 gm. A306 P304

Cat. 245


Rev.: As 242.

Rome, Terme 6 12.00 gm. A307 P305
Glasgow 73 7 10.46 gm. A307 P305
Santamaria, 1924 A307 P305

Cat. 246


Rev.: As 242 but with legend PONTIF MAX TRP IMP PP

Munich A308 P306
Vatican 10.50 gm. A309 P307
Vatican 10.80 gm. A310 P308
Paris 11.12 gm. A311 P308
Oxford 10.66 gm. A312 P309
Mazzini 8 10.80 gm.
Tiber find 9
Tiber find
BM 235 10 11.80 gm. A313 P310
Walters 11.53 gm. A314 P311
Prince W I, 193 A315 P312
Vierordt 874 A316 P313

Plate IX

Cat. 247

Obv.: As 246 but head bare l.

Rev.: As 246.

Paris 11.67 gm. A317 P314
Copenhagen 13.30 gm. A317 P314
Florence 10.40 gm. A318 P315
Oxford 11.27 gm. A319 P316
Mac Dowall 11 8.77 gm. A319 P317
Weber 1058 A319 P318
Prince W. II, 588 A320 P332

Cat. 248


Rev.: As 246.

Oxford 12.25 gm. A321 P319
Tiber find
Tiber find

Cat. 249


Head bare r.

Rev.: As 246.

Munich A322 P320
Mainz A323 P321
Copenhagen 12.60 gm. A324 P320
Sydenham 12 A325 P322
Levis 386 A325 P322

Cat. 250

Obv.: As 249 but head bare l.

Rev.: As 246.

BM 236 13 11.99 gm. A326 P323
Paris 11.88 gm. A327 P324

Plate IX

Cat. 251



Genius standing l. by lighted altar, holding patera and cornucopiae.

Mazzini 14 10.60 gm.

Cat. 252


Rev.: As 251.

Rome, Terme 12.02 gm. A328 P325
Vienna 11.00 gm. A328 P326
Mainz A329 P327
Glasgow 72 15 10.87 gm. A330 P328
Oxford 10.50 gm. A331 P329
Rome, Capitol 16

Cat. 253


Rev.: As 251.

Madrid A334 P332

Cat. 254


Rev.: As 246.

BM 234 14.97 gm. A332 P330

Cat. 255

Obv.: As 254.

Rev.: As 251.

Rome, Terme 17 11.75 gm. A333 P331

Plate IX

Mattingly and Sydenham described the rare coins with the anepigraphic reverse type of Apollo as dupondii with an As type, 18 but they are undoubtedly copper asses. Specimens which are not patinated have the normal red color of copper, and spectrographic analysis has confirmed this for the British Museum example. (Nero's dupondii at both Rome and Lugdunum were always struck in orichalcum). The weights of the anepigraphic asses range from 11.42 to 12.59 gm., which is well below that of the dupondii without SC but very close to that of the other copper asses without SC.

The Apollo and Genius copper asses without SC are thoroughly Roman in style and undoubtedly circulated in the neighborhood of Rome. One Genius As was found in excavations at Rome; four Apollo asses have been found in the Tiber; and a fifth came from the city of Rome. 19 Information about coin finds in the western provinces is generally far more complete than for Italy, but has not yet yielded a single example. 20

The issue of these copper asses was not especially small. I have found 34 obverse dies used in conjunction with five reverse dies of the anepigraphic Apollo type, 8 of the GENIO AVGVSTI, and 19 of the Apollo PONTIF MAX TRP IMP PP type. There are very few die links and none which connects different forms of obverse legend or different reverse types; pieces from identical dies are comparatively unusual; and there are almost as many obverse as reverse dies.

The evidence of portraiture shows conclusively that the copper asses without SC were struck before the ordinary copper asses of the mint of Rome. When Nero's head is shown in right profile on the copper asses without SC, 21 the hair is always "in gradus formata." 22 It is distinctly raised from his forehead and all the curls fringing the forehead as far back as the ear are shown with this forward curve. The portrait is close to that on the aurei and denarii dated TRP VIII and VIIII (a.d. 61/62 to 62/63) 23 and probably not so late as on those dated TRP X (a.d. 63/64). 24 The treatment of the rest of the hair has many points of contact with the later dated aurei and denarii. It is generally flat, 25 sometimes with a striking zonal treatment with thick rope-like strands. 26 This seems inspired by the dated gold and silver of a.d. 61/62 to a.d. 63/64 27 but is less advanced than the spirited rendering of the earliest undated gold 28 or the copper asses with SC. 29 The bust truncation often has, in greater or lesser degree, 30 the characteristic form of the dated gold and silver. 31

These copper asses without SC, moreover, clearly preceded the orichalcum As series with the same reverse types of Genius and Apollo (both with and without SC). There is a striking development of portraiture within the orichalcum As series, 32 but no comparable progression in the issue of copper asses without SC; and although the copper asses have many portraits that are quite close to those on the earlier orichalcum asses, they show nothing comparable to the later orichalcum portraits. The characteristic bust truncation of the dated aurei and denarii can be seen on several copper asses, but where there are traces in the orichalcum series it is only present in a residual and minor degree. The treatment of the hair on the orichalcum asses is generally in higher relief and shows more naturalism; and Lugdunum, which began its aes production some time after the mint of Rome, used as its model the reverse of an orichalcum Apollo As, not that of a copper Apollo As without SC. 33

End Notes

Cf. Michael Grant, From Imperium to Auctoritas (Cambridge, 1946), p. 121.
H. Mattingly, The Emperor and His Clients (Todd Memorial Lecture, Sydney, 1948), p. 6.
Sutherland, Coinage in Roman Imperial Policy, pp. 152 ff.
BMCRE I, pl. 48, 6.
BMCRE I, pl. 44, 10.
F. Gnecchi, I Medaglioni Romani (Milan, 1912), pl. 142, 2.
Anne S. Robertson, Roman Imperial Coins in the Hunter Coin Cabinet I (London/Glasgow/New York, 1962), pl. 22, 73.
RIN 1913, p. 22 and pl. 1, 4.
Found in the Tiber, now in the Terme Museum, Rome.
BMCRE I, pl. 44, 7.
Bought in Rome, said to have been found in the city.
BMCRE I, pl. 44, 9.
BMCRE I, pl. 44, 8.
RIN 1913, pp. 21 f., and pl. 1, 4.
RIC Hunter I, pl. 22, 72.
Probably found in Rome.
Found during excavations in Rome, RIN 1909, p. 20, 5, and Gnecchi, Medaglioni, pl. 141, 10.
RIC I, p. 171.
Cat. 246, 248, 252.
Copper asses of the Apollo and Genius' types have frequently been found in the western provinces, but they are the product of the distinctive Lugdunum mint. They always have the Lugdunum globe and characteristic bust truncation; the reverse always has SC; and in the Apollo series they use the form of legend PM TR POT IMP PP which is peculiar to Lugdunum on the copper asses.
Plate IX, 242, 246, 255.
Suetonius, Nero 51.
Plate I, 8, 14, 19.
Plate I, 20.
Plate IX, 242–55.
E.g. Plate IX, 242.
Plate I, 14, 19, 20.
Plate I, 22 ff.
Plates X, 278; XI, 283–301.

