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The Wonderful Silver Denarii of Marcus Agrippa at his Death 12 B.C.

(And A Few Other Denarii of Agrippa and Augustus)

 By Joe Geranio

File:<a href='view.asp?key=Agrippa'>Agrippa</a> <a href='view.asp?key=ARA%20PACIS'>Ara Pacis</a>.PNG

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa on the Stupendous Ara Pacis from Rome.

Beautiful Denarius struck 12 B.C. with Augustus on obverse and Marcus Agrippa mural and rostral crowns  I like this definition for the Crown upon Agrippa 's head- The mural crown became an ancient Roman military decoration. The corona muralis (Latin: "walled crown") was a golden crown, or a circle of gold intended to resemble a battlement, bestowed upon the soldier who first climbed the wall of a besieged city or fortress to successfully place the standard of the attacking army upon it. The Roman mural crown was made of gold, and decorated with turrets, as is the heraldic version. As it was among the highest order of military decorations, it was not awarded to a claimant until after a strict investigation. The rostrata mural crown, composed of the rostra indicative of captured ships, was assigned as naval prize to the first in a boarding party, similar to the naval crown.. (1)  I love love the Die Engravers cutting on crowns and legends on this issue.  I have always wanted one, but we are now looking at probably 20,000 U.S.D. and above.  ccwiki  

Augustus, with Agrippa27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (3/91 g, 6h). Rome mint. Cossus Cornelius Lentulus, moneyer. Struck 12 BC. AVGVSTVS COS • XI, head of Augustus right, wearing oak wreath / • M • AGRIPPA • COS • TER • COSSVS • LENTVLVS, head of Agrippa right, wearing mural and rostral crown. RIC I 414; RSC 1 (Agrippa and Augustus); BMCRE 121 = BMCRR Rome 4671; BN 548-50  cngcoins.com

Here we have a similiar issue as RIC 414 above , but; Struck in 13 B.C one year before the mighty Agrippa died.  Here instead of Agrippa wearing both  the crown the mural and rostral crowns, Augustus and Agrippa make up and seem to work as one in this iconography!!   I love that each are holding scrolls.  The Agrippa AR series seems to hold multiple meaning from practical to spiritual.  

Augustus27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (3.91 g, 3h). Rome mint. C. Marius C.f. Tro(mentina tribu), moneyer. Struck 13 BC. AVGVSTVS DIVI F, bare head right; all within oak wreath / [C •] MARIVS C • F TRO, [I]II • VIR in exergue, Augustus, laureate, and Agrippa, wearing combined mural and rostral crown, both togate, standing facing, each holding a roll in left hand; at the feet of each, a capsa. RIC I 400; RSC 458; BMCRE 107 = BMCRR Rome 4647; BN 528. cngcoins.com
In 13 B.C this wonderful issue was minted and shows the rhetoric/propaganda of the strong familial assimilation with Augustus and Agrippa.  

Augustus27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (4.09 g, 8h). Rome mint. C. Sulpicius Platorinus, moneyer. Struck 13 BC. CAESAR [AVG]VSTVS, bare head right / C • SVLPICI-VS • PLATORIN, Augustus and Agrippa, bare-headed and togate, seated side by side, facing slightly left, on a bisellium, placed on a platform which is ornamented with threerostra; on left, staff or spear. RIC I 406; RSC 529 var. (obv. legend); BMCRE 115-6 var. = BMCRR Rome 4657-8 var. (same); BN 539..  cngcoins.com

Military mint travelling with Agrippa in Gaul or Octavian in Italy. It shows how close they were on this military issue.  Struck the year Agrippa defeated the Aquitanians.  Marcus Agrippa was Octavian 's boyhood friend, lieutenant and and eventual chosen heir, adopted by the then known Augustus in 17 BC to ensure a smooth succession. Agrippa 's prominence in political affairs was emphasized in 13 BC, when two of the three moneyers included Agrippa on their coin types. Succession was not to be, though, as Agrippa died the following year.  This coin names Agrippa as "consul designate", in anticipation of his consulship the following year. It was probably minted in Gaul under Agrippa, who was named governor of Transalpine Gaul in 39 or 38 BC. It was in the latter year, the year this coin was struck, that Agrippa but down a uprising of the Aquitanians.

