Hadrian ruled over the Roman Empire from 117 to 138. In contrast to previous emperors, he spent more than half of his reign away from home. Driven by curiosity and ambition, he travelled long distances to the far corners of his empire leaving behind Hadrian’s Wall, a 73-mile defence that runs across the dramatic Scottish landscape, marking the northern frontier of Britannia. Hadrian is often spoken about as a high-minded cultured traveller of the classical world, but this Gold Aureus reveals another side to the emperor’s character.
Disciplina Militaris: The discipline of the Roman Army. He was strict and frugal, keeping his soldiers busy and ready for battle. The standard was high, and there were no exceptions – not even for himself. Hadrian would live just like his men, sleeping rough and eating the same rations. His leadership won respect and admiration among the ranks. Influenced by his ideals, many of the soldiers followed worshipped the Goddess Disciplina. The cavalry base at Cilumum on the Tyne, close to Hadrian’s Wall, was even dedicated to this minor diety.
The very rare Gold Aureus depicts the head of Hadrian with the reverse showing Hadrian advancing in front of three legionaries, who follow him, each holding a military standard. Such a coin would no doubt have been popular along the frontiers. The Gold Aureus represents something even more sought-after than the coin itself. The virtues of discipline and bravery – Hadrian’s message to the empire.