Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus
Date: 181/182 AD
Reference: RIC III Commodus 36a var. (narrow abacus between letters)
OCRE Online: https://numismatics.org/ocre/id/ric.3.com.36a
Provenance: H. D. Rauch Numismatik Wien, Austria (Auction 41, Lot 3287)
Special: Variation narrow abacus between letters
Obverse: Head of Commodus, laureate, right
Inscription: M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG
Translation: Marcus Commodus Antoninus Augustus
Reverse: Liberalitas, draped, standing left, holding abacus in right hand and cornucopiae in left hand
Inscription: LIB AVG V TR P VII IMP IIII COS III P P
Translation: Liberalitas Augustorum Quinta, Tribunicia Potestate Septima, Imperator, Quartum, Consul Tertium, Pater Patriae
Translation: The fifth liberality of the Augustus, holder of tribunician power for the seventh time, Imperator for the fourth time, consul for the third time, father of the nation
Comment: Financial management under Commodus was particularly bad. Partly as a result of the senseless expenditure on competitions and games of all kinds, partly as a result of the lavish gifts to the people, there was a great shortage of money (Dio LXXII 16, 1-3. Comm. 16, 8-9). Commodus had numerous coins minted and issued with Liberalitas Augusti; LIB I in 175 AD, LIB II in 177/178 AD, LIB III in 180 AD, LIB IIII in 181 AD, LIB V in 182 AD, LIB VI in 185/186 AD, LIB VII in 190 AD, LIB VIII and LIB IX then for the last time in 192 AD. This lack of money was remedied by confiscations and the sale of offices, as well as by robbery and threats. The background of the Liberalitas V denarius type presented here was the conspiracy in 181 AD against Commodus. Whether Lucilla was actually co-responsible for the assassination of her brother, or to what extent, is historically not perfectly certain. Apparently Commodus’ sister joined forces with her cousin M. Claudius Ummidius Quadratus to assassinate the emperor. The young Tib. Claudius Pompeianus Quintianus was entrusted with the execution. He confronted the emperor at the entrance to the theatre with his sword drawn and shouted: “this is sent to you by the Senate”. But he did not carry out the fatal stroke himself; he was bound and executed. Soon Quadratus was also killed, and, it seems, a Norbana, a Norbanus, a Paralius and his mother as accomplices. Lucilla herself was first banished to the island of Capri and then later executed. To celebrate the failed assassination, coins of the LIB AVG V were issued afterwards.
This specimen is an extremely rare variant with narrow abacus between legend letters.