Copper Semisses Without SC

The parallel issue of copper semisses without SC consists of the following:

Cat. 303


Rev.: No legend. Roma helmeted and draped seated l. on cuirass, r. holding wreath and resting l. hand on parazonium.

Ars Classica 15, 1438 5.72 gm. A401 P401

Cat. 304


Rev.: As 303 but with legend PON MAX TRP IMP PP

Mazzini 34 6.10 gm. A402 P402
Glasgow 82 35 6.74 gm. A402 P402
Walters 5.79 gm. A402 P402
Webb 5.46 gm. A402 P402

Plate XII

Cat. 305


Rev.: As 304.

BM 260 36 7.13 gm. A403 P403
Vierordt 872 A403 P403
Copenhagen 37 A403 P403
Hollschek 38 6.09 gm.
Trau 6.01 gm.
Trau 5.90 gm.
Dorotheum 5.89 gm.
Elmer 5.74 gm.
Hemfeld 5.62 gm.
Walla 5.48 gm.
Pohl 5.42 gm.

Cat. 306

Obv.: As 303.


Gaming table ornamented by two griffins. On it, urn l. and wreath r. Against its central leg rests a round shield.

Oxford 4.34 gm. A404 P404
Paris 6.40 gm. A404 P404
Naples 6.13 gm. A404 P404

Cat. 307

Obv.: As 303.

Rev.: As 306 but CERTAM QVINQ ROM CO

BM 259 39 6.34 gm. A404 P405
Glasgow 81 5.96 gm. A404 P405
Vautier 321 6.57 gm. A404 P405
Elmer 40 5.90 gm.
Walla 5.72 gm.
Elsner 5.62 gm.

Plate XII

These copper semisses without SC are easily distinguished from the normal orichalcum semisses at Rome by the size of their flans and dies, their comparatively heavy weight, and the reddish copper appearance of the metal. Their weight range is clearly higher than that of the Lugdunum copper semisses. Their obverse portraits are unmistakably Roman in style and idiom, and show about the same stage of development as the copper asses without SC. 41 Nero's hair is always shown "in gradus," but sometimes the tier is only at its first stage and has not been formalized into the distinctive forward curving arch. 42 The influence of the dated gold and silver 43 can usually be detected in the bust truncation and sometimes Nero's head is small and fails to make full use of the obverse field within the legend. 44

A further indication of their approximately contemporary date is given by two overstrikes in the British Museum 45 and in Stockholm. Both seem to be copper asses of Nero without SC overstruck by the same pair of dies. In each case the reverse overstriking die is of the Genius type used for asses without SC, and the obverse overstriking die is of the type used at Rome in the issue of copper semisses without SC. Mattingly attributed the British Museum example to Lugdunum 46 and implied that it belonged to the opening phase of the new mint. He wrote 'The obverse die is very small and the head is in the Roman style: the reverse is of normal size and of Lugdunum style. Traces of the original coin (a dupondius of the mint of Rome) with rev. Temple of Janus obv … CLAVD CAESAR AVG G … still remain." We can, however, confidently attribute all the component parts of the overstrike to the mint of Rome. It has a copper flan of 14.94 gm.—the metal having been established by spectrographic analysis. As it is not of orichalcum, it can not have been originally a dupondius. Yet for an As, the highest denomination struck in copper, it is heavy but within the weight range of the copper asses without SC. Of its original obverse type, "CLAVD CAESAR AVG G …" and "… AR AVG GER PM TR P IMP P …" can be read on the London and Stockholm pieces respectively—a normal legend for Nero's copper asses without SC. Little remains of the original reverse type but there seem to be traces of a standing figure which may well have been that of Apollo citharoedus. The overstriking obverse die is a copper semis obverse die of the Roman mint: NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM PM TR P PP, a youthful, bare, head of Nero to right. The overstriking reverse die is of the GENIO AVGVSTI type without SC, a type found exclusively at Rome.

Mattingly's attribution to Lugdunum seems to be based on his belief that the Genius type was normally struck at Rome only in orichalcum. 47 He did not realize that there was a series of copper asses at Rome of the Genius type omitting SC and his description of the overstrike does not make it clear that the type generally lacks SC.

Nero instituted the Certamen Quinquennale in a.d. 60, 48 but that date merely gives a terminus post quem for the certamen semisses; and the use of the type was not restricted to the years in which the certamen was celebrated. 49

End Notes

Plate IX, 242–55.
Plate I, 2–19.
Plate X, 260–76.
See below p. 99.
RIN 1913, p. 22 and pl. 1, 3.
RIC Hunter I, pl. 22, 82.
BMCRE I, pl. 45, 4.
Gnecchi, Medaglioni, pl. 141, 12.
The weight of this and of the seven following examples are given by G. Elmer, "Die Kleinkupferprägung von Augustus bis Traian,'' NZ 1934, p. 20.
BMCRE I, pl. 45, 3.
The weights of this and of the two following examples are given by Elmer, NZ 1934, P. 20.
Plate IX, 242–55.
The semisses Ars Classica Sale xv, 1438, and BM 259 cited above.
Plate I, 19–20.
As the semis BM 259 (BMCRE I, pl. 45, 3).
Plate XXII, a.
BMCRE I, p. 273, 372 and note.
BMCRE I, p. 243, note*.
Tacitus, Annals XIV. 20.
See my note, "The Numismatic Evidence for the Neronia." Classical Quarterly 1958, pp. 192–94.

Copper Quadrantes Without SC

The parallel issue of copper quadrantes without SC consists of the following:

Cat. 336


A helmet placed r. on column; against the cippus rests round shield; behind, spear slanting upward to r.


A laurel branch.

Paris A501 P501
Oxford 3.41 gm. A501 P501
Vatican 2.50 gm. A501 P501
Berlin 2.97 gm.

