Dupondius of Trajan, “OPTIMO PRINCIPI”

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103 CE
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Joseph De Gregorio; 2011.69.135

Obverse: Bust of Trajan, facing right, wearing a radiate crown, with drapery over the right shoulder.

Legend: IMP(erator) CAES(ar) NERVAE TRAIANO AVG(ustus) GER(manicus) DAC(icus) P(ontifex) M(aximus) TR(ibunicia) P(otestas) CO(n)S(ul)V P(ater) P(atriae) (Emperor Caesar Nerva Trajan Augustus Germanicus Dacius, Pontifex Maximus, endowed with power of the Tribune, consul for the fifth time, Father of his Country) clockwise from six o’clock.

Reverse: A trophy consisting of a hexagonal shield, war club, arrows, round shield, two shields at base, and topped by a helmet.

Legend: S(enatus)P(opulus)Q(ue)R(omanus) OPTIMO PRINCIPI (the Senate and the Roman People, for the best Princeps) clockwise from seven o’clock.


Trajan (r. 98–117) places a military emphasis on the coin, using a radiate crown on the obverse and a trophy on the reverse. The iconography depends on its connection to the coinage of Vespasian and Augustus, who both celebrated military victories by conjuring images of the divine and Roman power. Therefore, despite evidence of his humility, Trajan still sought to prove his strength to the Roman populace through coinage and simultaneous construction projects (Trajan’s column, Arch of Beneventum).

This text was prepared by Jacob Shoemaker, Class of 2012

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