12 Caesars: The Imperatorial Period

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by IdesOfMarch01, Aug 19, 2017.

  1. IdesOfMarch01

    IdesOfMarch01 Well-Known Member

    Following Julius Caesar’s assassination, Octavian (later to become better known as Augustus Caesar) left his military training in Apollonia, Illyria, and traveled to Italia to find out more about his own status as Caesar’s grand-nephew. Octavian discovered that under the terms of Julius Caesar’s will, he was adopted as Caesar’s son and main heir to two-thirds of Caesar’s estate.

    Octavian.jpg Marcus_Antonius.jpg
    Octavian (Wikipedia Image) Marcus Antonius (Wikipedia Image)

    In 43 BC, Octavian, Marc Antony, and Marcus Lepidus formed an alliance called the Second Triumvirate. This alliance was supported by a law passed by the plebs – the ordinary citizens of Rome. The triumvirs proceeded to write proscriptions – basically banishment and death sentences – against a large number of senators who were believed to be enemies of the triumvirate. These senators had their land and assets seized, and those who did not flee were executed.

    Brutus.jpg Cassius.jpg
    Brutus and Cassius (Wikipedia images)

    The triumvirate was opposed by the co-conspirators Brutus and Cassius, who built armies and a base of power in Greece, hoping to restore the republic and avoid tyrannical rule following Julius Caesar’s assassination. After two battles at Philippi (in Macedonia) in 42 BC, the armies of Brutus and Cassius were defeated by the triumvirs’ army (mainly composed of Antony’s soldiers). Cassius and Brutus both committed suicide following their defeat.

    As is the custom following a military victory, the winners divided up the spoils: Octavian received Gaul, Hispania, and Italia; Antony received Egypt, allying himself with Cleopatra, Caesar’s former lover and mother of Caesar’s infant son Caesarion; Lepidus received the province of Africa.

    Unfortunately, Octavian had a problem on his hands: how to reward the soldiers who had been under his command in Macedonia. Typically, these soldiers would receive land and loot, but there was no government-owned land to give them. Instead, Octavian confiscated civilian land in as many as 18 Roman towns, evicting some or all of these citizens and awarding their land to the soldiers. Not surprisingly, this led to a period of unrest and an uprising led by Lucius Antonius, Marc Antony’s brother. Octavian won this conflict in 40 BC, but spared Lucius and his army due to his kinship with Antony.

    Notably, Octavian married his wife Livia in 38 BC, and the second triumvirate was extended for another five years beginning in 37 BC. However, internal conflicts among the triumvirs and their armies caused it to gradually crumble. Following a victory against rebel Sextus Pompeius, Lepidus’ troops actually defected to Octavian’s side, being weary of the constant wars and finding Octavian’s promises of money more than they could resist. Lepidus surrendered to Octavian, was allowed to retain the office of pontifex maximus, but was ejected from the triumvirate.

    Now the Roman armies were divided between Octavian and Antony. Not making the same mistake twice, Octavian settled his discharged soldiers outside Italia while guaranteeing Roman citizens their rights to their property. In addition, Octavian ensured his own safety, as well as Livia’s and his daughter Octavia’s safety, by forcing the Senate to grant him tribunal immunity from prosecution.

    Cleopatra (Wikipedia image)

    In the East, Marc Antony’s campaign against Parthia was going poorly, and when Octavian failed to support him with sufficient troops, he turned to Cleopatra (with whom he was having an affair) whose army was sufficient to support his efforts. Octavian used this opportunity to vilify Antony, implying that by leaving his wife Octavia (Octavian’s sister) and taking a “Oriental paramour” Antony was becoming less Roman.

    In 32 BC, Octavian forcibly entered the temple of the Vestal Virgins, found Antony’s secret will, and publicized the terms that gave away Roman-conquered territories to Antony’s sons (by Cleopatra) to rule, and designated Alexandria as a tomb site for Antony and Cleopatra. This made it simple for the Senate to officially revoke Antony as a consul and declare war on Antony and Cleopatra.

