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Common Emperor, Rare Title


Finn235
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For those of you who followed my postings on CCF and to a lesser extent CT, you may know that at some point along my journey of trying to collect one coin of every emperor, I had the epiphany, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to also try to find them as Caesar and posthumous issues, too?"

And so started many long hours of research and many more of trolling auction listings, but that fancy has led to a depth of understanding that I never thought I'd have, and also to coins I never imagined would have existed. Often, I have come to a special appreciation of these coins, as more often than not there is a story behind why a certain title is particularly rare for an otherwise very common emperor.

I hope to eventually get all my Romans imaged and to polish up my write-ups for a revived "Portraits of Power" thread (with apologies to my CCF friends - I just lost steam after a while) but for now I thought it would be fun to have a pile-on thread for emperors (and their families) who are normally common, but featured with a rare or unusual title for them.

A few of my favorites:

Common Emperors as Caesar

Caligula, as heir to Tiberius

1550910889_TiberiusandCaligulaCaesarAEAsCarthagoNova.thumb.jpg.3160adfc209abf629818889411e0492f.jpg

Although he had six(!) heirs apparent, Tiberius opted only to honor his son Drusus with imperial coinage, although the mint at Carthago Nova in Hispania issued for five of them, the last being Caligula. The term Caesar to denote heir apparent had not come into use yet, so here he is given the honorific office of Duovir Quinquennalis, just as his brothers had been several years before. Why Caligula is not featured as a small bust facing that of Tiberius Gemellus, I am not sure - perhaps the latter was simply too young?

Antoninus Pius, as Caesar to Hadrian

1131664754_Antoninuspiuscaesardianastanding.jpg.a25114738dc62801f518fa725efb6380.jpg

I debated whether this one is rare enough to qualify for inclusion here, but IMO it is certainly much scarcer than any of his coins as Augustus. After the death of Aelius, Hadrian adopted Antoninus and granted him the title of Caesar in February 138, which he held for barely four months before assuming the purple upon Hadrian's death in July of that year.

Severus Alexander as Caesar to Elagabalus

925055807_SeverusAlexandercaesarpriestlyimplements.thumb.jpg.14d37e8e6c6787c73438282e2fb84522.jpg

Elagabalus was pressured by his grandmother into adopting his young cousin Alexander, ostensibly for giving the dynasty some semblance of stability, but arguably it was a calculated move to depose Elagabalus in favor of his cousin. Alexander held the title of Caesar for about 9 months (June 221-March 222) and was proclaimed emperor following a botched attempt by Elagabalus to murder Alexander, which resulted in the Praetorians killing their own emperor.

Maxentius as Caesar

1503678425_Maxentiuscaesarcarthage.jpg.dafdabdd8f5d43a4098dbcf17c53bec4.jpg

One of my favorite enigmatic coins, Caesar was a title that Maxentius never held! Given the harsh punishment exacted on Alexandria for supporting Domitianus, it is probable that Carthage was fearful both of what would happen if they supported Maxentius' usurpation and he lost, but equally so if they denounced him and he won. This was apparently seen as a safe middle ground, but after just a couple months of minting these coins, they probably wagered that it was safe to go ahead and recognize his claim as legitimate.

Constantine as Caesar

290651861_ConstantineasCaesarfollisLyonGENIOPOPROM.thumb.jpg.7d60c3c257d1cd369595764384937a45.jpg

Again, perhaps not *so* rare, but the immense number of his coins issued as Augustus makes it easy to forget that he ever willingly submitted to anyone. He apparently accepted the title of Augustus from his father's troops initially, then demoted himself to Caesar, ostensibly under Severus II. He issued his own coins as Caesar until 307, when he again tried for the purple.

 

As Emperor or Usurper

Clodius Albinus, as Usurper

1208221018_Clodiusalbinusaugustusgeniolugdunum.jpg.daa82952fa26358b20b70c6ff84b48b2.jpg

Almost as soon as Pescennius Niger fell, the shaky alliance between Clodius Albinus and Severus imploded. Severus named his son Caracalla as Caesar, double crossing Albinus, who fled to his loyal troops in Lugdunum where he was proclaimed emperor, but fell in battle against Severus several months later.

