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Agrippina the Younger - a dazzling figure of Roman history


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Agrippina, the Younger

 

Today I acquired a denarius coin, issued under Nero, but also with the head of Agrippina the Younger. Probably one of the most dazzling and controversial (female) figures in Roman history, also known as the kingmaker. The family-relatives of Agrippina the Younger read like a who's who of the imperial Roman aristocracy.

  • She was the daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder
  • She was the great-granddaughter of Augustus
  • According to Roman law, Tiberius was her grandfather
  • She was the sister of Gaius, known as Caligula
  • Equally famous siblings were Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar
  • She was the wife and perhaps poisoner of Emperor Claudius
  • She was Emperor Nero's supermother

Agrippina the Younger did not have a good reputation even during her lifetime and in ancient obituaries. She seduced, poisoned and murdered for power. She married her uncle and is even said to have become involved with her son Nero. Even the great Roman historian Tacitus described her as "inflamed with a complete desire for a reign of terror". And his colleague Suetonius called her a "domineering and domineering woman". She has gone down in history as the emperor's murderess and the monstrous shadow of her son Nero. When he finally had her killed, contemporaries considered it a logical consequence of her family background.

Iulia Agrippina was born on November 6, 15 or 16 BC in Oppidum Ubiorum (today Cologne) and died on Nero's orders in Campania in 59 AD. Agrippina was the seventh of at least nine children of Germanicus Iulius Caesar and Vipsania Agrippina, also known as Agrippina the Elder. She was the great-granddaughter of Augustus and thus belonged to the closest circle of the imperial family. On Augustus' instructions, Agrippina's great-uncle Tiberius adopted her father Germanicus. Tiberius thus legally became her grandfather. Her siblings included Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar, who were adopted by Tiberius in 20 AD as potential heirs to the throne but were executed in 30 and 33 AD respectively, the later emperor Caligula as well as Drusilla and Iulia Livilla.

Her first marriage was to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus from 28 AD, with whom she had her only son, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, the future emperor Nero, in the year AD. After her brother Caligula had her worshipped as goddesses together with her two sisters Drusilla and Iulia Livilla at the beginning of his reign, he suspected the other two sisters of having conspired against him together with their brother-in-law Marcus Aemilius Lepidus after Drusilla's death and sent Agrippina into exile on the rocky island of Pontia in 39 AD, from which she was only able to return after his murder in 41 AD. Her first husband died in 40 AD as a result of illness. After her return, she married Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus, a wealthy and influential senator, who probably died in 47 AD; according to Suetonius, he was killed by Agrippina's treachery. In 49 AD, Agrippina then married her uncle Claudius as his fourth wife, for which a law had to be changed that forbade marriage between uncle and niece. She then succeeded in strengthening her position at court and weakening that of her opponents. Claudius hoped to gain additional dynastic legitimacy through his union with Agrippina, who, unlike him, was descended from Emperor Augustus. The marriage therefore also strengthened Agrippina's influence and reputation in the public eye, which is why she was honored with statues and inscriptions.

Although Agrippina's new position did not give her a legal or institutional position, it did give her de facto political power, which she claimed and exercised for herself. It is clear from pictorial evidence and historiography, which is predominantly hostile to her, that she did not conform to the traditional image of women. She sought to secure the succession to the throne for her son, although Claudius himself had a son, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus, also known as Britannicus, from his marriage to Valeria Messalina. In February 50 AD, Claudius adopted the 12-year-old Lucius, who now succeeded his younger stepbrother Britannicus as Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus to the throne, thus displacing him as his immediate successor and strengthening Agrippina's future bad reputation. In addition, Claudius now gave his wife the title Augusta. She was thus the first Roman emperor's wife to be awarded this title during her husband's lifetime and also had full minting rights. Agrippina could therefore be depicted on coins minted throughout the empire without naming or portraying the princeps. Her power is also reflected in the foundation of the Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium named after her in 50 AD, which elevated the settlement at her birthplace from an oppidum to a colonia civium Romanorum, whose inhabitants, initially mostly veterans, had Roman citizenship.

