World Coins

Market Analysis: A powerful portrait of Emperor Nero on aureus

A powerful portrait of Roman Emperor Nero is seen on this gold aureus that was struck in Rome circa 64 to 65 A.D. that realized $25,000 on September 16.

Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group

When compared with the upward glance seen on the gold solidus of Constantine in the Classical Numismatic Group September auction, the portrait on this gold aureus of Nero, 54 to 68, conveys a more direct and perhaps aggressive type of power.

His laureate head looks right, while the reverse depicts a toga-wearing Nero, standing facing, left knee slightly bent, holding branch in right hand and Victory on globe in left. It is a depiction of Nero’s Colossus, an approximately 120-foot-tall bronze statue of the emperor as Sol that was created by Zenodorus for a massive palace constructed by Nero after the famed fire of 64.

This aureus was struck in Rome around 64 to 65 and was previously offered in a 2001 Numismatica Ars Classica auction. CNG described the impressive piece as Extremely Fine and lustrous, with a few minor die breaks. It realized $25,000 at Classical Numismatic Group’s Sept. 16 to 17 Feature Auction 115.

Contemporary depictions of Nero in marble are not often seen today since many of his images were destroyed after his death following the damnatio memoriae (condemnation of memory) of Nero. For example, a portrait bust of Vespasian, who served as Roman emperor from 69 to 79 A.D., in the Cleveland Museum of Art was recut from a head of Nero.

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