(69) Augustus - AV aureus, 2 B.C. - c. A.D. 14, 7.88 g. (inv. 91.109).
Obverse: Laureate head of Augustus r.; CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F(ILIVS) PATER PATRIAE: Caesar Augustus, son of a god (the Divine Julius Caesar), father of the country.
Reverse: Gaius and Lucius Caesar facing, togate and veiled, each holding shield, spear; in field above, simpulum and lituus; C(AIVS) L(VCIVS) CAESARES in exergue, AVGVSTI F(ILII) CO(N)S(VLES) DESIG(NATI) PRINC(IPES) IVVENT(VTIS): Gaius and Lucius Caesar, sons of Augustus, consuls designate, leaders among the youth.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1959.
Bibliography: C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage I: from 31 BC to AD 69, rev. ed. (London 1984) 206.

Since the emperor Augustus had no sons, he adopted his grandsons, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, the sons of his only child Julia and his old friend and close associate Marcus Agrippa. The emperor was very attached to the boys and granted them titles and positions of authority from an early age. The titles given the boys on the reverse of this coin announce that Augustus intended them to succeed him.

Although Augustus was at least sixty years old when this coin was issued, his portrait on the obverse remains that of the youthful Augustus. On the reverse are Gaius and Lucius with the silver shields and spears that accompany the title princeps iuventutis or leader among the youth, an honorary title designating the heir to the throne. Between them are sacrifical inplements, a simpulum or ladle and a lituus or curved staff used in augury; Gaius was made a pontifex or priest and Lucius an augur or soothsayer.

The earliest year in which this coin could have been issued was 2 B.C., when Augustus received the new honorific title pater patriae, father of the country; almost all emperors would henceforth receive the title upon coming into power. On the same occasion, Lucius was designated a future consul, one of the two principal magistrates of the state, and made princeps iuventutis; his older brother, Gaius, had received the same honors in 5 B.C. Although Lucius and Gaius died prematurely, in A.D. 2 and 4 respectively, the coins commemorating their elevation were issued until late in the reign of Augustus.


[LU Home] | [Bearers of Meaning] | [Contents] | [Catalogue] | [Essays] | [Glossary]

All contents copyright (c) 1996.
Lawrence University
All rights reserved.