Reading Roman Coin Inscriptions

Reading the Latin inscriptions on Roman coins is not hard once you get the basics. In this first coin of Maxentius, the meaning of the inscription is included in the image:

Trajan had the longest inscriptions seen on coins mainly due to the many honorific titles bestowed upon him by the senate. The denarius below has a modest length inscription for Trajan. The coin which predates Maxentius by about 200 years has some of the same titles, namely IMP and CAES. The other titles are read thusly:

Obverse - Emperor's name: Traiano (Trajan coins often have his adopted father's name before = N, NER, NERVA, or NERVAE), followed by titles gained from successful military campaigns (GER - Germany, DAC - Dacia). Later Parthico was added for his campaign against Parthia. PM - PONTIFEX MAXIMUS - Highest priest of the Roman religion. TR P - TRIBUNICIA POTESTATE - Tribune of the Roman people.
Reverse: COS V = Fifth Consulship - CONSUL - The consuls were the chief magistrates of the Roman government with two appointed each year. This is a very useful tool for dating coins of Trajan. PP = PATER PATRIAE - Father of his country Guess where GW's title came from). SPQR = Senatus Populusque Romanus (The Senate and People of Rome). OPTIMO PRINC = The greatest ruler (another special title bestowed to Trajan).
Early coins of the Empire usually do not have inscriptions in the exegue. However following successful campaigns, a title can appear there. In this case DAC CAP = Dacia in Captivity. On other coins of Trajan the name of the personification appearing on the reverse, e.g. VESTA and FORT RED (Fortuna Redux) can also be in the exergue.
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