Cat. 337 50

Obv.: As 336 but legend NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG

Rev.: As 336 but legend GER PON MAX TRP IMP PP

BM 286 3.31 gm. A502 P502
Oxford 2.58 gm. A502 P502
Blackburn A502 P502
Glasgow 85 3.52 gm. A502 P502
Rome, Capitol A503 P502
Hague 3.55 gm. A504 P502
Vienna 3.12 gm. A504 P503

Plate XII

The coin in the Capitol Museum came from excavations in Rome, but the other examples are unprovenanced. Although these quadrantes have no portraits and thus give little indication in themselves of their date and place of minting, finds suggest that the quadrantes with SC in both copper and orichalcum belong to the mint of Rome; and the use of IMP as a cognomen throughout shows that the whole series falls before mid-a.d. 66. The pattern of their issues generally shows the same development as that of the asses at Rome and they seem to be parallel to them.

End Notes

Gnecchi, Medaglioni, pl. 142, 3.

Orichalcum Denominations Without SC

The second group of aes without SC consisted of sestertii, dupondii, laureate and radiate head asses and quadrantes, all in orichalcum. The different denominations of this group seem to belong to the same general period, and to have been struck fairly soon after the issue of asses and semisses without SC in copper.

Orichalcum Sestertii Without SC

An examination of the dies of the sestertii without SC has made it possible to define far more clearly the extent of the group. It is necessary, of course, to exclude all sestertii on which the letters SC have been deliberately tooled out and those where the SC may have disappeared through wear and corrosion. Among the sestertii that seem genuinely to omit SC, it is usually possible to substantiate the same reverse die from several coins, none of which has any trace at all of SC. Several of these reverse dies belong to a die-linked chain in which all the reverse dies similarly omit SC. There is inevitably an element of uncertainty when a reverse die without SC is known merely from a single coin and is not die-linked to other sestertii without SC; but dies of all the main reverse types of sestertii omitting SC—Adlocutio, Annona, Congiarium and Decursio (showing Nero riding right accompanied by two foot soldiers)—are firmly placed in die-linked groups.

Cat. 70


Rev.: ADLOCVT COH (in exergue)

Nero standing l. on platform accompanied by praetorian prefect, addressing three soldiers, two of whom hold standards.

Paris 30.70 gm. A101 P101
Florence 31.30 gm. A102 P102

Cat. 71

Obv.: As 70.


Ceres seated l. holding torch and ears of corn; before her Annona standing holding a cornucopiae.

Vatican 22.60 gm. A103 P103
Rome, Terme A103 P104
Paris 32.65 gm. A104 P105
Vatican 27.00 gm. A105 P106

Plate II

Cat. 72

Obv.: As 70.


To l., a high platform on which Nero sits; in front, a seated official distributes largess to man ascending ladder.

Glasgow 54 25.69 gm. A105 P107
Stockholm A105 P107
Florence 27.38 gm. A101 P108

Cat. 73

Obv.: As 70.


To r. a low platform on which Nero sits l.; beside him, the prefect standing; in front, soldier distributes largess to a citizen.

Oxford 29.42 gm. A106 P109

Cat. 74

Obv.: As 70.

Rev.: DECVRSIO (in exergue)

Nero on horseback galloping r., preceded and followed by a foot soldier.

Vatican 25.70 gm. A103 P110
Krausz 121 A103 P110
Paris 27.60 gm. A107 P111
Vienna 26.10 gm. A107 P111
Glasgow 55 51 25.03 gm. A107 P112
Hague 31.00 gm. A104 P113
Egger XLIII, 442 A104 P113
Rome, Terme A104 P114
Milan 26.50 gm. A104 P115

Plate II

Mazzini 94 28.04 gm. A104 P115
Oxford 27.24 gm. A105 P116
Madrid A108 P116
Madrid A108 P116
Copenhagen 29.09 gm. A101 P117
Paris 31.46 gm. A101 P117

Cat. 75

Obv.: As 70.

Rev.: DECVRSIO (in exergue)

Nero on horseback galloping r. followed by horseman holding vexillum.

Rome, Terme A109 P118

Cat. 76

Obv.: As 70 but head laur. l.

Rev.: As 70.

BM 126 26.41 gm. A110 P119
Vienna 27.80 gm. A110 P120
Rome, Terme A100 P119
Lyons A100 P119
Ryan 2283 A111 P121

Plate II

Cat. 77

Obv.: As 76.

Rev.: As 71.

Copenhagen 27.15 gm. A111 P122
Vatican 30.20 gm. A112 P123
Oxford 26.69 gm. A113 P124
Oxford photo. A114 P125
Horsky 2932 A114 P126

Cat. 78

Οbν.: As 76.

Rev.: As 74.

Florence 28.52 gm. A111 P127
Vatican 27.40 gm. A111 P128
Rome, Terme A111 P128
BM 155 52 27.04 gm. A111 P128
Trau 438 A111 P128
Stockholm A111 P129
Simon 247 A110 P129
Milan 28.50 gm. A110 P130
Paris 26.20 gm. A110 P129
Glasgow 56 25.91 gm. A115 P116
Signorelli 1147 A115 P116
Hall 53 A115 P116
Vienna 29.00 gm. A115 P116

Plate III

Cat. 79


Rev.: As 74.

Vatican 27.40 gm. A116 P127

Cat. 80

Obv.: As 79.

Rev.: As 75.

BM 142bis 27.50 gm. A117 P131
Madrid A117 P137

Cat. 81

Obv.: As 79 but head laur. l.

Rev.: As 70.

Paris 29.80 gm. A118 P132
Signorelli 1131 A118 P132

Cat. 82

Obv.: As 81.

Rev.: As 72 but CONG II DAT POP R

Paris 28.48 gm. A119 P133
Vatican 27.90 gm. A119 P134
Vienna 28.30 gm. A118 P135
Paris 28.52 gm. A118 P135
Walters 382 A118 P135
Madrid R. A. 28.68 gm.

Cat. 83


Rev.: As 74.

Oxford 27.72 gm. A120 P136

Most of the sestertii without SC are unprovenanced, although one of the DECVRSIO type showing Nero accompanied by two foot soldiers was found at Ostia. 54 There is, however, no doubt from general considerations of their style and idiom that they were products of the mint of Rome. Heads in right profile invariably show traces of the aegis in front of Nero's bust; this is frequently seen on sestertii at Rome but never at Lugdunum which always had the globe. The obverse legends often use the abbreviations CLAVDIVS and GERM, which are repeatedly found at Rome but never at Lugdunum. The bust truncation is closely similar to that on many coins of the Roman mint, and is quite different from the characteristic M truncation of Lugdunum. Though most of their reverse types were used at both Rome and Lugdunum in the SC series, the type of DECVRSIO with Nero accompanied by two foot soldiers was used exclusively at Rome.