    Octavian’s great general, Marcus Agrippa, won a decisive naval victory at Actium in 31 BC, and Antony fled to Alexandria in 30 BC. Octavian pursued them, and after a losing battle in Alexandria in 30 BC, both Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide – he, by falling on his sword, and she, by the bite of an asp (supposedly).

    Guarding against possible future conflict with Julius Caesar’s son by Cleopatra, Octavian had Caesarion executed but spared Cleopatra’s children by Antony except for Antony’s oldest son.

    Finally, in 27 BC, Octavian pretended to return full power to the Roman Senate as well as relinquish control of his armies and the provinces they controlled. In reality, because of his now-immense wealth, the loyalty of his former soldiers, and the relationships he had established with individuals and groups throughout the empire, Octavian was fully ensconced as emperor and Rome’s ruling authority.

    About the Coins

    D - Imperatorial mint set.jpg

    The Brutus and Cassius denarii were struck to pay the armies of the two co-conspirators. The jug and lituus are priestly symbols, probably used to represent the noble and just nature of their cause, with divine support. Once described in coin literature as “rare,” these denarii have become more plentiful due to the discovery of a hoard, although ones in uncirculated condition still command a premium.

    The Antony and Octavian aureus, struck to celebrate the formation of the second triumvirate, includes the legend “III VIR R P C,” an abbreviation taken to mean “one of three men for the regulation of the republic.” It is shown on both the obverse and reverse since it applies to both Antony and Octavian.

    The Antony and Cleopatra denarius was struck in 32 BC by a mint moving with Antony, and used to pay his armies. These denarii are difficult to find in well-preserved condition and the auction house describes this specimen as “Rare and in unusually good condition for the issue. Minor mark on obverse cheek and area of weakness on reverse, otherwise about extremely fine.”

    Feel free to add your own images and history.

    Next: Augustus Caesar
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  3. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Fantastic post as usual and a pleasant reading (to say the least)

    Some more coins from the Imperatorial period, featuring Lepidus, Octavian, Marcus Antoninus, his brother Lucius Antoninus and Agrippa. None of them is flawless, all of them are precious to my heart for a reason or another :

    Lepidus and Octavian, Denarius minted in Italy, 42 BC
    LEPIDVS PONT MAX III V R P C, bare head of Lepidus right (NT and MA in monograms)
    C CAESAR IMPIII VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right (MP in monogram)
    3.78 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 140, RCV # 1523, Cohen # 2

    The following comment is from Forvm catalog :
    "Lepidus was a faithful follower of Julius Caesar, and he served as Praetor and Consul. When Caesar was assassinated, Lepidus was in charge of the cavalry and commanded a legion. This position secured him a place in the Second Triumvirate along Marc Antony and Octavian. His cut was Africa. When Octavian attacked Sextus Pompey's Sicily, Lepidus' ships and troops supported him. In an uninspired move, Lepidus thought he could force Octavian to leave him the island. The two armies separated and isolated skirmishes occurred, but soon the soldiers sick of yet another civil war, acknowledging Octavian's superiority deserted Lepidus en-masse. Lepidus left the island as a simple civilian, retaining only his priesthood, but he was the only defeated Imperator not to suffer a violent death."