Nero was declared of age at the age of 13 and appointed senator and proconsul. In 53 AD, at the age of 16, he was married to his 13-year-old stepsister Claudia Octavia, the daughter of Claudius and Valeria Messalina. By adopting Nero, he had officially become her brother, whom she was not allowed to marry under Roman law, which is why Claudia had previously been made an Octavian pro forma by adoption. Agrippina took various steps to make her son the next ruler. She summoned Lucius Annaeus Seneca back to appoint him as his tutor. The senator and accomplice of Livilla had previously been sent into exile to Corsica by Messalina. Agrippina also set herself the goal of winning the loyalty and allegiance of the military. She appointed the soldier Afranius Burrus as commander of the Praetorian Guard and gradually replaced the old soldiers with new ones loyal to her father Germanicus. At events, she wore a chlamys and is also said to have sat next to her husband, putting her on an equal footing with him. The ancient sources paint a picture of a passive Claudius. Meanwhile, he bestowed on her the title of Augusta, which he had previously denied Messalina, and advertised coins bearing her image. Britannicus negated his adoptive brother and is said to have once called him by his birth name, Domitius. When Agrippina found out about this, she reported it to Claudius and accused Britannicus of treason. Claudius allowed her to dismiss Britannicus' tutors and hire new ones.

 

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In late 54 AD, Britannicus was about to celebrate his 13th birthday. At this point, Claudius fell ill and died shortly afterwards on the night of October 13, 54 AD as a result of poisoning, which is why his adopted son Nero was appointed ruler of the Roman Empire at the age of 16. Rumor has it that Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius in order to deny his biological son Britannicus the right to rule. According to Tacitus, Agrippina had her husband Claudius poisoned with the help of the poisoner Lucusta in order to help her son Nero to power. 

Agrippina spent a total of six years trying to secure the title of ruler for her son. Now she expected something in return, which promised a not inconsiderable share of power. After Claudius' death, she had perhaps initially hoped to seize de facto power herself, as a coin with the inscription "Agrippina Augusta, wife of the deified Claudius, mother of Nero Caesar" suggests. Agrippina also had herself portrayed as the goddess of fortune (Fortuna). In the early years, she still exerted a strong influence on Nero's government. From then on, she moved around Rome accompanied by two lictors and gave orders to the praetorians. At first, Nero was not bothered by the fact that his mother held so much power. Coins depicted her together with her son Nero as equals on the obverse of the coins.

And now I would like to introduce you to my latest acquisition.

This denarius, struck early in Nero's reign, strikingly shows his mother Agrippina Junior, widow of the newly deceased and deified Claudius, as the dominant force in the imperial government. Not only is her portrait depicted on an equal basis with that of her son, her name and titles are placed on the obverse, while Nero's are relegated to the reverse. Within a few months of the regime change, Agrippina's power had been eclipsed by Nero's advisors Seneca and Burrus. For the following coin type, the titles changed places, Nero's now occupying the obverse, and the portraits became jugate, with Agrippina behind Nero. Thereafter, Agrippina was entirely excluded from the coinage. 

 

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Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, with Iulia Agrippina (the Younger); Reign: Nero; Mint: Rome; Date: c. October - December 54 AD; Nominal: Denarius; Material: Silver; Diameter: 18.4mm; Weight: 3.51g; Reference: BMC 3; Reference: Cohen 7; Reference: RIC I (second edition) Nero 2; Obverse: Bust of Nero, bare-headed, right, bust of Agrippina the Younger, draped, hair in long plait, left, facing one another; Inscription: AGRIPP AVG DIVI CL AVD NERONIS CAES MATER; Translation: Agrippina Augusta, Divi Claudii Neronis Caesares Mater; Translation: Augusta Agrippina, mother of the divine Caesar, Claudius Nero; Reverse: Legend surrounding oak-wreath enclosing EX S C; Inscription: NERONI CLAVD DIVI F CAES AVG GERM IMP TR P; Translation: Nero Claudius Divi Filius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator Tribunicia Potestas; Translation: Nero Claudius, son of the divine, Caesar, Augustus, victor over the Germans, Imperator, tribunician power.

As already described, however, Agrippina quickly lost her power to Nero's court. On coins - as can be seen here - she first appeared on an equal footing, then behind Nero, before finally disappearing from the coinage altogether. The issue of the coin motifs in particular clearly shows how Nero freed himself from his mother's grip.

 

calvo-nero-observing-body-agrippina.jpg?

Gradually, Nero's displeasure at having to share power with his mother became unmistakable. Her influence waned at the beginning of 55 AD. Nero's love affairs were a major trigger for this. His marriage to Octavia was orchestrated by Agrippina in order to secure her son's claim to power. However, Nero was unable to accept the union and instead entered into an affair with the freed Claudia Acte. According to the historian Tacitus, she consequently ordered the praetorians to oust Nero and have him replaced by Britannicus. A few weeks later, shortly before reaching the age of 14, Britannicus was poisoned during a state banquet on Nero's orders. Officially, he succumbed to epilepsy. With the murder of his adoptive brother, Nero declared his independence from Agrippina. Her portrait on the coins now appeared behind that of her son and later disappeared completely. Nero also demonstrated his superiority by removing his mother's bodyguards, assigning her a residence outside the imperial palace and declaring her persona non grata.

