Octavian

The Battle of Munda. March 17, 46 BC.

During the Civil Wars, the republicans had initially been led by Pompey, until the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC and Pompey’s death soon afterwards. However, in April 46 BC, Caesar‘s forces destroyed the Pompeian army at the Battle of Thapsus. After this, military opposition to Caesar was confined to Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula, comprising modern Spain and Portugal). During the spring of 46 BC, two legions in Hispania Ulterior, largely formed by former Pompeian veterans enrolled in Caesar’s army, had declared themselves for Gnaeus Pompeius (son of Pompey the Great) and driven out Caesar’s proconsul. Soon they were joined by the remnants of the Pompeian army. These forces were commanded by the brothers Gnaeus Pompeius and Sextus (sons of Pompey) and by the talente...

The Battle of Naulochus. September 3, 36 BC.

On 38 BC, the Second Triunvirate was living a relatively peaceful period: in Rome, Octavian had just married Livia Drusilla, while Marc Antony lived in Athens his last happy days with Octavia, that calmed him and tried to ease relations between him and her beloved brother. However, the marriage of Octavian meant his divorce from Scribonia, Sextus Pompey´s aunt, and this fact accelerated the breach between them. Sextus, son of Pompey, had occupied Sicily for some years as well as Sardinia and the Peloponnese having been appointed as governor by the Treaty of Misenum in 39 BC. Sicily was the main grain supplier of Rome, and it was the last stronghold of the republican resistance. Sextus was a source of conflict for the Triunvirate, as he often stopped the supply of grain, causing hunger in t...

Octavian´s victory over the Dalmatian tribes. August 13, 29 BC.

Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus into an old and wealthy equestrian branch of the plebeian gens Octavia, his maternal great-uncle Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, and Octavius was named in Caesar’s will as his adopted son and heir. Then known simply as Octavianus, he along with Mark Antony and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second Triumvirate to defeat the assassins of Caesar. Following their victory at the Battle of Philippi, the Triumvirate divided the Roman Republic among themselves and ruled as military dictators. The Triumvirate was eventually torn apart by the competing ambitions of its members. Lepidus was driven into exile and stripped of his position, and Antony committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Actium by Octavian in 31 BC. After the demise of the Second...

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...

Tiberius – March 16, 37 AD

Tiberius Claudius Nero was born in 42 BC to Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla in Rome. In 39 BC, Livia Drusilla divorced the elder Tiberius, while already pregnant, and married Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, the future emperor of Rome. Drusilla gave birth to Nero Claudius Drusus in 38 BC. Although little is recorded of the early life of Tiberius, he gave the eulogy of his natural father in 32 BC, at the age of nine. In 29 BC, Tiberius and Drusus rode in the triumphal chariot with their stepfather during the parade celebrating Octavian’s defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in the Battle of Actium. Octavian successfully brought about the end of the civil wars and transitioned the Roman world through the end of the Imperatorial Period to the beginning of the Roman Empire in 27 BC. Augustu...

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...

Temple of Divus Julius – August 18, 29 BC

After Julius Caesar was murdered by Brutus, Cassius, and the others on the Senate floor in 44 BC, the Senate deified Caesar in 42 BC. Octavian, Caesar’s adopted heir, began construction of the Temple of Divvs Ivlivs (Temple of the Divine Julius Caesar) after the deification. It was completed and dedicated in Rome on August 18, 29 BC, after the Battle of Actium, with the defeat by Octavian of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. The temple stands on the site of Caesar’s cremation. This is a category of  julius caesar coins. After some time after the death of Caesar, a comet appeared and was clearly visible for seven days. The comet appeared for the first time during the ritual games in front of the Temple of Venus Genetrix, the fabled ancestor of the Julii, of which Caesar was part. The Romans though...

Marc Antony, Jr. – April 30, 30 BC

Marcus Antonius (Marc Antony) was father to four boys and four girls through his five wives: Fadia: None Antonia: Antonia Prima Fulvia: Marcus Antonius Antyllus, Iullus Antonius Octavia: Antonia Major, Antonia Minor Queen Cleopatra VII: Alexander Helios, Cleopatra Selene II and Ptolemy Philadelphus Marcus Antonius Antyllus, Antyllus being a Greek nickname for “archer”, was the first son and born c.43 BC. His mother died when he was around three years old and Marc Antony then married Octavia Minor, sister of Octavian. In 37 BC, Marc Antony and Octavian (along with Lepidus) signed the Treaty of Tarentum, renewing the five-year triumvirate agreement. As part of the treaty, Marcus Antonius Antyllus, only six at the time, was betrothed to Julia, the only daughter of Octavian, and was only about...

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...

Cicero: Orator, Lawyer, Politician – December 7, 43 BC

Marcus Tullius Cicero came from a wealthy family of the equestrian order in the ancient Roman Republic. His prose influenced European languages through his Latin for thousands of years and is considered one of the greatest orators of Roman times. His letters, rediscovered in the 14th century, are often cited as the spark for the renaissance of public affairs and Roman culture. Coupled with all of his linguistic abilities, Cicero was also an accomplished politician and successful lawyer. This is a catgory of  roman republic coins. His political career began in 75 BC as quaestor in western Sicily. He was honest and trustworthy in this position accounting for the public treasuries, and as such was pleaded by the public to take up a case against Gaius Verres, a local corrupt governor (some thi...

The Second Emperor – November 16, 42 BC

The ascension to the throne, and the reign of Tiberius Claudius Nero, were both typical and predictably self-serving. He was born in Fondi, Italy, on November 16, 42 BC to Livia Drusilla and Tiberius Claudius Nero, head of the Claudii family. His father was a strong supporter of the old Roman Republic, and opposed the Triumvirate. At first, Tiberius sided with Marc Antony and went to join Antony’s brother in Perusia, taking Livia and the younger Tiberius with him. By the time they arrived, Octavian’s forces had already taken the city and they were forced to flee. In 40 BC, the elder Tiberius took up arms against the Triumvirate, having joined with Sextus Pompey, and lost a battle against Octavian, forcing him to flee to Achaea to join Marc Antony, until the following year. Tiberius and fam...

The Second Triumvirate – November 11, 43 BC

Octavian had been involved in conflicts with Marc Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, but in October of 43 BC, they decided to meet to unify their power. Officially ending the Roman Republican period, they met near modern-day Bologna on November 11, 43 BC, to draft the Lex Titia, creating the legally established Second Triumvirate when signed into law two weeks later. The term was for five years, at which time it would be reviewed and renewed. The Triumvirate, which held supreme authority, was officially titled Triumviri Rei Publicae Constituendae Consulari Potestate, translating to “Three Men for Confirming the Republic with Consular Power”. The titles are shown on coins as III VIR R P C and the name of the triumvir. Before the new alliance began, their parts of the Roman World were split...

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