    Marcus Antoninus, Denarius Struck in a travelling mint, moving with Mark Antony in 41 BC
    ANT AVG IMP III VI R P C, Head of Mark Antony right
    Fortuna standing left, holding rudder in right hand and cornucopiae in left; at feet, stork; below, PIETAS COS
    3,82 gr - 20 mm
    Ref : Crawford # 516/2, Sydenham # 1174, HCRI # 241, C # 77
    Ex. Auctiones.GmbH

    The following comment is copied from NAC auction # 52/294 about the very rare corresponding aureus :
    "The year 41 B.C., when this aureus was struck at a mint travelling in the East with Marc Antony, was a period of unusual calm for the triumvir, who took a welcomed, if unexpected, rest after the great victory he and Octavian had won late in 42 B.C. against Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi. Antony’s original plan of organising an invasion of Parthia was put on hold after he sailed to Tarsus, where he had summoned Cleopatra VII, the Greek queen of Egypt. She was to defend herself against accusations that she had aided Brutus and Cassius before Philippi, but it is generally agreed that the summons was merely a pretext for Antony’s plan to secure aid for his Parthian campaign. Their meeting was anything but a source of conflict; indeed, they found much common ground, including their agreement that it was in their mutual interests to execute Cleopatra’s sister and rival Arsinoe IV, who had been ruling Cyprus. In addition to sharing political interests, the two agreed that Antony would winter in Egypt to share a luxurious vacation with Cleopatra that caused a further postponement of Antony’s designs on Parthia. Thus began another of the queen’s liaisons with noble Romans, a prior having been Julius Caesar (and, according to Plutarch, Pompey Jr. before him). During the course of his stay in Egypt Cleopatra was impregnated, which resulted in twins born to her in 40 B.C. But this care-free period was only a momentary calm in the storm, for trouble was brewing in both the East and the West. Early in 40 B.C. Syria was overrun by the Parthians, seemingly while Antony travelled to Italy to meet Octavian following the Perusine War, in which Octavian defeated the armies of Antony’s wife and brother. The conflict with Octavian was resolved when they signed a pact at Brundisium in October, and Syria was eventually recovered through the efforts of Antony’s commanders from 40 to 38 B.C"

    Marcus Antonninus and Lucius Antonius, Denarius minted in Ephesus in 41 BC
    M ANT IMP AVG III VIR RPCM NERVA PROQ P, Bare head of Marcus Antoninus right
    L ANTONIUS COS, Bare head of Lucius Antonius right
    3.58 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 246, RCV #1509, Cohen #2

    Following description taken from NAC auction 40, #617, about an other example of the same coin :
    "This denarius, depicting the bare heads of Marc Antony and his youngest brother Lucius Antony, is a rare dual-portrait issue of the Imperatorial period. The family resemblance is uncanny, and one wonders if they truly looked this much alike, or if it is another case of portrait fusion, much like we observe with the dual-portrait billon tetradrachms of Antioch on which the face of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII takes on the square dimensions of Marc Antony. When Antony fled Rome to separate himself from Octavian and to take up his governorship in Gaul, Lucius went with him, and suffered equally from the siege of Mutina. This coin, however, was struck in a later period, when Lucius had for a second time taken up arms against Octavian in the west. Marc Antony was already in the east, and that is the region from which this coinage emanates. Since Lucius lost the ‘Perusine War’ he waged against Octavian, and was subsequently appointed to an office in Spain, where he died, it is likely that he never even saw one of his portrait coins."

    Octavian, Denarius Italian mint, possibly Rome, 31-30 BC
    Anepigraph, bare head of Octavian left
    CAESAR - DIVI F, Victory standing right on globe, holding wreath
    3.84 gr
    Ref : HCRI # 408, RCV # 1552v, Cohen # 66, RIC # 255

    The following comment is taken from CNG, sale 84 # 957 :
    "Following his victory at Actium, Octavian ordered a golden statue of Victory, standing on a globe and holding a wreath and palm, to be set up on an altar in the Curia in Rome. This statue had been captured by the Romans from Pyrrhus in 272 BC, and it assumed a somewhat tutelary mystique, protecting the Roman state from dissolution. In AD 382, the emperor Gratian ordered its removal. Two years later, the senator and orator Symmachus urged Valentinian II to replace it, a request that was met with stiff opposition from the bishop of Milan, Ambrose. Though it was briefly returned to its place by the usurper Eugenius, it was again removed following his defeat. Petitions to Theodosius I for its subsequent replacement were refused, on grounds that the once-important symbol of the gods’ blessing on the Roman Empire was now nothing more than a piece of paganism"


