Weight: 27.050 g
Diameter: 35.000 mm
Coins and Medals
Brass sestertius of Nero
Roman, AD 64-66
Minted in Lugdunum (modern Lyon, France)
Pax Romana, the Roman Peace
The emperor Nero is mostly remembered as the tyrannical emperor who played on his lyre while Rome burned around him. He saw himself as a great artist, musician, and military victor. To celebrate the universal peace of his reign, he ordered the gates of the Temple of Janus in the Forum in Rome to be closed. This only happened when the Roman armies were not at war anywhere in the empire.
The back of this coin celebrates this event. The building shown is the Temple of Janus with doors closed. The legend around the edge reads: 'He has closed Janus, because peace has been won for the People of Rome on land and sea.' For the warlike Romans, peace was won through conquest, not concord. Universal peace meant that the Romans were everywhere victorious, not that they had made peace with their enemies.
Janus was a god with two faces who looked in two directions. The first month of the Roman year, January, was named after him as it too looked in two directions - back to the old year and forward to the new.
M.T. Griffin, Nero, the end of a dynasty-1 (London, Routledge, 1987)
T. Cornell and J. Matthews, Atlas of the Roman world (Phaidon, 1987)