A few years later, he fell in love with Poppaea Sabina, eight years his senior. She was the former wife of the praetorian prefect Rufrius Crispinus, whom Agrippina had previously ousted from his leadership position, and now wanted to become his wife, which was legally forbidden for a freedwoman. Poppaea gave Nero an ultimatum: she would leave him for her former husband if he did not put a definitive stop to his mother. In the spring of 59 AD, he decided to kill his mother. After a failed attempt in Baiae, a resort in Naples, in which he tried to sink his mother in a rigged boat, he sent a troop of three soldiers who ultimately killed her. Agrippina was murdered, cremated and buried without ceremony or monument. Her servant Mnester then killed himself. The murder of Agrippina made Nero the only Roman emperor to commit matricide. The matricide was later regarded as the main motive of the conspirators who had previously attempted to overthrow Nero in 65 AD and of the rebellious legions who ousted him three years later and forced him to commit suicide.

Agrippina was murdered and buried in Campania. Nero was skeptical of the reactions of the inhabitants of Campania, as some of them rushed to her after Agrippina's death, unknowingly turning against their princeps. They eventually agreed publicly to Nero's official interpretation of events - Agrippina's suicide - and thus revealed themselves as accomplices, if not to the murder, then to its aftermath. Agrippina's murder forced the inhabitants of Campania to confess their allegiance to her or to Nero, something that many contemporaries shied away from in the midst of political unrest. The same problem can be found in the archaeological memory of the region: in Puteoli, Agrippina's name was removed from a monument commemorating local games, while in Herculaneum a large group of statues depicting her name and likeness, as well as many other inscriptions in and around the Gulf of Naples, were preserved until after her death. The inhabitants of Campania thus commemorated their Augusta, but were divided on the direction of this commemoration.

It should be noted that Agrippina Minor gained access to imperial power three times in her 30 years of political existence: the first time as Caligula's sister, the second time as Claudius' wife and finally as Nero's mother. She was the only woman in Rome to publicly exercise the power of an emperor.

 

 

 

Feel free to write your comments and show more examples of coins here.

  • Coins with Claudius and Agrippina
  • Coins of Agrippina the Younger herself
  • Coins of Nero and Agrippina
  • Coins of other emperors who were under the influence of strong mothers
  • Or whatever you think is in relation
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Nice! She's a hard one to come by in the imperial series. I have only three coins of Agrippina II, all provincials and all paired with Claudius.

Claudius and Agrippina II Bosporus.jpg
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.

[IMG]
Claudius, AD 41-54, and Agrippina II, AD 50-59.
Roman provincial Æ 19.6 mm, 4.19 g, 12 h.
Lycaonia, Iconia (as Claudiconium), magistrate M. Annius Afrinus, AD 50-54.
Obv: ΚΛΑΥΔΙΟϹ ΚΑΙϹΑΡ ϹЄΒΑ, laureate head of Claudius, right.
Rev: ϹЄΒΑϹΤΗ ЄΠΙ ΑΦΡЄΙΝΟΥ ΚΛΑΥΔЄΙΚΟΝΙЄѠΝ, bare-headed and draped bust of Agrippina II, right.
Refs: RPC I 3542; von Aulock Lyk. 258–62.

Claudius and Agrippina II Thyateira.jpg
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 --.

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4 minutes ago, Roman Collector said:

She's a hard one to come by in the imperial series. I have only three coins of Agrippina II, all provincials and all paired with Claudius.

Thats true! I had only one Agrippina II - also only provincial and not really with a superb condition. The silver denarius was my second Agrippina.

 

Iulia Agrippina the Younger as Augusta
Wife of Claudius, Mother of Nero (and sister of Caligula)
Under Gaius Postumus; Bronze of the Roman Imperial Period 54/59 AD
Material: AE; Diameter: 15mm; Weight: 4.28g; Mint: Laodicea ad Lycum, Phrygia
Reference: RPC I. 2918 (Specimens 16, 11 in the core collections), BMC 174
Obverse: Draped bust of Agrippina II, right. The Inscription reads: ΑΓΡΙΠΠΕΙΝΑ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗ Agrippeina Sebasti (Agrippina Augusta).
Reverse: Eagle on cippus. The Inscription reads: ΓΑΙΟΥ ΠΟΣΤΟΜΟΥ ΛΑΟΔΙΚΕΩΝ for Gaios Postomos Laodikeon (Gaius Postumus, City of Laodicea).
 
