Roman Empire, Antoninus Pius, 138-161, AE Sestertius, COS III=140-144
Laur. head of Antoninus Pius r.
Rev.: Sow r. under holm-oak, suckling seven youngs; an eighth in front.
Antoninus Pius (* 86 near Lanuvium; † 7 March 161)
He was a Roman Emperor from 10 July 138 until his death. As emperor he called himself Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius.
The Roman Empire experienced its last prolonged period of peace under him, the fourth of the six adopted emperors and founder of the Antonine dynasty.
The sources for the long reign of Antoninus are unfavourable. The quiet course of his reign, the lack of spectacular events, the absence of major military conflicts probably contributed significantly to the relative sparseness of the reports of the ancient historians.
The main source is the late antique biography of the emperor in the Historia Augusta. This work of history is generally considered unreliable, as some of its descriptions of emperors' lives offer freely invented information.
However, the brief account of the reign of Antoninus is one of the valuable parts of the work; it is generally credible because it contains material from good older tradition. Cassius Dio treated the period in the seventieth book of his work of history, which, however, has only been preserved in fragments. Other literary sources are the letters of Marcus Cornelius Fronto and Marcus Aurelius's introspections.
In addition, there is numismatic and archaeological evidence. The coins provide valuable information about the emperor's self-portrayal. Among other things, the numismatic material sources are indicative of Antoninus Pius' celebration of the Decennalia. In ancient Rome, the Decennalia were festivities celebrating the ten-year reign of an emperor.