Augustus

Justin II, new Byzantine emperor. November 15, 565.

In his deathbed, and with Callinicus (the praepositus sacri cubiculi) as the only witness to his last words, Justinian I designated “Justin, Vigilantia´s son” as his heir. Modern historians suspect Callinicus may have made up this last words to secure the succession for his political ally, as there was another nephew, and candidate  for the throne: Justin, son of Germanus. Callinicus, together with other members of the Byzantine Senate also interested in this succession, informed Justin and Vigilantia and offered the throne, wich Justin accepted. Only after the Patriarch of Constantinople crowned the new Augustus early the next morning, was the death of Justinian and the succession of Justin officially announced in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. In the first few days of his reign Justin...

Roman Republican Coins

The Roman Republican period began after the Roman Kingdom was overthrown by Roman nobles in 509 BC and lasted until the establishment of the Roman Empire by Octavian/Augustus in 27 BC. Although coinage began in the Greek world before the beginning of the Republic, sheep and lumps of bronze were used as vehicles of trade. The lumps of bronze had to be weighed during each transaction to determine their value and these are called aes rude and considered proto-money and very collectible. Near the end of the 4th Century BC, some began to make flat bronze bars with or without a design on them, roughly weighing five Roman pounds, or libra. A libra weighed 328.9 grams. These flat bars are called aes signatum and are another form of proto-money. The city of Rome began producing its own aes signatum...

Titus Begins Sole Reign – June 23, 79 AD

During the reign of Claudius (41-54 AD), Vespasian was held in high esteem, allowing his son, Titus to be raised in the company of the royal court. Titus was taught along side Britannicus, Claudius’s son. They became close friends and Titus was at the dinner party at which Britannicus was fatally poisoned by Nero in 55. It is said Titus even drank some of the poison and became very ill, but recovered. Nero continued to rule, Vespasian had retired in 51 and Titus was sent to Germania. From c.57-59, Titus was a military tribune in Germania, arriving in Britannia c.60 with reinforcements after the revolt of Boadicea. Titus married twice, the first to Arrecina Tertulla, the daughter of one of Caligula’s praetorian prefects, when he returned to Rome in c.63. The were married until Tertulla’s de...

Julia Drusilla – June 10, 38 AD

Julia Drusilla was one of the daughters of Germanicus and Agrippina Senior. She was also the sister of Nero Caesar, Drusus Caesar, Caligula, Agrippina Junior and Julia Livilla. Born in 16 AD, she was only three when Germanicus died in Antioch. Drusilla and her siblings were brought back to Rome by their mother, from where they all lived in Germany. The children were raised by Agrippina Senior, with the help of their paternal grandmother, Antonia Junior. During 26 AD, the Praetorian Prefect, Sejanus, essentially was running Rome and the administration of it, thanks to Tiberius delegating so much responsibility to him. Although Sejanus was not in line for succession to the throne, he used his power to eliminate possible challengers. Agrippina Senior, Nero Caesar and Drusus Caesar were all ar...

Eagles Recovered – May 26, 17 AD

Publius Quinctilius Varus, born in 46 BC, came from a noble family and became a personal friend to both Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and Roman emperor Augustus. He married Vipsania Marcella Agrippina, great-niece of Augustus and daughter of Marcus Agrippa. After she died, he married Claudia Pulchra, grand-niece of Augustus through Octavia the Younger. Varus was fast-tracked on his political career and finished his cursus honorem early when he was elected consul with Tiberius in 13 BC. He gave the eulogy at Marcus Agrippa’s funeral in 12 BC. In 8/7 BC, he was appointed governor of Africa and in 7/6 BC, moved on to governor of Syria with four legions at his command. It was here Varus was known for his harsh rule and high taxes. A revolt in Judaea after the death of King Herod the Great in 4 BC w...

Domitia Longina – February 11, 50-55 AD

Domitia Longina was born on February 11, but in which year is unclear – sources place it between 50-55 AD. Although not much is documented about her before her marriage to the Roman emperor, Domitian, in 71, her lineage is well connected. Domitia was the youngest daughter of Nero’s most renowned general, Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo and his wife, Cassia Longina. She was also the direct descendant of Augustus through her mother’s side, as a great-great-great-great-granddaughter. As such, she was one of the last living members of the Julian line. Domitia’s father was not only an accomplished general, he was also a senator and consul under Caligula. During the reigns of Claudius and Nero, Corbulo conducted military campaigns in Parthia and Germania. However, black clouds formed over the fami...

