A Julio-Claudian key figure: Germanicus

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Orielensis, Oct 26, 2021.

  1. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    This has been on my desk for a while, but only now I found the time for a write-up. I had wanted a portrait coin of Germanicus for a while, and am happy to have finally found an example I like:
    Rom – Germanicus, As unter Claudius, SC.png
    Germanicus (postumus issue under Claudius), AE as, 40–54 AD, Rome mint. Obv: GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVG F DIVI AVG N; head of Germanicus, bare, r. Rev: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG GERM P M TR P IMP P P; large S C. Ref: RIC I (second edition) Claudius 106. 27mm, 10.81g.

    Germanicus certainly is a key figure of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Born in 15 BC, he was a great-nephew of Augustus, the nephew and designated successor of Tiberius, Caligula's father, Claudius' brother, and Nero's grandfather.

    As part of the arrangements for Augustus' succession, Germanicus was adopted by Tiberius in 4 AD. Thus, he became the heir apparent to the imperial throne. His political career was fostered by Augustus, who arranged for him to become quaestor in 7 AD and gave him a subcommand under Tiberius in the Batonian War. In the following years, Germanicus proved an able general, and was given command of the Rhine troops in 13 AD.

    Tasked with avenging the defeat in the Teutoburg Forest, Germanicus campaigned in Germania Magna from 14 AD to 17 AD. Although he won several battles, took Arminius' wife captive, brought back two of the lost legionary eagles, and pillaged the western Germanic countryside, the military outcome of Germanicus' campaigns was indecisive. Roman casualties apparently had been enormous, and Arminius resistance was unbroken. Ultimately, a possible conquest of Germany was deemed too costly. Tiberius recalled his general. Although he still celebrated a triumph in Rome, Germanicus' campaigns mark the end of an offensive Roman military strategy in Germania Magna.

    Immensely popular with the Roman people, Germanicus was granted proconsular command of the eaast in 18 AD. In a relatively peaceful transition of power, he turned the formerly independent client kingdoms Cappadocia and Commagene into Roman provinces. In January 19 AD, he paid a visit to the critically important province of Egypt, apparently without Tiberius' explicit permission. Upon his return to Antioch, Germanicus fell ill and died soon after. The governor of Syria, Gnaeus Calpurnius Piso, was accused of having poisoned the imperial heir. Yet, the cause and circumstances of Germanicus' death remain unclear.

    During his lifetime, no imperial coins were struck for Germanicus. (There are a few provincial issues associated with him, though.) After his death, both Caligula and Claudius minted coins showing the portrait of their father and brother. Some decades later, the Flavian "restoration" issues under Titus and Domitian reproduced these earlier types. My example was struck under Claudius.

    Please show your coins of Germanicus and his family!
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  3. ambr0zie

    ambr0zie Dacian Taraboste

    Only one provincial here.

    MYSIA. Pergamum. Germanicus & Drusus (Caesares, 14-19). Ae. Struck under Tiberius.
    Bare head of Germanicus right.
    Bare head of Drusus right.
    RPC I 2367.
  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    Germanicus, with Divus Augustus (15 B.C. - 19 A.D.)
    AR Drachm
    CAPPADOCIA, Caesarea
    O:GERMANICVS CES TI AVGV COS II PM, bare head of Germanicus right.
    R: DIVVS AVGV-STVS, radiate head of Augustus left.
    RPC I 3623a; cf. Sydenham, Caesarea 50; RIC I 61; BMCRE 106

    The date of this issue remains uncertain. RPC places it late in Tiberius' reign, circa 33/4 AD, while the traditional dating, adopted by RIC and Sydenham, place's it in the first year of Caligula's reign, 37/8 AD.
  5. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter Dealer

    As a matter of fact, he was born with the name Julius Caesar. His father was Nero Claudius Drusus. Germanicus was appended to his father's name (posthumously) in 9 BC, in recognition of Drusus' earlier decisive victories in Germania, rather than the son's subsequent Pyrrhic victories. So Julius Caesar Germanicus gets his agnomen by virtue of his father's deeds, not his own.

    I recently sold this coin on eBay, so it's no longer mine, but it's a fine example of the Restitution Issues of Titus...


    Germanicus, d. AD 19.
    Restitution issue under Titus.
    Ӕ As, 26mm, 8.5g, 6h; Rome, AD 80-81.
    Obv.: GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVGVST F DIVI AVG N; Bare head of Germanicus left.
    Rev.: IMP T CAES DIVI VESP F AVG REST, SC in field.
    Reference: RIC II 442 (Titus)
  6. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  7. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    Attractive coin, @Orielensis, and an educational write-up!

    Here's my very pedestrian specimen with a left-facing bust.

    Germanicus, 15 BC - AD 19.
    Roman Æ as, 11.18 g, 27.5 mm, 7 h.
    Rome, issued under Caligula, AD 40-41.
    Obv: GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVG F DIVI AVG N, bare-head of Germanicus, left.
    Rev: C CAESAR DIVI AVG PRON AVG P M TR P IIII P P around large SC.
    Refs: RIC 50; BMCRE 74-78; Cohen 4; RCV 1822; CBN 123.
    Note: Reverse die-match to Henry Cohen, Description historique des monnaies frappées sous l'Empire Romain, Tome I, Paris, 1880, page 225, no. 4.

    Here's the wife, also with a big S C on the reverse.