The condition and state of wear of several pieces clearly show that the group passed into general circulation as ordinary sestertii, whatever the original purpose of the issue had been.

The reverse types of these sestertii without SC were all early types at the mint of Rome. No authenticated piece without SC has the praenomen IMP in Nero's obverse titulature; and these reverse types were never employed at Rome with the praenomen IMP, even in an SC series. This places them all before the middle of a.d. 66 when Nero took the praenomen "imperator" into his titulature.

A 101 P 101 Adlocutio
P 108 Congiarium 1.
P 117 Decursio Vex.
A 102 P 102 Adlocutio
A 103 P 103 Annona
P 104 Annona
P 110 Decursio Vex.
A 104 P 105 Annona
P 113 Decursio Vex.
P 114 Decursio Vex.
P 115 Decursio Vex.
A 105 P 106 Annona
P 107 Congiarium 1.
A 108 P 106 Decursio Vex.
A 115
A 106 P 109 Congiarium r.
A 107 P 111 Decursio Vex.
P 112 Decursio Vex.
A 109 P 118 Decursio r.
A no P 119 Adlocutio
P120 Adlocutio
P 130 Decursio Vex.
A 111 P 129 Decursio Vex.
P 121 Adlocutio
P 122 Annona
P 128 Decursio Vex.
A 116 P 127 Decursio Vex.
A 112 P 123 Annona
A 113 P 124 Annona
A 114 P 125 Annona
P 126 Annona
A 117 P 131 Decursio r.
A 118 P 132 Adlocutio
P 135 Congiarium l.
A 119 P 133 Congiarium l.
P 134 Congiarium l.
A 120 P 136 Decursio Vex.

Fig. 1. Sestertii Without SC Rome Issue II

Sestertii without SC nearly always had the comparatively rare forms of obverse legend: NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM PM TRP IMP PP and NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GERM PM TRP IMP PP

The most common form of obverse legend on SC sestertii without the praenomen IMP at the Roman mint: NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER PM TRP IMP PP occurs only once, and the fairly common form: NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GER PM TRP IMP PP is never found on sestertii that omit SC.

The portraits on the sestertii without SC are invariably early for the aes, but seem to be closer to the orichalcum asses without SC than to that of the copper asses without SC. The obverse portraits in right profile always showed Nero's hair "in gradus formata," sometimes in a pronounced forward arch, but at other times with the front curl bending upward back over itself in a less advanced way. 55 Some obverse dies showed Nero's hair in thick rope-like strands, a treatment closely paralleled in the obverse of an orichalcum As without SC.

Sometimes the engraver did not make full use of the field for his obverse portrait; and sometimes the letters of the obverse legend were badly spaced and crowded at the end. This strongly suggests the product of an engraver unaccustomed to work in the dimensions of a sestertius die and with no satisfactory models to copy. One obverse die used with two reverse dies omitting SC was also used on a uniface piece. 56 All this very strongly suggests an early place in Nero's aes issues.

The weight standard of these sestertii without SC affords further evidence of their early date. The sestertius standard dropped steadily during the later Julio-Claudian period. The weights of the sestertii without SC cover a fairly wide range but fall between 26 and 28.5 gm., below the main Claudian range (28 to 30.5 gm.) and above Nero's sestertii with the praenomen IMP (24.5 to 26 gm.), but in the upper reaches of Nero's main sestertius series with SC at Rome (24 to 28.5 gm.). 57

End Notes

RIC Hunter I, pl. 21, 55.
BMCRE I, pl. 42, 5.
BMCRE I, pl. 48, 3.
Now in the Museum at Ostia. There are no signs of SC on its reverse. Although the coin is somewhat corroded it almost certainly never had SC, as sestertii of this type without SC are not uncommon whereas those with SC are extremely rare.
Plate II, 71.
Helbing Sale October 24, 1927, 3429.
See table of sestertius weights, Appendix II, Table 5.

Orichalcum Dupondii Without SC

The parallel issue of dupondii without SC is known from the following:

Cat. 177


Rev.: VICTORIA AVGVSTI No SC or mark of value.

Victoria draped, flying l., r. holding wreath, l. a palm.

Walters Coll. 15.74 gm. A2001 P2001

Plate V

Cat. 178

Obv.: As 177 but head bare l.

Rev.: As 177.

Stockholm A2101 P2002

Cat. 179

Obv.: As 177 but head laur. r.

Rev.: As 177.

Blackburn A2002 P2003
Oslo A2002 P2009

Plate VI

Cat. 180


Rev.: No legend, SC or mark of value.

Front view of Macellum Magnum.

Plate VI

BM 196 58 17.63 gm. A2201 P2101
Wulzinger 17.80 gm. A2201 P2101
Mazzini 359 14.71 gm. A2201 P2101
Paris 17.00 gm. A2202 P2101
Paris 18.15 gm. A2202 P2101
Cambridge 14.75 gm. A2202 P2101

Plate VI

Cat. 181


Rev.: As 177.

Oxford 20.42 gm. A2003 P2004
Hague 17.30 gm. A2003 P2004

Plate VI

Cat. 182


Rev.: As 177.

Stockholm A2004 P2005

Cat. 183


Rev.: SECVRITAS AVGVSTI No SC or mark of value.

Securitas std. r. on throne, l. holding sceptre, r. elbow resting on back of throne.

Vienna 15.53 gm. A2301 P2201
Copenhagen 16.00 gm. A2301 P2201
Oxford 14.66 gm. A2301 P2201

Plate VI

Cat. 184


Rev.: As 180.

Plate VI

BM 197 59 14.68 gm. A2203 P2102
Rome, Terme 15.70 gm. A2203 P2102
Copenhagen 16.04 gm. A2204 P2102
ANS 15.74 gm. A2204 P2102
Budapest A2204 P2102
Budapest A2204 P2102
Prince W. I, 201 A2204 P2102

Plate VI

Cat. 185

Obv.: As 184.

Rev.: As 177.

BM 221 60 17.12 gm. A2201 P2006
Florence 17.09 gm. A2201 P2007
Oxford 16.92 gm. A2201 P2007
Glasgow 64 61 14.69 gm. A2201 P2007

Plate VII

Cat. 186


Rev.: As 180.