Father of the Country – February 5, 2 BC

The title of Pater Patriae, or Father of the Country, was first given to a Roman general – Marcus Furius Camillus, in 386 BC. It was an honorary title conferred by the Senate, and in the case of Camillus, it was given because of his role after the siege of Rome in the Battle of the Allia by Gallic invaders, when he routed the Senones and was determined to be the second founder of the city, after Romulus. Roman imperial coinage The title would not be used again for over three hundred years, when the Senate would confer it to consul Marcus Tullius Cicero in 63 BC, for his role in the exposing the Second Catalinarian Conspiracy to overthrow the Roman Republic by senator Lucius Sergius Catalina and various members of the senate and equestrian ranks. Cicero intercepted letters the conspirators ...

First Constitutional Settlement – January 13, 27 BC

After the Battle at Actium with Marc Antony and Cleopatra in 31 BC, Octavian remained in Egypt to get everything settled and under control. Once that was completed, he headed to the eastern part of the Rome’s territory to meet with the various leaders and get their support, having defeated Antony, who had set up the previous appointments. Convinced all was well, Octavian returned to Rome in August of 29 BC to participate in celebrations for three consecutive days, given in honor of the triumps in Dalmatia, Actium and Egypt. You will find examples of Octavian coins at the end of this post. Octavian was the last man standing from the Second Triumvirate and held the position of consul from 31 BC until 23 BC. Using what he called “universal consent”, a non-legal term for his dominance of the R...

Galba Born – December 24, 3 BC

Servius Sulpicius Galba was born on December 24, 3 BC in Terracina, Italy to C. Sulpicius Galba and Mummia Achaica. His family was well-connected – his paternal grandfather was Servius Sulpicius Galba, praetor in 54 BC and his maternal grandfather was politician Quintus Lutatius Catulus. Galba’s mother died shortly after his birth and his father remarried Livia Ocellina, a distant relative of the Roman empress Livia. Livia adopted Galba and he changed his name to Lucius Livius Ocella Sulpicius Galba. In his youth, Galba was remarked by both Augustus and Tiberius to have great abilities and destined to be important.  This  is a category of  silver denarius. Galba married Aemilia Lepida, who was connected through the marriages of some of her relatives to various members of the house of Julii...

Germanicus Poisoned – October 10, 19 AD

Germanicus was the son of Nero Claudius Drusus and Antonia Minor. Born in Rome in 15 BC, he was the great-nephew of the emperor Augustus, who convinced his step-son and heir, Tiberius, to adopt him as his heir. Germanicus married his second cousin, Agrippina Senior, Augustus’s granddaughter, and had nine children with her. Germanicus was an accomplished general in the Roman army and was beloved by Romans. He traveled with Tiberius in 5 AD to Pannonia and Germany to deal with rebellions and returned to the area in 14 AD as the commander of the forces in Germania Inferior. This is a category of  Germanicus coins. While stationed in Germany, Germanicus managed to recover the legionary eagles lost by Varus during the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest seven years earlier. This increased his popula...

Britannicus and Nero – February 11, 55 AD

Tiberius Claudius Germanicus was the son of Roman emperor Claudius, and his third wife, Valeria Messalina. He was born on February 12, 41 AD, less than a month after Claudius had begun his reign. Two years later, Claudius was offered the title of “Britannicus” by the senate, to honor him for his invasion of Britain. He declined the offer, instead passing it on to his two-year old son, who would then be known as Tiberius Claudius Caesar Britannicus. Suetonius records that Claudius loved Britannicus greatly, picking him up during public events and saying “Good luck to you, my boy!”, to which the viewers would echo the sentiment. All seemed to be going well for the heir-apparent, until 48 AD. This is a category of  nero coins. Valeria Messalina, while still wife of Claudius, married Gaius Sil...

Octavian and Livia Married – January 17, 38 BC

During the period of the Second Triumvirate, Tiberius Claudius Nero was fighting on the side of Julius Caesar’s assassins, against the triumvirs. After the Battle of Philippi, he continued to fight on the side of Lepidus and Marc Antony against Octavian. When the triumvirs came to a peace agreement, and the proscriptions began, Tiberius Claudius Nero was forced to flee Italy with his wife, Livia Drusilla, and son and future emperor, Tiberius. In 40 BC, Octavian married Scribonia, relative of Sextus Pompey. It was a political maneuver, but it did result in the only known offspring Octavian would foster – a daughter named Julia (the Elder or Major). In 39 BC, a general amnesty was announced between the triumvirs and the Pompeian faction. During this time, Tiberius Claudius Nero returned to R...

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