(65) Augustus - AR denarius, c. 19-18 B.C., 3.62 g. (inv. 91.112).
Obverse: Head of Augustus r., wearing oak wreath.
Reverse: Between laurel trees, shield inscribed CL(IPEVS) V(IRTVTIS): shield of valor; around shield, S(ENATVS) P(OPVLVS)Q(VE) R(OMANVS): the Senate and People of Rome; in two lines above and below shield, CAESAR AVGVSTV[S]: Caesar Augustus.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1959.
Bibliography: C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage I: from 31 BC to AD 69, rev. ed. (London 1984) 36a; P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Ann Arbor 1988) 91-97.
In the Res Gestae, his posthumously published summary of his achievements, Augustus describes some of the honors given him by the Senate: For restoring the republic "I was named Augustus by resolution of the Senate. The doorposts of my house were officially decked out with young laurel trees, the corona civica was placed over the door, and in the Curia Iulia was displayed the golden shield, which the Senate and the people granted me on account of my bravery, clemency, justice, and piety, as is inscribed on the shield itself." The reverse of this denarius depicts some of those honors. The golden shield is the clipeus virtutis or honorific shield, traditionally inscribed with virtues or achievements; it is here inscribed with an abbrevia
tion to identify it. The original shield was displayed in the Curia, and copies of it were set up all over the Roman world. The shield is flanked by the young laurel trees, which were attributes of the god Apollo with whom Augustus associated himself; such pairs of trees also flanked the buildings housing the oldest priesthoods and gave the entrance to Augustus' house a sacred aspect. Laurel wreaths and branches were also the traditional symbols of victory. The corona civica or civic crown, which Augustus wears in place of the traditional laurel wreath in the portrait on the obverse, was an oak wreath, traditionally awarded for rescuing a comrade in battle. It is given to Augustus here for rescuing the republic and its citizens.
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