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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Roman Coins ▸ The Imperators ▸ OctavianView Options:  |  |  | 

Octavian, Triumvir and Imperator, Augustus 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

Gaius Octavius Thurinus was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., and between then and 27 B.C. was officially named Gaius Julius Caesar. After 27 B.C., he was named Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. Because of the various names he bore, it is common to call him Octavius when referring to events between 63 and 44 B.C., Octavian (or Octavianus) when referring to events between 44 and 27 B.C., and Augustus when referring to events after 27 B.C. The first and possibly greatest Roman emperor, he founded the Roman Empire after defeating Mark Antony and Cleopatra. As emperor, he reformed the coinage and the military, and embarked on a huge building program all across the empire. After a long reign of 41 years, from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D., he died at the age of 77. The coins below were struck before he was renamed Augustus in 27 B.C.


Roman Republic, Second Triumvirate, Mark Antony and Octavian, Spring - Early Summer 41 B.C.

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AVG in the obverse legend, abbreviates Antony's official position as Augur (not Augustus, a title which did not yet exist). The augur was an official and priest, whose main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds: whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are. This was known as "taking the auspices." The ceremony and function of the augur was central to any major undertaking in Roman society, public or private, including matters of war, commerce, and religion. The Roman historian Livy stresses the importance of the augurs: "Who does not know that this city was founded only after taking the auspices; that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?"

Octavian's "equivalent" position as Pontifex, a priest, is abbreviated PONT in the reverse legend.

The moneyer M. Barbatius was a friend of Julius Caesar. In 41 B.C. he was a quaestor pro praetore to Antony in the East.
SH86164. Silver denarius, RSC I Mark Antony and Augustus 8, BMCRR 103, Sydenham 1181, Crawford 517/2, SRCV I 1504, VF, toned, banker's marks, tight flan, reverse off center, light corrosion, weight 3.639 g, maximum diameter 18.0 mm, die axis 90o, military mint moving with Antony, Ephesus(?) mint, spring - early summer 41 B.C.; obverse M ANT IMP AVG III VIR R P C M BARBAT Q P (MP and AV ligate), bare head of Antony right; reverse CAESAR IMP PONT III VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right; from the Lucas Harsh Collection, ex Incitatus Coins (Mar 2012); scarce; $580.00 (€493.00) ON RESERVE


Octavian/Augustus and Julius Caesar, Thessalonica, Macedonia, c. 28 - 27 B.C.

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Gaebler (AMNG, p. 125) believed the ∆ stands for 4 asses. Touratsoglou (p. 25) interprets it to indicate year four an era of beginning with the Battle of Actium, which would date the issue to 28 - 27 B.C.
RP86188. Leaded bronze AE 23, Touratsoglou - (V2/R4, unlisted die combination), RPC I 1554, Sear Imperators 675, SNG Cop 395, SNG ANS 824, Varbanov 5153, BMC Macedonia p. 115, 58, VF, nice green patina, cleaning marks, areas of light corrosion, small edge cracks, off center, weight 10.787 g, maximum diameter 22.5 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonika (Salonika, Greece) mint, Emission I, 28 - 27 B.C.; obverse ΘEOΣ, wreathed head of Julius Caesar right; reverse ΘEΣΣAΛONIKEΩN, bare head of Augustus right, ∆ (year 4 of Actium era) below; $400.00 (€340.00)
 


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In 38 B.C., Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus signed the Treaty of Tarentum extending the Second Triumvirate until 33 B.C. On 17 January 38 B.C., Octavian married Livia. Octavian gained permission from the College of Pontiffs to wed her while she was still pregnant from another husband. Three months after the wedding she gave birth to her second son, Nero Claudius Drusus. The baby and his elder brother, the four-year-old Tiberius, lived in Octavian's household.
RB86123. Leaded bronze dupondius, SRCV I 1570, Crawford 535/2, Sear CRI 309, Sydenham 1336, BMCRR Gaul 108, Cohen I 95, RPC I 621, VF, well centered on a broad flan, some corrosion and pitting, weight 15.746 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 45o, southern Italian (Paestum?) mint, c. 38 B.C.; obverse DIVI F, bare head of Octavian right, star below chin; reverse DIVOS / IVLIVS in two lines within laurel wreath; ex Heritage, Long Beach Signature Sale 3035 (3 Sep 2014), lot 32167; $250.00 (€212.50)
 


Augustus, 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D., Uncertain Mint, Anatolia or Syria

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The mint, the quaestor who struck this type, and even the identity of the person in the portrait remain uncertain. The type has previously been attributed to Macedonia and the portrait identified as Brutus (Friedlander) or Caesar (Grant). David Sear notes the type has never been found in Macedonia. Finds point to Syria or Anatolia. It is possible that the type was issued, with his own portrait, by Sosius, a general under Marc Antony who was quaestor in 39 B.C. Much more likely, however, the portrait is of Augustus.
RP77502. Bronze AE 28, RPC I 5409; Sear CRI 957 (Syria); AMNG II 29 (Pella), F, porous, scratches, weight 19.349 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain Anatolian or Syrian mint, obverse bare head right; reverse hasta (spear), sella quaestoria (quaestor's seat of office), and fiscus (imperial treasury), Q (for quaestor) below; ex H.D. Rauch e-auction 15 (16 Jun 2014), lot 145; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Mark Antony and Octavian, 2nd Triumvirate, Thessalonica, Macedonia, 37 B.C.

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The reverse inscription abbreviates, MAPKOΣ ANTΩNIONΣ AYTOKPATΩP ΓAIOΣ KAIΣAP AYTOKPATΩP. The bust of Libertas on the obverse "refers to the grant of freedom by the Triumvirs to Thessalonica in 42 BC after the battle of Philippi (the victory which is celebrated on the reverse)." -- RPC I, p. 29

In 37 B.C., Cleopatra loaned Antony the money for the army. After a five-month siege, the Romans took Jerusalem from the Parthians. Herod the Great made king by Anthony, took control of his capital. Antigonus was taken to Antioch where Antony had him executed. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered by the Roman troops supporting Herod.
RP83539. Bronze AE 29, BMC Macedonia p. 115, 63; RPC I 1551/20-26; Sear CRI 672; SNG Cop 374; SNG ANS 823, aF, green patina on yellow brass, edge splits corrosion, weight 23.685 g, maximum diameter 28.4 mm, die axis 0o, Thessalonica (Salonika, Greece) mint, 37 B.C.; obverse ΘEΣΣAΛONKEΩN EΛEYΘEPIAΣ, diademed and draped bust of Eleutheria (Liberty) right, E (year 5) below chin; reverse M ANT AYT Γ KAI AYT, Nike advancing left, extending wreath in right hand, palm frond in left; $130.00 (€110.50)
 







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REFERENCES

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Catalog current as of Monday, November 20, 2017.
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Roman Coins of Octavian