Nero Julius and Drusus Julius -
The Propaganda of Tiberius and the Coin from Carthago Nova

by Joe Geranio

SPAIN, Carthago Nova. Tiberius, with Nero and Drusus Caesars. AD 14-37. AS (29mm, 15.49 g, 5h). Struck AD 23-29. Bare head of Tiberius left / Confronted bare-headed and draped busts of Nero and Drusus. ACIP 3149; RPC I 179.

Drusus Julius Caesar, Brother of Caligula- Photo Christoph Vanhoorne

Nero Julius Caesar Son of Germanicus

As I was going through my collection today I pulled out my issue (this is CNG's) of the coin above and started thinking about the dark propaganda of Tiberius and Sejanus and what actually happened to the two sons of Germanicus on this coin?   Numismatics, and I think besides Roman portraiture which I love to study; I love early empire propaganda and especially the Julio Claudian propaganda.

Drusus Caesar was later accused of plotting against Tiberius. He was exiled and imprisoned in 30, a year after his mother Agrippina the Elder and his brother Nero Caesar were arrested. He starved to death in prison in 33, reduced to chewing the stuffing of his bed (Annals 6.23).

Nero was the oldest adoptive grandson of Tiberius, and was seen as the emperor's most obvious successor. However, he was accused of treason along with his mother in 29. Nero was exiled to the island of Ponza where in 30 he was either induced to commit suicide or else starved to death.

We all pretty much know the history, but it is amazing how this coin was struck between 23-29 A.D., the brothers were exiled and the process of their demise started in 30 A.D.   Think of the propaganda time capsule we are able to hold in our hand, how one year we have Tiberius on the obverse, and two dynastic family members are dead a few years later, I think this is why I find Roman coins so amazing.   Spain and Carthago Nova are wonderful for early empire coins and they must have really been politically involved in the process, although the Roman Spanish coins are not near Roman Imperial quality as far as portraiture goes, they always seem to be somewhat readily available for me to purchase and I love how easy it is to find a brown patina which is my favorite.   I picked up my issue of this coin up at the ANA convention a few years back in San Francisco and probably over paid, but you know with the history of the coin, I did not mind a bit.