    Octavian & Agrippa, AE Dupondius Arausio mint (Orange), 30-29 BC (Colonia Firma Julia Secundanorum Arausio)
    IMP DIVI F (IMPerator DIVI Filii), bare heads of Augustus (right) and Agrippa (left), back to back
    Prow of galley right, ram's head (?) enclosed in a medaillion above
    17.61 gr - 28 mm.
    Ref : RPC # 533
    Ex. CNG e-auction #181/28, from the Patrick Villemur collection

    Following comment taken from http://www.asdenimes.com/ :

    "Un très bel exemplaire du dupondius d'Orange. Têtes adossées d'Agrippa (à gauche) et Octave (à droite). Très beaux reliefs.
    L’as (ou dupondius) d’Orange est très rare et nombre d'exemplaires connus (quelques dizaines) sont souvent de médiocre conservation. Le dupondius d'Orange préfigure le dupondius de Nîmes frappé à partir de 28/27 av. J.-C. et qui reprendra l’avers quasiment à l’identique (y compris les légendes), avec les profils d’Octave devenu Auguste et d’Agrippa. Le revers sera interprété de façon parodique sur l’as de Nîmes, puisque la galère sera remplacée par le crocodile qui garde à peu près la forme générale du vaisseau et dont l’oeil prophylactique (pas visible sur cet exemplaire : voir les as de Vienne page suivante) deviendra l’oeil du crocodile. On y ajoutera la palme pour former le mat et quelques autres accessoires tout aussi symboliques.
    La tête de bélier représentée dans le médaillon du revers serait l’emblème des vétérans de la légio II Gallica qui a fondé la colonie d’Arausio vers 35 av. J.-C.
    On distingue 2 types de dupondius d'Orange : ceux dont les portraits occupent la plus grande partie de l'avers et ceux qui montrent des têtes plutôt petites. "

  4. alde

    alde Always Learning

    Such a fascinating period in history and such beautiful coins posted. I'm almost embarrassed to post mine. Mark Antony CRI-303.jpg Mark Antony Octavian RSC-8.jpg Octavian Denarius RSC-514.jpg Octavian Denarius RSC-91.jpg Octavian Denarius RSC-55.jpg Octavian Denarius Sear Imperators 302a.jpg
  5. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    RImp Brutus-Ahala 54 BC JBrutus cons 509 BC ServAhala mstr hrse 439 BC S398Cr433-2.JPG
    RImp Brutus-Ahala 54 BC JBrutus cons 509 BC ServAhala mstr hrse 439 BC Sear 398; Craw 433/2

    RImp Antony-Octavian AR Denarius 41 BCE 3.65g 18.7mm Military mint Syria star Craw 528/2a Sear 1507

    RImp Marc Antony & Octavian AR Quinarius 1.58g Military Mint Gaul 39BCE Concordia r Hands clasped caduceus Craw 529/4b Sear 1575 Syd-1195

    RImp Lepidus Mark Antony 43 BC AR Quinarius 13.9m 1.82g Military mint TransAl Gaul pontificate Craw 489/3 Syd 1158a RSC 3 RARE
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  6. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    Another quick phone snap. One of my absolute favorite coins; it deserves better.

    20170804_105942 (3).jpg 20170804_105756 (003).jpg
  7. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Superb coins and a great writeup @IdesOfMarch01

    I also enjoyed seeing all of the other examples on this thread.

