Imperator Caesar Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus
Reign: Marcus Aurelius
Mint: Codrula, Pisidia
Date: 177/180 AD
Reference: RPC IV.3 7318 (this coin)
Reference: SNG BN 1428
Reference: SNG von Aulock Pisidiens I 989
RPC Online: https://rpc.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/coins/4/7318
Rare: Specimens 4 (1 in the core collections)
Provenance: Olympus Numismatik Löhne, Germany (Auction 2, Lot 242)
Special: RPC Online Plate coin
Obverse: Laureate head of Commodus (youthful), right
Inscription: ΑVΤ ΚΑΙ Λ ΑV ΚοΜΜοΔο
Translation: Autokrator Kaisaros Lucios Aurelios Kommodos
Translation: Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Commodus
Reverse: Dionysus standing, left, holding cantharus over panther and long thyrsus
Translation: City and People of Codrula
Comment: Dionysos (Latinised Dionysus) is the god of wine, joy, grapes, fertility, madness and ecstasy in the Greek world of the gods (compare the Dionysia). He was additionally called Bromios („noisemaker“), Bacchus („caller“) or Bakchos by the Greeks and Romans because of the noise his entourage made. Dionysus was often equated with Iakchos and is the youngest of the great Greek gods. In literature and poetry he is often referred to as Lysios and as Lyaeus („the Worry Breaker“), but also as Anthroporrhaistes („Man Shatterer“). Dionysus is usually depicted with ivy or vine tendrils and grapes. His attributes are the thyrsos crowned with ivy and vines and the kantharos (drinking vessel for wine). He is also often depicted with panther or tiger skins. He was usually triumphantly accompanied by the Silene and satyrs (such as the Ampelos), who embody the fertility of untamed nature.
In his capacity as god of joy, the theatre was invented in Athens through the Dionysia and the prototype theatre was built, the Dionysus Theatre in Athens. As a solver (Lysios, Lyaios) he unleashed the people, freed them from worries and made walls collapse. Later in Rome, the Dionysia were celebrated as the Bacchanalia, because Dionysus in Latin means Bacchus. The festival was celebrated from the 2nd century BC and took place annually on 16 and 17 March on the hill of Aventine in Rome. In terms of religious psychology, Dionysia and Bacchanalia should be understood as an intoxicating cult of spring and fertility: The overcoming of the season of winter through the renewed growth of vegetation, which could be experienced by everyone, was related to the human joy of being and, not least, sexuality. Bacchanalia could have been excessive through the consumption of alcohol with psychedelic substances such as hallucinogenic mushrooms and even belladonna. In „Bacchae“, Euripides describes the participants as revelers who put on skins and hides and assume animal roles.
The Bacchanalia scandal 186 BC. In the 39th book of his Roman history Ab urbe condita („From the Founding of the City“), the Roman historian Titus Livius gives a detailed and extremely dramatic account of the events. In addition, there are several mentions of the Bacchanalia scandal in the anecdotal collection of Valerius Maximus, from which, however, we learn nothing beyond what is reported by Livius. In the early 2nd century BC, the bacchanalia escalated into boisterous, licentious orgies. First of all, Livius reported that the spread of the form of the cult of Bacchus, ultimately suppressed by the Senate, started from a Greek priest of lesser rank who had resided for a time in Etruria, then turned to Rome and began to seek followers for his nocturnal rites. At first there were only a few whom he was able to initiate into his mysteries, but soon their number grew considerably, due to the attraction that the enjoyment of wine and sexual permissiveness, which occurred in the course of these Bacchic orgies, exerted on women as well as men. Every conceivable kind of licentiousness was practised there. In 186 BC, after a scandal, they were strictly regulated by the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus, the „Senate Decree on the Bacchanalia“. According to reports by the historians Flavius and Titus Livius, the scandal was uncovered by the consul Spurius Postumius Albinus. A total of 7000 women and men were executed and the bacchanalia became subject to approval.