Paris 62 20.25 gm. A2601 P2103
Rome, Terme 16.11 gm. A2601 P2103

Plate VII

Cat. 187

Obv.: As 186.

Rev.: As 183.

Cambridge 15.14 gm. A2602 P2202

Plate VII

Cat. 188

Obv.: As 186.

Rev.: As 177.

Rome, Terme A2601 P2008

Plate VII

There is no evidence from site finds to establish the areas in which the dupondii without SC circulated, but their affinities of type and style clearly show that they were the product of the mint of Rome.

The VICTORIA AVGVSTI type shows victory flying left (with no indication of a ground line) holding a wreath and a palm and with her right leg well forward and clear of her drapery. 63 This is the representation of victory to left which was invariably used in the normal SC dupondius series at Rome. 64 The Lugdunum type was quite distinct. It showed victory walking (always showing a ground line) with her left leg straight in a line with her body and her drapery billowing backward shrouding her right leg in its folds. 65

SECVRITAS AVGVSTI is represented in two distinct ways on the dupondii without SC. Sometimes she is fully draped in a thin chiton, the presence of which can easily be seen, even on worn specimens, by the folds of its overlap. 66 On others she is shown naked to the waist, round which her garments are drawn in heavy folds. 67 Both representations were used on SC dupondii at Rome, 68 but only the first was employed at Lugdunum.

On the anepigraphic Macellum dupondii the steps are always shown inside a regular rectangular encasement, and the steps themselves are flanked at each side by an unmistakable baluster. 69 In slightly varied forms this was the regular representation of the steps at Rome. 70 At Lugdunum, however, the encasement of the steps became formalized into a quasi-triangular representation narrowing at the top. 71 The position of the balusters was still indicated, but the engravers seem to have lost all clear idea of their function.

On the dupondii without SC seven of the ten obverse dies show Nero's head radiate. In the main SC series Rome always employed the radiate and Lugdunum the laureate head. The three exceptional dies on dupondii without SC with the bare and laureate heads have no Lugdunum affinities. Their obverse legends NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM PM TR P IMP PP and NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GERM PM TR P IMP PP belong exclusively to Rome, and their bust truncation was quite distinct from the characteristic Lugdunum form.

The portraits on the dupondii without SC are the youngest ones on that denomination under Nero. They all show Nero's hair "in gradus formata" along the whole line of his forehead and must be placed about the period of the aurei and denarii dated TRP VIIII and X. But the arch of Nero's front hair is not fully developed into the forward curve of most of the portraits in the main SC series. 72 The two laureate heads retain a zonal treatment of the hair similar to that on the copper asses without SC; the bare head has many points in common with that issue; and the radiate heads are generally close to the portraits on the sestertii without SC. On all the obverse dies there are distinct traces of the lingering influence of the old bust truncation of the dated aurei and denarii. 73

The metal in every case seems to be the normal orichalcum, which was used for the main SC dupondius series, and spectrographic analysis has confirmed this for the pieces in the British Museum. Their weights cover a very large range and are rather erratic. Two examples in Oxford and Paris weigh more than 20 gm. A frequency table shows that the general weight range of these dupondii without SC is virtually the same as that of the Claudian SC dupondii, but slightly higher than the earliest group of Nero's dupondii with SC and the mark of value īī. There is, however, a considerable overlap, and the weights of the dupondii without SC do not remove them into a category apart. 74

The weight range of the later dupondii with SC alone is slightly lower again than that of dupondii with SC and the mark of value īī. There is evidence of a rise in the value of orichalcum in these years, and during the issue of orichalcum asses there was a marked lowering of the weight standard, later portraits always occurring on asses of lower weight. The natural explanation of the slightly higher weight range of the dupondii without SC, is that they are slightly earlier than the main Roman issue with SC and the mark of value īī. Mattingly's figure of 18.46 gm. (284.86 grains) as the average weight of 5 dupondii without SC seems to be an unfortunate misprint. 75 His average is considerably higher than the individual weights of any of the five coins which he can have used. The average of the three pieces described in the Catalogue is 16.47 gm.; and if we include two dupondii without SC, whose weights are recorded in the British Museum's cast collection, the average comes to 16.21 gm. (250.2 grains).

Equally significant are the reverse types. Dupondii without SC never have the praenomen imperator 76 themselves, nor are the same types subsequently used in an SC series with the praenomen. This is further evidence that these types are indeed the early dupondius types of the mint of Rome, and reinforces the evidence of portraiture and weight that the dupondii without SC preceded the main issue.

End Notes

BMCRE I, pl. 43, 6.
BMCRE I, pl. 43, 7.
BMCRE I, pl. 44, 3.
RIC Hunter I, pl. 22, 64.
Gnecchi, Medaglioni, pl. 142, 4.
Plate VI, 181.
Plate VII, 205.
Plate XV, 495.
Plate VI, 183.
Plate VII, 187.
Plate VII, 198.
Plate VI, 180.
Plate VIII, 207.
Plate XIV, 490, 493.
Plate XIV, 490 ff.
Plate I, 19 –20.
See table of dupondius weights Appendix II, Table 5.
BMCRE I, p. iv.

Orichalcum Asses Without SC

Closely associated with the other orichalcum denominations without SC are the orichalcum asses without SC:

Cat. 257


Rev.: PONTIF MAX TR POT IMP PP No SC or mark of value. Nero laur. advancing r. in the flowing robes of Apollo citharoedus, l. hand holding a lyre and r. playing it.

Vienna 9.50 gm. A341 P341
Paris 9.07 gm. A341 P341
Oxford 8.86 gm. A341 P341
Stockholm A341 P341
Copenhagen 8.94 gm. A342 P344
Cambridge 8.50 gm. A342 P341
Rome, Terme 9.62 gm. A342 P342
Vienna 8.50 gm. A342 P342
Copenhagen 10.28 gm. A342 P342
Bahrfeldt 513 9.63 gm. A342 P342
Paris 8.30 gm. A342 P343
Helbing 17, 447 A342 P343
Glasgow 77 9.30 gm. A342 P345

Plate IX

Plate X

Plate X

Cat. 258

Obv.: As 257.

Rev.: GENIO AVGVSTI No SC or mark of value.

Genius standing l.; l. holding cornucopiae, r. patera.

Vienna 9.50 gm. A342 P346

Plate X

Cat. 259


Rev.: As 257.

Madrid A346 P353

Cat. 260


Head rad. r.