    Here are my poor examples.
    M ANT Quin NEW.jpg M Antony Aug imp new.jpg Brutus new.jpg
  8. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Enjoyable re-cap of a very fascinating period of history.
    Julius Caesar 2.jpg
    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: Diademed head of Venus right.
    REVERSE: CAESAR - Aeneas advancing left, carrying Anchises and palladium
    Carthage 47 to 46 BC
    4.0g, 17mm
    CRI 55, Sydenham 1013, RRC 458/1, S 1402
    Augustus 1.jpg
    AR Quinarius
    OBVERSE: IMP VII CAESAR - Bare head right
    REVERSE: ASIA RECEPTA - Victory standing left on cippus, holding wreath and palm, snake on either side
    Uncertain Italian Mint 29-27 BC
    1.7g, 13mm
    RIC 276, S 1568
    Marcus Antonius  2.jpg
    Ionia Silver Cistophoric Tetradrachm
    OBVERSE: M ANTONIVS IMP COS DESIG ITER ET TERT, head of Antony right, wreathed in ivy, lituus below, all within wreath of ivy and grapes
    REVERSE: III VIR R P C, bust of Octavia right on cista flanked by snakes
    Ephesus 39 BC
    11.8gm, 26mm
    RPC I 2201, Sydenham 1197, Sear 262
    Agrippa 2.jpg
    AE As
    OBVERSE: M AGRIPPA L F COSIII - Head left, wearing rostral crown
    REVERSE: No legend - Neptune standing left, holding dolphin and trident; S C across fields
    Rome 37-41 AD
    11.0g, 28mm
    RIC58, BMC 161, BN77, C3

    From Wiki:
    Little is recorded of Tiberius's early life. In 32 BC Tiberius at the age of nine, delivered the eulogy for his biological father at the rostra. In 29 BC, both he rode in the triumphal chariot along with their adoptive father Octavian in celebration of the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium.

    In 23 BC Emperor Augustus became gravely ill and his possible death threatened to plunge the Roman world into chaos again. Historians generally agree that it is during this time that the question of Augustus' heir became most acute, and while Augustus had seemed to indicate that Agrippa and Marcellus would carry on his position in the event of his death, the ambiguity of succession became Augustus' chief problem.

    In response, a series of potential heirs seem to have been selected, among them Tiberius and his brother Drusus.
    Tiberius 6.jpg

    AR Denarius
    OBVERSE: TI CAESAR DIVI AVG AVGVSTVS, laureate head right
    REVERSE: PONTIF MAXIM, Livia, as Pax, holding long sceptre & olive branch, seated right on throne with ornate legs, single line below
    Lugdunum 14-37 AD
    3.75g, 19mm
    RIC 30, RSC 16a, BMC 48
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  9. Multatuli

    Multatuli Homo numismaticus Supporter

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  10. Multatuli

    Multatuli Homo numismaticus Supporter

    I'm speechless, @IdesOfMarch01!
    Thank you very much for sharing with us!
  11. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    WOW, another set of brilliant coins IdesOfMarch01, I only have this Curia Julia senate house denarius 29 BC, Octavian. 3.5gm. 560_large_4c29983d26c06c4cbc8c12a42a771dc9.jpg
  12. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    I hurts me to see such nice coins with a photo appropriate for a drivers licence. Years ago I hosted a coin club meeting at my house and shot images for any member who wanted to bring a coin for he purpose. I so wish this group worked like that club and I could get a chance to shoot some of the coins owned by our members that are not into photography. Fortunately some of our members with great coins are also great photographers so we get to see things as they should be. The time is coming where I hope everyone realizes the need for images. I guess I have been going at this all wrong. What we need is a canned photo product that will allow any cell phone user to take great images.

    Below is one of my favorite coins (ex Colosseum Coins long ago) that applies to this thread and no one here has shown their perfect one. The difference is that my coin does not deserve better. It really looks like this. Weakly struck, peeled fourrees need love, too.
    Octavian, Divus Julius Caesar, and Agrippa. 38 BC. AR Denarius (19mm, 3.63 g, 7h). Military mint traveling with Agrippa in Gaul or Octavian in Italy. Laureate head of the deified Julius Caesar right, vis-à-vis bare head of Octavian left; DIVOS IVLIVS up left, DIVI [F] down right / M · AGRIPPA · COS/DESIG in two lines. Crawford 534/2; CRI 306; Sydenham 1330; RSC 129; RBW –.