Commodus is best known for his fondness for the hero Hercules. However, Commodus was also – at least in the early years – celebrated and honored as the new Dionysus, as can be found on many inscriptions. An example from Ephesus, found near the old harbor in the apsidal building near the so-called baptismal font of John. Here the emperor is identified with a god as a “new Dionysos” (AGRW 173 = IEph 293 = PHI 248767 = AGRW ID# 1319 Copenhagen Inventory info: 1620). The translation, according to Harland, is: “The emperor-loving, hair-cloth wearing (or: sack-bearing) initiates (sakēphoroi mystai) of the primal god Dionysos Koreseitos set this up in honor of emperor Caesar M. Aurelius Commodos Antoninus Augustus, new Dionysos, during the priesthood of M. Aurelius Menemachos, the high-priest and president”.
Codrula (also Kodrula or Kodroula) was a town of ancient Pisidia inhabited during Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times. Unfortunately, historical data and further information about the ancient city are very sparse. Its site is located near Kaynar Kale and 10km west of Yazipinar, in Asiatic Turkey. The remains of the ancient city are in today’s Bucak County (and district town of the same name), which is in the Turkish province of Burdur. About ten kilometers northeast of the county seat, near the village of Çamlık, lie the ruins of the ancient Pisid city of Kremna. In the southeast of the district, the Aksu Çayı River, which flows into the Mediterranean Sea near Antalya, is dammed to form the Karacaören Barajı Reservoir. In the west of the district are the Seljuk caravanserais of Susuz Han and İncir Han. The name of the present village Kestel goes back to the ancient Kodrula. The colonization of the region, and perhaps of the city, was probably carried out by Macedonian and Seleucid veterans, respectively military colonists as suggested by numerous monuments, inscriptions and dedications found. The buildings of the ancient city, which was an uninterrupted settlement from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine period, descend from the summit to the slopes. At the foot is a large building, but its function is not clear, and to the east of it is a Doric temple. The necropolis is located, outside the remains of the city walls, made of hewn stones at the front of the city. Likewise, the baths, an aqueduct and smaller monuments were excavated, recorded and the city walls mapped.
Many cults were actively practiced in Kodrula, as Peter Talloen (2015) describes in his publication “Cult in Pisidia. Religious Practice in Southwestern Asia Minor from Alexander the Great to the Rise of Christianity”. Of particular note here is the cult of “Zeus Kotanes.” The epithet of the god worshipped in Kodrula may have been derived from the name of one of the ethnic groups inhabited in the region, the Katenneis (Weiss 1991: 69-71; Hellen-Kemper and Hild 2004: 615), although the latter were placed in the southeast, while the city itself was located on the northern border of the Milyas. On a rocky outcrop east of the center of Kodrula is the Doric Temple (distylos in antis), already mentioned in the first paragraph, built against a rock wall to form the back wall of the building. Below the sanctuary is a subterranean room that can be reached by a staircase in the northern part of the cella. Here there is a rocky niche with two dedicatory inscriptions to Plouto and Kore from the 2nd century AD (Bohne 1960: 48 nos. 96-97). The underground room – an obvious border crossing to the underworld – would then have been used for the cult of Plouto (Hades), while the cella most likely belonged to his consort Kore (Persephone), who, according to ancient mythology, dwelt above ground in spring and summer. The cult of Plouto and Kore in Kodrula was probably known and popular beyond the region, as the sanctuary probably later served as a model for other cult sites in neighboring cities.
The cult of Dionysus also enjoyed increasing popularity from the time of Marcus Aurelius. The city of Kodrula underlined this with statues of the god (a well-known specimen can be seen today in the Museum of Burdur, inventory number E6118); as well as with an extensive minting of bronze coins depicting the god of wine with thyrsus and kantharos. A few coins are found here under Aulock Pisidia I: 972 (Antoninus Pius), 975-978 (Caesar Marcus Aurelius), 986-988 (Commodus), 1001 (Julia Domna), 1006 (Caracalla), 1009-1012 (Elagabal), 1017 (Julia Mamaea), 1019 (Gordianus III) and 1031 (Valerian). On the city boundary with Kolbasa, near a spring, is a stone-carved relief of the goddess Luna, the Dioscuri, and an unidentified horseman with a club (Smith 2011: 144 R9 and 146 D3).