Rev.: As 257.

BM 257 9.07 gm. A343 P347
Paris 8.63 gm. A343 P347
Vierordt 875 A343 P347
Oxford 8.73 gm. A343 P348
Vienna 8.60 gm. A343 P348
Copenhagen 8.51 gm. A343 P348

Plate X

Cat. 261


Rev.: As 258.

Glasgow 65 77 8.58 gm. A344 P349
Milan 8.60 gm. A344 P349
Warsaw 8.55 gm. A344 P349
Naples A344 P349
Morcom 2102 A344 P349
Vienna 8.75 gm. A345 P350
Vienna 8.75 gm. A345 P350
Vatican 7.10 gm. A345 P350
BM 8.41 gm. A345 P350

Plate X

Florence 8.55 gm. A345 P351
Oxford 8.33 gm. A345 P351
Copenhagen 8.42 gm. A345 P351
BM 8.27 gm. A345 P351
Gotha A345 P351
Budapest A345 P352
York A345 P352
A 341 P 341 Apollo
A 342 P 342 Apollo
P 343 Apollo
P 344 Apollo
P 345 Apollo
P 346 Genius
A 343 P 347 Apollo
P 348 Apollo
A 344 P 349 Genius
A 345 P 350 Genius
P 351 Genius
P 352 Genius
A 346 P 353 Apollo

Fig. 2. Orichalcum Asses Without SC Rome Issue II

The laureate head asses without SC 78 constitute a closely dielinked group. The radiate head asses without SC 79 are not linked with this group but seem to be associated closely with it. As a group, the orichalcum asses without SC follow the copper asses without SC and precede the main issue of orichalcum asses with SC and the mark of value ī. The stage of their development is shown by the advance in treatment between A341 and A342, two die-linked obverse dies. A341 still shows Nero's hair in strong rope-like strands as on some of the copper asses without SC. But A342, 80 while not much more developed in age, heralds the new approach of the main aes series 81 in its careful rendering of Nero's curls.

During the course of the main series of orichalcum asses with SC and ī there was a reduction in the weight standard of the denomination, and coins of lower weight are invariably found with the later portraits. Plotted against the weights of the main series, the orichalcum asses without SC are all comparatively high, and must belong to the period before the weight standard was reduced. 82 As with the other denominations, the combined evidence of portraiture and weight suggests clearly that the orichalcum asses without SC preceded the main series.

It is interesting to note that the group without SC seems to be quite separate from the main issue with SC and ī; and no die links have yet been noted between the two groups. Quite a number of coins, however, were struck without SC, 83 and some obverse dies remained in use after the development of a die flaw. The flaw in A343 can be seen clearly on the example in Copenhagen and at a later stage on the coins in the BM, Paris and Vienna. 84 The flaw which can be seen on the coins in Milan and Glasgow struck from A344 had deteriorated further before the coin in Naples was struck from the same obverse die.

End Notes

The praenomen was assumed during TRP XII (a.d. 66/67) and regularly used thereafter by Nero; see pp. 4–7.
RIC Hunter I, pl. 22, 65.
Plate X, 257–58.
Plate X, 260, 261.
Plate X, 257.
Plate X, 262, 267.

Orichalcum Quadrantes Without SC

The rare quadrantes in orichalcum without SC and without any mark of value should also be attributed to this second group:

Cat. 338


Helmet placed r. on column; against the cippus rests a round shield; behind, spear slanting upward to r.


Laurel branch.

Vatican 2.35 gm. A511 P511
Manchester 1.68 gm. A511 P511
Vienna 2.12 gm. A512 P511

Plate XII

Cat. 339

Obv.: As 338 but legend NERO CLA CAE AVG GERM

Rev.: As 338 but legend PM TR P IMP PP

BM 293 2.27 gm. A513 P512

Cat. 340

Obv.: As 338 but legend NERO CLA CAE AVG GER

Rev.: As 339.

BM 292 2.02 gm. A514 P513

Cat. 340a


Rev.: As 339.


End Notes

See Appendix II, Table 7, table of orichalcum as weights.
Altogether 5 obverse and 12 reverse dies have been noted.
Plate X, 260.

Significance of the Omission of SC

Various explanations have been offered for Nero's aes without SC. Gnecchi regarded them as medallions; Grant has called them forerunners of medallions; and Mattingly and Sydenham have suggested that some are patterns for the Lugdunum mint, while some may have been used as presentation pieces by the Emperor. Each of these suggestions, however, gives rise to serious difficulties.

Gnecchi's 85 view is: 1) the pieces can be distinguished from the senatorial issues only by the lack of SC; 2) the omission of SC shows them to be products of the imperial mint; 3) in this respect they are prototypes of imperial medallions 86 and were given to the people on the occasion of congiaria, feasts, games, etc.

Gnecchi started from the assumption that the mint was basically divided into a senatorial officina issuing bronze and an imperial one which issued gold and silver; and his description of the aes without SC as "imperial" presupposes the old dyarchic constitutional theory, which the researches of recent historians have done much to undermine. 87 Gnecchi's suggestion that the coins without SC were given to the people on the occasion of congiaria, feasts and games is extremely interesting, but he adduced no evidence from ancient authorities to support his suggestion. We know that donatives were given, but we have no evidence that aes without SC was given on these occasions. Indeed other considerations make it most unlikely that this was its purpose under Nero. Coins without SC are found in all denominations down to semisses and quadrantes. It is difficult to see the point of presentation farthings! Although aes was issued at Rome for the last four years of Nero, all the coins without SC belong to the beginning of that period. Were the presentations then confined to a single year? The only congiarium of Nero mentioned by the ancient authors was in a.d. 57, 88 long before Nero began to issue aes either with or without SC.

Grant 89 has modified this view to avoid some of Gnecchi's worst difficulties. While he only discusses the dupondii in detail, he apparently intends his explanation to cover all the denominations of Nero without SC. He claims that these dupondii are distinguished from the ordinary series by other features than the mere omission of SC: 1) they are extremely rare, "Such aes issues apart from the omission of SC are usually identical in type, and (as analysis has now shown) alloy, with further aes pieces which were clearly issued in millions [sic]. Thus dupondii with the present type [VICTORIA AVGVSTI] and SC are very common indeed, and must have been issued in enormous quantities (at more than one mint), … whereas the coin illustrated here [VICTORIA AVGVSTI] without SC is of considerable rarity;" 2) the weights of pieces without SC are considerably higher. Grant quotes the average weight of dupondii at Rome omitting SC as nearly 285 grains while his estimated standard for the SC pieces is 236 grains. "This difference cannot by any means be accounted for by the comparative absence of wear of these restricted issues, for that factor does not, in this denomination, make a difference of more than 12 to 14 grains 3) "they show a superiority, or at any rate a distinctiveness, of portraiture and of style."

