Featured Claudius and Agrippina, a not so happy couple

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by johnmilton, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    If ever there was a surprise Roman emperor, perhaps it was Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54 AD. He may have been born with a birth defect, or he have suffered from cerebral palsy. Whatever his problems were, it left him with “an uncouthness” that left him a family outcast. Some probably viewed him as mentally challenged, but that was clearly not the case.

    Perhaps to compensate for the snubbing, he became an accomplished scholar. He wrote 20 books on Etruscan history, eight books on Carthaginian history and eight autobiographical memoirs. Unfortunately, all of these works have been lost, but it is clear that his mind was sharp and clear.

    After the insane emperor, Caligula, was murdered, the praetorian guard chose Claudius as emperor. Although there were some plots to remove him, Claudius held on to power by establishing his hold on the army and taking Britain as a new colony, perhaps as a diversion. He named his son Britannicus in honor of that addition to the empire.

    Although Claudius succeeded in securing his positional from the political and military aspects, his love life was more complicated. Claudius had four wives. · His first wife, Plautia Urgulanilla was Etruscan which may have explained his early interest in their history. Claudius divorced her and married Aelia Paetina after a short time.

    He married his third wife, Valeria Messallina, in 39 AD. She was 14, and he was 49. Valeria was notorious for cheating on him. Valeria and one of her lovers, Gaius Silius, plotted to overthrow Claudius, and replace him with his seven year old son, Britannicus. They planned to be the boy’s regents and therefore gain de facto rule of the empire. Claudius learned of the plot and had her executed in 48 AD.

    His fourth wife, Agrippina the younger, was his niece. Agrippina had much wider ambitions that merely being the emperor’s wife. Soon after receiving the title “Augusta,” she pushed Claudius’ son Britannicus aside and made her son, Nero, next in-line from the throne. Not wishing to wait, it is generally believed that she poisoned Claudius with mushrooms to make Nero emperor.

    At first Agrippina exercised a lot of control over her young son, but once Nero reached the age to take control, he pushed her aside. Ultimately Nero enhanced his image as an unprincipled tyrant by having his mother put to death. All of that would seem to be extreme except when you consider how Agrippina had arranged to get Nero where he was. They were what you might call it “met for each other.”

    Claudius & Agrip O.jpg Claudius & Agrip R.jpg

    I have represented Claudius on my 12 Emperors collection with this silver piece, a Cistophorus. This piece, which was worth three denarii, features the busts of Claudius and Agrippina. It was minted at the Ephesus Mint, which was in Ancient Greece, now a part of modern Turkey.

    The reverse features Diana Ephesia, a cult statue of the Ephesian Diana. She was the goddess of fertility. Some think that she has bull testicles instead of breasts. In ancient times, the bull was a symbol of fertility.

    Could it be that the Greeks were hoping for an addition to the royal Roman family? Fat chance given the fact that Agrippina was looking to get “daddy” and his son out of the way. She didn’t need any more complications to her plans!
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
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  3. Roman Collector

    Roman Collector Supporter! Supporter

    That cistophorus is stunning! I don't have any imperial issues of Claudius and Agrippina together, but I do have these provincials:

    Claudius, AD 41-54 and Agrippina II, AD 50-59.
    Roman provincial Æ 20.2 mm, 5.81 g, 10 h.
    Lydia, Thyatira, AD 50-54.
    Obv: ΤΙ ΚΛΑYΔΙΟC CЄΒΑCΤΟC, bare head of Claudius right.
    Rev: ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑΝ CЄΒΑCΤΗΝ ΘΥΑΤΙΡΗΝΟΙ, draped bust of Agrippina right.
    Refs: Sear 507; RPC I 2380; BMC 22. 301, 57; SNG München 611; SNG von Aulock --; SNG Copenhagen --; Mionnet --; Wiczay --.

    Claudius, AD 41-54 and Agrippina II, AD 50-59.
    Roman provincial Æ 12 Nummia, 9.30 gm, 25.0 mm.
    Bosporos, under King Kotys I, AD 50-54.
    Obv: ΤΙ ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟΥ ΚΑΙCΑΡΟC, laureate head of Claudius, right.
    Rev: ΙΟΥΛΙΑΝ ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑΝ CΕΒΑCΤΗΝ, head of Agrippina II, left, in loop ponytail; BAK before.
    Refs: SGI 5438; RPC 1925; BMC 13.52,7; Anokhin Bosporus 348; SNG Copenhagen 31.

    Claudius, AD 41-54 and Agrippina II, AD 50-59.*
    Roman Provincial Æ 15.2 mm3.06 g;
    Syria: Coele-Syria, Claudia Leucas (Balanea), AD 50-54
    Obv: ΛΕVΚΑΔΙѠΝ, radiate head of emperor, r.
    Rev: ΤѠΝΚΑI ΚΛΑVΔΙΑΙѠΝ, head of empress, r., wearing crescent.
    Refs: SGI 508; BMC 20, p. 296, no. 1, pl. XXXVII, 1; Lindgren I 2180; RPC I 4465

    *Sear, Lindgren and the British Museum attribute this coin to Claudius and Agrippina II. However, as noted by Imhoof-Blumer, and reiterated by RPC (see p. 640), the coin may portray Trajan and Plotina. The obverse bust has Trajan's features, with a similarity to other coins of Trajan from Claudia Leucas (Balanea); in addition, the reverse has the facial features and hairstyle of Plotina. Others prefer to consider this a pseudo-autonomous issue depicting Helios and Selene.
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  4. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    A wonderful coin!
  5. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member

    Beautiful! I love the Cistophori of Claudius, and have been trying without success to win one for over six months now... they don't go cheap!

    I don't have all of my old photos migrated to my new phone yet, but I do have my "poor man's" Messalina on the reverse of this Egyptian tet.

    Claudius Alexandria tet messalina.jpg
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  6. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

  7. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    ..wow...choice coin johnmilton...:)
  8. Marsman

    Marsman Well-Known Member

    Beautiful OP coin.This is my tet.....
    Maybe a poor man’s coin, but I’m happy with it :)

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  9. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    As others have noted - a beautiful coin, and an enjoyable write up. Here is my common As of Claudius:
    [​IMG]Æ As of Claudius, AD 41-54
    Mint: Rome Struck AD 41-43
    Obv: TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AV[G P M TR P IMP PP] Bare head left
    Rev: Minerva advancing right, brandishing spear and holding shield, between S - C
    Size: 9.04g 26.1mm
    Ref: RCV 1861-1862
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  10. randygeki

    randygeki Coin Collector

  11. jamesicus

    jamesicus Supporter! Supporter

    That is a great coin @johnmilton! I am partial to Claudius portrait coins.
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