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PORTRAITS OF THE ROMANS


The die engravers (celators) of the Romans occasionally hit their mark, resulting in portraiture on the coins that were masterpieces of Roman art. Some of the earlier ones are rather life like, which later ones tend to be more stylized. Once in a while one of these masterpieces comes my way allowing me to photograph it, the digitally extract the portrait from the coin to show off the fine detailed work they were able to do. The smaller images on this page, and the larger regular images I link to, are taken directly from the coins with no enhancements. Only on those where I link to a colored image have been enhanced in any way, to add the color to get a better feel for how these people may have looked in person. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do:

claudius cistophorus.

Claudius was one of the more famous Roman emperors, who probably never wanted to be Emperor. Once forced onto the throne he proved a very able Emperor and ruled from AD 42 to 54. This particular portrait was taken from a Cistophorus struck at Ephesus and probably one of the more true to life we see on his coins.



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Lucius Verus denarius

Lucius Verus was the son of Aelius, Hadrian's first choice for his heir. When Aelius died before Hadrian, Antoninus Pius became the heir but Hadrian stipulated that Lucius Verus become Pius's co-heir along with Marcus Aurelius. On Pius' death Marcus Aurelius became Emperor but to honor Hadrian made Lucius Verus co-emperor, the first time that had happened in the Roman Imperial series. Verus proved a poor ruler, and it is likely he was not missed on his premature death in AD 169.



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Septimus Severus.

Septimius Severus was one of the great Roman generals, bringing order to the Empire following the civil war of AD 293. This portrait, which shows him in all his military splendor, comes from a silver tetradrachm minted at Laodicaea ad Mare in Syria. This was my first ever attempt at a portrait extraction.



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Geta denarius.

Geta was the younger son of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna. In Ad 198 He was raised to the rank of Caesar as his brother Caracalla was to co-Emperor. Then in 209 he was made co-Emperor as well, but in 211 shortly after the death of their father, Geta was murdered by his very jealous and vicious brother.



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paulina denarius.

Paulina was the Wife of Maximinus Thrax who ruled Roman from AD 235 to 238 and mother of Maximus. She probably died just as Maximinus came to the throne and is not mentioned in histories written at that time, but the coins leave little doubt as to who she was. This portrait is from a denarius minted at Rome.



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Gordian III antoninianus.

Gordian III was only 13 years old when he was thrust onto the throne as a puppet Emperor by the Pretorian Guard and 19 when he was murdered by the praetorian prefect M. Julius Philippus, more commonly known as the Roman Emperor Philip I.



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Tacitus Antoninianus.

Tacitus ruled Rome from AD 275 to 276. He was 75 years old when proclaimed Emperor by the Senate following the assassination of Aurelian, an act in which he played no part. He immediately took to the field to command the Thracian army against a Gothic invasion of Asia Minor but the effort was too much for him and he died while still in Asian Minor.



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Julian of Pannonia Antoninianus.

Julian of Pannonia was a general who rebelled again Carinus in AD 284. He declared himself Emperor and marched his army against Rome, but when the two armies clashed near Verona early AD 285 Julian was defeated and killed.



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Maxentius follis.

Maxentius the son of Maximianus and was passed over several times for power, but eventually became one of the tetrarchy Emperors and ruled from AD 307 to 312. He is not known as one of Rome's great emperors, but his portrait on this bronze follis minted at Rome is still well done.



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Magentius bronze.

Magnentius was proclaimed Emperor of the Western provinces by his troops at Augustodunum on January 18th AD 350, usurping power from the unpopular Constans who was soon after murdered by Magnentius supporters. First establishing his hold over the west, he moved his army east as far as Sirmium, but after a series of battles againt forces loyal to Constantius II he suffered a major defeat in the battle of Mursa Major, on the 28th of September 351. By mid 352 he could no longer control Italy and was slowly driven back to Gaul where he committed suicide on the 10th of August, 353.



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All portrait images on this page are extracted from the coins by myself, Robert Kokotailo, and I hold the copywrite on them. If you see one here that you have a use for, please contact me and let me know how you wish to use it. I will usually give permission for non-commercial use. Students at all levels of formal eduction who need these for education purposes, such as illustrating papers they are writing, non-commercial websites they are building, etc, may do so without asking permission, although I would appreciate being given credit for the mage and where applicable a link back to this page. The same goes for Teachers who may have a use for one in the class room.



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