roman imperial coinage


Silver Denarius of Augustus, Colonia Patricia(?) mint, c. 19 BC

The Temple of Jupiter Tonans shown on this coin was dedicated today (Sept. 1st) in 22 BC.

This denarius displays the bare head of Augustus facing left with his name inscribed CAESAR AVGVSTVS. On the reverse is the hexastyle (six-columned portico) Temple of Jupiter Tonans containing a statue of the god standing left, holding a thunderbolt and scepter; IOV TO[N] inscribed.

The Temple of Jupiter Tonans was promised by Augustus in 26 BC as gratitude for his narrow escape from lightening in the Cantabrian campaign. It was finally dedicated in 22 BC (Suetonius, Vita Augusti 29.91). The temple building was located near the Campus Maritus in Rome and was originally dedicated to Jupiter Fulgens. The statue of Jupiter Tonans shown inside the temple on this coin, was allegedly by the 4th century BC Greek sculptor, Leochares, according to Pliny (Hist. Nat. 39.79). The statue pictured above is a 1st century AD Roman copy of the original Greek.

Colonia Patricia (modern Córdoba) was a Roman military colony in Spain.

Septimius Severus & Caracalla AV Aureus. 201-202 AD. IMPP INVICTI PII AVGG, jugate busts of Septimius and Caracalla right, both laureate & draped / VICTORIA PARTHICA MAXIMA, Victory advancing left, holding wreath & palm. RIC 311

The Severan dynasty puts forward a number of its important messages in this fine aureus. Septimius Severus appears with his son Caracalla, who was co-ruler with his father (since 198 AD). Family was incredibly important to the Severans, as a dynasty that had to more-or-less manufacture its claims to legitimate rule and compensated through displays of family unity and its promise of stability (no matter how untrue that actually was).

On the reverse, we see a celebration of Septimius Severus’ Parthian campaign, which was also displayed large in Rome on Severus’ arch in the forum, still visible in Rome today. The campaign itself, though advertised here as “the greatest,” was actually fairly lack-luster. Severus received hostages from several eastern kings, including Khosrau I of Parthia, but the two-season campaign led to little to no territorial gain and to no lasting peace in the region.