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Antonia Minor

Augusta 37ce - Daughter of Marc Antony, mother of Claudius, grandmother of Caligula & Nero

By Jim Phelps

Antonia Minor ("the younger") was the daughter of Marc Antony and Octavia, and was born about 36BCE. Raised by Octavia in the "royal orphanage", she was the niece of the first Roman emperor, Augustus (Octavian). When she was about 20 she married Nero Claudius Drusus, son of Livia (the current wife of Augustus) and brother of Tiberius. Her children were Livilla, Germanicus (father of Caligula), and Claudius, and she was the grandmother of the emperor Nero. After the death of NC Drusus in 9BCE she refused to remarry, instead devoting herself to the Roman state. She was renowned for her beauty.

The most dramatic story about her involves Sejanus, the powerful Praetorian Prefect under Tiberius, who had virtually (and harshly) been ruling Rome during Tiberius' self-imposed exile. Sejanus and Livilla had been plotting together, murdering most of the possible heirs to the throne in plans for Sejanus to seize imperial power. When Sejanus asked Tiberius for Livilla's hand in marriage he was refused, and Tiberius instead suggested that he marry Helen, the daughter of Livilla. When Livilla heard this she went into a rage, writing Sejanus a letter reminding him of their plots. Antonia discovered a draft of this letter which she sent to Tiberius, thereby leading to the execution of Sejanus in 31CE.

Due to Antonia's aid in revealing this plot, Tiberius spared her family the disgrace of Livilla's execution. Instead, Antonia locked her daughter into a room and allowed her to starve to death.

When Caligula became emperor he at first treated his grandmother with respect and had granted her the title of Augusta, but as his mental illness became worse he turned against her, ordering her suicide in 37CE after she had expressed unhappiness at the murder of her grandson Tiberius Gemellus.

Her coins were issued by her son, the emperor Claudius. The coins were minted in brass, silver, and gold, but by far the most common are the brass dupondii.

Brass Dupondius
Obv:ANTONIA AVGVSTA - Her draped bust right, with a ponytail.
Rev:TI CLAVDIVS CAESAR AVG PM TRP IMP PP - Claudius standing left veiled and togate as a priest, holding a simpulum. S C in fields.