Marcus Aurelius, as Caesar, 139-161.
Dupondius (Orichalcum, 26 mm, 12.92 g, 12 h), Rome, 159-160. AVRELIVS CAESAR AVG PII F Bare head of Marcus Aurelius to right. Rev.
TR POT XIIII COS II • / S - C Mars advancing right, holding spear in his right hand and trophy over his left shoulder. BMC 2106. Cohen 759. RIC 1354A(a). An exceptional piece, sharply struck and with a splendid, remarkably detailed portrait. Somewhat smoothed, otherwise,
good extremely fine.
From the Aes Augustorum Collection, formed since the late 1990s.
When Hadrian chose Antoninus Pius as his successor in 138 after the death of Aelius Caesar, it was on the express condition that he in turn would adopt Lucius Verus, Aelius' son, and Marcus Aurelius, Aelius' prospective son-in-law, as his heirs. Antoninus carried out Hadrian's wishes, but in 139, only Aurelius was made Caesar, probably because Verus was still a child at the time. Moreover, in 145, the betrothal between Verus and Faustina the Younger, Antoninus' daughter, was dissolved, and she married Aurelius instead, a happy union despite rumors about Faustina's infidelity.
Over the years, the bond between adoptive father and son only gained in strength. According to the Historia Augusta (7.3), Aurelius left the emperor's side for just two nights in twenty-three years time. Undoubtedly, their personalities meshed well; in his Meditations (1.16), Aurelius praises Antoninus for his mild and just character, traits he would embody as a Stoic philosopher-emperor as well. When Antoninus passed away in 161, the succession went smoothly, and Aurelius, to his credit, did not push Verus aside, but made him his colleague in all regards, honoring the plan Hadrian had drawn up over two decades earlier.