Diadumenian, as Augustus

1025367873_DiadumenianasAugustusAntioch.thumb.jpg.2bc3ede4c0da7f56ce8a74303a92f014.jpg

We know from history and a few coins that Diadumenian was proclaimed emperor in a desperate attempt by Macrinus to sway popular support away from Elagabalus. All three were at Antioch at the time, so it makes sense that Antiochene provincials would be among the only coins to recognize Diadumenian's promotion. Exact attribution to this mere month at the end of the young boy's life is troublesome, but this coin has an awkwardly-squished CE beneath the portrait, which can only stand for CEBACTOY, the Greek equivalent of Augustus. A similar issue shows Diadumenian as laureate, and is certainly an issue celebrating him as emperor, but in my opinion, a likelier explanation for this coin is that the engravers were instructed to produce a large volume of coins for the populace with no warning, and so had to simply modify the legend for the initial issue while the "final" portrait was being prepared. The bare headed issue comes both with and without the CE beneath the bust.

Hostilian, as Augustus

1809887095_Hostilianaugustusromaeaeternae.jpg.8e31f5471dc6324408aa323faa97d00b.jpg

Perhaps better known for his tenure as Caesar under Decius, in an unprecedented act of compassion, Trebonianus Gallus refused to execute the young Caesar, instead adopting him as his own son and promoting him to co-emperor. This reign did not last long, as Hostilian was dead, probably of illness, less than six months later.

Julian II, as Usurper

201409555_JulianIIUsurpersiliquaLugdunum.thumb.jpg.492d550cfd768bfde7425ec000426263.jpg

Julian's first issues as Augustus interestingly take the form of a rather large issue of siliquae, only from Westwern mints, and featuring a clean-shaven portrait. Although their armies never clashed, Julian was a Usurper against his cousin Constantius II for nearly two years, and these coins seem to have been minted in order to buy the loyalty of his armies.

Deification Issues

Claudius

427811986_NerowithDivusClaudiustetradrachmantioch.thumb.jpg.779f0a6935d90407c57684ff8683928e.jpg

The first emperor to actually be deified since Augustus, Claudius was held in much less than high esteem by most of the senate and people of Rome, so the issue of deification coinage was minimal and mostly restricted to these dual portrait coins from the provinces. Just a few years after his death, Divus Claudius was already being ridiculed, most notably by Seneca who wrote a play in which the spirit of Claudius is turned away by that of Augustus, and sent to Hades where he is doomed to the Sisyphean task of playing dice with a bottomless cup, as punishment for his gambling vice. Claudius was the only major deified emperor who was skipped over by Decius in his deified emperors series.

Sabina

473399504_DivaSabinadenarius.thumb.jpg.586f5a823be442e0c077d0e38da07ea0.jpg

No coins of Sabina are especially common, so it is no surprise that her deification Issues are quite rare. In fact, given how the couple loathed each other, it is surprising that Hadrian deified his wife at all.

Hadrian

420188545_DivusHadriandenariusbyPius.thumb.jpg.8b41dd0c50e4ceac6f2c14d8649bdf16.jpg

Despite his reputation today, Hadrian was deeply unpopular with the Senate in his final years - the Senate even demanded that Hadrian's name be condemned to be forgotten. Antoninus had other plans, and threatened to abdicate if his adoptive father was not consecrated - this moved the senate who bestowed the honorific Pius on their emperor, but still kept the coinage to an absolute minimum. The vast majority of Divus Hadrian coinage is from Decius' series, which is saying quite a lot.

Severus

2100652159_DivusSeptimiusseverusdenarius.thumb.jpeg.151179bd7d8958aef7c549ecbea7e83a.jpeg

Again, not *so* rare, but the immense issue of lifetime coins by Severus utterly eclipses the short series of deification Issues, which were of course impacted by the ongoing feud between his sons.

