Dupondius of Hadrian, “AETERNITAS AVGVSTI”

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119–123 CE
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Arthur Fairbanks, Class of 1886; 27.1.29309

Obverse: Bust of Hadrian, facing right, wearing a radiate crown.

Legend: IMP(erator) CAESAR TRAIANVS HADRIANVS AVG(ustus) P(ontifex) M(aximus) TR(ibunicia) P(otestas) CO(n)S(ul) III, (Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, endowed with power of the Tribune, consul for the third time) clockwise from six o’clock.

Reverse: A draped female figure, facing left, extending both arms and holding bust-like objects in each hand, perhaps the sun in her right hand and the moon in her left hand.

Legend: AETERNITAS AVGVSTI (the Perpetuity of the Augustus) clockwise from seven o’clock. S(enatus)C(onsulto) (by decree of the Senate) in the field.


Examining the historical contexts of the dupondius of Hadrian offers a clear perspective of his purposes. Early in his reign, Hadrian returned to Rome from the east without sufficient recognition, and thus needed to assert his political legitimacy by showing himself the rightful heir of his adoptive father Trajan. To self-promote, he minted Trajanic type of coins with his face in place of Trajan, though he presents himself bearded. Fundamentally, the dupondius shows the interaction of Hadrian’s conformity to traditional values and his desire to innovate and eventually leave his own legacy.

This text was prepared by Zhenwei Mei, Class of 2014

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