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Pater Patriae

Father of the Fatherland (Father of our country), an honorary title of the Roman Republic and Empire, which was bestowed by the Senate.


Dictionary of Roman Coins



Pater Patriae - The man who first of all obtained this glorious title was Cicero, on whom it was conferred by the Senate of Rome, in acknowledgment of his paternal guardianship of the republic, as the detector of Catiline's conspiracy  It is a phrase purely of honor, unconnected with power. - Nor indeed was it (says Oiselius) bestowed immediately on all the Roman Emperors.

It was from Julius Caesar that the custom of conferring this cognomen passed to his successors; and this is shown by coins struck during his lifetime, on which he is called CAESAR PARENS PATRIAE.

To Augustus, on account of his clemency (as Aurelius Victor affirms), the cognomen of Pater Patriae was given in the year of Rome 752, and in the twenty-first renewal of his tribunitian power, in consequence of which medals were forthwith struck, charged with the inscription of CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F. PATER PATRIAE.

And on some large brass, struck out of Rome, supposed to be of the mint of Lyons, we moreover read the same inscription round the Emperor's head The reverse exhibiting the altar, dedicated by the Gaulish tribes to ROME. ET AVGustus.

Tiberius constantly refused this title, and his cons omit it.

Nero also, at the beginning of his reign, rejected the honorable surname, but soon after accepted it, as appears from his coins.

The same distinction was borne by Vespasian, according to Suetonius, and is recorded on medals of his, struck in the second year of his reign.

We likewise read the well deserved compliment of Pater Patriae on the coins of Nerva.

Of Trajan it is related by the younger Pliny, that he declined the offer of this title, made to him on his accession to the throne, assigning as a reason that he did not esteem himself worthy of being denominated the Father of his Country.  Nevertheless, we find coins struck in his second year, and frequently afterwards inscribed, among the rest, with Pater Patriae. - Hadrian's coins, bearing the senatorial mark S.C., and struck in the first year of his Imperatorship and tribunitian power, present numerous examples in which be is styled P.P. - And the same initial letters are frequently found appended to the names of other Emperors.


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