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CAESAR AUGUSTUS: the Making of a Monarch


CPK
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Lately, I've been reading through Cassius Dio's history of Rome. Cassius Dio was a Roman senator who lived in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries A.D. Starting with the founding of Rome in the 753 B.C., he recounts the history of the early Kingdom of Rome, the Roman Republic, and finally (after the convulsive civil wars waged by the Imperators) the Imperial Empire.

I just started book 4 of 6, which begins with the speeches of Marcus Agrippa and Maecenas advising Octavian (or Caesar, as Cassius Dio calls him), in the aftermath of the Battle of Actium and the deaths of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, how best to proceed now that he had unchallenged control of Rome. Agrippa advised returning the government to some form of democracy, while Maecenas advocated for Caesar to expand his power into a monarchy. Caesar favored Maecenas's advice, but he knew that such a goal would be attainable only with great caution, patience, and political skill. Even in 27 B.C., Caesar could not do just anything he wanted. 

Incidentally, even though Caesar ultimately decided to reject the advice of his friend Agrippa, Cassius Dio reports: "Agrippa cooperated with him [Caesar] in all his projects quite zealously, in spite of having stated a contrary opinion, just as if he had been the one to propose the plan [for Caesar to become monarch]." Here again is illustrated the immense loyalty and devotion Agrippa had for his long-time friend Caesar.

Cassius Dio records the speech Caesar gave to the Senate in 27 B.C., in which Caesar voluntarily pledged to relinquished all of his power and authority back to the Senate and the people and return to private life. Of course, Caesar was being disingenuous; he had no intention of giving up his power, but merely wanted to gain even more political support and admiration by his seeming rejection of the power which so obviously lay in his grasp.

The Senate for its part was much divided by this speech; some were suspicious of Caesar's real intentions, but dared not speak out; others, wearied of the turbulent past decades, wished for a change of government with Caesar as sole ruler, but they were also afraid to voice their opinions because of the intense Roman abhorrence of the concept of monarchy. In the end, Caesar got what he wished: a greater hold on power, while maintaining the image of a selfless liberator, sacrificing himself in the cause of his country.

Part of the honors the Senate voted to Caesar in 27 B.C. was the title of "Augustus". Cassius Dio has this to say about that:

"When he [Caesar] had really completed the details of the administration, the name Augustus was finally applied to him by the senate and by the people. They wanted to call him by some name of their own, and some proposed this, while others chose that. Caesar was exceedingly anxious to be called Romulus, but when he perceived that this caused him to be suspected of desiring the kingship, he no longer insisted on it but took the title of Augustus, signifying that he was more than human. All most precious and sacred objects are termed augusta. Therefore they saluted him also in Greek as sebastos, meaning an august person, from the verb sebazesthai. In this way all the power of the people and that of the senate reverted to Augustus, and from his time there was a genuine monarchy."

A paragraph before this, Cassius Dio writes:

"Caesar had received many honors previously, when the matter of declining the sovereignty and that regarding the division of the provinces were under discussion. For the right to fasten the laurel in front of his royal residence and to hang the oak-leaf crown above the doors was then voted him to symbolize the fact that he was always victorious over enemies and preserved the citizens." (emphasis added)

And now, all this fascinating history distilled into three grams of silver!

20220528_171247.thumb.jpg.4095d70068c7a43b231b05e12b9cfa2e.jpg

 

(I love how these ancient coins can make the history you read so real and personal!)

This isn't a new coin, and I'm pretty sure some of you have already seen it, but reading the above accounts made me all the more appreciative of this coin's history and significance. 

On the obverse there is the - somewhat idealized? - portrait of Caesar, with the weighty title "CAESAR AVGVSTVS". The reverse features an oak wreath, just as Cassius Dio talks about, within which are the words "OB CIVIS SERVATOS" meaning "For saving (or "preserving") the citizens" - again, straight from the pen of Cassius Dio.

Earlier in his work, Dio actually describes a specific coin - the famous "EID MAR" denarius of Brutus - but here I think he comes pretty close to another coin description. One can speculate whether Dio, while writing his history, had in his possession any coins such as this one, which hold so much history of the time.

