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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ |Roman Coins| ▸ |The Imperators| ▸ |Octavian||View Options:  |  |  |   

Octavian, Triumvir and Imperator, Augustus 16 January 27 B.C. - 19 August 14 A.D.

Gaius Octavius Thurinus was adopted by his great-uncle Julius Caesar in 44 B.C., and between then and 27 B.C. was officially named Gaius Julius Caesar. After 27 B.C., he was named Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus. Because of the various names he bore, it is common to call him Octavius when referring to events between 63 and 44 B.C., Octavian (or Octavianus) when referring to events between 44 and 27 B.C., and Augustus when referring to events after 27 B.C. The first and possibly greatest Roman emperor, he founded the Roman Empire after defeating Mark Antony and Cleopatra. As emperor, he reformed the coinage and the military, and embarked on a huge building program all across the empire. After a long reign of 41 years, from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D., he died at the age of 77. The coins below were struck before he was renamed Augustus in 27 B.C.


Roman Republic, Second Triumvirate, Mark Antony and Octavian, Spring - Early Summer 41 B.C.

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AVG in the obverse legend, abbreviates Antony's official position as Augur (not Augustus, a title which did not yet exist). The augur was an official and priest, whose main role was to interpret the will of the gods by studying the flight of birds: whether they are flying in groups or alone, what noises they make as they fly, direction of flight and what kind of birds they are. This was known as "taking the auspices." The ceremony and function of the augur was central to any major undertaking in Roman society, public or private, including matters of war, commerce, and religion. The Roman historian Livy stresses the importance of the augurs: "Who does not know that this city was founded only after taking the auspices; that everything in war and in peace, at home and abroad, was done only after taking the auspices?"

Octavian's "equivalent" position as Pontifex, a priest, is abbreviated PONT in the reverse legend.

The moneyer M. Barbatius was a friend of Julius Caesar. In 41 B.C. he was a quaestor pro praetore to Antony in the East.
SH26590. Silver denarius, Crawford 517/2, Sydenham 1181, BMCRR East 103, Sear CRI 243, RSC I Mark Antony and Augustus 8, SRCV I 1504, Choice gVF, weight 3.780 g, maximum diameter 20.2 mm, die axis 0o, military mint moving with Antony, Ephesus(?) mint, spring - early summer 41 B.C.; obverse M ANT IMP AVG III VIR R P C M BARBAT Q P (MP and AV ligate), bare head of Antony right; reverse CAESAR IMP PONT III VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right; scarce; SOLD


Mark Antony and Octavian, 41 B.C., monneyer Lucius Gellius Poplicola

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After Caesar's assassination, Antony Octavian and Lepidus formed the 2nd Triumvirate, a three-man dictatorship. They defeated Caesar's assassins at Philippi in 42 B.C. and divided the Republic among themselves. Relations were strained but civil war was averted when Antony married Octavian's sister, Octavia. Despite the marriage, Antony continued an affair with Cleopatra and even married her. In 31 B.C., at Octavian's direction, the Roman Senate declared war on Cleopatra and proclaimed Antony a traitor. Octavian defeated Antony at the Battle of Actium the same year. Defeated, Antony and Cleopatra fled back to Egypt where they committed suicide. Octavian was then the undisputed master of the Roman world and would reign as the first Roman emperor with the title Augustus.
SH16770. Silver denarius, SRCV I 1505, Crawford 517/8, RSC I Mark Antony and Augustus 10, VF, lustrous fields, struck slightly flat, weight 3.745 g, maximum diameter 19.8 mm, die axis 315o, Asia Minor, military mint, autumn 41 B.C.; obverse M ANT IMP AVG III VIR R P C L GELL Q P, bare head of Antony right, jug behind; reverse CAESAR IMP PONT III VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right, lituus behind; rare; SOLD


Roman Republic, Second Triumvirate, Mark Antony and Octavian, Spring - Early Summer 41 B.C.

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The moneyer M. Barbatius was a friend of Julius Caesar. In 41 B.C. he was a quaestor pro praetore to Antony in the East.