Julia Maesa

630852163_DivaJuliaMaesadenarius.thumb.jpg.91bfd306b14158334aa93f3735cb62c8.jpg

A major rarity of the Severan series, she died not long after Alexander began his rule, although the reason for her rarity is puzzling - Perhaps Mamaea simply was tired of grandma stealing her spotlight?

Victorinus

1551839917_DivusVictorinusantoninianus.thumb.jpg.e93a09384f5df69cc1374331882e6ecc.jpg

A particularly enigmatic coin, given that Victorinus did nothing particularly worth being deified for. One leading theory is that these coins were minted during an interregnum - His mother Victoria handled the affairs of the empire, including recalling Tetricus to recruit him as the new emperor.

Numerian

20171205_Divo-Numeriano-double-strike.jpg.05dc22ccb7f8804af3ed8238b5979912.jpg

I have heard conflicting theories about this small and very rare issue - that it could have been minted by Carinus to attempt to sway the East against Diocletian, or that it could have been minted by Diocletian to assert himself as the rightful heir to Numerian. Regardless, Numerian holds the speedrunning world record for quickest movement through all three titles - moving from Caesar to Augustus to Divus in just 3 years!

Galerius2140818181_DivusGaleriusfollistemple.thumb.jpg.827b56b1cba2a4fc48e18fad1f29e55c.jpg

Galerius was probably only on good terms with Maximinus II when he died, which makes his deification series understandably tough to find. Ironically, since he, Constantius, and Maximian were all deified, that means that of the four original Tetrarchs, only Diocletian was denied godhood!God hood!

 

That's all for right now - so let's see any that you have!

Edited by Finn235
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That is a fantastic series. Congratulations. I was not even aware that Severus Alexander as Caesar coins existed.

Particularly like also the Diva Maesa coin, Caligula as Caesar and Divus Hadrian/Diva Sabina. Many thanks for posting all the coins.

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2 hours ago, Finn235 said:

For those of you who followed my postings on CCF and to a lesser extent CT, you may know that at some point along my journey of trying to collect one coin of every emperor, I had the epiphany, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to also try to find them as Caesar and posthumous issues, too?"

And so started many long hours of research and many more of trolling auction listings, but that fancy has led to a depth of understanding that I never thought I'd have, and also to coins I never imagined would have existed. Often, I have come to a special appreciation of these coins, as more often than not there is a story behind why a certain title is particularly rare for an otherwise very common emperor.

I hope to eventually get all my Romans imaged and to polish up my write-ups for a revived "Portraits of Power" thread (with apologies to my CCF friends - I just lost steam after a while) but for now I thought it would be fun to have a pile-on thread for emperors (and their families) who are normally common, but featured with a rare or unusual title for them.

A few of my favorites:

Common Emperors as Caesar

Caligula, as heir to Tiberius

1550910889_TiberiusandCaligulaCaesarAEAsCarthagoNova.thumb.jpg.3160adfc209abf629818889411e0492f.jpg

Although he had six(!) heirs apparent, Tiberius opted only to honor his son Drusus with imperial coinage, although the mint at Carthago Nova in Hispania issued for five of them, the last being Caligula. The term Caesar to denote heir apparent had not come into use yet, so here he is given the honorific office of Duovir Quinquennalis, just as his brothers had been several years before. Why Caligula is not featured as a small bust facing that of Tiberius Gemellus, I am not sure - perhaps the latter was simply too young?

Antoninus Pius, as Caesar to Hadrian

1131664754_Antoninuspiuscaesardianastanding.jpg.a25114738dc62801f518fa725efb6380.jpg

I debated whether this one is rare enough to qualify for inclusion here, but IMO it is certainly much scarcer than any of his coins as Augustus. After the death of Aelius, Hadrian adopted Antoninus and granted him the title of Caesar in February 138, which he held for barely four months before assuming the purple upon Hadrian's death in July of that year.