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Excellent write up and coins. Talk about a stealthy and intelligent woman. Not an easy family to stay alive in. And she thrived... until she didn't. 

Here she is telling Nero to stop fiddling with his stylus and to stand up straight:

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PHRYGIA, Apamea. Agrippina II and Nero. (54-68). Ae.

Obv : ΝΕΡΩΝ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗ.

Draped bust of Agrippina and bareheaded and cuirassed bust of Nero facing one another.

Rev : ΕΠΙ ΜΑΡΙΟΥ ΚΟΡΔΟΥ ΚΟΙΝΟΝ ΦΡΥΓΙΑΣ ΑΠΑΜΕΙΣ.

Eagle standing on wreath, left, head right, with wings spread.

RPC I online 3136; BMC 143-145.

Condition : Very fine.

Weight : 9.3 gr

Diameter : 25 mm

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Cool coin from a very important figure from 1st century. 

I have just one provincial - satisfactory especially since the price was very low. 

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17 mm, 2,91 g.
Phrygia, Aizanis. Agrippina II 50-59. Ӕ.
ΑΓΡΙΠΠΙΝΑΝ ϹƐΒΑϹΤΗΝ, draped bust of Agrippina II, right / ΑΙΖΑΝΙΤΩΝ, draped bust of Persephone with ears of corn before.
RPC I, 3102; BMC 91; Cop 91.

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8 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

neroagrippina.png.d7b09bfae859b5e387b9980746f63fb4.png

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, with Iulia Agrippina (the Younger); Reign: Nero; Mint: Rome; Date: c. October - December 54 AD; Nominal: Denarius; Material: Silver; Diameter: 18.4mm; Weight: 3.51g; Reference: BMC 3; Reference: Cohen 7; Reference: RIC I (second edition) Nero 2; Obverse: Bust of Nero, bare-headed, right, bust of Agrippina the Younger, draped, hair in long plait, left, facing one another; Inscription: AGRIPP AVG DIVI CL AVD NERONIS CAES MATER; Translation: Agrippina Augusta, Divi Claudii Neronis Caesares Mater; Translation: Augusta Agrippina, mother of the divine Caesar, Claudius Nero; Reverse: Legend surrounding oak-wreath enclosing EX S C; Inscription: NERONI CLAVD DIVI F CAES AVG GERM IMP TR P; Translation: Nero Claudius Divi Filius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator Tribunicia Potestas; Translation: Nero Claudius, son of the divine, Caesar, Augustus, victor over the Germans, Imperator, tribunician power

 
Attention please!
 
Bad news… with a longer search I find another similar coin at a past auction as whitedraw - and a second similar coin from eBay Fakeseller „demetrios7107“ 😭 that’s sad, I begin to like the coin, but shit happens.

I had a little stupid feeling in my stomach this morning and, just to be on the safe side, I opened a thread on Numiswiki early: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=133046.0

Thanks to Amentia from the German Forum searching (and founding) for the same (fake) types! 
 

So I must upload this coin and type to the Fake Report Database:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/fakes/displayimage.php?pid=22591 

 

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Edited by Prieure de Sion
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That's how it is with some counterfeits - some cannot be recognized immediately and some counterfeits are not 100% guaranteed to be fake.

I experience again and again in forums that coins are judged too quickly and hastily as real or counterfeit. What I find really bad are “discussions” in which some people say “that’s definitely real/fake” and justify it with “because I say that and because I know what I’m talking about.” This means that a serious dispute is not possible. Anyone who says that a coin is definitely real or definitely a fake should be able to justify this with arguments.

I would like to once again particularly emphasize Amentia from the German Numismatics Forum. When he judges a coin, he justifies this with examples and you then know how to assess and evaluate these arguments.

Long story short.

 

I also submitted the coin to ForgeryNetwork and received an email from the admin and expert of roman ancient coins today.

Here is the upload: https://www.forgerynetwork.com/asset.aspx?id=yNRQOI90l3Q= 

The People from ForgeryNetwork are not 100% sure it was a modern forgery. Yes, they classify the coin as “suspect”. But the evidence is not yet enough. The back is similar to existing modern fakes. But the front with the portraits is not necessarily very similar to other known forgeries. I received a comment on the entry "Close matches to what I see, but still enough variations to not be quite certain. I think suspect." and I was asked by email to look for further evidence and clues.

