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Livia Drusilla


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Somehow, I missed on my calendar that January 30th was Livia Drusilla's birthday. Recently, I acquired a coin of hers because I couldn't resist it after reading I, Claudius


Livia, wife of Augustus
issued under Tiberius, 22-23 CE
Æ 30mm, 13,07g
obv. draped bust of Livia to right as Salus, SALVS AVGVSTA below
S.1740, RIC 47, BMC 81


I'm aware that I'm preaching to those who know this history far better than I, but Livia was one of the more fascinating women in Roman history. When she and Augustus first met, they were both married. This should be great rom-com material and I'm surprised no movie (I know of) has covered it, but both Livia and Augustus' wife were nine months pregnant at the time.

So infatuated were they that Augustus promptly divorced his wife on the day she gave birth to his daughter Julia. Livia was a bit more conservative here and gave birth to her younger son Nero Claudius Drusus (who became better known as Germanicus) three days after the wedding.

It's pretty well documented that Livia was a model for female piety. She reportedly shunned extravagance and was a valuable counselor to Augustus throughout his reign. We have no idea how much she impacted his policies, but it appears she must have. There was only the matter of the succession.

Livia had two sons: Germanicus and Tiberius. Augustus had only the daughter, Julia, and the two never had any children together. There was the small matter, though, of Julia's sons. She had three of them.

Luckily for Livia, they dropped out of the running one by one.

  • Gaius Caesar died of an illness while in Lycia
  • Agrippa Postumus was banished due to his "illiberal nature" and was executed around the time of Augustus' death
  • Lucius Caesar also died of an illness in Gaul

I have a coin with Gaius and Lucius issued by Augustus. They look so happy touching hands here. It's a shame they both perished from an "illness".


Denarius. Lugdunum.
19mm 3.77g
Caius and Lucius Caesar standing facing; two shields, two sceptres; lituus and simpulum above.
RIC² 209


Unfortunately for Livia, her younger and more popular son Germanicus also died of an illness, but overall these illnesses, banishments, and executions left her elder son Tiberius conveniently as the only one left for succession.

Of course, in I, Claudius, Livia is shown to have poisoned everyone left to right. This was spurred by a number of later Roman writers who suspected the same, but the truth is we really don't know. At that time it was just assumed men used the sword and women resorted to poison. 

In terms of her coinage itself, Augustus didn't issue any imperial coinage during his life for her, though there was some provincial coinage. AFAIK, her name isn't explicitly spelled out on any imperial coinage under Tiberius either, but my coin was obviously made for her. The portrait matches those we know of her and the words "SALUS AUGUSTA" obviously refer to her.

It was minted in 22 CE, a year during which Livia underwent a severe illness and wasn't expected to make it. Tiberius rushed back from Capri to be with her, and she recovered. Since the coin is wishing "health to the Augusta", we assume it was minted to congratulate her on regaining her health. Later on, they had a falling out, and when she truly was on her deathbed in 29 CE, Tiberius did not return from Capri but sent Caligula to give her death oratory.

Nevertheless, she was one of the grande dames of history and in her honor I propose that we each have a nice dinner tonight, during which we eat some figs and have that one person we trust most in life pour us a drink...

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Lovely coin you have.

I have only one with Livia, a provincal with her Son, Tiberius

RPC Volume: I №: 1568
Reign: Tiberius Persons: Tiberius (Augustus)
City: Thessalonica  Region: Macedonia Province: Macedonia
Denomination: Leaded bronze (22 mm) Average weight: 9.26 g.
Obverse: ΤΙ ΚΑΙΣΑΡ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΣ; laureate head of Tiberius, right
Reverse: ΣΕΒΑΣΤΗ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΕΩΝ; bust of Livia, right
Reference: Touratsoglou, Tiberius 1–32 (c. 14–20/23) Specimens: 46


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A lovely type. Big coingrats. I originally purchased this as part of the Livia as a goddess trilogy... which I later found out was only a two parter (the third coin is of Livilla, Drusus wife).



14-29 A.D. AE Dupondius (31 mm, 13.13 gms), Rome Mint.

