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Roman Empire

Ruler: Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus
Reigned: 139-180 AD and 161-169 AD
Denomination: AR 'Restoration' Denarius
Mint: Rome
Date of Issue: 168 to 169 AD
Obverse: Galley right. "ANTONIVS AVGVR" In exergue: " III VIR R P C"
Reverse: Legionary eagle between two standards "ANTONINVS ET VERVS AVG REST" "LEG VI" across lower field.
Reference: RIC 443, RCVM 5236, RSC Mark Antony 83
Weight: 3.1 gms
Diameter: 18.4 mm
Comment: This coin copies the 'Legionary' Denarii of Mark Antony, minted around 31 BC in Greece for his war against Octavian.

The reasons for this remarkable restoration remain obscure. Mattingly (BMCRE, p. cxxiii) suggests that Legio VI Ferrata, which had fought for Antony at Philippi in 42 BC, may have played a leading role in the Parthian War of 164 AD, the exceptional commemoration of this achievement on the coinage being prompted by the legion's long and distinguished history and the similarity of the names 'Antonius' and 'Antoninus'. The 200th anniversary of the Battle of Actium perhaps provides a more obvious reason for the issue.


  • Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus was born Marcus Annius Verus at Rome on 26 April 121, in his mother's garden villa on the Caelian Hill.
  • His family originally came from Ucubi, near Corduba, in Spain.
  • In 138 AD the emperor Hadrian adopted Antoninus (Pius), marking him out as his successor.
  • At the same time Antoninus adopted his wife's nephew, Marcus Annius Verus (the future Marcus Aurelius), then 16, and the young Lucius Ceionius Commodus (the future Lucius Verus), son of that Lucius Ceionius Commodus who had been Hadrian's first choice as heir but had died two months earlier.
  • Antoninus Pius ruled from the death of Hadrian in 138.
  • Marcus Aelius was made Caesar under Antonininus in 139.
  • On the death of Antoninus Pius in 161, Marcus became emperor, choosing Lucius Verus as his co-ruler, rather than a junior partner as expected.
  • In 161 the Parthian War errupted over control of Armenia. Lucius Verus was reponsible for the successful conclosion of this campaign.
  • Soldiers returning from this war brought back plague, which devastated Rome in 167.
  • In 168, both emperors set out to the Danube frontier to confront Germanic invaders. In 169, on the way back, Verus suffered a stroke and later died.
  • He was soon back in the north fighting the Quadi and Marcomanni, Germanic peoples living north of the Danube.
  • During these years that he began to write his famous "Meditations".
  • In 175, there was a revolt in the east, led by Gaius Avidius Cassius, governor of Syria, spurred by the false rumour of Marcus's death.
  • The revolt was put down, and the result was that Marcus's son, Commodus was made heir-apparent with the status of Caesar.
  • In 178 Marcus and Commodus set out once more for the Danube frontier, but by 180 Marcus was seriously ill.
  • Marcus Aurelius died near Sirmium, on 17th March 180.

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