    Agrippina I, wife of Germanicus, 14 BC - AD 33
    Roman AE Sestertius 27.92 gm, 34.8 mm, 7 h
    Rome mint. Struck under Claudius, 42-54 AD
    Obv: AGRIPPINA M F GERMANICI CAESARIS, bare-headed and draped bust right.
    Refs: RIC I 102 (Claudius); BMCRE 219 (Claudius); Cohen 3.
  8. Marsman

    Marsman Well-Known Member

    A beautiful OP coin, congrats !
    Still looking for one.

    This is mine. This type can not be missed in a thread about Germanicus :)


    Germanicus, dupondius (struck under Caligula in honor of his father).
    RIC 57
    13,66 g. 30 mm.
    Obv. GERMANICVS CAESAR, Germanicus in quadriga right.
    Rev. SIGNIS RECEPT DEVICTIS GERM S-C, Germanicus standing left with eagle-tipped scepter.
    Struck at Rome by Caligula (37-41 AD) to commemorate the recovery from the Germans by his father, Germanicus, of the standards of the lost legions of Varus. Another opinion is that the coin was struck by Claudius to commemorate his brother.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2021
  9. DonnaML

    DonnaML Supporter! Supporter

    Another left-facing bust (the same type as @Roman Collector's):

    Germanicus (died 19 AD, father of Caligula [Gaius] & brother of Claudius), AE As, Memorial issue struck under Caligula, 40-41 AD, Rome Mint. Obv. Bare head left, GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVG F DIVI AVG N / Rev. Legend C CAESAR DIVI AVG PRON AVG P M TR P IIII P P around large S C in center. RIC I Caligula [Gaius] 50, Sear RCV I 1822. BMCRE 74 (Caligula), Cohen 4. 28 mm., 11.99 g., 6 h.

    Germanicus jpg version.jpg
  10. cmezner

    cmezner do ut des Supporter

    Very nice left-facing busts:) Love those.

    Only have 2 Germanicus, the usual right-facing AE As RIC I (2nd edition) Claudius 106 struck under Claudius (picture courtesy Frank S Robinson auction 114):

    28.5 x 29 mm, 11.426 g
    upload_2021-10-26_12-0-56.png upload_2021-10-26_12-1-6.png

    On the island of Crete, at Knossos, the duoviri Dossenus Pulcher and Varius issued a bronze coin showing Caligula’s head on one side and Germanicus on the other.
    It took me almost two years to nail down this attribution:

    Roman Provincial, AE 18
    Crete, Knossos 37 – 41 AD
    16 x 18 mm, 4.612 g
    RPC 995- 996; Svoronos Crete 209 or Svoronos 205, Pl. VIII, 18;

    Ob.: C CAESAR AVG (GERMAN)ICVS laureate head of Caligula right
    Rev.: GER CAESAR PVLCHRO III VARIO IIVIR laureate head of Germanicus right, star in front
    upload_2021-10-26_12-6-42.png upload_2021-10-26_12-6-52.png
  11. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    I too have two coins of his, one of them bearing a portrait of the dude

    Posthumous issue of Caligula, in honour of his father (died AD 19)
    Rome mint, AD 37-41
    GERMANICVS CAESAR, Germanicus in triumphal quadriga right
    SIGNIS RECEPT DEVICTIS GERM, Germanicus standing left, rising right arm, holding legionnary eagle
    17.79 gr
    Ref : RCV #1820, Cohen #7

    Posthumous issue of Caligula, in honour of his father (died AD 19)
    Rome mint, AD 37-38
    GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVGVST F DIVI AVG N, Bare head of Germanicus left
    10,64 gr
    Ref : RCV #1821, Cohen #1

  12. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    I really like you SIGNIS RECEPTIS dupondius @Cucumbor. It is a beautiful coin.
    Of course it is not the first time you have posted it:):), but as far as I am concerned I always love to see it.
    Orielensis and Cucumbor like this.
  13. Julius Germanicus

    Julius Germanicus Well-Known Member


    GERMANICVS CAESAR TI AVGVST F DIVI AVG N - bare head of Germanicus left /
    Copper As, Rome mint AD 37/38
    28,13 mm / 11,10 gr
    RIC (Caligula) 35; BMCRE (Caligula) 49; CBN (Caligula) 73; Cohen 1; Sear 1821
  14. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Agree. I'd like mine even more if I knew where it gained its 47.

    I always wanted but have never owned one of the portrait coins.
  15. Cucumbor

    Cucumbor Dombes collector Supporter

    Oh, you noticed !!
    I have not that much ancient that I could post new ones everytime...
    Thanks for the kind words anyway :)

    Eduard likes this.
  16. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Beautiful coins!

    I started out with just one Germanicus, and somehow it turned into a small collection

    My favorite - a very scarce lifetime issue of Sardes with likely the most accurate to life portrait of him on a coin - complete with a hooked nose and sideburns, both of which are faintly hinted at in his marble portraits, but toned down to fit the official Imperial image
    Germanicus with Drusus Lydia Sardes.jpg

    An earlier posthumous from later in Tiberius' reign, AR drachm with Divus Augustus
    Caesaria Germanicus with Divus Augustus AR drachm.jpg

    Posthumous from Aezanis under Caligula, with Agrippina I on the other side
    Germanicus and Agrippina aezanis phrygia posthumous.jpg

    SIGNIS RECEPTIS dupondius
    Germanicus AE by Caligula SIGNIS RECEPTIS.jpg

    Posthumous AE As by Claudius
    Germanicus AE as under claudius.jpg

    Restitution by Titus
    Germanicus AE As restitution by Titus.jpg
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