The Triumvirs. Octavian and Agrippa38 BC. AR Denarius (20mm, 3.96 g, 10h). Military mint travelling with Agrippa in Gaul or Octavian in Italy. Bare head of Octavian right, wearing slight beard / M•AGRIPPA COS/ DESIG in two lines across field. Crawford 534/3; CRI 307; Sydenham 1331; RSC 545.   cngcoins.com

Military mint travelling with Agrippa in Gaul or Octavian in Italy. It shows how close they were on this military issue.  Now we have DIVVI IULIO and Octavian with Agrippa CO(s)/DESIG.

The Caesarians. Octavian and Agrippa, with Divus Julius Caesar38 BC. AR Denarius (17mm, 3.68 g, 2h). Military mint traveling with Agrippa in Gaul or Octavian in Italy. DIVOS IVLIVS [D]IVI F, laureate head of the deified Julius Caesar vis-à-vis bare head of Octavian / M · AGRIPPA · CO[S]/DESIG in two lines. Crawford 534/2; CRI 306; Sydenham 1330; RSC 129. cngcoins.com

This issue is a little enigmatic and there has been some debate over the special military mint?  I always thought it resembled Gaius Caesar with the physiognomy matching quite well?  Either way you look at this issue the iconography is awesome.  Here are some notes from CNG:   

 R. Prideaux (Triton XI, lot 829) observes that this is a much discussed issue, primarily concerned with the identity of the person depicted on the obverse. The young head cannot be that of C. Caesar, as Sutherland, Robertson, Giard, and others have argued. It can only be Augustus, as the oak wreath was his personal signature.

Prideaux notes that two important questions need to be examined: (1) why is he portrayed with such a young face and (2) what is the meaning of this unusual reverse? On the first point, the engraver wasn 't working in a regular mint, with mint approved bust models, and wasn 't accustomed to drawing Augustus ' face. Therefore, he drew a generic profile adding the oak wreath to identify, beyond any doubt, the portrait. On the second point, it seems clear that, based on the symbolism, there is not only a religious, but a funereal theme. It is interesting to note that the sadness of the funeral-themed reverse is counterbalanced by a young portrait and the oak wreath, corona civica aurea, which was given to the citizen who saved another citizen 's life. Some have assigned this issue to the Ludi Saeculares of 17 BC, but while they were religious in nature, they were not funereal.

There is no reason for such a special type to have been issued in Rome or Lugdunum. Prideaux notes one striking event in the period after 17 BC that supports his theory. In 12 BC, Augustus ' chosen heir, Agrippa, died suddenly in Pannonia. We know that the news was taken hard in Rome, just months after Agrippa and his family had been officially made the heirs of the Empire (cf. C. Marius Tromentina 's issues in 13 BC). This event especially reverberated among the legions; they had lost a much admired and multi-victorious general in the middle of a difficult war.

Prideaux proposes that this candelabrum issue was struck in Pannonia to pay the now leaderless, and perhaps restless, Pannonian legions, without having to wait for a monetary delivery from the regular mint in very distant Lugdunum. A local celator, not versed in the portrait of Augustus, produced the dies. The themes reminded the soldiers of Augustus ' corona civica, while paying tribute to their beloved chief with a funeral overtone. The gold and silver issues (RIC 539-40) should be considered as a special Pannonian military mint issue of 12 BC. This helps explain many of the puzzling details of this issue.  cng


A Statue of Marcus Agrippa?  to Augustus ' right after Agrippa 's death in 12 B.C.

AUGUSTUS. 27 BC-14 AD. AR Denarius (20mm, 3.53 g). Rome mint. Struck 12 BC. Lucius Lentulus, moneyer. Bare head right / Augustus standing facing, resting hand on shield, crowning Agrippa, who holds Victory and spear. RIC I 415; BMCRE 124; RSC 419.   cngcoins.com

Augustus27 BC-AD 14. AR Denarius (3.97 g, 5h). Rome mint. Cossus Cornelius Lentulus, moneyer. Struck 12 BC. AVGVSTVS, bare head right / COSSVS CN • F • LENTVLVS, equestrian statue right of Agrippa, helmeted, bearing trophy over left shoulder, on pedestal, ornamented with two prows. RIC I 412; RSC 418; BMCRE 122-3 = BMCRR Rome 4672-3; BN 551-4.  cngcoins.com

Joe Geranio
Julio Claudian Iconographic Association
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