Sestertius of Hadrian, “COS III”

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117–138 CE
Hood Museum of Art: Gift of Arthur Fairbanks, Class of 1886; 27.1.29321

Obverse: Bust of Hadrian, facing right, bearded, laureate, with drapery over the left shoulder. Border of dots.

Legend: HADRIANVS AVGVSTVS (Hadrian Augustus) clockwise from seven o’clock.

Reverse: Roma, seated left on cuirass, helmeted, round shield behind, right foot on helmet, displaying a winged victory in her outstretched right hand and a cornucopia in her left. Border of dots.

Legend: CO(n)S(ul) III (consul for the third time) clockwise from eight o’clock. S(enatus) C(onsulto)(by the decree of the Senate) in exergue.


This coin displays the longevity of the masculine and warlike figure of Roma who first appears with weapons (and labeled ΡΩΜΑ) on the reverse of a didrachm minted by Locri in the early third century BCE; subsequently appears sitting on a pile of weapons, resting her helmeted head on the butt of her spear, and watching the twins Romulus and Remus being suckled by the wolf before her on an anonymous denarius of 115/114 BCE; and continues throughout the Republic and Empire. Hadrian’s Roma holds a winged victory and a cornucopia, associated with an endless supply of food and drink, and so represents traditional, successful Roman militarism.

This text was prepared by Kelly Foley, Class of 2012

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