(72) Gaius ("Caligula") - AV aureus, A.D. 40, 7.73 g.
Obverse: Laureate head of Gaius r.; C(AIVS) CAESAR AVG(VSTVS) PON(TIFEX)
M(AXIMVS) TR(IBVNICIA) POT(ESTATE) III CO(N)S(VL) III: Gaius Caesar Augustus, pontifex maximus, with tribunician power for the third time, consul for the third time.
Reverse: Radiate head of Augustus r.; DIVVS AVG(VSTVS) PATER PATRIAE: Divine Augustus, father of the country.
Provenance: Abner Kreisberg, 1970.
Bibliography: C.H.V. Sutherland, The Roman Imperial Coinage I: from 31 BC to AD 69, rev. ed. (London 1984) 23.
Much of Caligula's coinage honored his family members and emphasized dynastic continuity. The great-grandson of Augustus, he dedicated the Temple of Divine Augustus begun by Tiberius (see no. 71), and he both honored Augustus and drew attention to his relationship to him by placing his portrait on the reverse of these coins. Augustus is depicted as a divinity wearing a crown with rays of the sun god, Sol.
Caligula's portrait on the obverse conforms to the general type of the Julio-Claudian successors of Augustus, inspired by the hairstyle and idealized features of portraits of Augustus. In the case of Caligula, however, the idealization may have been more extreme, since the biographer Suetonius describes him as unattractive and balding (Caligula, 50).
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