Denarius of Hadrian, “PIETAS AVGVSTI”

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128–138 CE
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Joseph DeGregorio; 2011.69.112

Obverse: Bust of Hadrian, facing right, bearded, laureate. Border of dots.

Legend: HADRIANVS AVG(ustus) CO(n)S(ul) III P(ater) P(atriae) (Hadrian Augustus, consul for the third time, Father of his Country) clockwise from seven o’clock.

Reverse: Pietas seated, facing left, veiled, resting a scepter in the crook of her left arm and holding a patera in her extended right hand. Border of dots.

Legend: PIETAS AVG(usti) (the Pietas of Augustus) clockwise from seven o’clock.


A personified pietas (piety, dutifulness, loyalty) appears early on Roman coinage, on the obverse of a denarius minted by M. Herrenius in 108/7 BCE (Crawford no. 308); but it was the emperor Hadrian who first extensively used the seated female labeled “Pietas” on the reverse of his coins to communicate imperial piety, as one of the imperial virtues. It emphasizes Hadrian as a leader devoted to peace, protection, and stability of the Empire.

This text was prepared by Kyle DePriest, Class of 2013

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