 

So that I can be understood correctly. Of course, this coin is a "very hot item" and very suspect! But elsewhere facts have already been established without justification. And I don't like that kind of thing. With this example you can see clearly - you should never judge a coin too quickly as being definitely real or definitely fake - there always have to be good arguments for it.

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Thank you for the great writeup!!!

Agrippina the younger was the first roman woman to issue coins in her own name and with her portrait on the obverse, as seen on my Sestertius:

IMG_5538.jpg.cc17d3e1eb7904c24bffec69283f1421.jpg

AGRIPPINA AVG GERMANICI F CAESARIS AVG - Draped bust of Agrippina Junior right /

(no legend) – Carpentum left, drawn by two mules, the cover supported by standing figures.

Brass Sestertius, Perinthus (?) mint, AD 51-54 (struck under Claudius)

32 mm / 26.99 g / 6h

Cohen -, BMCRE Claudius p. 195 note and plate 37.3, RIC I (Claudius) 103 (R3), H.-M. von Kaenel, “Britannicus, Agrippina Minor und Nero in Thrakien”, SNR 63 (1984), p. 130 ff, Type A (7 specimens) and plate 24, 30 (same obverse die), Cayon “Los Sestercios del Imperio Romano” Vol. 1 (1984), 1 (80.000 SFR) and plate p.74 (same reverse die), Sear RCV I, 1910

IMG_5531.jpg.d4f990553c2b7e1f878fa4618bf9f360.jpg

 
Edited by Julius Germanicus
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On 1/13/2024 at 6:45 AM, Prieure de Sion said:

2560px-Agrippina_Minor_Landesmuseum_W%C3

Agrippina, the Younger

 

Today I acquired a denarius coin, issued under Nero, but also with the head of Agrippina the Younger. Probably one of the most dazzling and controversial (female) figures in Roman history, also known as the kingmaker. The family-relatives of Agrippina the Younger read like a who's who of the imperial Roman aristocracy.

  • She was the daughter of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder
  • She was the great-granddaughter of Augustus
  • According to Roman law, Tiberius was her grandfather
  • She was the sister of Gaius, known as Caligula
  • Equally famous siblings were Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar
  • She was the wife and perhaps poisoner of Emperor Claudius
  • She was Emperor Nero's supermother

Agrippina the Younger did not have a good reputation even during her lifetime and in ancient obituaries. She seduced, poisoned and murdered for power. She married her uncle and is even said to have become involved with her son Nero. Even the great Roman historian Tacitus described her as "inflamed with a complete desire for a reign of terror". And his colleague Suetonius called her a "domineering and domineering woman". She has gone down in history as the emperor's murderess and the monstrous shadow of her son Nero. When he finally had her killed, contemporaries considered it a logical consequence of her family background.

Iulia Agrippina was born on November 6, 15 or 16 BC in Oppidum Ubiorum (today Cologne) and died on Nero's orders in Campania in 59 AD. Agrippina was the seventh of at least nine children of Germanicus Iulius Caesar and Vipsania Agrippina, also known as Agrippina the Elder. She was the great-granddaughter of Augustus and thus belonged to the closest circle of the imperial family. On Augustus' instructions, Agrippina's great-uncle Tiberius adopted her father Germanicus. Tiberius thus legally became her grandfather. Her siblings included Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar, who were adopted by Tiberius in 20 AD as potential heirs to the throne but were executed in 30 and 33 AD respectively, the later emperor Caligula as well as Drusilla and Iulia Livilla.

Her first marriage was to Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus from 28 AD, with whom she had her only son, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, the future emperor Nero, in the year AD. After her brother Caligula had her worshipped as goddesses together with her two sisters Drusilla and Iulia Livilla at the beginning of his reign, he suspected the other two sisters of having conspired against him together with their brother-in-law Marcus Aemilius Lepidus after Drusilla's death and sent Agrippina into exile on the rocky island of Pontia in 39 AD, from which she was only able to return after his murder in 41 AD. Her first husband died in 40 AD as a result of illness. After her return, she married Gaius Sallustius Crispus Passienus, a wealthy and influential senator, who probably died in 47 AD; according to Suetonius, he was killed by Agrippina's treachery. In 49 AD, Agrippina then married her uncle Claudius as his fourth wife, for which a law had to be changed that forbade marriage between uncle and niece. She then succeeded in strengthening her position at court and weakening that of her opponents. Claudius hoped to gain additional dynastic legitimacy through his union with Agrippina, who, unlike him, was descended from Emperor Augustus. The marriage therefore also strengthened Agrippina's influence and reputation in the public eye, which is why she was honored with statues and inscriptions.

