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Coins of Rome: Cash or Propaganda? Year 10 History Semester Two, 2009
Basic Facts The study of coins is known as numismatics Roman currency consisted of the aureus (gold), the denarius (silver) the sestertius (bronze) the dupondius (bronze) and the as (copper) These were used from the middle of the third century BC until the middle of the third century AD
Septimius Severus, 193–211 AD Aureus (7.23 gm) Struck 193 AD to celebrate the legion that proclaimed him emperor Aureus of Octavian c. 30 BC
Tiberius. AD 14-37. AV Aureus (19mm, 7.55 g). Lugdunum (Lyon) mint. AD 36-37. Laureate head right / PONTIF MAXIM, Livia (as Pax) seated right on chair, holding sceptre and olive branch; feet on footstool; single-line below chair; ornate chair legs. RIC I 29; Calicó 305c. VF, a few minor marks.
Julius Caesar. Struck in February-March 44 BC CAESAR IM P M, laureate head right; crescent behind L AEMILIVS BVCA, Venus standing left, holding Victoria and sceptre. • FlaviaDomitilla, daughter of Vespasian and sister of Titus and Domitian • Struck 82-85 AD under Domitian DIVA DOMITILLA AUGUSTA
Caligula (AD 37-41). Orichalcumsestertius (27.92 gm). Rome, AD 37-38. C CAESAR AVG GERMANICVS PON M TR POT, laureate head left AGRIPPINA DRVSILLA IVLIA S C, Caligula's three sisters with the attributes of Securitas, Concordia, and Fortuna: Agrippina leaning on column, holding cornucopia, and placing left hand on Drusilla's shoulder; Drusilla holding patera and cornucopia; Iulia Livilla holding rudder and cornucopia.
Bronze Sestertius of Trajan with the appreciation of his victory and the title "The Senate and Roman; the best Princeps."
Unlike most modern coins, Roman coins had intrinsic value. While they contained precious metals, the value of a coin was higher than its precious metal content • Thus they were not bullion • The first images to appear on coins during the Republic were rather limited in diversity and generally represented the entire Roman state • The job of deciding what imagery to feature belonged to the committee of tresvirimonetales('trio of money men') • The position was created in 289 BC and lasted until at least the middle of the third century AD
While moneyers had earlier issued coins with portraits of ancestors, Caesar’s was the first Roman coinage to feature the portrait of a living individual • The main focus of the imagery during the empire was the Emperor • He embodied the state values • Coins were an important means of disseminating this image throughout the empire • Some emperors attempted to associate themselves with the divine by putting pictures of Roman gods on the reverse of their coins
Featuring the portrait of an individual on a coin, which became legal in 44 BC, caused the coin to embody the attributes of the individual portrayed. Dio wrote that following the death of Caligula the Senate demonetized his coinage, and ordered that they be melted. Regardless of whether or not this actually occurred, it demonstrates the importance and meaning that was attached to the imagery on a coin. The philosopher Epictetus jokingly wrote: "Whose image does this sestertius carry? Trajan’s? Give it to me. Nero’s? Throw it away, it is unacceptable, it is rotten."
Terms PontifexMaximus: High priest of the Pontiffs; the most important position in the ancient Roman religion; gradually subsumed into Imperial office. Tribunician Power: the power of a Tribune; veto power on legislation, authority to propose legislation and personal inviolability, i.e., no one could lay a hand on him; authenticates the power of the Emperor Imperator: ‘commander’; English word ‘emperor’ derives from the latin word ‘imperator’
On the front is a Laureate bust of Nero. The words around it and their meaning: NERO CLAVD(IVS) CAESAR AVG(VSTVS) GERM(ANICVS) P(ONTIFEX) M(AXIMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) P(OTESTATE) IMP(ERATOR) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE): Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, pontifexmaximus, with tribunician power, imperator, father of the country.
CAESAR AVGVSTVS Caesar Augustus DIVVS IVLIV Divine Julius
CLAVDIVS CAESAR AGRIPPINAE AVGVSTAE Agrippina was only the second woman to be awarded the title, Augusta, in her lifetime and the first who was married to a living emperor. The title implied a sort of equivalency between the couple. Here she is portrayed as the goddess Ceres, goddess of the ideal woman, motherhood, etc. This implied a motherhood of emperors; according to S. Wood, Agrippina “enjoyed the reflected glory of the emperor’s mother.” Claudius was her husband.
While heads of Nero and Agrippina appear on the obverse, the reverse shows a wagon being drawn by 4 elephants. The seated figures on the wagons are generally designated to be the deified Claudius and Augustus. Links to both predecessors through Agrippina are stressed. There is also an allusion to the fact that Agrippina had an official position as priestess of the deified Claudius.
IMP CAE L SEP SE-V PERT AVG, laureate head right LEG XIIII GEM M V, TR P COS in exergue, legionary eagle between two standards.
Left: [CLEOPATRAE R]EGINAE REGVM FILIORVM [REGVM] Right: ANTONI ARMENIA DE[VICTA] 31-32BC, Found in Alexandria
Left: CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE Right: C L CAESARES AVGVSTI F COS DESIG PRINC IVVENT Right: ‘Caius et LuciusCaesaresAugustiFiliiConsulesDesignatiPrincipesJuventutis’ Caius and Lucius, Sons of Caesar Augustus, Designated Consuls, PrincipesIuventi = the first among the young (pronounced ‘Ping-keps You-venti’)
Left: Imperator Caesar Vespasian Augustus (= Emperor Caesar Vespasian Augustus) Right: Son of Caesar Augustus, Consul, Son of Caesar Augustus, The Senate and the Roman People (AVG F or FIL Augusti or Filius - son or daughter of the August or Emperor) Left: IMP CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG Right: CAESAR AVG F COS CAESAR AVG F PR
June-July, 79AD Left: IMP CAES VESPASIAN AVG P M TR P PP COS III Right: IVDAEA CAPTA, S C Right: Judea Captured, Struck by Authority of the Senate (- Minted by Vespasian when he was a general and had captured Judea) Left: Imperator Caesar Vespasian Augustus, Pontifex Maximus with Tribunician Power, Father of the Country, Consul for the third time
July-July, 79AD Left: IMP T CAESAR VESPASIANVS AVG Right: TR POT VIII COS VII Left: Imperator Titus Caesar Vespasian Augustus Right: TribuniciaPostestate (Holding the power of the Tribune) for the eighth time, Consul for the seventh time