Severus Alexander as Caesar to Elagabalus

925055807_SeverusAlexandercaesarpriestlyimplements.thumb.jpg.14d37e8e6c6787c73438282e2fb84522.jpg

Elagabalus was pressured by his grandmother into adopting his young cousin Alexander, ostensibly for giving the dynasty some semblance of stability, but arguably it was a calculated move to depose Elagabalus in favor of his cousin. Alexander held the title of Caesar for about 9 months (June 221-March 222) and was proclaimed emperor following a botched attempt by Elagabalus to murder Alexander, which resulted in the Praetorians killing their own emperor.

Maxentius as Caesar

1503678425_Maxentiuscaesarcarthage.jpg.dafdabdd8f5d43a4098dbcf17c53bec4.jpg

One of my favorite enigmatic coins, Caesar was a title that Maxentius never held! Given the harsh punishment exacted on Alexandria for supporting Domitianus, it is probable that Carthage was fearful both of what would happen if they supported Maxentius' usurpation and he lost, but equally so if they denounced him and he won. This was apparently seen as a safe middle ground, but after just a couple months of minting these coins, they probably wagered that it was safe to go ahead and recognize his claim as legitimate.

Constantine as Caesar

290651861_ConstantineasCaesarfollisLyonGENIOPOPROM.thumb.jpg.7d60c3c257d1cd369595764384937a45.jpg

Again, perhaps not *so* rare, but the immense number of his coins issued as Augustus makes it easy to forget that he ever willingly submitted to anyone. He apparently accepted the title of Augustus from his father's troops initially, then demoted himself to Caesar, ostensibly under Severus II. He issued his own coins as Caesar until 307, when he again tried for the purple.

 

As Emperor or Usurper

Clodius Albinus, as Usurper

1208221018_Clodiusalbinusaugustusgeniolugdunum.jpg.daa82952fa26358b20b70c6ff84b48b2.jpg

Almost as soon as Pescennius Niger fell, the shaky alliance between Clodius Albinus and Severus imploded. Severus named his son Caracalla as Caesar, double crossing Albinus, who fled to his loyal troops in Lugdunum where he was proclaimed emperor, but fell in battle against Severus several months later.

Diadumenian, as Augustus

1025367873_DiadumenianasAugustusAntioch.thumb.jpg.2bc3ede4c0da7f56ce8a74303a92f014.jpg

We know from history and a few coins that Diadumenian was proclaimed emperor in a desperate attempt by Macrinus to sway popular support away from Elagabalus. All three were at Antioch at the time, so it makes sense that Antiochene provincials would be among the only coins to recognize Diadumenian's promotion. Exact attribution to this mere month at the end of the young boy's life is troublesome, but this coin has an awkwardly-squished CE beneath the portrait, which can only stand for CEBACTOY, the Greek equivalent of Augustus. A similar issue shows Diadumenian as laureate, and is certainly an issue celebrating him as emperor, but in my opinion, a likelier explanation for this coin is that the engravers were instructed to produce a large volume of coins for the populace with no warning, and so had to simply modify the legend for the initial issue while the "final" portrait was being prepared. The bare headed issue comes both with and without the CE beneath the bust.

Hostilian, as Augustus

1809887095_Hostilianaugustusromaeaeternae.jpg.8e31f5471dc6324408aa323faa97d00b.jpg

Perhaps better known for his tenure as Caesar under Decius, in an unprecedented act of compassion, Trebonianus Gallus refused to execute the young Caesar, instead adopting him as his own son and promoting him to co-emperor. This reign did not last long, as Hostilian was dead, probably of illness, less than six months later.

Julian II, as Usurper

201409555_JulianIIUsurpersiliquaLugdunum.thumb.jpg.492d550cfd768bfde7425ec000426263.jpg

Julian's first issues as Augustus interestingly take the form of a rather large issue of siliquae, only from Westwern mints, and featuring a clean-shaven portrait. Although their armies never clashed, Julian was a Usurper against his cousin Constantius II for nearly two years, and these coins seem to have been minted in order to buy the loyalty of his armies.

