The Historical Propaganda of the Nero and Drusus Caesar Dupondii Struck under Gaius Caligula

by Joe Geranio

Joe Geranio Collection- (Anyone may use as long as credit is given-(Joe Geranio JCIA) Nero & Drusus Caesar. Died AD 31 and 33, respectively. Ć Dupondius (28mm, 16.30 g, 6h). Rome mint. Struck under Gaius
 (Caligula), AD 37-38. Nero and Drusus on horseback


Joe Geranio Collection- (Anyone may use as long as credit is given) LYDIA, Philadelphia. Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. Ć (17mm, 3.83 g, 12h). Epikrates, magistrate. Bare head of Caligula right / Jugate laureate busts of the Dioscuri right. RPC I 3022. 


LYDIA, Philadelphia. Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. Ć (19mm, 4.50 g, 12h). Gaios Ioulios Diodoros, magistrate. Bare head of Caligula right; star behind / Laureate, conjoined busts of the Dioskouroi right. RPC I 3020.

PHOENICIA, Tripolis. Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. Ć (21mm, 9.68 g, 12h). Date CY 350 (AD 38/9). Laureate head left; [L NT] (date) below chin / The Dioscuri standing left, each holding wreath over pileus resting on ground and scepter. RPC I 4519; SNG Copenhagen -; BMC 38.

Portrait of Nero Julius Caesar, Brother of Caligula - Photo Rafael DP 

Drusus Julius Caesar, Brother of Caligula- Photo Christoph Vanhoorne

The dupondii issues of the brothers of Caligula , Nero and Drusus Caesar  was no doubt to remind the Roman populace about the Dioscuri the saviors of the Roman state.   The Dioscuri won a miraculous battle in 496 B.C. and then on the same day appear in the Roman Forum to tell the populace about the victory, no doubt Caligula wanted to associate himself with the Dioscuri with this issue of the gods represented as Nero and Drusus Caesars galloping on their horses with ease as though the wind is blowing in their hair.   This familial propaganda would cement that the sons of Germanicus and Agrippina would reign and were in control.  

Historical Context

Suetonius states in (Caligula 22.1-2)  “Up until now I have been discussing Caligula in his capacity as an emperor; we must now consider him in his capacity as a monster….

Eventually Caligula began to claim for himself a Divine majesty;…..he extended a part of the Palatine palace all the way out to the Forum, transforming the Temple of Castor and Pollux into an entrance hall for the Palace.  There in the Temple he would often take his seat between the twin gods, presenting himself for worship to those he approached.”

Dio, (History 59.28.5)  states, “ Caligula went so far as to divide in two the Temple of the Dioscuri in the Roman Forum, making a passageway to the Palatine that went right between  the two cult statues.  As a result,  he was fond of saying that he regarded the Dioscuri as his gate-keepers.  NEW ARCHAEOLOGY:  Regarding the extension from the palace -  Stanford Report, September 10, 2003, this was thought for years until 2003 to have been impossible.  

Did Caligula have a God complex?

Stanford, Oxford archaeologists find evidence that depraved tyrant annexed sacred temple 

See:  Wood, Susan- American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 99, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), pp. 457-482