FROM AUGUSTUS TO CLAUDIUS
Imperial Rome
by Maria Laura Delpiano, Costanza Falletta

During Augustus' era the minting of gold coins becomes less episodic than in previous years. The two gold denominations included in Augustus' reform are the aureus and its fraction, the quinarius aureus. The former was struck on a standard corresponding - according to various reconstructions - to 1/42nd or to 1/40th of a libra (theoretical weight = 7.79 grams or about 8.17 grams), and was 99% pure. From that time onwards the aureus was issued in very large amounts and became the real centre of the whole system. Instead, the quinarius did not fare as well, except in Tiberius' reign. Tiberius minted gold quinarii with the same reverse type throughout his principate.

Augustan gold was struck in Rome and in many Eastern and Western mints, even if not all of them have been clearly identified. The obverse depicts the bare or laureate head (i.e. wearing a laurel wreath) of the princeps. Sometimes he may wear an oak wreath. The choice of reverse types shows the clear political intelligence of the princeps, and the delicate moment of transition from the Republic to the Empire. The subjects present once again the great variety that was characteristic of Republican coinage, but focus almost constantly on the figure of Augustus and his accomplishments. Aurei coined in Rome could have, up until 12 B.C., the name of the triumvir monetalis, followed by the inscription indicating his position: IIIVIR. From Tiberius onwards gold coinage was limited to the Gallic mint at Lugdunum.

Click on the images of the coins to enlarge them


Aureo di Augusto

Aureo di Augusto

Aureo di Augusto

Quinario aureo
di Tiberio





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