Feel free to post your own coins from this period, or anything else you find relevant to the topic!

 

 

 

 

 

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octavian74.jpg.994ae8aef4cb2a8faeedb273a7494862.jpg

OCTAVIAN AE 'sestertius/heavy dupondius'. Southern Italian mint, 38 BC. CAESAR DIVI F, bare & slightly bearded head right, no star in field. Reverse - DIVOS IVLIVS, two lines within wreath. RPC 621, RCV 1569/1570. 30mm, 14.9g.

13311.jpg.8967df3af92a75191cb2d0302ef7dcc5.jpg

Attribution: RPC 2233
Date: 25 BC
Obverse: AVGVSTVS, Bust right within border of dots
Reverse: CA within circle in wreath, all within border of dots
Size: 34.58 mm
Weight: 18.6 grams

fB3Z8Data2AJ93nKSx45dPg7Qr5TsC.jpg.619bf26366b19b57e12bbcd39f29bb14.jpg

Title: Octavian, as Sole Imperator (31-27 BC). AR Denarius / Actian Arch
Attribution: RIC I 267 Uncertain Italian mint
Date: 30-29 BC
Obverse: Anipigraphic, bare head of Octavian right
Reverse: Quadriga, facing, set atop triumphal arch (the Actian Arch) with architrave inscribed with IMP CAESAR
Size: 18.09mm
Weight: 2.63 grams

 

48790.jpg.7ade122134767dae3c0d693795953cb1.jpg

Marcus Junius Brutus

Denarius 42 BC, Military mint. 2,97 g. Laureate head of Apollo right LEG COSTA / IMP BRVTVS Trophy with shield and spears. Cr.506/2; Syd.1287, fine to very fine, filled hole

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This denarius depicting Julius Caesar with his namesake comet was minted under Augustus celebrating the Secular games (Ludi Saeculares) in 17 BC. In the book Natural History, Pliny the Elder talks about how the comet signified a new era when it appeared during the games held in honour of Venus Genetrix, the patron deity of the Julii, and how this event cemented the notion of Augustus claiming himself the 'son of god' or DIVI FILIVS. In the book he quoted Augustus saying "On the very days of my games a comet was visible for seven days in the northern region of the sky. It used to raise about an hour before the dark and was bright and visible from all lands. The general populace believed that this signified Caesar's soul received among the spirits of the immortal gods, and this gave rise to the addition of a star to the bust of Caesar that we dedicated soon after in the forum". 

Caesar.thumb.jpg.9654d97e74b134c4fd29dcffc2ce3e0a.jpg

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Nice coin @CPK

934366007_normal_AUGUSTUS(2).jpg.5a9b7f82befc64aedf86f7b83966bdd8.jpg

Spain, Kelse-Celsa. Augustus. 27 BC-14 AD. AE Unit (10.98 gm, 28mm). Velilla de Ebro (Zaragoza) mint.
Obv.: IMP. CAESAR. DIVI. F. AVGVSTVS. COS. XII, laureate head right.
Rev.: CN. DOMIT. C. POMPEI. II. VIR. C. V I. CEL, bull standing right. Abh. 811. VF.

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image.png.01b4fead91045a0b3eceec82c71ef804.pngimage.png.e97f77af2e784da7bc2d4f00ecd4bba3.png

Augustus AE sestertius C GALLIVS C F LVPERCVS III VIR AAA FF, Rome 16BC, RIC 377

material: AE
max.diameter: 34mm
weight: 22.9g
reference: RIC 377, RCV 1646

 

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Bust of Feronia f right. Parthian kneeling presenting Roman Standard.

In commemoration of Augustus' diplomatic triumph in securing the restoration of the Legionary Standards captured from Crassus and Antony in their Parthian campaigns of 53 and 36 bc.

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Augustus Ar. denarius, AVGVSTVS DIVI F, bare hd. r., rev., the Actian Apollo stg. l., holding plectrum and lyre, IMP X across fields, ACT in ex., Lugdunum mint (Sear, 1611; RIC 171a; Seaby 144).