Although Agrippina's new position did not give her a legal or institutional position, it did give her de facto political power, which she claimed and exercised for herself. It is clear from pictorial evidence and historiography, which is predominantly hostile to her, that she did not conform to the traditional image of women. She sought to secure the succession to the throne for her son, although Claudius himself had a son, Tiberius Claudius Caesar Germanicus, also known as Britannicus, from his marriage to Valeria Messalina. In February 50 AD, Claudius adopted the 12-year-old Lucius, who now succeeded his younger stepbrother Britannicus as Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus to the throne, thus displacing him as his immediate successor and strengthening Agrippina's future bad reputation. In addition, Claudius now gave his wife the title Augusta. She was thus the first Roman emperor's wife to be awarded this title during her husband's lifetime and also had full minting rights. Agrippina could therefore be depicted on coins minted throughout the empire without naming or portraying the princeps. Her power is also reflected in the foundation of the Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium named after her in 50 AD, which elevated the settlement at her birthplace from an oppidum to a colonia civium Romanorum, whose inhabitants, initially mostly veterans, had Roman citizenship.

Nero was declared of age at the age of 13 and appointed senator and proconsul. In 53 AD, at the age of 16, he was married to his 13-year-old stepsister Claudia Octavia, the daughter of Claudius and Valeria Messalina. By adopting Nero, he had officially become her brother, whom she was not allowed to marry under Roman law, which is why Claudia had previously been made an Octavian pro forma by adoption. Agrippina took various steps to make her son the next ruler. She summoned Lucius Annaeus Seneca back to appoint him as his tutor. The senator and accomplice of Livilla had previously been sent into exile to Corsica by Messalina. Agrippina also set herself the goal of winning the loyalty and allegiance of the military. She appointed the soldier Afranius Burrus as commander of the Praetorian Guard and gradually replaced the old soldiers with new ones loyal to her father Germanicus. At events, she wore a chlamys and is also said to have sat next to her husband, putting her on an equal footing with him. The ancient sources paint a picture of a passive Claudius. Meanwhile, he bestowed on her the title of Augusta, which he had previously denied Messalina, and advertised coins bearing her image. Britannicus negated his adoptive brother and is said to have once called him by his birth name, Domitius. When Agrippina found out about this, she reported it to Claudius and accused Britannicus of treason. Claudius allowed her to dismiss Britannicus' tutors and hire new ones.

 

roemisches-gastmahl-bereits-in-der-antik

In late 54 AD, Britannicus was about to celebrate his 13th birthday. At this point, Claudius fell ill and died shortly afterwards on the night of October 13, 54 AD as a result of poisoning, which is why his adopted son Nero was appointed ruler of the Roman Empire at the age of 16. Rumor has it that Agrippina poisoned her husband Claudius in order to deny his biological son Britannicus the right to rule. According to Tacitus, Agrippina had her husband Claudius poisoned with the help of the poisoner Lucusta in order to help her son Nero to power. 

Agrippina spent a total of six years trying to secure the title of ruler for her son. Now she expected something in return, which promised a not inconsiderable share of power. After Claudius' death, she had perhaps initially hoped to seize de facto power herself, as a coin with the inscription "Agrippina Augusta, wife of the deified Claudius, mother of Nero Caesar" suggests. Agrippina also had herself portrayed as the goddess of fortune (Fortuna). In the early years, she still exerted a strong influence on Nero's government. From then on, she moved around Rome accompanied by two lictors and gave orders to the praetorians. At first, Nero was not bothered by the fact that his mother held so much power. Coins depicted her together with her son Nero as equals on the obverse of the coins.

And now I would like to introduce you to my latest acquisition.

This denarius, struck early in Nero's reign, strikingly shows his mother Agrippina Junior, widow of the newly deceased and deified Claudius, as the dominant force in the imperial government. Not only is her portrait depicted on an equal basis with that of her son, her name and titles are placed on the obverse, while Nero's are relegated to the reverse. Within a few months of the regime change, Agrippina's power had been eclipsed by Nero's advisors Seneca and Burrus. For the following coin type, the titles changed places, Nero's now occupying the obverse, and the portraits became jugate, with Agrippina behind Nero. Thereafter, Agrippina was entirely excluded from the coinage. 