Deification Issues

Claudius

427811986_NerowithDivusClaudiustetradrachmantioch.thumb.jpg.779f0a6935d90407c57684ff8683928e.jpg

The first emperor to actually be deified since Augustus, Claudius was held in much less than high esteem by most of the senate and people of Rome, so the issue of deification coinage was minimal and mostly restricted to these dual portrait coins from the provinces. Just a few years after his death, Divus Claudius was already being ridiculed, most notably by Seneca who wrote a play in which the spirit of Claudius is turned away by that of Augustus, and sent to Hades where he is doomed to the Sisyphean task of playing dice with a bottomless cup, as punishment for his gambling vice. Claudius was the only major deified emperor who was skipped over by Decius in his deified emperors series.

Sabina

473399504_DivaSabinadenarius.thumb.jpg.586f5a823be442e0c077d0e38da07ea0.jpg

No coins of Sabina are especially common, so it is no surprise that her deification Issues are quite rare. In fact, given how the couple loathed each other, it is surprising that Hadrian deified his wife at all.

Hadrian

420188545_DivusHadriandenariusbyPius.thumb.jpg.8b41dd0c50e4ceac6f2c14d8649bdf16.jpg

Despite his reputation today, Hadrian was deeply unpopular with the Senate in his final years - the Senate even demanded that Hadrian's name be condemned to be forgotten. Antoninus had other plans, and threatened to abdicate if his adoptive father was not consecrated - this moved the senate who bestowed the honorific Pius on their emperor, but still kept the coinage to an absolute minimum. The vast majority of Divus Hadrian coinage is from Decius' series, which is saying quite a lot.

Severus

2100652159_DivusSeptimiusseverusdenarius.thumb.jpeg.151179bd7d8958aef7c549ecbea7e83a.jpeg

Again, not *so* rare, but the immense issue of lifetime coins by Severus utterly eclipses the short series of deification Issues, which were of course impacted by the ongoing feud between his sons.

Julia Maesa

630852163_DivaJuliaMaesadenarius.thumb.jpg.91bfd306b14158334aa93f3735cb62c8.jpg

A major rarity of the Severan series, she died not long after Alexander began his rule, although the reason for her rarity is puzzling - Perhaps Mamaea simply was tired of grandma stealing her spotlight?

Victorinus

1551839917_DivusVictorinusantoninianus.thumb.jpg.e93a09384f5df69cc1374331882e6ecc.jpg

A particularly enigmatic coin, given that Victorinus did nothing particularly worth being deified for. One leading theory is that these coins were minted during an interregnum - His mother Victoria handled the affairs of the empire, including recalling Tetricus to recruit him as the new emperor.

Numerian

20171205_Divo-Numeriano-double-strike.jpg.05dc22ccb7f8804af3ed8238b5979912.jpg

I have heard conflicting theories about this small and very rare issue - that it could have been minted by Carinus to attempt to sway the East against Diocletian, or that it could have been minted by Diocletian to assert himself as the rightful heir to Numerian. Regardless, Numerian holds the speedrunning world record for quickest movement through all three titles - moving from Caesar to Augustus to Divus in just 3 years!

Galerius2140818181_DivusGaleriusfollistemple.thumb.jpg.827b56b1cba2a4fc48e18fad1f29e55c.jpg

Galerius was probably only on good terms with Maximinus II when he died, which makes his deification series understandably tough to find. Ironically, since he, Constantius, and Maximian were all deified, that means that of the four original Tetrarchs, only Diocletian was denied godhood!God hood!

 

That's all for right now - so let's see any that you have!

WOW, NICE!!!  I have a mish-mash / mash-up of around 150 of the Rulers.  You have a well thought out plan!  CONGRATS!  Great job @Finn235

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Wonderful coins @Finn235. .

Still love the Maesa! The Hadrian a close second.

Here's one you might recognise...

20220608_234047.thumb.jpg.82faa6b4737d0ffe10665f1e389654b6.jpg

20220608_234616.thumb.jpg.2deb5599f88f68d0ca1257c35c3af206.jpg

Clodius Albinus, as Caesar AD 193

Ob..D CLODIVS ALBINVS CAES, bare head right.

Rev..PROVID AVG COS, Providentia standing left,  holding sceptre and wand over globe at foot..RSC58

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