(66) Augustus - AR denarius, after 27 B.C., 3.68 g. (inv. 91.114).
Obverse: Laureate head of Augustus r.
Reverse: Capricorn r., with cornucopia rising from back and holding globe and rudder; AVGVSTVS: Augustus.
Provenance: Hesperia Art, 1961.
Bibliography: C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage I: from 31 BC to AD 69, rev. ed. (London 1984) 541; P. Zanker, The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus (Ann Arbor 1988) 47-49.
According to the biographer Suetonius (The Divine Augustus 1.94), Augustus was born under the sign of Capricorn (the moon, not the sun, was in Capricorn at his birth). Suetonius recounts a story from Augustus' youth, in which he visited an astrologer, who fell to his knees after seeing the configuration of the heavens at Augustus' birth. According to Suetonius, the incident gave Augustus (then Octavius) great faith in his destiny
and caused him to make his horoscope public and later to strike a silver coin with the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn on the reverse of this coin, as in the zodiac, takes the form of a goat with the tail of a fish and a cornucopia growing from its back. Here it also holds a globe and rudder, symbols of sovereignty. Capricorn also appeared on glass beads that supporters of Augustus wore as a sign of their loyalty.
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