In 41 B.C., Lucius Antonius, Mark Antony's younger brother, and Fulvia, Mark Antony's wife, anxious to get her husband back from Cleopatra, raised eight legions against Octavian. Lucius marched on Rome, drove out Lepidus, and promised the people that the triumvirate would be abolished. On the approach of Octavian, he retired to Perusia in Etruria, where he was besieged by three armies, and compelled to surrender in the winter of 41 B.C. The city was destroyed but Lucius was spared, and was sent by Octavian to Spain as governor. Nothing is known of the circumstances or date of his death.
SH57461. Silver denarius, Crawford 517/2, Sydenham 1181, BMCRR East 103, Sear CRI 243, RSC I Mark Antony and Augustus 8, SRCV I 1504, gVF, flat strike areas, weight 3.816 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, military mint moving with Antony, Ephesus(?) mint, spring - early summer 41 B.C.; obverse M ANT IMP AVG III VIR R P C M BARBAT Q P (MP and AV ligate), bare head of Antony right; reverse CAESAR IMP PONT III VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right; scarce; SOLD


Roman Republic, Second Triumvirate, Mark Antony and Octavian, 40 - 39 B.C.

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In 40 B.C., with the Treaty of Brundisium, the Triumvirs agreed to divide the Roman Republic into spheres of influence. Gaius Octavian styled himself "Imperator Caesar" and controlled the Western provinces. Mark Antony controlled the Eastern provinces; the River Drin, the boundary between the provinces Illyricum and Macedonia, would serve as their frontier. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus controlled Hispania and Africa. The treaty was cemented by the marriage of Antony and Octavia, sister of Octavian.
SH65240. Silver denarius, RSC I Mark Antony and Augustus 1b; Crawford 528/2b; Sydenham 1193a; Sear CRI 261a; SRCV I -, VF, toned, area of weak strike on Antony, weight 3.740 g, maximum diameter 18.8 mm, die axis 90o, Italian mint, 40 - 39 B.C.; obverse M ANTON IMP III VIR R P C, bare head of Antony right, nothing below; reverse CAESAR IMP III VIR R P C, bare head of Octavian right with slight beard; ex Gemini auction X, lot 400; ex Randy Haviland Collection; ex CNG auction 72 (14 June 2006), lot 1345; ex Marc Poncin Collection; Spink auction 4013 (15 July 2004), lot 12; rare; SOLD


Marc Antony, Octavian and Lepidus, Triumvirs, 26 November 43 - 36 B.C.

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RPC notes uncertainty regarding the reverse legend of this type. Apparently, none are fully and clearly legible. There is some question regarding the final Z. They note it may be Ξ. On our example however, it seems clearly to be Z.

The Second Triumvirate officially expired after two five-year terms in 33 B.C., but Octavian unilaterally expelled Lepidus in 36 B.C. While this effectively ended the three-man Triumvirate, Octavian and Mark Antony continued to serve as "triumvirs" despite their number.
SH60337. Bronze AE 17, RPC I 2573, BMCRR 194 corr., VF, nice for the type, weight 3.400 g, maximum diameter 16.6 mm, die axis 0o, Ephesos mint, 39 B.C.; obverse three jugate heads of the Triumvirs right; reverse APXIEPEYΣ ΓPAM ΓΛAYKΩN EΦE MAZAΣ, facing cult statue of Artemis with supports; attractive green patina, ex CNG; rare; SOLD


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The reverse depicts the triumphal arch awarded to Octavian in 29 B.C. for his victory, defeating Antony and Cleopatra, at the Battle of Actium, 2 September 31 B.C. Like the later arch which commemorated his recovery of the Roman standards from the Parthians, this arch stood in close proximity to the Temple of Divus Julius at the southern entrance to the Roman Forum.
SH16777. Silver denarius, SRCV I 1558, RSC I 123, RIC I 267, Sear CRI 422, BMCRR 4348, EF, lustrous, weight 3.781 g, maximum diameter 20.9 mm, die axis 180o, Italian (Rome?) mint, obverse bare head of Octavian right; reverse IMP CAESAR on architrave of the Actian arch, depicted as a single span surmounted by a large statue of Octavian in a facing triumphal quadriga; mirror luster, slight rainbow toning, struck flat on the top edge of the reverse, banker's marks; SOLD


Roman Republic, The Second Triumvirate, Lepidus and Octavian, 42 B.C.

