Other Coins

Coins that do not Feature Portraits of Trajan

Throughout all of the above examples, a bust of Trajan’s face and a listing of his titles has consistently been seen on the obverse of coins.

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Graph Showing Percent of Coins with Portraits of Trajan

Overall, 87% of all coins have portraits of Trajan on the Obverse. The coins that do not feature his portraiture, however, are also interesting examples of Trajan’s projection of power.

AN00649665_001_l

Aureus, 98-117 A.D. Bust of Plotina on obverse, Goddess Vesta on reverse.

Obverse: PLOTINA AVG IMP TRAIANI

Reverse: AVG GER DAC PARTHICI P M TR P COS VI P P

The above aureus features the face of Plotina, Trajan’s wife, on the obverse. On the reverse is Vesta, virgin Goddess of the hearth, home and family. It is possible that the feminine connection of the Goddess is the reason for Plotina’s portrait to be placed on the obverse, but since images of Vesta are also found on coins featuring the usual bust of Trajan as well, this seems unlikely. It seems that Trajan simply wished to honor his wife by including her on currency.

AN00636979_001_l

Denarius, 103-115 A.D. Bust of Augustus on obverse, equestrian statue of Agrippa on reverse.

Obverse: AVGVSTVS

Reverse: IMP CAES TRAIAN AVG GER DAC P P REST COSSVS CN F LENTVLVS

AN00658091_001_l

Aureus, 103-115 A.D. Bust of Nerva on obverse, Nerva riding elephant drawn chariot on reverse.

Obverse: DIVVS NERVA

Reverse: IMP CAES TRAIAN AVG GER DAC P P REST

AN00658085_001_l

Aureus, 103-115 A.D. Bust of Claudius on obverse, Goddess Concordia on reverse.

Obverse: DIVVS CLAVDIVS

Reverse: IMP CAES TRAIAN AVG GER DAC P P REST

Another occurrence was to place the busts of previous “good” emperors on coins. The above coins show Augustus, Nerva, and Claudius, with Nerva and Claudius being shown as deified by the coins legends. The reverse of the coin featuring Nerva also shows the former emperor being pulled by a procession of elephants, a symbol of deity.

It is likely that Trajan sought to draw connections between himself and earlier, successful emperors to help legitimize and popularize his rule. Almost all popular rulers since the beginning of the empire are included in at least a few coins by Trajan, while rulers with a bad reputation, such as Caligula, Nero, and Domitian, are conspicuously absent.