RIC-Tiberius 47. Bareheaded

and draped bust of Julia Augusta (Livia) as Salus Augusta right; Reverse: Large

S.C, inscription around. Light brown with some granularity. Nearly VERY FINE.

Former: Savoca


Livia wife of Augustus, (died in 29 AD). AE As, struck under Tiberius, 22-23 AD. D / Diademed and draped bust of Livia (as Justitia) right; IVSTITIA below. R / TI CAESAR DIVI F AVG PM TR POT XXIIII around large SC. RIC (Tib.) 46. AE. g. 13.18 mm. 29.00 R. Rare. Dark green patina. F. Ex Artemide Aste


Drusus Caesar. AD 19-23. Æ Dupondius (27.40mm, 13.18 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Tiberius, AD 22-23. PIETAS, veiled, diademed, and draped bust of Livilla as Pietas (for years thought to be and listed as Livia) right / DRVSVS CAESAR TI · AVGVSTI F · TR POT ITER, large S · C. RIC I 43 (Tiberius); BMCRE 98 (Tiberius); BN 74. VG, Ex Marc Breitsprecher  


"Claudia Julia Livia, nicknamed Livilla ("Little Livia"), was the daughter of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor, and sister to Germanicus and the future emperor Claudius. Though Roman historians describe her as remarkably beautiful and charming, they also condemn her as a power-hungry adulteress and murderess. Tacitus accuses her of conspiring with her lover, the Praetorian Prefect Sejanus, to poison her husband, the imperial heir Drusus Caesar, who died in AD 23. This coin, struck in the name of Drusus shortly before his death, depicts on the obverse a veiled and classically beautiful woman as Pietas, goddess of religious piety and dutifulness. David Vagi has argued convincingly that the head represents Livilla, given that the other bronze coins issued the same year depict Drusus himself and the couple's twin sons, forming a "family set."

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I have two coins featuring Livia, the ubiquitous "tribute penny" denarius issued by Tiberius and a sestertius issued by Galba. Photos are from the sellers.


Tiberius, AD 14-37.
AR Denarius, 3.6 g, 19.0 mm, 4 h.
Lugdunum mint, AD 36-37.
Obv: TI CAESAR DIVI AVG F AVGVSTVS; Head of Tiberius, laureate, right.
Rev: PO[NT]IF MAXIM; Female figure, draped, right, seated, right holding branch and long vertical sceptre, on chair with ornamented legs; below chair, a single line.
Refs: RIC 30, Giard Lyon, group 5, 152.
Acquired from Incitatus Coins and Antiquities, 11 February 2018.



Galba, AD 68-69.
AE sestertius, 22.4 g, 34.2 mm, 6 h.
Rome mint, October AD 68.
Obv: [IMP] SER GALBA CAES AVG T[R P]; Bust of Galba, laureate and draped, right.
Rev: AVGVSTA S C; Livia seated left, holding patera and scepter.
Refs: RIC 336.
Acquired from Classical Numismatic Group, Electronic Auction 490, Lot 270, 21 April 2021.
Provenance: From the Peter J. Merani Collection. Ex Harding Collection (Hans Schulman, 10 October 1972), lot 486.
"Galba always behaved most graciously to Livia Augusta, who showed him considerable favor while she lived, and then left him half a million gold pieces, the largest bequest of all. But, because the amount was expressed in figures, not words, Tiberius, as her executor, reduced it to a mere 5,000; and Galba never handled even that modest sum." (Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Galba 5) The support of Livia allowed Galba to legitimize his rule by associating himself with Augustus and the foundation of the principate.



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Nice acquisition for your numophylacium, @kirispupis! And historically important, too. Here's my not-exactly-FDC Alexandrian bronze of Livia.

Livia, under Augustus, 27 BC - AD 13.
Roman Æ diobol, 7.41 g, 24.2 mm, 1 h.
Egypt, Alexandria, 6th series, AD 10-11.
Obv: Bare head right with Nodus hairstyle.
Rev: Date (LM=40) within oak wreath.
Refs: BMC 16.4, 31; Sear GICV 209; Emmett 57; RPC 5054.
Notes: Lindgren sale 38, lot 110.

Edited by Roman Collector
Increase size of bifocal-defying font
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