These unorthodox features, Grant claims, justify the description of ''pre-medallions"—a term which he applies to other coins of limited circulation. Finally he suggests an occasion for their issue which avoids the difficulties to which Gnecchi's view gave rise, by connecting them with the decennalia of Nero and the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Augustus.

Grant's account of the additional features which distinguish the dupondii without SC is, however, open to serious objections. Dupondii without SC are undoubtedly rare, but Grant overstates their rarity in comparison with dupondii of the same type with SC. The dupondii without SC were struck at Rome, and their rarity should be compared with that of other issues at Rome of the same types with SC. In the major accessible public collections from which my material is drawn, I have counted five reverse dies of the VICTORIA AVGVSTI type without SC and 29 dies of the same type with SC. In any case should we regard rarity as our criterion for a medallic issue?

Grant's strongest argument should be the completely different weight standard which he claims for the dupondii without SC. But his figures are based on those given by Mattingly which, are at least 34 grains too high—the result, apparently, of a misprint. 90 As has been indicated, the weight range of Nero's dupondii without SC is virtually the same as that of the pieces of Claudius, and only slightly higher than the earliest group of Neronian dupondii with SC and the mark of value īī. There is in fact a considerable overlap; their weights do not remove the dupondii without SC into a category apart; and the slight difference merely indicates a slightly earlier date for their issue.

Grant's third distinctive feature is "a superiority, or at any rate a distinctiveness, of portraiture and of style." But equally fine portraits of equally fine style can be seen in many coins of the main dupondius series with SC, and thus style here is not in itself a sufficient criterion. There is indeed a distinctiveness about some of the portraits, but this is probably due to the slightly earlier and experimental nature of the pieces.

The only differentiating features, then, which it seems can legitimately be ascribed to the dupondii without SC are a comparative rarity, a slightly higher weight range than the normal dupondii, and a certain distinctiveness in portraiture. Only the last two represent an advance on Gnecchi's position, and they hardly justify more than the assertion that the coins are slightly earlier than the main series with SC. It is still possible to assert, as Gnecchi did, that they are precursors of medallions, but the only reason that can legitimately be offered is that they lack SC.

Mattingly has suggested of these coins without SC, that "some of them were patterns for the Lugdunum mint, some possibly presents for the Emperor's friends, some are due to the account of modern improvers of coins." 91 The last group has been rigorously excluded; the difficulties in regarding any of the coins as presentation pieces have been discussed above; and an analysis of the aes without SC leaves little ground for supposing that any of them was used as a pattern by the reconstituted Lugdunum mint.

The principal forms of legend on the aes without SC were used exclusively at the mint of Rome. The forms: NERO CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM PM TRP IMP PP and NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GERM PM TRP IMP PP used on sestertii and dupondii without SC were also used in the main series with SC at Rome, but never at Lugdunum. Only the comparatively rare form NERO CLAVD CAESAR AVG GER PM TRP IMP PP was used on sestertii and dupondii in the series with SC at both Rome and Lugdunum.

The copper asses and semisses without SC show Nero's head bare, as do the copper asses and semisses at Lugdunum, whereas the Roman copper asses with SC always have Nero's head laureate; but the first Lugdunum issue of asses copied a Roman orichalcum As with SC and the mark of value, and the first Lugdunum issue of semisses copied an ordinary Roman orichalcum semis. Moreover the Apollo and Genius copper asses without SC demonstrably circulated in Rome and Italy and the series is known from more than thirty obverse and as many reverse dies.

The characteristic forms of reverse type on the aes without SC were all subsequently used in the series with SC at Rome, but some of them were never employed at Lugdunum; and even when Lugdunum used a reverse type that had previously been used in the issue without SC, it seems rather to have copied its representation from the later Roman coins with SC, e.g., one representation of the Decursio type (with Nero riding right preceded and followed by a foot soldier) was issued at Rome both with and without SC (Plate II, 74; III, 78) but never at Lugdunum, and the Lugdunum form of the Macellum type (Plate XIV, 490, 493; XVI, 501) always had the legend MAC AVG, whereas that of the issue without SC was anepigraphic (Plate VI, 180, 184; VII, 186).

As both the groups of aes without SC preceded the main aes issues at Rome and were thoroughly Roman in type and content, they might possibly be regarded as patterns for the mint of Rome. The evidence of finds, however, and the state of wear of many examples without SC make it abundantly clear that the coins without SC did in fact circulate. It is, of course, possible for patterns to slip into circulation; but each of Nero's types without SC is known from several dies, the copper asses without SC are known from more than thirty obverse dies, and some of the obverse dies in the second group without SC remained in use after the development of die flaws. All this distinctly suggests that the two groups of aes without SC constituted two small issues.

The explanations of Gnecchi, Grant and Mattingly are all based on the assumption that S(enatus) C(onsulto) means 'struck by order of the Senate" and seek to explain how Nero's aes without SC could have been struck without this authorization. But in a recent study Kraft 92 has questioned the validity of this assumption. He notes that by the 6o's b.c. there was a clear and specific relation between SC and the type of the coins on which SC is found, that there was a personalized application of these new principles in Octavian's favor. He asks why SC is found regularly on the aes of the Augustan moneyers but not on their gold and silver, unless SC refers specifically to the type content of the aes. He analyzes the few issues of aes of the Julio-Claudians that lack SC, such as the SPQR OB CIVES SERVATOS SPQR MEMORIAE AGRIPPINAE and EXSC corona civica types and notes that most of them specifically illustrate and define honors conferred publicly on the imperial house or are presentation types. Kraft argues that such an absence of SC indicates that the origin of the formula on the aes lay in the honors with which it was associated, not in the authorization as such of the coinage; and he concludes that SC means "honour in the form of the corona civica, etc., bestowed on the Emperor by decree of the Senate."