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From the Prof. Henry H. Armstrong collection. In 1909 and 1910, when he purchased this coin, Professor Armstrong lived in Rome working as a Research Associate of the Carnegie Institution in Archaeology teaching at the American School for Classical Studies. From 1918 until his death in 1935 he taught at Beloit College as head of the Department of Romance Languages. Nicknamed "Sparky" by the students, his death after a two-week illness came as a shock to the college. His coins, inherited by his son, sat in a cigar box for the next 74 years.
SH39693. Silver denarius, SRCV I 1523, RSC I Aemilia 35, RSC 2, Crawford 495/2, F, flat strike centers, weight 3.778 g, maximum diameter 20.6 mm, die axis 180o, Italian mint, spring - summer 42 B.C.; obverse LEPIDVS PONT MAX IIIV(R) R P C, bare head of Lepidus right; reverse CAESAR IMP IIIVR R P C, bare head of Octavian right; old "cigar box" collection toning; from the Prof. Henry H. Armstrong collection, handwritten envelope notes, "Champion, Purchase, 1909 - 1910"; rare; SOLD


Octavian, Triumvir and Imperator, c. 38 B.C., Julius Caesar Reverse

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In 38 B.C., Octavian, Mark Antony, and Lepidus signed the Treaty of Tarentum extending the Second Triumvirate until 33 B.C.

On 17 January 38 B.C., Octavian married Livia while she was pregnant from her recently broken marriage. Octavian gained permission from the College of Pontiffs to wed her while she was still pregnant from another husband. Three months after the wedding she gave birth to her second son, Nero Claudius Drusus. The baby and his elder brother, the four-year-old Tiberius, lived in Octavian's household.

RR54917. Bronze sestertius or dupondius, SRCV I 1569, RPC I 620, Crawford 535/1, Sydenham 1335, BMCRR Gaul 106, aVF, scratches, weight 22.782 g, maximum diameter 33.6 mm, die axis 225o, Italian (Paestum?) mint, c. 38 B.C.; obverse CAESAR DIVI F, bare head of Octavian right; reverse DIVOS IVLIVS, wreathed head of Julius Caesar right; ex Heritage Numismatics, green patina; very scarce; SOLD


Octavian, Triumvir, Consul, and Imperator, Autumn 32 - Summer 31 B.C.

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In July 32 B.C., Octavian illegally obtained Antony's will and exposed it to the Roman public: it promised substantial legacies to Antony's children by Cleopatra and left instructions for shipping his body to Alexandria for burial. Rome was outraged, and the Senate declared war against Cleopatra (an important distinction, because Octavian did not want the Roman people to consider it a civil war). Octavian's forces decisively defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium in Greece in September 31 B.C. In 30 B.C., Octavian chased Antony and Cleopatra to Egypt where they committed suicide. Octavian became master of the Roman world.
SH73574. Silver denarius, RIC I 253 (S), RSC I 72, BMCRR 4329, BMCRE I 611, BnF I 6 ff., Sear CRI 400, SRCV I 1549, VF, attractive toning, a couple light scratches, weight 3.923 g, maximum diameter 20.5 mm, die axis 135o, Italian (Rome?) mint, autumn 32 - summer 31 B.C.; obverse draped bust of Pax right, wearing stephane, hair in a bun at low back, two locks in corkscrew curls down neck, top of cornucopia behind, olive branch before; reverse Octavian advancing right in military garb, raising right hand in adlocutio, holding spear over left shoulder in left hand; ex CNG e-auction 343, lot 419; ex Colin Kirk Collection, ex CNG e-auction 165 (30 May 2007), lot 202; ex Künker 59 (26 Sep 2000), lot 386; scarce; SOLD


Octavian and L. Pinarius Scarpus, Imperator and Provincial Governor of Cyrenaica, September 31 - 29 B.C.

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According to Crawford, this type was the last denarius of the Roman Republic. L. Pinarius Scarpus commanded four legions for Marc Antony in Cyrenaica against Octavian's African army, which was under the command of Cornelius Gallus. After learning of Antony's defeat at Actium, Scarpus changed his allegiance to Octavian. This issue was struck shortly after the battle of Actium, the open hand signalizing a gesture of friendship toward Octavian.
RR71863. Silver denarius, SRCV I 1554; Crawford 546/6; Sydenham 1282; RSC I 500; Sear CRI 413; Kent-Hirmer pl. 32, 114; BnF I 896, VF, centered, toned, weight 3.560 g, maximum diameter 19.0 mm, die axis 180o, Cyrenaica provincial mint, L Pinarius Scarpus, Sep 31 - 29 B.C.; obverse open right hand reaching left, IMP. CAESARI above, SCARPVS IMP below; reverse Victory standing right on globe, wreath tied with a fillet in right, palm branch over shoulder in left, DIVI. F on right, AVG. PONΓ (sic) on left; ex Savoca Coins; rare; SOLD




  




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REFERENCES|

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Catalog current as of Monday, October 14, 2019.
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Roman Coins of Octavian