Marcus Aurelius owes much of him becoming Augustus to Hadrian who
groomed him from childhood for the post. He became Caesar shortly after Hadrian
died and the political grooming continued under Antoninus Pius. He had to wait
another twenty years or so to become Augustus himself in the year 161. No sooner
did this happen than he was thrust in a series of wars that would eat up the
rest of his time in office. He died while fighting the ever-harassing tribes of
the Germanic region and power then passed to his son Commodus.
During his lengthy reign he is remembered as being among the noblest and most
even-keeled of emperors. He preferred to use the considerable power of his post
to pursue a period of enlightenment out of character not only for his age but
clear across time to our very own. Gibbon summarizes that he "was severe to
himself, indulgent to the imperfections of others, just and beneficent to all
AE As 139--180 A.D.
Obv. AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG P II F COS: Draped and bare-headed bust right
Rev. PIETAS AVG S C: Aspergillum, praeferculum, lituus, and simplum
RIC 1240, C. 455, Van Meter 160
AE As 161--180 A.D.
26 mm. struck 162/163
Obv. IMP M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG PM: Bare head right
Rev. SALVTI AVGVSTOR TR P XVII: Salus standing left, using patera to feed a
snake arising from an altar
BMC 1044, Van Meter 161
AR Denarius 161--180 A.D.
3.25 g., 18 mm.
Obv. AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F: Bare-headed bust right
Rev. TR POT III COS II: Minerva standing right, holding spear and leaning on a shield
RC 618, C. 634, Van Meter 43/1
AR Dupondius 161--180 A.D.
Rome struck ca. 170--171 A.D.
Obv. M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXV: Radiate head right
Rev. IMP VI COS III S C: Victory standing right, attaching a shield on which is inscribed
C. 268, RIC 1002
AE Sestertius 139--180 A.D.
32.63 g.,30 mm., 5 mm. thickness ca. 157--158 A.D.
Obv. AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG P II FIL: Bare-headed, draped bust right
Rev. TR POT XII COS II S C: Felicitas standing left, holding caduceus and scepter,