Kraft's arguments seem to be heavily supported for the Augustan period by Sutherland's further study of the symbolism of the aes coinages of Augustus.93 The CA issues of Asia, the SC issues of Antioch, the Altar issues of Lugdunum, and the issues of several city coinages in Spain are shown to have had one major and consistent purpose—the duty of recalling the supreme honors paid to Augustus after Actium, and in each case the honors are accompanied by a reference to the agency authorizing the honors shown. On the other hand, Aase Bay reminds us that we should also consider constitutional and administrative practice. She points out that the letters SC under Augustus and the aes of the reopened mint of Rome with the coin reform of Augustus introducing orichalcum go together. In this context she sees SC as something to vouch for the legality of the new experimental currency — the guarantee and authorization for the new issue. 94

It is particularly difficult to accept Kraft's thesis for the varied reverse types of the later Julio-Claudian coinages. During this period, some reverse types have a specifically senatorial reference relating to the type such as DIVO AVGVSTO SPQR on the sestertii of Tiberius, EX SC OB CIVES SERVATOS with the corona civica on aurei, denarii and sestertii of Claudius, and EXSC with the corona civica on the prereform aurei and denarii of Nero. But otherwise the aes denominations normally had the senatorial reference whatever their reverse types might be; and the gold and silver never had the senatorial references SC even when it used the same types as the aes. Under Claudius, for example, CONSTANTIAE AVGVSTI is used as a type on all three metals, but only the aes uses the type with SC. Again in Nero's post-reform coinages, the seated Roma and Janus temple types are used on all three metals, but only the aes denominations use the types with SC. 95 In this important respect the aes denominations are differentiated sharply from the gold and silver. If there is no other senatorial reference arising out of the type, the aes denominations deliberately introduce a reference to the Senate in the form of SC.

The notable exception is the aes of Nero without SC. The reverse types of these issues: Adlocutio, Annona, Congiarium and Decursio on the sestertii; Macellum, Securitas and Victoria on the dupondii; Apollo and Genius on the asses; Roma and the Table on the semisses omit SC in Issues I and II at Rome, but use it in Issues III and IV. By this stage SC can hardly refer to the type alone. Otherwise it should be found equally on all aes issues with the same types.

We can therefore accept Kraft's view about the original significance of SC under Augustus but we must equally accept Mattingly's correction 96 of Kraft—that there was subsequently a change of use and the original reference of the SC may itself have been ambiguous. There is still a "concordia" of emperor and senate, but it is not only the general concordia expressed by the grant of the civic oak, but a more special concordia concerned with the issue of token coinage.

This does not however mean a return to the old view that SC appears by right, and is proof of the Senate's authority to issue aes at Rome. 97 Quite apart from Kraft's objections, there are several other indications that the senatorial reference on the aes was one of courtesy alone, and not of specific right. Perhaps the most significant is the fact that under Nero at least if not previously, the aes seems to have been struck in officinae that were at other times engaged in the production of gold and silver. 98 The imperial character of the aes with SC is underlined in other ways. On the restored aes of Titus and Domitian 99 the formula always referred directly to the act of the Emperor in restoring the pieces though SC was generally appended. Many validating countermarks were decidedly imperial: 100 AVG; IMP; IMP AVG; TIB; NCAPR; ΓΑΛΒΑ; the Caesar and Vespasian monograms, etc. Countermarks quoting the Senate's authority were confined to SPQR and SPR in the context of the Civil War propaganda. A specifically imperial reference in a coin type like Caligula's ADLOCVT COH 101 or Titus' ANNONA AVG 102 warranted the complete omission of any reference to the Senate, although the pieces clearly belonged to the same mint as the rest of the aes. The reverse type of SC inside a wreath is regularly used on the aes issues of Antioch on the Orontes 103 in the chief imperial province of the east, and its reference must still be to the Roman Senate. Nero's western aes struck in an imperial province at Lugdunum was always marked SC, 104 and so too were the issues of Galba in Spain and Gaul. In fact the Senate's role can hardly have exceeded the complimentary form. 105

The prominence given to SC certainly decreased markedly during the Julio-Claudian period. Whereas the Augustan moneyers used the letters as a distinct type, around which they set their names, Tiberius often substituted another reverse type and relegated SC to a comparatively unimportant place in the field. Under Nero and later emperors SC found a place only in the reverse field, and by the second century the letters became noticeably diminished in size. The whole process is undoubtedly symptomatic of the declining importance of the Senate.

Nero's aes without SC was the first aes to be struck at Rome for more than a decade, and this in itself would greatly facilitate any change in type and reference. The omission of SC from his first two issues in a.d. 63/64, shortly before he dropped the complimentary EXSC from the gold and silver and at a time when his relations with the senate had become considerably strained should, I believe, be regarded as a deliberate and calculated attempt to abandon a complimentary formula the reality of which had disappeared and the importance of which had considerably waned.

On Nero's gold and silver there is a comparable development. The issues of a.d. 54/55 to 59/60 have the type of the corona civica and the senatorial reference EXSC (Plate I, 2, 4, 10). The formula continues when the types are changed to Ceres, Roma and Virtus in a.d. 60/61 (Plate I, 11–14, 19, 20) but it is ultimately dropped in the reformed issues from a.d. 64 onward (Plate I, 22ff.). Kraft refers EXSC to the type, the corona civica, and when the type is changed he regards the continued use of EXSC as a "vestigial organ." Mattingly inverts the argument and suggests that EXSC cannot refer only to the corona civica because of its persistence when the new types were introduced. He sees a deliberate ambiguity suggesting "civilitas"—that the Senate had some part in the dated gold and silver issues. The distinction is a fine one, but the point is clear. A senatorial reference derived in part from the type persists as a complimentary reference when the type is changed, and is ultimately dropped. It is dropped about the same time as the issues of Nero's earliest aes—the two issues that omit SC.

Issue I of Nero's aes, the first complete aes issue in a range of types to omit SC during the Julio-Claudian period, consisted of copper asses and semisses—denominations which were indistinguishable from those already in circulation, and in which the only innovation was the omission of the traditional senatorial reference. But Issue II, similarly without SC, made a drastic break with previous monetary practice. Hitherto sestertii and dupondii alone had been struck in orichalcum but now for the first time a general orichalcum coinage was introduced for all the aes denominations. This was closely followed by Issue III which struck the same range of denominations in orichalcum with the same range of reverse types, but now had SC on all denominations and marks of value on the dupondii, asses, semisses and quadrantes. All the later issues of Nero's aes at both Rome and Lugdunum invariably included SC. The change in policy at this juncture, and the decision to include once more the traditional senatorial reference on the aes seems to be occasioned by a need to associate the Senate with the new and unfamiliar monetary system. It is probably no coincidence that SC was restored to Nero's aes in the same issue as the marks of value were introduced.

End Notes

Gnecchi, Medaglioni, pp. xxxii ff.