    CNG sold a better one under estimate at $25k.
  13. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    That's a great Ionia Silver Cistophoric Tetradrachm Bing with beautiful detail. Were they minted at Ephesus or some other mint at Ionia?
  14. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    Thank you. They were minted at Ephesus. The scratches on the coin appear to be ancient and there is a nice deep dark toning that doesn't show well in the image.
  15. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    Alright, now that's just freaking absurd!! The flan on that coin is the size of dang manhole cover. I've never seen anything like it for the issue. What the hell, V?!
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  16. Carthago

    Carthago Does this look infected to you?

    Ides - Another titan post with some choice coins and a history lesson. My favorite time of the Roman Republic!

    Here's a few of my Brutus and Cassius favorites (though now I'm PO'd my Brutus Plaetoria isn't remotely as awesome as I thought was thanks to Volodya raining on my self admiration party). :confused:

    My Brutus is, however, the most provenanced coin I own.

    Brutus Cestianus Denarius Waddell 2013.jpg

    Brutus with L. Plaetorius Cestianus
    Ed Waddell List No. 72, 1997 Lot 76;
    Ed Waddell List No. 70, 1997 Lot 109 & Cover Photo;
    Monnaies et Medailles, Oct 1984, Lot 475;
    Carlo Crippa Jan-March 1972 Lot 375;
    Luigi de Nicola June 1962 FPL Lot 376;
    H.P. Hall collection, Glendinning, 1950, lot 647 (£7/15) to Santamaria or book, not sure;
    Hess, Lucerne, December, 1933, lot 250;
    Schulman - Amsterdam, Vierordt collection, 1923, lot 495;
    Adolf Hess Nach, Tolstoi collection March 11, 1912 Lot 787.

    Brutus Denarius Cr 502-2 Kunker 2015.jpg Cassius AR Denarius Spinther Bare Head CNG.jpg Cassius AV Aureus M Servilius CNG.jpg C Cassius with M Servillius NAC 13.jpg
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  17. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

    Great thread, and some very sweet coins all. 38515q00.jpg
  18. Multatuli

    Multatuli Homo numismaticus Supporter

    I have some imperatorial coins. Here are my Lentulus Spinther types:
    IMG_20160906_234824.jpeg IMG_4563.JPG
    The last coin, I won it at the CNG's auction 389, in last January. I paid only 100 bucks!
    Dear @dougsmit, my apologies by these pics! The coins are much better in hand and always deserve better pics. :)
    Believe me, I'm a handsome guy, despite my driver's license pic! Lol
    By the way, I love your fourrée coins!
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  19. Volodya

    Volodya Junior Member

    I'm actually a rather competent and knowledgeable photographer out in the world and spent nearly two decades as production manager of a very high-end custom photo lab and pioneering digital retouching studio. I suppose it's a variety of cobbler's wife has no shoes syndrome, but I've never been able to drum up any enthusiasm for coin photography. Also I was spoiled; some of the very best coin images I've seen were achieved with an old old scanner, old enough that it actually had enough depth of field to avoid the fuzzy edges endemic to coin images produced on today's scanners. These images had an immediacy very difficult to achieve photographically. In hindsight I should have kept the scanner as a dedicated coin imager, even though it was long obsolete as a printer, but it never occurred to me. Too late now; it's lost in an electronics graveyard somewhere. I don't think a seance will help.

    Here's a random example of the scanned images I'm talking about, from my imitations website. This truly is what this coin looks like.


  20. Multatuli

    Multatuli Homo numismaticus Supporter

    I have a Marc Antony and Octavia cistophorus too. It's not so beautiful like Bing's coin, but still affordable:
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