ACTIUM VICTORY
RSC 1442

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 Great thread CPK , and all such wonderful coins of what arguably was not only a period of great transition in the history of Rome , but of western civilization itself.

 

The following are a few coins of this period....

1. this bronze of  Octavian with Julius Caesar on the reverse announces to the world, but especially to the legions, his close association, and adoption.

 

1570259.jpg.dee84c8701368263b09e21386ee02167.jpg

 

2. This denarius of Octavian has him depicted in mourning , bearded , as was the custom, in reverence of his "father" - "son of the divine Julius.

 

m47270.jpg.c865532737de7fd72db63bd47f5e4633.jpg

 

3. same theme on this denarius with his inherited name from his "divine father" on the reverse with Victory on globe.

 

Cj385RdQTc9Xw4JSQnX8Zf6m7sjEB2.jpg.ae054d02d1ab34e7dd082277fd93060d.jpg

 

4. denarius boasting his victory over Egypt , with crocodile reverse.

 

92000999.jpg.caa721e128d11a2d431eb7392ea082b9.jpg

5. As of his greatest general and closest friend , Agrippa. This was struck by Caligula.

 

677798l.thumb.jpg.ca81c2069e30673174901cf14d0d4ebc.jpg

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Posted (edited)

This one was minted out by @Qcumbor....  Maybe he can explain what Quality allowed this to be off-centered...  😄 

 

upload_2021-3-22_11-3-50.png
Roman Empire
AR Denarius, 17.03mm, 3.76g
Augustus (27 BCE - 14 CE)
Lugdunum mint (2 BCE - 4 CE)
REV: C L CAESARES AVGVSTI F COS DESIG PRINC IVVENT, Gaius and Lucius Caesars standing, shields and spears between them.
Sear 1578, RIC 206
Mine has Left shield in front.

Edited by Alegandron
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4 hours ago, Octavius said:

 Great thread CPK , and all such wonderful coins of what arguably was not only a period of great transition in the history of Rome , but of western civilization itself.

 

The following are a few coins of this period....

1. this bronze of  Octavian with Julius Caesar on the reverse announces to the world, but especially to the legions, his close association, and adoption.

 

1570259.jpg.dee84c8701368263b09e21386ee02167.jpg

 

2. This denarius of Octavian has him depicted in mourning , bearded , as was the custom, in reverence of his "father" - "son of the divine Julius.

 

m47270.jpg.c865532737de7fd72db63bd47f5e4633.jpg

 

3. same theme on this denarius with his inherited name from his "divine father" on the reverse with Victory on globe.

 

Cj385RdQTc9Xw4JSQnX8Zf6m7sjEB2.jpg.ae054d02d1ab34e7dd082277fd93060d.jpg

 

4. denarius boasting his victory over Egypt , with crocodile reverse.

 

92000999.jpg.caa721e128d11a2d431eb7392ea082b9.jpg

5. As of his greatest general and closest friend , Agrippa. This was struck by Caligula.

 

677798l.thumb.jpg.ca81c2069e30673174901cf14d0d4ebc.jpg

I was hoping you would post here! 🙂You have an amazing collection - I love that Aegypto Capta denarius!

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 Here are several more of Augustus' coins ... Temple ; Capricorn, charging bull, Diana with bow and arrow, and triumphant quadriga on triumphal arch.

last but not least, the one who started it all.... C. Julius Caesar...

 

Po6my5Yw4aiDL7sQ4T3rHk229Rdgst.jpg.225a6257e857abe2689933c5784d9342.jpgh_9016678764052454ce8d84e301678ad6.thumb.jpg.8096866431f7a59ab4e1864cfa84d534.jpgPCW-R416LG.jpg.c5f346c44c66a404abdf929bcba00113.jpgz47294.jpg.c71449043696b4fbcd6d8d2bb032b439.jpg677769l.jpg.cae25378852662f8825014c2534d9855.jpg

838590.jpg.4ee4a8a61b3955eddfadfccebe52d833.jpg

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