Imperial Rome
by Maria Laura Delpiano, Costanza Falletta

In addition to reorganising the Roman State and its institutions, in about 23 B.C. Augustus also left his mark on Roman coinage, which had suffered from the confusion that characterized politics in the late Republic. Augustus' reform did not change fundamentally the metrological system of Sulla's times.

However, he introduced a trimetallic system - or, according to some authors, a quadrimetallic system - based upon fixed ratios between denominations in gold (aureus, quinarius aureus), silver (denarius, quinarius), orichalcum (sestertius, dupondius) and copper (as, quadrans). The ratio between an aureus and an as is 1: 400.
Formal respect for the Republican institutions also was shown initially by mentioning the names of the triumviri monetales (the magistrates responsible for minting) on the coins in all metals. The debate regarding the meaning of the initials SC (= ex Senatus consulto) used on the coins not made from precious metal until half of the 3th century A.D., and the consequent role of the Senate in matters of coinage, is still ongoing.

  Aurei Quinari aurei Denari Quinari Sesterzi Dupondi Assi Quadranti
Aureo 1 2 25 50 100 200 400 1600
Quinario aureo   1 12,5 25 50 100 200 800

Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them

Aureo di Augusto

Aureo di Augusto
© 2008 UCSC Milano