 

neroagrippina.png.d7b09bfae859b5e387b9980746f63fb4.png

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, with Iulia Agrippina (the Younger); Reign: Nero; Mint: Rome; Date: c. October - December 54 AD; Nominal: Denarius; Material: Silver; Diameter: 18.4mm; Weight: 3.51g; Reference: BMC 3; Reference: Cohen 7; Reference: RIC I (second edition) Nero 2; Obverse: Bust of Nero, bare-headed, right, bust of Agrippina the Younger, draped, hair in long plait, left, facing one another; Inscription: AGRIPP AVG DIVI CL AVD NERONIS CAES MATER; Translation: Agrippina Augusta, Divi Claudii Neronis Caesares Mater; Translation: Augusta Agrippina, mother of the divine Caesar, Claudius Nero; Reverse: Legend surrounding oak-wreath enclosing EX S C; Inscription: NERONI CLAVD DIVI F CAES AVG GERM IMP TR P; Translation: Nero Claudius Divi Filius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator Tribunicia Potestas; Translation: Nero Claudius, son of the divine, Caesar, Augustus, victor over the Germans, Imperator, tribunician power.

As already described, however, Agrippina quickly lost her power to Nero's court. On coins - as can be seen here - she first appeared on an equal footing, then behind Nero, before finally disappearing from the coinage altogether. The issue of the coin motifs in particular clearly shows how Nero freed himself from his mother's grip.

 

calvo-nero-observing-body-agrippina.jpg?

Gradually, Nero's displeasure at having to share power with his mother became unmistakable. Her influence waned at the beginning of 55 AD. Nero's love affairs were a major trigger for this. His marriage to Octavia was orchestrated by Agrippina in order to secure her son's claim to power. However, Nero was unable to accept the union and instead entered into an affair with the freed Claudia Acte. According to the historian Tacitus, she consequently ordered the praetorians to oust Nero and have him replaced by Britannicus. A few weeks later, shortly before reaching the age of 14, Britannicus was poisoned during a state banquet on Nero's orders. Officially, he succumbed to epilepsy. With the murder of his adoptive brother, Nero declared his independence from Agrippina. Her portrait on the coins now appeared behind that of her son and later disappeared completely. Nero also demonstrated his superiority by removing his mother's bodyguards, assigning her a residence outside the imperial palace and declaring her persona non grata.

A few years later, he fell in love with Poppaea Sabina, eight years his senior. She was the former wife of the praetorian prefect Rufrius Crispinus, whom Agrippina had previously ousted from his leadership position, and now wanted to become his wife, which was legally forbidden for a freedwoman. Poppaea gave Nero an ultimatum: she would leave him for her former husband if he did not put a definitive stop to his mother. In the spring of 59 AD, he decided to kill his mother. After a failed attempt in Baiae, a resort in Naples, in which he tried to sink his mother in a rigged boat, he sent a troop of three soldiers who ultimately killed her. Agrippina was murdered, cremated and buried without ceremony or monument. Her servant Mnester then killed himself. The murder of Agrippina made Nero the only Roman emperor to commit matricide. The matricide was later regarded as the main motive of the conspirators who had previously attempted to overthrow Nero in 65 AD and of the rebellious legions who ousted him three years later and forced him to commit suicide.

Agrippina was murdered and buried in Campania. Nero was skeptical of the reactions of the inhabitants of Campania, as some of them rushed to her after Agrippina's death, unknowingly turning against their princeps. They eventually agreed publicly to Nero's official interpretation of events - Agrippina's suicide - and thus revealed themselves as accomplices, if not to the murder, then to its aftermath. Agrippina's murder forced the inhabitants of Campania to confess their allegiance to her or to Nero, something that many contemporaries shied away from in the midst of political unrest. The same problem can be found in the archaeological memory of the region: in Puteoli, Agrippina's name was removed from a monument commemorating local games, while in Herculaneum a large group of statues depicting her name and likeness, as well as many other inscriptions in and around the Gulf of Naples, were preserved until after her death. The inhabitants of Campania thus commemorated their Augusta, but were divided on the direction of this commemoration.

It should be noted that Agrippina Minor gained access to imperial power three times in her 30 years of political existence: the first time as Caligula's sister, the second time as Claudius' wife and finally as Nero's mother. She was the only woman in Rome to publicly exercise the power of an emperor.

 

 

 

Feel free to write your comments and show more examples of coins here.

  • Coins with Claudius and Agrippina
  • Coins of Agrippina the Younger herself
  • Coins of Nero and Agrippina
  • Coins of other emperors who were under the influence of strong mothers
  • Or whatever you think is in relation

P. de Sion, Wonderful writeup 🤩, & tough luck with the fake denarius 😞. The denarius is a quality fake with an accurate weight, it's the type of fake that would tempt many collectors as an impulse buy 😏.

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@Prieure de Sion, excellent write-up, and I'm sorry to hear about this unfortunate outcome. 

As you pointed out, the coin was previously withdrawn from another auction, likely examined in hand, and it seems to be a double die match to the Demetrios7107 coin. All signs currently point to it being a counterfeit.

In my experience, I've only held a fake Roman coin once. In a photograph, it might deceive someone, but the difference was immediately apparent when I physically handled it.

I'm intrigued: Have you received the coin yet? What was your impression upon holding it?

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Here 2 provincial coins, one from Augusts and Livia, a second from Claudius I and Agrippina II.

obv : jugate busts of Augustus (laureate) and Livia, right
rev : ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝΙΟΣ ΕΦΕ
stag standing, right; above, quiver
8.51 gr ; 21.03 mm ;  Province: Asia (conventus of Ephesus) ; RPC vol.1 2611

livia.jpg.67b0dab3cd41a229a64ab253a54ba45e.jpg

obv : jugate laureate head of Claudius and draped bust of Agrippina II, right
rev :ΚΟΥΣΙΝΙΟΣ ΤΟ Δ, ΕΦΕ
stag standing, right
 c. AD 49/50
4.47 gr ; 17.81 mm ; Province: Asia (conventus of Ephesus) ; RPC vol.1 2624claudiusI.jpg.6b1ea9e30b203962bbd5f8bbf2cc1f5d.jpg

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On 1/15/2024 at 3:12 PM, Prieure de Sion said:

That's how it is with some counterfeits - some cannot be recognized immediately and some counterfeits are not 100% guaranteed to be fake.

I experience again and again in forums that coins are judged too quickly and hastily as real or counterfeit. What I find really bad are “discussions” in which some people say “that’s definitely real/fake” and justify it with “because I say that and because I know what I’m talking about.” This means that a serious dispute is not possible. Anyone who says that a coin is definitely real or definitely a fake should be able to justify this with arguments.

I would like to once again particularly emphasize Amentia from the German Numismatics Forum. When he judges a coin, he justifies this with examples and you then know how to assess and evaluate these arguments.

Long story short.

 

I also submitted the coin to ForgeryNetwork and received an email from the admin and expert of roman ancient coins today.

Here is the upload: https://www.forgerynetwork.com/asset.aspx?id=yNRQOI90l3Q= 

The People from ForgeryNetwork are not 100% sure it was a modern forgery. Yes, they classify the coin as “suspect”. But the evidence is not yet enough. The back is similar to existing modern fakes. But the front with the portraits is not necessarily very similar to other known forgeries. I received a comment on the entry "Close matches to what I see, but still enough variations to not be quite certain. I think suspect." and I was asked by email to look for further evidence and clues.

 

So that I can be understood correctly. Of course, this coin is a "very hot item" and very suspect! But elsewhere facts have already been established without justification. And I don't like that kind of thing. With this example you can see clearly - you should never judge a coin too quickly as being definitely real or definitely fake - there always have to be good arguments for it.

Even Barry Murphy said its fake

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49 minutes ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

Even Barry Murphy said its fake

I guess I noticed that. And I asked him how he justified his “it’s a fake.” But he just answered me that he didn't have to justify it.

But that is not serious. That's not how serious experts do it (there are arguments about it, examples, etc.) and that's also how the experts at ForgeryNetwork do it. Anyone who says fake should also back it up with one or two arguments.

So I did it together with ForgeryNetwork and the expert from the German forum. We compared stamps, compared embossing details, compared similar known forgeries and exchanged arguments to prove that it is a modern forgery.
 
"It's a fake just because I said it" isn't enough for me when it comes from Murphy. This is because he has already condemned coins as counterfeits that are very likely not counterfeits - but most importantly, coins that are 100% counterfeits have been classified as genuine. Don't get me wrong please! Everybody makes mistakes. Every expert makes mistakes. No problem. But in this case, "it's a fake because I say it, I don't have to justify it and I'm never wrong" is simply not enough for me.

An expert who thinks he doesn't have to justify his statements and that his statements are the law is of no interest to me.

Of course, the Nero Denarius is a modern counterfeit. But we now know this for sure based on the evidence we have collected. That's how you do it.

The coin has now been published as a counterfeit. And I'd rather stop with the topic now. Otherwise it happens to me here, as on Facebook, that Murphy fans suddenly write me lots of PMs and insult me. Don't feel like it 😉 

 

 

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